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Inov-8 X-Claw 275, $120
As its name implies, this shoe has outsole lugs like talons that grip and grab every type of trail surface. The X-Claw is actually an update of the X-talon 212, an amazingly grippy shoe that was a mainstay on the competitive short-distance mountain running circuits in the U.S. and Europe. The new version has a bit more cushioning and protection without losing its turn-on-a-dime agility and supreme flexibility. Our wear-testers thought this shoe had the best traction of the bunch we tested this spring and loved how it performed on loose gravel, dry rock, sloppy mud and wet grass.
Plus: The upper is smartly reinforced to offer protection without
Minus: The luggy nature of the outsole made it less suitable for running on hard-packed dirt trails and dirt roads.
Weights: 9.7 oz. (men’s), 8.3 oz. (women’s)
Heel-to-Toe Offset: 8mm; 26.5mm (heel), 18.5mm (forefoot)