Inov-8 Mudclaw 300 (2015) Review

I’ve had numerous pairs of Inov-8 Mudclaws over the years.

For me they are the shoe for winter training and racing in boggy conditions (and there are quite a lot of those in the Peak District!)  My present pair, the yellow version of the 300 have served me well having done almost 1400 km and so I was interested to see that Inov-8 had introduced a new version for 2015.

Inov-8 Mudclaw 300 (2015 edition)

Inov-8 Mudclaw 300 (2015 edition)

What’s New?
Well straight away the garish yellow has been replaced by a sporty blue / red colour scheme but this isn’t just the same shoe in a different colour.  Closer inspection reveals the main difference; the sole and heel design.  The latest model shares the same platform as the Mudclaw 265, having a flatter sole profile and without the flared heel of the yellow 300.  The distinctive bulge under the heel has gone.

flatter sole / heel profile on the new Mudclaw

flatter sole / heel profile on the new Mudclaw

The heel cup is less rounded and slightly lower and I found that that it doesn’t extend quite as high up the achilles tendon.  This could well be good news for runners who suffer from achilles pain.

Inov-8 Mudclaw 300

different heel shape, good news for tendon sufferers?

The rand around the lower part of the upper is now stitched rather than glued / bonded as on the 265 and previous 300 model and I wonder whether this will stand up to abrasion from rough Gritstone boulders and abrasive heather as well as the bonded upper does.  Time will no doubt tell.

Mudclaw 300

stitched uppers replace bonding – will it last?

What’s Not New?
The legendary grip from the distinctive 8mm lugs remains as does the 6mm drop as indicated by the double chevron.  The synthetic uppers are again treated with a Durable Water Repellent (DWR) coating and the precision fit (ideal for runners with a narrower forefoot) of the previous Mudclaw 300 is retained.

The shoe gets its name from its weight, the standard size 8.5 weighing 300g hence Mudclaw 300.  On the scales my pair of size 6.5s weighed 483g (does that make mine Mudclaw 241 and a halfs?)

Mudclaw 300 on scales

size 6.5 weigh 483g a pair

The shoes felt comfortable straight out of the box and reassuringly grippy on my first run with them over waterlogged, muddy fields (noticeably more so than my well worn current pair!)

Conclusion
To me the new Mudclaw looks more like the 265 than the existing 300.  It has a different sole and thus feels a little more stable particularly when descending. However I felt that the previous rounded heel was a bit better for steep contouring – I suppose you can’t have both.  To wear, it feels like the 265 too.  The 6mm drop is the main thing that sets it apart from its lighter stable mate and more in common with the previous 300.  I guess in reality it sits somewhere between the two.

the new Mudclaw sits between the 265 and the 300

the new Mudclaw sits between the 265 and the 300

Whatever version it is, whatever you want to call it, it is undoubtedly a Mudclaw.  It gives great traction allowing you to keep going on steep, slippery, muddy climbs and the confidence to tackle muddy and wet, grassy descents at race pace.

Mudclaw 300 new

doing what they do best – clawing at mud!

The Inov-8 Mudclaw 300 is a great shoe for wet, muddy, boggy conditions.  I shall certainly be wearing it this season.
The range of Inov-8 kit can be found at www.inov-8.com

fell running guide logo

Inov-8 Muclaw 300. One thousand km and still going!

This weekend I clocked up my one thousandth kilometre in my Inov-8 Mudclaw 300’s.

For a shoe that has to put up with the harshest of treatment; the acidic peat of the Peak District and the abrasive gritstone and rough heather moorland that’s some going!  Not to mention being left outside the back door on winter nights.

I use SportTracks software that automatically clocks the mileage (kilometre-age) so I know it’s an accurate count.

SportTracks software

SportTracks software keeps count

I’ve had them since October 2010 (again thanks to keeping a training diary with SportTracks) and remarkably the shoes have still got a good amount of tread left on them, particularly the heel studs which can be prone to coming off. Admittedly they’re not quite as yellow as they once were – but who wants bright yellow shoes! The only real sign of wear is in the heel cup.

Inov-8 Mudclaw 300

1000km and still going strong!

I do have a new pair put aside for racing but I reckon I’ll get a good few months more out of these as my winter training shoe and for running guide work.

Do I have a secret for getting such a good life span from my shoes?  Well warm soapy water works – and I suppose only being 8 stone helps too!

Salomon XA Pro 3D Review

The Salomon XA Pro 3D is a trail running shoe rather than a fell shoe that I would normally wear.

However I do run on trails and wearing a more aggressive sole is sometimes overkill so with Salomon’s good reputation for their range of running shoes I was keen to put these to the test.

Salomon XA Pro 3D

green and clean

First impressions on opening the box were good, a nice bright green colour to contrast with the leaden winter skies!  The fit seemed fine, with my usual size 6.5 comparing similarly to other shoes and the asymmetrical laces ensured a snug fit.  One thing I did notice was that they felt very stable, almost as if they had a wider, flatter base than I was used to.  The Quicklace system is easy to tension but then a bit fiddly to tuck the end away.

I first wore them for a regular 8 mile training run over a mix of terrain including hard packed trail with some muddy sections and puddles, uneven stony trail and a wet, grassy uphill stretch.  The XA Pros felt comfortable straight away and gave a reassuring grip on all but the muddiest sections where a pair of Speedcross or Fellcross would have been more at home.  The protective rubber toe cap would be a good feature on looser, rockier trails where there is a risk of stubbing your toe.  The extremely breathable upper did let the water in but that’s an accepted hazard of British winter running – it will be ideal if we have another long hot summer!

One feature that I did really like is the flush tongue which means that mud and grit stays on the front of the shoe rather than getting in down behind the laces.  This makes cleaning the shoe easier than with a normal tongue.

Salomon XA Pro 3D

at home on hard packed trail

Satisfied with their performance on trail terrain I decided to try them out over more fell running type ground.  They performed reasonably well although I found it hard to contour on steep ground due to the stiff foot-bed and wide base whilst running downhill on wet grass was interesting!  This is a bit of an unfair criticism as they aren’t designed for this type of terrain.

They did however cope well with a dusting of wet snow that fell during my run.

Salomon XA Pro 3D

coping with a dusting of wet snow

I wasn’t keen on the Quicklace system, the laces were covered with gritty mud at the end and I had difficulty releasing the lace.  I prefer good old fashioned laces but I’m sure it’s something I would get used to and maybe isn’t as much of a problem in dry weather.

Salomon XA Pro 3D

a not so clean pair of heels

Overall I would say the Salomon XA Pro 3D is a good trail shoe for runners seeking style, breathability, stability and protection.  It is perfectly suited to some of the Peak District’s trails and I would use it as a training shoe for less technical, drier terrain. I would even consider wearing it for dry, summer fell races where an aggressive sole isn’t required.

Cotswold Outdoor stock the shoe along with other trail running essentials.

Inov-8 Roclite

Inov-8 Roclite have been my shoe of choice this year.

I’ve used them for working, training and racing.  Unfortunately the rough gritstone, coarse heather and acidic peat of the Peak District have taken their toll and after 878 kilometres (I know thanks to SportTracks training software which calculated it!) the uppers have given up the ghost!

Inov-8 Roclite

oops!

Interestingly, compared to the uppers the sole has fared pretty well with quite a lot of tread remaining.

Inov-8 Roclite

there’s miles left in them lad!

The shoes have done me well and have had some great adventures:

steep running on boulders

Roclites doing what they were designed for

Inov-8 Roclite

getting wet

And have seen some stunning running conditions:

Inov-8 Roclite

blue sky running

Ennerdale fell race

struggling on Ennerdale fell race – me, not the shoes!

So I reckon that I’ve had my moneys worth out of them and whilst I’m always reluctant to throw my favourite bits of kit away, the good news is….

I’ve got a shiny new pair!

Inov-8 Roclite

ooh – new shoes!

For out and out bog and mud I wear Inov-8 Mudclaws but for mixed fell and trail running I don’t think you can beat Inov-8 Roclites.  So I’m off to hit the fells with my new shoes – it will be a shame to get them dirty!