The Inov8 Mudclaw is a shoe with an almost cult-like following. Loved and revered for it’s insane grip in even the muddiest and sloppiest conditions the British weather can throw at it.
When the new Mudclaw g260 v2 was released late last year I was really excited, I have long had a pair of Mudclaws in my quiver for dealing with the muddiest of occasions and after many miles of good service they were in need of replacing. I had a great experience with Inov8’s graphene outsole with their excellent Terraultra g270 last year so had high hopes for this new iteration of the Mudclaw.
Let’s get to the heart of the matter, the Mudclaw is a specialist shoe, it is not built to be your daily go to. It is designed for mud and going fast in mud. If you are looking for an all round do everything trail shoe the Mudclaw is not for you. But if you are looking for a show to add to your collections for those conditions when grip is essential then these will put a big smile on your face.
Out of the box they look fantastic, not quite the glowing luminous green of the Terraultra g270 but they will still be hard to miss until you use them in their intended habitat. A bright green upper which seems to go hand in hand with the original graphene lineup has a number of welded black overlays which break up the green and work well to hold the foot in place and stabilise the overall structure of the shoe when on the run. The graphene infused outsole is the true selling point of this shoe though. The 8mm lugs are peerless when it comes to tackling the wet sloppy stuff. They look similar to studs on a rugby boot such is the size of them, but there are far more ensuring grip will never be found wanting.
They are a 1 on the Inov8 fit scale which means they are a precision fit which will initially upset a number of people with wider feet who still want that Mudclaw hit. I have slightly wider feet myself but found going up half a size from true helped with the overall fit and feel of the shoe. The tongue strikes a nice balance between cushioning and weight and held centrally by two elasticated gussets either side which also help try and keep any rogue mud getting into the shoe during your run.
Once you get onto the trail the first thing you notice apart from the amazing levels of grip is the ground feel. When running trails and fells ground feel is vitally important and even more so when dealing with wet British winter mud. With just a 4mm drop and a 6mm footbed this almost feels like a barefoot shoe, you can feel what’s going on underfoot and adjust accordingly, if Inov8 had gone for a little more cushion that feel and responsiveness would have been compromised.
Ideally you want to be out of the door and straight into this shoes comfort zone of mud, unfortunately for the majority of us that isn’t possible and we have to run at least some road or trail before we get to the good stuff. The 270v2 is not friends with pavement and hardpack and even for short distances, you really feel the lack of cushion and the lugs jolt a little with every stride. It’s bearable and should be kept to a minimum but is worth it when you get to the good stuff. Once in the mud, the 270v2 gives you confidence to really attack your run safe in your knowledge that the grip and stability offered by the deep outsole is going nowhere. Ascending and descending caused no issues as the grip held true even in the most testing of conditions, the true test of grip though is when traverin on uneven angled terrain. The Mudclaw handles this well, no shoe is immune to sideways slippage but the Mudclaw holds better than most with minimal lateral slippage.
I did find that I experienced a little heel slippage on my initial runs with the Mudclaw g270 v2 but after adjusting the lacing and using the additional eyelet I felt much more secure and found the shoe held my foot well. The upper is extremely well formed to the foot with the overlays adding additional security, the materials used are extremely breathable which leads to a very comfortable run. This also means that they drain water quickly and efficiently meaning you won’t be carrying that extra water weight for long. With the level of breathability and drainage on offer you would normally expect some compromise to be made on durability, not so here. There is an extremely robust rubberised toe bumper which wraps the shoe from toe to heel and provides great protection from any nasty surprises hiding in the mud, the upper itself also handles itself well and is showing no signs of wear after 200km.
I am a big fan of the latest addition to this iconic line. It is not without it’s faults, the grip on wet rock is not quite as secure as you would like from a shoe that is designed for wet and muddy conditions. This is surprising seeing as the graphene outsole of the Terraultra g270 deals brilliantly with this. I also found the flex point in the forefoot a little stiff and would have preferred a little more give, but as this could have compromised the responsiveness I understand the decision. This will never be a daily runner but for days when you are going to be dealing with a copious amount of mud there is not a better shoe out there. Winter days on the fells and any day at the Nuts Challenge or Nuclear you will be as happy as a pig in… well whatever makes a pig happy. Grippy, fast and responsive with great ground feel, the Mudclaw g260 v2 won’t let you down, just don’t try setting a road PB in them.