Inov8 Mudclaws

Having been a devoted wearer of Salomon Fellraisers for the past few years, a slippy run out with Chris finally convinced me that it was time to invest in some shoes with more grip. So we invoked the nuclear option, and went with Inov8‘s ultimate-grip shoe — the Mudclaw.

Whilst working at planetFear, I’d dabbled with the old version of the Mudclaw, but found the slightly odd heel didn’t work well for me. I spent most days after running with the old Mudclaws suffering from foot pain, so I’d stayed away. Never the less, Chris convinced me that the new shoe was a different beast all together and how right he was!

So far, the Mudclaws have been taken round a couple of mountain marathons, a couple of training runs, and a (nearly) half marathon up Hedgehope in Northumberland.

The Mudclaws feature 8mm (8mm!) studs and a 6mm heel-toe drop and I have found them to provide stable placement for my feet when out running. In particular, the stability provided by these shoes is hugely important for me, due to over-pronation caused by a misaligned left ankle. I have also noticed an improvement when descending as the outrageous grip provided by the Mudclaws allows for greater margins of error. The lacing running the length of the shoe allows for a snug fit along the entire foot and has saved the loss of a shoe on more than one occasion!

My one complaint is that I cannot get the lacing very snug around my ankle but this may be more to do with my orthotics taking up more space than Inov8 would anticipate in their design.

Grip on (wet) rock also leaves a little to be desired, but I find this is almost always the case with any shoe and so I don’t really consider this a negative against the Mudclaws

They seem to be holding up reasonably well for the time being, but having only done ~100 miles in them it’s early days to be making any comment on the Mudclaws’ durability.

So the take-away message is: a comfortable shoe, with a middling drop and just utterly outrageous grip for anyone who battles through deep mud or slippery grass.

As always with shoe reviews, this is only my own opinion. Everybody’s feet are different so please take the comfort/fit comments with a pinch of salt. Oh, and always try new shoes out at least once before a race!

Inov8 Boot Experiment: Follow-up

After waxing and baking my Inov8 Roclite 296s to try and restore their waterproofing, I went with some friends from school to the north west of Scotland (write up to follow), where the waterproofing was very much put through its paces.

Unfortunately, my experiment did not re-proof my boots – I had damp feet for pretty much the whole week – but it did provide a rather unexpected benefit: the increased hydrophobicity of the outer mesh meant that mud and dirt had a hard time sticking to the boots, and so I ended the days with mostly clean, albeit damp boots.

So in summary:

Greenland wax won’t re-waterproof lightweight mesh boots, but will hugely reduce dirt sticking to the boots.

Using the wax at the start of a boot’s lifetime may help maintain the boot’s waterproofing by preventing dirt from penetrating the outer fabric and abrading the inner membrane.

Leather boots would probably be fully re-proofed…

Hope this helps :).

Inov8 boot experiment – part one

This is not entirely your usual blog post, but I thought it would probably be worth sharing this experiment with everyone in one shape or form.

Firstly, a little background; about a year ago, I purchased some Inov8 Roclite 286 GTX boots for use on the Spine Challenger. These are very lightweight boots, really for all intents and purposes they’re just high-topped fell-running shoes, and as such I didn’t expect them to last all too long.

I’m pleased to say that structurally, in the main, they’ve held up pretty well, including a full recce of the Spine Challenger course (bar the last 15 miles from Horton in Ribblesdale to Hawes), and 86 miles of the Spine challenger proper. However, Inov8 don’t make these anymore, so as a review this is pretty much useless…

The tread is pretty much in-tact, and the uppers look almost fresh, aside from a penny-sized abraded patch on the left arch. However, they’re not waterproof; every time anything mildly damp so much as looks at them, my feet are wet, and with an impending trip to Scotland, and a lack of pennies in the bank, I decided that the best option would be to look at creative methods of boot-reproofing.

So began a couple of days of thinking, and by Tuesday (11/04/17), I’d decided that the best option would probably be to order some water resistant breathable fabric from Pennine Fabrics (based in Bentham near Lancaster), and stick this to the inner.

As always happens with these things, I ended up discussing the issue with Stu Hamilton, of OMM event organisation fame, and he asked why I wasn’t just reproofing the outers.

“Well, because they’re light mesh fabric uppers, I can’t just polish them”

“Er, what about Greenland Wax?”

“Aye, good idea!”

So with a cheeky £8 fix presenting itself, I thought it couldn’t hurt to give it a bash. Later that day (yesterday at time of writing) I popped down to LD Mountain Centre in Newcastle, and, as well as enjoying a nice chat about running with the chap behind the till, I purchased a block of Fjallraven Greenland wax.

Another important piece of information is needed here – I’m currently studying for a PhD in physics and materials, and as such I have access to some rather useful lab equipment. In this instance, a large oven which had already been extensively used for dirty processing.

Securing the permission of the lab technician to use the oven for my slightly odd experiment; “you want to bake your boots? Er, ok”; I proceeded to dry them out from their washing in the morning, give them a good rubbing with my newly procured block of wax, and stick them back in at 57°C.

About 20 minutes later, I retrieved the boots. They don’t really look any different, indicating that the wax has been absorbed nicely into the outer fabric, and it’ll be time for rounds 2 and 3 tomorrow. Nice waxy Roclites.

It’s hoped that this will at least alleviate the wet-foot issue – I’ll let you all know as soon as I’m back from Scotland.