Inov-8 Mudclaw™ 330 - review
There’s a saying that goes “a million people can’t be wrong”, well I’m not sure how many pairs of the Mudclaw™ 330 that Inov-8 have sold (probably not quite a million!) but I am sure that one of their best-selling shoes is so for a reason…
I have found that Inov-8 are also a ‘what is says on the tin’ type of brand. Their philosophies are built around not putting too much between the foot and the ground, neutral works best in the Inov-8 world. And in many ways it does.
It makes sense that on rough ground you need to be ‘in-touch’ with the earth that you are running on, the natural rotation of the human form and the movement of those 26 bones, 33 joints, 107 ligaments, 19 muscles and tendons need to be left to their own devices. The 52 bones in your feet make up about 25 percent of all the bones in your body!
Aggressive Mudclaw sole design. Good stability. Lightweight registered design. Available in both Sticky and Endurance rubber inov-8 sole compound. Excellent mixed terrain performance. Graded sole depth and cleat sizes. Contoured profile provides sure footed placement. Excellent grip especially on steep wet grass.
But, can all of the science be believed?
Built for the fells
A Mudclaw probably sees more mud than your average shoe, after all that’s what it is built for. Look at any flickr or Picsaweb set these days and you will see either the 270 or the 330 on many a runners feet. Whether it’s at Langdale, the steepness of Stuc a` Chroin, Y Garn or the boggy-endurance and multiple surfaces of The Three Peaks, the ‘claw will be out in force.
These shoes have the fells and hills running through their soles, uppers and laces and although my usage was on lower levels, two months of water, mud, bogs and ploughed fields hasn’t even scratched their synthetic surface!
The uppers are one piece, meaning less opportunity for ingress of water, but also leaving for a highly comfortably inner, with less stitching. The midsole on these is pretty minimal, however the shoe is surprisingly cushioned on harder terrain when coupled with the forgiving studded outsole.
Get griped and sorted!
The studs are aggressive – and they need to be. the curvature of the sole also ensures that your every 40 degree descent step will be sure-footed. I cant recall ‘slipping’ in these shoes on any surface. Additionally, after a fair few miles of tarmac transferring from various run to run I haven’t noticed much in the way of stud-wear either…
One area of concern that I had about this shoe X-Talon 212 was the grip on tarmac and concrete, in the wet. Not so with the Mudclaw. It was safe and sound on almost everything I threw at it.
Either my feet are an odd shape, or other folk don’t care about their toes being squashed up a bit. Personally I like plenty of breathing space for my feet when I put a shoe on and I can’t get away from the fact that Inov-8 shoes are a little too tight around the toe box area for me. This is possibly my only gripe with these shoes, but it’s an issue that I can’t overlook. Perhaps I will have to get used to it?!
Still, once you have got the shoes on and become accustomed to that tight feeling in the toe-box, the shoe does mold to your foot as the run goes on.
Another great design feature that I had to get used to – but makes perfect sense – is the heel cup on the Mudclaw. It’s surprisingly low, and for good reason. It makes perfect sense, though you would have to be a shoe and bio-mechanical specialist to think of it in the first place, that as you descend the natural positioning of the foot and ankle joint puts a lot of stress on the achilles. If you have a high heel cup, then, well, it doesn’t take a bio-mechanical boffin to work out that this is going to create some issues down the line.
You do need to get used to the ‘lowness’ and at times it feels the shoe is coming away on steep climbs, but as time wnet on I got completely accustomed to this feature – and like it…
They won’t cost the earth
Inov-8 care about the the earth that we run on. (Certainly as much as any running brand can, in a world where product is made and shipped about the world over), this page will tell you a little more. But, let’s face it, most runners these days look at their wallets before the local ecological impact report, and at 70 quid I reckon these shoes are a bargain.
With their highly durable nature, the fact that you can train, race, walk or do whatever in these makes them highly cost effective. And I also think that their durable nature, coupled with the fact that you will be running on more forgiving surfaces than road and tarmac, will mean that they last far longer than your average Asics and Nike pillows.
Would I buy them?
Yeah, yeah, as has been well documented on here, I didn’t actually buy these shoes. I was sent them, along with another three pairs of Inov-8 shoes, for review, that’s how it works. But, I have to pose the question – would I part with my hard-earned for these? Emphatically, yes.
1. They are very well made
2. They are purpose built hill-eaters, that work
3. They give confidence on almost all terrains that you throw at them
4. They are good value for money
5. They are made by one of the most respected brands in off-road running
6. They seem to be the weapon of choice for thousands of fell / hill / mountain runners
I’m not a sheep (generally) but on this I’m happy to follow the crowd…