Inov-8 312 GTX Review
The 312 gtx is much bulkier than the more minimalist Talons and Trailrocs. Yet they are still lightweight and comfortable, in spite of the 9mm heel to toe drop (I would prefer 3 mm). I have a wide, hobbit shaped foot and the shoes were able to fit me well enough. I would also prefer a bit more width in the toes, but I was able to adjust the lacing so it works. The sole has a very pronounced lug grip much like the X-Talons and the material is Gore-Tex, excellent for keeping water out, but also keeping water in. The 312s have more toe protection too for those times you smack a rock with the front of the shoe, something the Trailroc and Talons lack.
My vision for these shoes were for those colder winter snow shoe and trail runs that would grip into the snow and keep my feet warmer and drier. In the past I have used the Talons but would have inserted a bag in them to keep my feet drier in the snow. Also, since they do provide more protection and Gore-Tex, I could see using them as a ultra lightweight shoe for hiking and backpacking trips.
I was able to test them out recently on a Northern Presidential Traverse. We covered 15 miles with 7500 feet elevation gain. The terrain is covered with sharp, unstable rocks. My friend seemed doubtful that these 'sneakers' would provide enough protection on the trail.
|Mt Madison in the clouds wearing the 312 GTX|
|Rocky Terrain of the Presedentials|
After 15 miles, the bottom of my feet felt 'ok'. I definitely hit a few rocks that sent some nerves up my foot, but generally not too bad and no worse than anything else I have used outside of a heavy duty hiking boot. I feel like the lugs in the shoe provided a protection barrier between the rocks and my foot. I also did hit my toe on a few rocks, and the toe protection on the shoe was excellent. The Gore-Tex worked exactly as it was suppose to, my feet were dry but not sweaty. I did not get water 'in' the shoes so I cant testify how well they drain.
I did though feel that the shoes felt wobbly at times. This could be a combination of the lugs and the narrower sole. (apparently, the 312s's sole is not as wide as others). It could have been because i was getting tired, but I was feeling less confident in my foot placement down the Lions Head trail 13 miles in. With that said, we ended up running the last 2.5 downhill miles and the 312 gtx felt awesome.
Overall, the 312s worked out great and I am excited to use them again on the trail and especially on the snow. If you want a lightweight trail runner that provides fair protection, these may be a great choice.