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Discussion: Inov-8 spikes

in: Orienteering; General;

Feb 21, 2016 2:41 AM # 
Inov-8 appear to have discontinued the Oroc line of dobbed orienteering shoes. Instead they have the Arcticclaw and Arctictalon, designed for running in snow. Has anyone tried either of these shoes in 'normal' conditions, ie forest with no snow?
Feb 21, 2016 2:59 AM # 
Pink Socks:
Inov-8's website still says that the new ArcticTalon 275 and ArcticClaw 300 are suitable for orienteering.

The ArcticTalon 275 is essentially the refresh of the Oroc 280. Both have the precision fit, and weights and heel drops are similar (275g vs. 280g, 4mm vs 6mm).

The ArcticClaw is probably more like the old Oroc 340/350, but lighter (300g vs. 340/350g). The heel drops are almost the same (8mm vs 9mm). The biggest change is that the ArcticClaw uses Inov-8's standard fit, which has a wider toebox.

I expect the new shoes to be just as good for orienteering as the old ones, but Inov-8 realized that the market is much bigger for people who run on snow than people who orienteer, so they changed their nomenclature and marketing appropriately.

Salomon's SpikeCross are billed as winter trail shoes, and Icebugs, well, they have "ice" in their name. If referring to orienteering shoes as winter shoes is what it takes to have more people buy them, then great. I'd have "winter shoes" than no shoes.
Feb 21, 2016 3:09 AM # 
Speaking with my Inov-8 sponsored athlete hat:

Inov-8 has indeed discontinued the Orocs. I am going to try and change this situation and bring back a true orienteering shoe, but it's unlikely that even in the best scenario my impressions can make any changes before next year.

The Arctic Claw and the Arctic Talon are supposedly the replacements. I haven't tried the Arctic Talon yet, but the Arctic Claw is very much a winter training shoe, not an orienteering racing shoe.

- Better grip than the Orocs - lugs are triangle shaped, similar to the mud claw, and there are more spikes than the Orocs, that stick out further from the sole
- Rip-proof uppers
- Lots of padding/stiff sole, if you're into that sort of thing (I'm not, so this is actually a con for me)

- Too much heel height - heightened ankle-roll risk
- Sizing is kind of whacked - I ordered a half-size down, and it's still larger than I like
- Standard fit - feels sloppy in the forest compared to the precision fit (but it's good if you have a wide toe box!)
- Stiff sole - good for rock protection, bad for terrain feel in your feet
- I find the sides come up too high on my ankles
- Rip-proof uppers don't drain water quickly enough

There's your overly-honest review. Totally fine winter training shoes (yay for ice over pavement!), but I would never use them as an orienteering racing shoe.

Meanwhile, the X-Talon still rocks, for dry days.
Feb 21, 2016 9:58 AM # 
Terje Mathisen:
@Alex: I'm one of the guys who allow Inov-8 to sponsor you, I have bought at least 15-20 pairs of Inov-8 shoes since I was first told about them by my brother's son Hans Petter back in 2011. :-)

Last year I had to search around a lot before I finally found a pair of the new X-Talon 200: They are wider than the 190 and the 212 models but also shorter so I ended up using the same size.

I use Orocs for all the winter training races around Oslo, both in the forest and on icy street races, the only problem with them is the fact that they are noticeably heavier than the X-Talon, so replacing them with a line of even heavier "winter" shoes is bad news to us orienteers. :-(
Feb 21, 2016 5:00 PM # 
ArcticTalon sounds promising, I'll be interested in hearing a first-hand (first-foot?) report.
Feb 21, 2016 5:48 PM # 
Slight hijack here but---here in the US, the real market for orienteering type shoes is Obstacle Course Racing---Spartan Races, tough mudder, etc.. And, if you go to the Icebug usa website, they have a number of sponsored athletes---no orienteers but almost all Obstacle Course Racers. And, if you look at icebug or inov-8 on ebay---like x-talon 212 or oroc 280-- most of the descriptions say how good those shoes are for obstacle course racing.

With that all said, I will add that I am a big fan of the Icebug Spirit olx. I used to wear Oroc 340 all the time---I do almost 100% of my running off road--- but I much prefer the icebugs. I know it's not a fair comparison because of the weight difference but I have purchased, and observed, the deterioration of numerous pairs of Oroc 280's for my kids and the Icebug Spirit will far outlast them.
Feb 21, 2016 6:02 PM # 
The Oroc 280s do seem to only have a modest lifetime, but the fit is really different than for the Icebug Spirit (so much so that I can't even leave the Icebugs on my feet long enough to try running in them). Hopefully the ArcticTalon maintains a similar feel!
Feb 21, 2016 8:55 PM # 
The Oroc 280s are the only O-shoes I have ever had that fit my feet right from day one and didn't rip them up or cause blisters. I was really disappointed when I went to look for new ones and couldn't find a pair. I ended up finding a shop in Europe that still had some and getting them shipped to the US. But when this pair is done I'm not sure what I'll do next :-(
Feb 21, 2016 9:31 PM # 
Pink Socks:
I know that some obstacle course races prohibit metal spikes, so I'd wager that Inov-8 moves more significantly more Mudclaws and X-Talons than Orocs, and Icebug moves more Acceleritas than Spirits, and more non-studded Zeals than studded.

I also seem to remember that the Oroc 340/350 models weren't really for elite orienteering racing, so I'm not surprised that the ArcticClaw 300 didn't meet Alex's standards. But, like several posters here, I'm really curious about the ArcticTalon, since that seems like the direct Oroc 280 comparison.
Feb 22, 2016 5:54 AM # 
Thanks JJ for seconding my request - please someone give us a review of the Arctic shoes.

@ Pink Socks and carlch - I really can't believe that snow running and obstacle racing are bigger markets for shoes than orienteering. 99% of obstacle racers are one-offs, ie they do one race in a social or workplace team than never do it again. Where does all the snow running take place? There might be runners in snowbound areas (which in a world context are very rare) who need training shoes for an occasional winter run (mostly they'd go X-C skiing), but then why would they choose a racing she like the ArcticTalon?
Feb 22, 2016 6:56 AM # 
Pink Socks:
I really can't believe that snow running and obstacle racing are bigger markets for shoes than orienteering.

Let's take the Seattle area as an example. In 2015, we had over 4,000 orienteering starts, which I think was the largest in the United States. Let's say that's 1,000 different people.

The Tough Mudder here has 8,000 different people. And there's Warrior Dash, the Spartan Race, and a whole bunch of others. The audience for this is easily 20x larger in terms of unique runners. And this is in the city with the most orienteering starts!

Yes, not all OCR racers buy event-specific shoes, but neither do most orienteers, judging by what I see everyone wearing around here. The OCR racers may only do one race a year, but a lot of them train for it, so they can wear the shoes for that as well.

I think the biggest indicator that OCR running is a bigger market than orienteering is because of the action of the shoe companies. Reebok is the title sponsor of the Spartan Race and they make OCR shoes. If orienteering were a bigger market, we'd have seen a title shoe sponsor by now. Spartan Race has 5 million likes on Facebook. The largest orienteering pages are, what, 20 thousand?

Yes, yes, Icebug is the official shoe of Orienteering USA, but Icebug is also the official shoe of the OCR World Champs. Furthermore, Icebug USA is based in Bellingham, WA, just up the road from us. If orienteering were that big of a market for them, they'd be at our events, selling their shoes. They *finally* came to one of our events just this month, basically after being asked to. They don't seem to be too interested in us, and again, we're one of the largest orienteering markets in the US.

I'm not as sure about snow running, because it doesn't snow much around here. But I'd wager that there are a lot of regular ol' runners in Minnesota and Wisconsin, etc, who would be interested in winter running shoes. It wouldn't take that many of them to be a larger market than orienteers. I'd also wager that Inov-8 has done some market research here, and that's what's driving the decision to rebrand their spiked shoes as "winter" shoes instead of "orienteering" shoes.
Feb 23, 2016 2:08 PM # 
Trails in Toronto often are icy in the winter. However, to get to a decent area for cross country skiing, it is usually more than a one hour drive, so for those who work in Toronto, skiing generally is an option only on weekends. Once upon a time I could ski on man-made tracks in the nearby ravine, but these days there are too many dog walkers in the ravines, and if a dog walker sees a ski track, they will walk right down it rather than in the fresh snow alongside.
Feb 23, 2016 3:20 PM # 
Also, Obstacle course races are all about the image and the "hardcore" nature - it's all about having the right kit and showing it off. In face of the massive entry fees for the big ones an extra $100 to be seen in the right shoes isn't much, even if it is a one off. If I were selling shoes I would totally sell them to these crowds above orienteers.
Feb 23, 2016 3:27 PM # 
Exactly. I've heard of obstacle course racers tossing out their shoes afterwards because they were muddy. Compare that to orienteers who will go to great lengths using duct tape to extend the life of their shoes.
Feb 23, 2016 3:37 PM # 
I have bought three pairs off ebay in the last 3-4 months for various family members Oroc 280's included for $50 or less, including shipping. And all like new, only worn for "one" OCR race. Even now there are two pairs of icebug spirits for less than $50 but, unfortunately, not the right size for anyone here.
Feb 23, 2016 6:53 PM # 
I surely hope that the ArcticTalon 275 is going to be very similar to the Oroc 280.

For me, the Oroc 280 was both the most comfortable (perfect heel fit, snug at the toes but not painfully so) and longest lasting (500 km) orienteering shoe so far. My last pair lasted slightly longer than a VJ Bold 2013 and much longer than an Icebug Spirit 2.

My only complaints about the Oroc 280 are that the laces are too short and that the "fake leather" top sucks up water and dries slowly.
Feb 23, 2016 9:41 PM # 
Laces are too short?! My low-volume feet disagree. ;-)
Feb 23, 2016 11:48 PM # 
Laces are too short?! I have an easy fix for that!
Feb 24, 2016 2:40 AM # 
My Oroc 280s are still going after 4 seasons. The laces weren't too short - but were way too thin, so I used JJ's fix.
Feb 24, 2016 2:43 AM # 
You skipped half of the eyelets?
Feb 24, 2016 5:09 AM # 
I changed the laces, which I assumed was your fix. :-)
Feb 24, 2016 9:53 AM # 
If only someone would do shoes the same shape as the original Spirit OLX.
Feb 24, 2016 6:11 PM # 
My thought on seeing Cristina's post was, "Ah a cheap source for O shoes", carl obviously was way ahead of me.
Are Reeboks OCR shoes good O' shoes?
Feb 24, 2016 11:30 PM # 
Skipping half of the eyelets is cheaper than getting new laces. I recommend skipping all of the ones on the left-hand side. (Or left-foot side.)
Feb 25, 2016 5:11 PM # 
The speed at which this thread converged on cheapness is all the explanation you need as to why shoe companies don't target orienteers.
Feb 25, 2016 9:16 PM # 
I wonder if companies could make shoes similar to the way tire companies make studded tires: The shoe can accept studs, but they have to be inserted before first use.

I'd be worried about stud retention (i.e., loss of studs), but it might make a wider variety of shoes "ready for orienteering," and allow companies to sell one model of shoe to more customers.

I cut apart a set of Integrators several years ago, and I recall the foot side of the stud was huge---clearly it would be impossible to insert it after production. I might have photos somewhere.
Feb 25, 2016 10:12 PM # 
Pink Socks:
This may not be exactly what you're suggesting, but Salomon and Icebug make the exact same shoe in both studded and non-studded models.

Salomon's SpikeCross* is the exact same shoe as the SpeedCross CS, but with metal spikes. When you look at the sole of the SpeedCross, they have rubber tips where the metal spikes should be, so it's apparent that the use the same mold for the soles.

The same goes with the Icebug Zeals, which come in two varieties: studded and non, with the non having rubber tips where the metal should be.

* It looks like Salomon may have discontinued the SpikeCross, since it's listed only as clearance for whatever sizes they have left. It could be that since they just introduced two new SpeedCross models this fall, they'll overhaul the winter model for next year.
Feb 25, 2016 10:20 PM # 
Salomons aren't wide enough for some people. They've never been wide enough for my feet. I've had the same problem with Icebug, OUSA's sponsorship notwithstanding. Small market audience effect strikes again.

I've had pretty good success with Inov8's 280 model and J-J's skip-some-grommets lacing system (for even more room in the forefoot), but it looks like I'll have to find something else. I hope the ArcticTalon fits okay.
Feb 25, 2016 11:11 PM # 
La Sportiva does exactly what cedarcreek is talking about, down to comparing their product to tire studs. I've never tried it though.
Feb 25, 2016 11:23 PM # 
Well, I can see why shoelace manufacturers don't target orienteers.

(I really was kidding about skipping eyelets, but I wouldn't know, because, like Cristina, I typically find laces to be too long.)
Feb 25, 2016 11:32 PM # 
Well said Mr Buckley!

Our race series was sponsored by Salomon for a few years but that stopped about 2-3 years ago. It was a great partnership though. having a shoe company linked to your race brings real street cred.

Currently our Kids race is sponsored by Saucony and we get special deals on clothing from New Balance for our Adventure Running Kids program . It's all about numbers as we have over 1600 kids sign up for Adventure Running Kids each year, our kids race sells out at 500 and our schools race sells out at 1200. that likely makes our ARK coaches the most marketable orienteers in Canada. Much more so than the National team. They each drive a branded and sponsored Toyota RAV4 and I believe Patrick Saile had a NB sponsorship for a while and may still have it.

my personal shoe preference is Inov8 but with the exception of them supplying kids Xtalons to one running store that has partnered with ARK they haven't been interested in supporting our races or programs.
Feb 26, 2016 2:15 PM # 
Cedarcreek - there are a number of DIY methods to add spikes to any running shoe but my wife recently won a "Goat Head Sole Spikes" kit from . It has not arrived yet but we are really curious how well they work as it would allow you to firstly pick your favourite shoe and then "spike" them. I love my Icebug Zeals (and they have saved my butt a number of occasions running this winter) but I do wish they came slightly wider.
Feb 26, 2016 3:22 PM # 
The shortest screws on those spikes are 3/8" (~1cm). That sounds long enough to go all the way through an O-shoe sole (except the heel).
Feb 27, 2016 2:55 AM # 
You'd think that, but you'd be wrong; I'm not sure why you would screw an O-shoe as they generally already have studs, but I've screwed equally thin-soled racing flats with no problem. I'm also not sure why those spikes are any better than standard 3/8" by #6 hex head screws. The argument on the web site is that swapping out the screws will jack up your soles. That's BS; I do it all the time and the replacements stay in just fine. They work great for snow and ice. Also good on semi-frozen mud and not terrible on wet rock. However, true carbide studs are still the pinnacle of grip and for that, you need a shoe that comes with them baked in. In case anybody is thinking this is a big deal; it's not. I bring a power screwdriver to races and I've made decisions within 10 minutes of the start to screw my shoes. It's a very quick and simple thing to do.
Mar 1, 2016 3:06 PM # 
Custom "screw shoes" for winter are common among ultrarunners, with or without the help of a kit. It works well for people who want to wear the same shoe model for summer and winter. (Not me - I switch to Snowcross for most runs.)

If you want a really good deal, come to watch the obstacle race in our neighbourhood. Participants throw out thousands (seriously!!) of shoes after the race. Park staff felt awful as they cleaned up the "garbage" so they worked with organizers to set up a collection program where the shoes are cleaned and donated to charity.
Mar 1, 2016 8:50 PM # 
Sigh, the excesses of our society...
Mar 2, 2016 4:53 AM # 
You mean you keep your shoes after they get muddy?! Next thing you'll be telling us there is some magical way to remove dirt from your orienteering clothes instead of just buying a new ensemble for each race, like most people do.
Mar 2, 2016 5:22 AM # 
I take it as a good sign. That Mudder races suck so much, no one wants to do them over and over.
Mar 2, 2016 5:59 AM # 
I have at least one friend who irons orienteering clothes.
Mar 2, 2016 3:03 PM # 
Well, since the thread is already hijacked----
I have seen O' clothes in the trash too--I think they were pants or socks, can't remember; granted they were covered by thousands of tightly adhered stickers. I don't remember all the details but I do recall I spent A LONG time on my own clothes trying to remove all the stickers so the other person must have figured their time was worth more than the clothes.
Mar 2, 2016 10:27 PM # 
"irons orienteering clothes"

I know someone as well. And washes shoes. Doesn't everyone?
Mar 2, 2016 11:44 PM # 
Sometimes there is only so many grass seeds you can pull out of a pair of socks or shoes. Worst bit is when you think you have pulled all the seeds out and then some later time you feel some sharp annoying seeds burrowing into your foot from your socks or shoes. In case you are wondering, yes - our grass seeds burrow themselves into the ground (or your foot) when they get damp. Very annoying and painful.
Mar 3, 2016 12:07 AM # 
I'm still pulling your seeds out of my shoes from our visit 18 months ago.
Mar 3, 2016 3:48 AM # 
You're Welcome :)
Mar 6, 2016 4:34 AM # 
Many people have retweeted and commented on the ethics of bullying these robots (see video starting about 1:22).

But I'm more troubled by sending a robot out in the snow (see video about 15 seconds in) without adequate grippy footwear. Get that robot some Icebug Spirit olx or some Inov8 Orocs!
Mar 6, 2016 8:10 AM # 
Are lidar and stereo cameras giving unfair advantage when running through the snow and would they be allowed in international competitions?
Mar 13, 2016 6:32 AM # 
Caught up with an Inov-8 agent who isn't sure about the suitability of the Arctic models for normal forest, but has heard that a new Oroc 280 is coming out sometime soon.
Apr 5, 2016 4:28 AM # 
The US distributor for Inov-8 says "In reference to the type of shoe you’re looking for a style we used to carry, the Oroc had the metal studs. We only have one other shoe with this feature which will be released end of May, The Artic Talon."
Apr 5, 2016 1:31 PM # 
Hey guys, got a chance to run in the Arctic Talon finally. Only about three orienteering sessions so far, so this is not remotely a comprehensive review, more of a first take. Big improvement over the Arctic Claw, in terms of being lighter and with the precision fit. But, not an orienteering shoe; still a winter running shoe.

- Precision fit
- Uppers appear to be very durable (tighter weave on material and more plastic-like)
- Relatively low heel-toe drop, and low profile, similar to Orocs
- Studs stick out further than on the Orocs (I think)
- Triangular lugs, so even where there are no studs you've got really good grip

- Uppers hold water
- Whole shoe is a little stiffer than the Oroc
- Heel cup comes up too high, aggravates achilles (I imagine that's for other people as well as me)
- Almost too much traction - you lose something on bare rock where you actually want some flatter surfaces

Unless I can break these in some more and get them to feel more flexible, you'll see me running in last year's Orocs or X-Talons.

And, as with every precision-fit shoe from Inov-8 since 2014, I order a half-size down from normal.
Apr 5, 2016 1:56 PM # 
I took a look at some Arctic Talons a week ago and they seemed to be a lot stiffer soled than the Oroc. Is that the case, or have my Orocs just been beaten into submission?
May 3, 2016 1:35 PM # 
I am looking for one line of regular last shoe with studs to replace the OROC 280s. From this discussion, it seems that Inov8 no longer has a decent O shoe. Any thoughts on the new VJ Sports Integrator vs Icebug ZEAL OLX vs ARDOR OLX. I know VJ took it's time responding to the new lighter shoes.
May 3, 2016 3:17 PM # 
I talked to the Inov-8 shoe designers last week. Apparently you can still get ORoc 280s in Europe, they are just no longer importing them to the US. You also might still be able to find some online. Good luck!
May 3, 2016 3:18 PM # 
Cristina, theoretically the sole on the Arctic Talon and the Oroc is the same. I had a new pair of Orocs I compared just by sort of trying to roll them into a ball, and it seems that the sole may have the same stiffness, but the uppers on the Arctic Talon are sturdier-feeling, and thus won't crumple into a little ball as well.
May 3, 2016 7:07 PM # 
Alex, did they indicate if the 340 was also still available in Europe?
May 3, 2016 7:43 PM # 
No, they didn't, and I didn't ask about it. I do have to say that the Arctic Talon feels pretty similar to the Oroc 340, so possibly worth a try. I can bring mine to some local meets if you want to look at them (they won't fit you...)

That said, I'm pretty sure I saw some 340s out on display at the Swedish race I was at in April. So you can probably still get them.
May 3, 2016 10:13 PM # 
I would like to look at them at some point... I was under the impression they had the standard last rather than precision last (I much prefer the latter), but I think I was confusing the Arctic Claw with Arctic Talon. And nice to see they take the race ultra gaiter, which I have from the race ultra 290s, which didn't last too long before self destructing...
May 4, 2016 4:33 PM # 
I googled for 340's hoping to find a pair yet. Only place that had any stock (not my size) was in the UK. And they were really expensive, before the currency conversion. Didn't look for 280s since they don't fit my feet.

Just picked up a pair of x-talon 212 (S model). They don't fit either. Lateral toebox has too much curvature.
May 4, 2016 6:44 PM # 
bill_l - try calling I think my parents still have some 340s in stock. 1-866-844-7687
May 4, 2016 7:45 PM # 
If they don't, the place where I ordered my 280s seems to have 340s in at least some sizes. It's in Austria, they shipped quickly, and the package took about 3-4 weeks to arrive. Also the prices include VAT so they will be lower for a US customer.
May 4, 2016 9:40 PM # 
ok, thanks for the info.

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