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Here’s What Graphene Can Do For a Trail Running Shoe

U.K.-based performance footwear brand Inov-8 is bringing its graphite-infused technology to a new outdoor running shoe.

The label, which first launched in 2008, made waves with its X-Talon range of active footwear. Combining graphene, an ultra-lightweight and durable substance derived from graphite, with the rubber outsole used in its shoes, Inov-8 created a range of active footwear made to take a beating.

The label’s new X-Talon G235 style is designed for runners traversing trails, mountains and fells, along with obstacle course racers and orienteers. Inov-8’s product team worked with experts at the University of Manchester on its proprietary outsole, which offers stretch and flexibility while at the same time providing grip for wearers traversing rocky or slick terrains.

“Graphene is extracted from graphite rock, which was first mined in the fells and mountains of the English Lake District 450 years ago,” Michael Price, chief operating officer of Inov-8, said in a statement. The company’s outsole materials are forged in the same fells today, he added.

“What we’ve been able to do is bring all this history and heritage together, turn rock into rubber, and design the ultimate X-Talon shoe with the world’s toughest grip,” he said.

The shoe’s 8mm studs will retain their length longer than the company’s other styles, Price asserted, and are designed to more effectively hold up to wear and tear while providing traction. A lightly cushioned midsole offers protection from impact and support for the wearer’s foot, while the shoe’s one-piece upper is made from hard-wearing ballistic nylon that’s impervious to snags.

Scientists at the University of Manchester received the Nobel Prize in physics for the invention of graphene in 2010, and since then, a team of more than 300 staff has been developing prototypes of substances enhanced by the material—ranging from medical devices to sports cars and planes.

Inov-8 is the first and only footwear brand to utilize the material in its designs, Price said, adding that the company is “leading the development of graphene in sport.” Inov-8 will continue its work with the university, he said, and is currently looking into ways that graphene can be incorporated into more of the brand’s footwear and apparel offerings.

The X-Talon G235, priced at 140 GBP ($184), is available on the brand’s site for men and women in a single orange-and-black colorway.