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Inov-8 TerraUltra G 270 Performance Review

What You Need To Know

  • Weighs 9.5 oz. (270 g) for a US M10.0
  • Lighter and more flexible than last year’s version
  • Graphene Grip outsole is literally the best trail outsole in the game right now
  • You’ll believe you can fly, you’ll believe you can touch the sky

TAYLOR: Take any Hollywood awards show– by the time the red carpet rolls out, we pretty much know where the awards will go. I’m not one for awards shows, but I’m pretty sure that’s what happens.

If there was a shoe version of the Academy Awards, it would probably be the lamest televised awards show on earth, but the after-party would be legit. Kipchoge dripped in Gucci and popping champagne as Jared Ward hands out MyoStorm party favors to everyone who will listen to his elevator pitch. Much better than the Run Gum Razzies. Let’s make this happen.

But first, let’s talk about the award for “Sleeper Indie Hit of The Year.” The inov-8 TerraUltra G 270, a revolutionary trail running shoe that has already won awards for its first iteration (the TerraUltra G 260) from 2019.

The second version is ready to rock and roll on any trail, any distance, and in any condition. It’s hard to actually categorize where this shoe fits best, so it’s a double contender, vying for the crown in the “Do Whatever the Heck You Want” category.

While there isn’t a show awards show (yet), you can bet on this one finding its way into the 2020 Believe in the Run BIG (Best In Gear) awards.

COURTNEY: The trails in Idaho (it’s way more than just potatoes here) are very rugged, technical, at times overgrown, and can involve a lot of off-trail running due to remoteness. Many peaks in southeast Idaho don’t have trails to the summits (think grassy and rocky ridgelines!). Perhaps I shouldn’t be surprised or completely blown away that a company with roots in fell running really nailed it here for me– BUT THEY DID– these shoes are truly a delight.

I’ve always affiliated inov-8 with little support and zero cushion, both things that would ultimately translate into injury if I ran too many miles in them. The only other inov-8 I’ve worn was circa 2013 and it was one of the F-Lite models– super flexible, insanely minimal, and very attractive. My how times have changed.

This model was so flexible I even wore them to hip-hop classes and it was better than any jazz shoe or sneaker I have ever worn– no joke! Anyway, back to running… the TerraUltra G 270 shattered the mindset I had originally developed around Inov8.

inov-8 terraultra g 270 heel

The Good

TAYLOR: Where should we start? It’s all in a name, so let’s dissect that first. What does it actually mean? It’ll give you a good idea of what this shoe is all about.

Terra means “earth” or “land.” Ultra means “on the far side of” or “beyond”.  So, this shoe is meant for going really far on land. I already like it! One of the main components that make that possible is inov-8’s new midsole compound called POWERFLOW MAX. It’s a mixed EVA and TPU compound that is super light, has extraordinary energy return (extra kudos for that), and offers good protection. What more could you want?!

The only foams I can compare it to is Skechers’ Hyper Burst or Ultra Flight. POWERFLOW offers a bit more protection and is comparable in the other categories. You’d think that with only 12 mm of this stuff underfoot, plus a 5 mm BOOMERANG insole with bead-like tech, it wouldn’t amount to much. Think again. The foam supposedly is 20% more responsive and the insole gives 40% more energy return than the previous model. I can totally buy into that.

G simply means inov-8’s Graphene Grip (i.e. the best outsole on the planet)! I doubt there are any other planets producing outsoles, so technically, it’s the best in the universe. It’s worthy of the title. What is Graphene?

Graphene is an unbelievably durable and resilient compound drawn from graphite, a technology that only came around in the last 15 years and led to a Nobel Prize for the researchers at the National Graphene Institute in England. Graphene comes as a one-atom thick carbon sheet, is 200 times stronger than steel, but still retains flexibility.

Previously athletes had to choose between a sticky rubber that works well in wet or sweaty conditions but wears down quicker, and a harder rubber that is more durable but not quite as grippy. Through intensive research, hundreds of prototypes and thousands of hours of testing in both the field and laboratory, inov-8 came out with a proprietary and patent-pending outsole that truly is the best grip out there.

And it works. I’ve been thoroughly impressed with every G outsole (Mudclaw and Trailroc G280). It’s extremely grippy and stupid durable. The outsole will never wear down before the rest of the shoe. Some outsoles grip well on a few surfaces and not on others, but Graphene Grip doesn’t discriminate in the least. It grips well on any surface I have come across. Vibram’s MegaGrip does come a close second in grip, but it is a distant second when it comes to durability.

The 270 is a reference to the average weight for the range of sizes (in grams). My men’s 10.5 weighed in at 9.7 ounces (275 g). It even feels lighter than that.  Any trail shoe that comes under the 10-ounce threshold is incredible. Usually that means a lack of protection or cushioning, but not so much in the TerraUltra’s case.

Does the TerraUltra sound like the trail shoe of your dreams yet? Well, inov-8’s trying to put the nail in the coffin on any doubt that this is one of the best trail shoes of all time.

I’m not going to lie, out of the box, the mesh upper and very thin tongue felt a little like a cereal box. After a few miles and 30 double-foot puddle stomps later, it settled in and became a breathable and secure fitting upper. I was happy to be back in the mountains and out of midwest humidity! Oh yeah, the puddle parade was also to test breathability and drainage properties. Two thumbs up!

A few overlays and a subtle toe bumper add more security and elemental protection. Even on highly technical above-treeline rambling, the TerraUltra was secure fitting, nimble, and protective enough to bomb the downhills with confidence.

I <3 inov-8 TerraUltra G 270 (don’t show this to my wife, she may get jealous)!

COURTNEY: It was a pleasant surprise to discover the support and cushion the TerraUltra G 270 offers. For some reason I’m always impressed when a zero-drop shoe brand can get these things right without making it feel like you’re wearing shoeboxes strapped around your feet, or like you need to wear them while mowing the lawn to break them in first.

Weighing 9.5 oz this shoe is beautifully responsive, with a supportive fit, wonderfully wide toe-box and the 4 mm graphene-enhanced lugs make navigating technical terrain quite effortless.

Much like Demi Lovato’s engagement ring (don’t @ me! they both dropped the same week!!) you can’t help but notice the design, sheer excellence, and durability of the upper. For many people in trail running, uppers tend to blow out before anything else wears out, and I certainly don’t foresee this as being an issue with this model.

Shop inov-8 – Men Shop inov-8 – Women

inov-8 terraultra g 270 outsole

The Bad

TAYLOR: Someone stop me! I can’t believe that I’m even typing anything here.

Many of the following points are not necessarily bad things about the shoe, but they are worth noting because of the wide variety of preferences out there.

TerraUltra is inov-8’s widest most accommodating shoe. That doesn’t really mean a whole lot. One of the only complaints that I have had (and heard from others) with inov-8 shoes in general is narrowness in the toe-box. I did not sense that in the TerraUltra. It is definitely more accommodating than others that I have tested. They are very average in its toe-box width as compared to most other shoes. The TerraUltra is not Altra wide nor are they Nike narrow.

Since I mentioned Altra, let’s talk stability. Altra shoes are wider-based shoes with low drop which offer natural stability. Even though the TerraUltra is also a zero-drop shoe, I never felt as though it was a “stable” shoe. They are not a wild ride either. That is perfectly fine with me, but many who go for the zero-drop are also looking for stability.

Last, I don’t think it’s a false advertisement, but inov-8 claims a “plusher” ride with the TerraUltra. Though they are a softer ride than last year’s model, it’s not exactly the plush that you or I might think of when the word comes up (like, HOKA Stinson-style). They are pretty middle of the road when it comes to midsole firmness. Also, these shoes are definitely ready for the ultra distance, but because of the generally low stack, they may now be the best bet for something extreme like Hardrock… but then again, the Penine Way FKT (268-mile trail in the UK) was just set last week wearing a pair of these.

COURTNEY: Truthfully, I can’t find anything negative to say about the TerraUltra G 270. Other than the price point, maybe. It can be a challenge to encourage people to spend $160.00 on running shoes if they haven’t discovered the value in paying a little more for quality gear. It’s definitely worth the splurge in this case.

Shop inov-8 – Men Shop inov-8 – Women
inov-8 terraultra g 270 blue fells
Photo credit: James Appleton

 

Inov-8 TerraUltra G 270 Conclusion

TAYLOR: When you think of Space Jam, what song comes to mind? Probably Space Jam… but what about the next song that comes to mind? It better be R. Kelly’s “World’s Greatest” otherwise this reference is all for nothing. Now, while R. Kelly is more like the World’s Worst, the TerraUltra G 270 lives up to the song’s name.

These are seriously some of the best trail shoes for any trail scenario. They tick all of the boxes for what you want in a trail shoe. Even further, the TerraUltra does so at a really high caliber.
If you’re looking for a pretty great trail shoe that will last forever, pick up a pair of the inov-8 TerraUltra G 270.

COURTNEY: The TerraUltra G 270’s are hot (in a good way), ready, and down to party. Don’t let the words “support” and “cushion” mislead you into thinking it’s a clunky shoe that will leave you stumbling over rocks or slipping around inside your shoe, because it’s far from that!

Especially if you struggle on technical trails, the TerraUltra G 270 would be a great candidate as a trail running shoe to gain confidence on technical/rugged terrain. Bonus, it’s also a great option if you are looking to add an “all day shoe” to your collection.

You can pick up the inov-8 TerraUltra G 270 by using the shop link below.

Shop inov-8 – Men Shop inov-8 – Women
Photo credit: James Appleton

Taylor Bodin is a trail and ultrarunner living in Estes Park, CO, with his wife and daughter. He and his wife both love running the trails in Rocky Mountain National Park. When not running, Taylor is a Kindergarten/1st grade teacher, running coach, and youth leader for his church.

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