There are a lot of these great brands out there that are either relatively unknown in the mainstream market and yet have this huge passionate following and are building these amazing products so when we get our hands on one and it performs well we are stoked to talk about it. In this case, the company we are talking about is Inov-8 and the shoe in question is the TerraUltra G 270. This UK founded company has been designing off-road shoes for years now with a focus on grip across really challenging terrains and that has evolved into a complete lineup and is now delivering what might be the best trail shoe of 2020.
Quick Details, Specs, and Availability
- Speedy, all-purpose, super grippy, and surprisingly flexible trail shoe.
- Plusher than prior iterations, but still firmer than others at this stack height.
- Weighs in at 9.5oz or 270g for a US Men’s 9.
- Features 21mm of cushion (27mm for Women) and has a 0mm heel/toe drop.
- Retails at $160.00 USD and comes in 3 colors for Men and Women.
Having very little to go on in terms of our experience with Inov-8, we immediately zoned in on the 0mm drop and our comparison easily became Altra. This isn’t a bad comparison even when it comes to the actual shoe, but while the shoe might compete against something like the Superior, it turns out it is a totally different beast. Altra runners however should be the first to check these out though because it is a very easy transition.
When you first get your hands on the TerraUltra G 270, you will notice that the shoe feels like it needs to be broken in. Our best point of reference is like a new baseball glove. It comes in a little stiff not just in the midsole, but even that upper. Everything feels very new and fresh and firm. That midsole is flexible, more so than you might expect. Visually, the overall design of the shoe just feels tough, from the overlays on top all the way down that really grippy outsole.
Slipping your foot in, the shoe feels exactly like it looks. That upper is definitely tough and lacks some flexibility at first. The toe box is wide and open and you have plenty of room up there to move your foot. It is clear your foot is incredibly well protected starting up front and carrying all the way around to the heel by durable overlays. Even the lacing column is reinforced and protected. Underfoot, the midsole doesn’t feel particularly soft, so expect a bit of ground feel and even with the hop up and down test, the shoe has plenty of bounce to it. One slightly rough area comes right behind the medial arch, just where you see “PowerFlow Max” on the midsole. The shoe bumps up right there and it can hit your heel in a strange spot and there are mechanical reasons for it, but at first, it feels more like a protrusion. This will go away in the run as you will see in a second.
On the trails and heck even on the road, because this can be a great multi-terrain runner in our Pacific Northwest Winters, the shoe does really well. Their patented Graphene Grip outsole technology just grabs on to whatever terrain you’re on and keeps you on track really well. On singletrack, it feels nimble and quick and foot placement is very easy. For shorter cadence and mid to forefoot runners, the shoe will feel really fast and snappy. Heel strikers won’t love it as much, but if you are zero drop, then you’ve probably made a transition toward a non-heel-strike style. In terms of distance, it can really tackle anything from ultras down although some will want a bit more cushion at really long distances, 21mm isn’t a ton in the end.
The true high point for us on this shoe is really durability, protection, and grip. The shoe holds you well, stands up to the elements from top to bottom, and while this is not a waterproof shoe, it doesn’t wince at Mother Nature in any way. Faster runners will enjoy the snappiness you get from it where slower runners will enjoy the bit of nimbleness it adds to your step. Their outsole again is one of the best on the market in our mind, so it’s hard to poke a lot of holes other than probably the break-in time as it can feel a little stiff during those first few runs.
The upper on here uses Inov-8’s ADAPTERFIT technology which says the upper adjust the natural movements of the foot as well as the swelling that occurs over distance. It is engineered mesh but then dominated by overlays for durability. On the inside, however, there is a smooth layer that eliminates any chafing, and given the roomy toe box, you know these are built for distance. The tongue is gusseted and very thin which some won’t entirely love and we did notice some rubbing from the lateral eyelet on both shoes. The internal heel cup is large in size but lacks rigidity and we had no problems with hold whatsoever. The lockdown on the upper is an A+.
The 270 uses Inov-8’s POWERFLOW MAX midsole technology and they say this new foam provides a 20% better energy return overall. It has a higher amount of TPU than the prior versions which helps with energy return. Note the 270 does get 3mm of additional height from the 260, but at 21mm this is not a highly cushioned shoe.
The outsole uses their Graphene Grip which has a really nice tackiness to it and the 4mm multi-directional lugs handle varying terrain as well as side to side slippage without issue. They have also added grooves to the forefoot to allow for that flexibility we just love.
Style & Aesthetics
The Inov-8 Lineup has a very distinct look and in terms of TerraUltra in particular, you get three colors to choose from with our favorite being are green and black review version, but the blue and yellow are strong as well. It just feels very much like it belongs on the trails and the shoe in general just isn’t overdesigned visually which is a huge plus.
The Inov-8 TerraUltra G 270 Is definitely in the running for trail running shoe of the year. The one area that will hold it back for many Runners is the zero drop is a highly contentious topic in the community. If we told you this was a 4mm shoe then you wouldn’t bat an eye. However, we can say you won’t miss it or notice it. the upper protects you and holds you well well also standing up to the elements and the shoe has decent cushion but also flexes really well giving you a really controllable and comfortable ride. the outsole is tried-and-true and stands up to literally everything without a problem. if you wanted to try one New Brand and one neutral shoe this year and you can get over the drop, then please take a look at this shoe.
Check Out Other Reviewers Thoughts
As always, we gather together some of our favorite reviewers so you can get a well-rounded view of the shoe. Here are our favorites.