Inov-8 Terraultra G 270 Review

Inov-8’s latest shoe, the Inov-8 Terraultra G 270 ($160), is big on expectations and snappy technology taglines. The company has taken the widely lauded but not often used material–graphene–and created Graphine Grip, which claims best-in class-traction for its native conditions: the U.K.’s wet and muddy terrain.

It’s a shoe for racers, so with the pandemic disrupting the competition scene, how can Inov-8 showcase the benefits of the shoe’s ultramarathon-distance qualities? For one, it has supported ambassadors like Damian Hall who wore the shoes while setting a fastest known time on the Pennine Way, a National Trail in the U.K. It was a wet and muddy 268-mile journey which appeared to hold up well for Hall… though he probably should have added two extra miles for an even 270!

But does this technology matter much when used in distinctly non-U.K. environments like the super-dry trails of my hometown of Boulder, Colorado?

See our Best New Trail Shoes of Fall-Winter 2020 for more recent trail running shoe releases.

Inov-8 Terraultra G 270

The Inov-8 Terraultra G 270. All photos: iRunFar

Inov-8 Terraultra G 270 Upper

The Terraultra G 270 has a very sophisticated upper, meaning it does a lot of different, seemingly disparate things. For one, its heavy-duty overlays make it such that the shoe is very protective from moisture and mud while still being very flexible and accommodating for wide or swelling feet. Secondly, it’s incredibly durable and robust. Its wider-than-average toebox means your forefoot can splay. And while it accommodates for splay, the overlays match almost perfectly the spots where my wide feet usually begin to wear out shoes from other manufacturers who don’t reinforce the mesh.

Inov-8’s width scale is graded 1 through 5, with 5 being the widest. The G 270 is rated a 5.

The fully gusseted tongue stays in place perfectly, laying just where it should across your foot. For added protection, the shoe has perforations on each side where a gaiter can be affixed.

Inov-8 Terraultra G 270 lateral upper

The Inov-8 Terraultra G 270 lateral view.

Inov-8 Terraultra G 270 Midsole

I felt like a guinea pig when responding to our team’s inquiry about reviewing these shoes. A stack height of 12mm on these zero-drop shoes means that your foot strike, form, and maybe most notably your Achilles tendons must be in good shape to thrive (and survive) in the G 270.

As a midfoot striker, I found no trouble in these shoes and appreciate the quick turnover and springiness of the super-springy Powerflow Max foam. The G 270 added 3 millimeters of stack from the Terraultra G 260, intended to make the shoe more comfortable over longer distances. Though the G 260 was well received, many of us found it too unforgiving for a shoe meant for ultramarathon distances. The longest run I wore the G 270 on was three hours. I suffered none of the fatigue I have endured from other shoes I’ve worn recently. Inov-8 claims a 20% energy return improvement over the 2019 G 260.

Because it’s so springy, this midsole is more at home on hard terrain. I wore it on road-to-trail runs and even opted to wear it for a speed workout on dirt roads. The energy return on roads is great; you actually don’t feel like you’re sacrificing much compared to dedicated road shoes.

The included insole is what Inov-8 calls Boomerang. It’s supposed to compress and then spring back for 40% more energy return than previous insoles. As it turns out, I almost instantly discarded these insoles during my test. My feet cramped and ached on my first run out of the box. I don’t know if this was a fluke and would have gotten better over my runs, but my feet were so traumatized I decided to run without them for the duration of my testing runs and the pain went away. You may want to consider using a trusted insole of your own in these shoes.

As a race-day (or fastest known time) option, this is a shoe you’ll reach for because it doesn’t skimp on material features and it’s still very light at a little under 8.5 ounces. In fact, it’s the lightest shoe I’ve tested from around 10 pairs so far in 2020. You could always go for a lighter shoe but I believe Inov-8 found a very happy balance at this weight and for its intended long-distance use.

Inov-8 Terraultra G 270 medial upper

The Inov-8 Terraultra G 270 medial view.

Inov-8 Terraultra G 270 Outsole

Graphene is not a new material but to date it has not been used widely in consumer products like shoes. It’s a carbon-based material that is claimed to be the strongest available in the world. The Graphene Grip on the 4mm lugs is tactile to the touch and works well–but not great–on my aforementioned dusty trails. Where the graphene really shines is not just in grip but also durability. Inov-8 is not the most globally recognized brand in trail running but it hasn’t stopped the company from reaching into its pockets to fund and patent scientific innovations (it formed a partnership with graphene experts at The University of Manchester) and move with start-up speed (this shoe was developed very quickly in response to the pros and cons of the G 260).

After 150 miles across surfaces as soft as trail and as hard as pavement, there is little wear to be found on the lugs. Crossing laterally on the outsole are four water-dispersion channels but this feature is lost on me as I didn’t have the opportunity to run in wet much less muddy conditions.

Inov-8 Terraultra G 270 outsole

The Inov-8 Terraultra G 270 outsole.

Inov-8 Terraultra G 270 Overall Impressions

The neon-green colorway of the Inov-8 Terraultra G 270 I tested stands up to the bold technology it employs. (Other colors are available, too.) So who is it for? I would recommend this shoe first to people who live in wet places. I still enjoyed running in it very much despite not having the environment that it’s best suited for. It is lightweight with zero drop so heavier runners should be cautious. I am 6’ 4” and 177 pounds, and I believe I’m at the upper end of the body types who will find this shoe suitable. It can go the distance as Damian Hall found on the Pennine Way, but I think most runners won’t want to run beyond 50 miles in this shoe at one time. It’s not the durability that will waver, it’s simply that the cushioning will likely prove too minimal for most people.

Read up on other new trail shoes for fall-winter 2020.

Other Versions of the Inov-8 Terraultra G 270

While we reviewed the men’s Terraultra G 270 in this article, be sure to also check out the Inov-8 Terraultra G 270 women’s version.

Call for Comments

  • Have you run in the Inov-8 Terraultra G 270? What do you think of the shoe overall?
  • In what conditions and over what distances have you used the shoe and how has it performed?

[Editor’s Note: If you’re affiliated (i.e., an employee, ambassador, etc.) with a brand, please share your relation in each of your comments on this article. Thanks!]

More Trail Running Shoe Options

To find more options for trail running shoes, check out our Best Trail Running Shoes article and our full collection of trail running shoe reviews.

Inov-8 Terraultra G 270 top view

The Inov-8 TERRAULTRA G 270 top view.

There are 15 comments

  1. David+Sutherland

    I might be beyond the body size limit you mentioned (6’4″ 195lbs) but typically run in Altra Superiors on Boulder mountain trails. How do you think these shoes would compare?

  2. rich

    Reviews of the Inov-8 G270, including this one by Craig, have been consistently positive, and now with about 100 km on a pair, I would say the shoe lives up to expectations. The closest comparisons in terms of fit and utility would be Altra Superior and Lone Peak, based on zero drop, stack height and fit in the forefoot (size 45 works across the board). But after several pairs of Superiors (generations 2 to 3.5) and Lone Peak (2.5-4), I would rate the Inov-8s higher because (some points Craig hit) they are lighter, midfoot wrap works better for me, midsole is firmer (and is enough for my preferences), zero drop (I’m happiest with 0-4 mm), shoes hold less moisture, upper material (I believe, but we shall see) seems more durable than recent Altra iterations, outsole has better grip and I think will have a longer life (the latest LP soles wear fast for me), and all this together makes the shoe feel more agile. Pricey, but durability may ultimately be a fair payback on that. Regarding a rock plate or not, I never used the Stone guard in the Superiors and have no issues without a rock plate; I have found that as long as the shoe has a good outsole that’s enough protection for me.
    Use so far has been mixed bike path, gravel road, single-track wet-ish forest trails, but shall test in wet mountain (fell-like) conditions next week (where I typically run in a more technical shoe like Salomon Speed). But like all shoe choices, it comes down to fit, personal preferences and type of use planned, but for me the G270 ticks the right boxes for my day-to-day shoe preferences, and as I wear out other pairs in circulation will pick up a second pair for rotation.

  3. Alex Ertaud

    I have my pair of 270G’s on the way as we speak, and I can’t wait to try them out! I have/had 4 pairs of the 260G, and loved them. I run in zero-drop (or very minimal drop) exclusively due to ankle issues, and the 260Gs were the only zero-drop I could find that are a proper mountain running shoe that can descend technical terrain without compromise. All the Altras I’ve tried have failed in that regard, not to mention the fact that they fall apart before I’ve even run 200 miles in them. I hope Inov-8 continues to make these zero-drop shoes, and encourage other companies to do the same!

  4. Ingo

    I agree with everything Rich wrote, excellent Allrounder if you like very low drop and ground feel with just enough cushion. Altea LP (2.5, 3.0, 4.0) are no match in my point of view, although I liked those…

  5. Hubert

    Oh I like these shoes. The real snappy and responsive ride is pure pleasure. Normally I like shoes with drop 4 – 8 mm, but after nearly 150 km on variable technical trails I had not problems with the zero drop. For me definitely not an Ultra shoe, but the last weeks I used them very often, alternating with my other favourite shoe, the Salomon sense pro 4.
    For me the best feature is the flexibility in the forefoot, where the shoes are spacious. In the midfoot area they are still narrow, as many Inov-8-shoes are. The lacing is enhanced a lot compared to other Inov-8 Graphene shoes (Trailrock G280 or Roclite G275 for example) The grip is very good, may be not as good as described (“world best”?). For deep muddy trails not the best shoes but not bad. I am thinking to by a second pair.

    1. GR

      How do you find the fit and shoe overall compares between these and the G275? I’ve been struggling to find a comparison, as I run in the G275, and you’re small comment suggests perhaps you’ve worn the two and could help? Thanks!

  6. Hubert

    I used the G275 January/February 2020, they are still im my board oft “active” Trailshoes, but as I have a lot of possibilities, I used most Sense pro 4, Saucony peregrine 10 and now Terraultra 270.
    The fit of G275 ist more evenly from midfoot to forefoot and last one is more narrow compared to the TU G270. For my feet the forefoot is more than spacious, first a concern of mine. As already mentioned, the midfoot is on the narrow side, for me optimal and the lacing ist much better than the G275´s. The lacing of the G275 ist one of the worst of all my shoes. I had to use a lacing with knots for the G275 to adjust them. With the G270 no problem, I like the upper and fit much more and the “rolling” pleasure, responsiveness when running is awesome. For me the TU G270 is a far better shoe, running with the Roclite G275 is OK, not bad, but as good as the grip is, fit, upper, performance are not comparable. I was really disapointed with the Roclite G275 and also with the Trailroc G280, but I really “love” this new TU G270. This is my personal opinion, but if you have not really broad feet, you should try them. Okay not the cheapest?
    Sorry my english is a bit rudimentary

  7. Menno

    Hey Hubert. Any thoughts on the G270 versus the Peregrine? The latter have been my default shoe for quite some time now but they don’t feel very agile and their durability has been so so for me.

  8. Hubert

    Hey Menno,
    I have used Peregrines over the years, Nr. 4 and 5 were my favourites. The new Peregrine 10 I like again, really good grip and stability. Agility is not on par with the G270 and the “running pleasure” too. I have no problem with durability, but as I use several shoes, I cannot really say something about this feature. So far I cannot see any wear at my G270, I think its really a quality shoe.
    I use the Peregrine in more muddy conditions, but most of the time the G270 in change with the sense pro 4.

      1. Menno

        Used them for a month now as my primary off road shoe. Enjoy their nimble agility and good grip. No issues for me with lack of cushioning (runs up to 5h). Build quality seems good. Only drawbacks so far are the somewhat high price and the laces that will come loose if I don’t give them a tight knot.

  9. Hubert

    Yes, the price is high, but I don´t regret. The laces are really one the best ones of may Inov-8-shoes, compared to Roclite 275 oder Trailroc G280. You can adjust them exactly, a tight knot is always necessary?

  10. SB1066

    Really interesting regarding the insoles. I purchased a pair of these last week and today was set to take them for a spin. The arch of my foot felt terrible and I was forced to revert back to my Altra Timps. I’m going to try them again without the insole.

  11. Michael

    i’ve been using a pair here in AUS and have put about 500km on them thus far on a variety of surfaces. I am 1.84m, 78kgs for reference>

    1. The graphene, whilst offering amazing grip, really broke down much sooner than expected running in temperatures exceeding 30c. No shoe holds up well to this that I have encountered, but to have noticeable wear and a performance drop off after 100km of use was not expected>

    2. Agree with the reviewer mentioning feeling he was at the upper limit of the shoe comfort wise – after using them substantially in the run-up to a 50k, i found them too harsh beyond 25km. I ended up using a different shoe from another manufacturer for the race, though really missed the light weight and quick turnover of the Inov-8’s>

    3. Rock protection – nil, so if you aren’t the type of runner who can maintain focus on precise foot placement and optimal line choice for the shoe you are wearing, i’d give these a hard pass if you are running/racing on rocky trails. Flip side of that coin – OUTSTANDING ground feel, perhaps my favourite shoe i’ve ever run in this respect, even surpassing my previous fav SLab’s.

    4. Loved the midsole and insole energy return….at first. These both dissipated quickly and after 100km I felt that the midsole had lost quite a bit of punch on shorter, faster runs….again, like the graphene grip sole, much sooner than anticipated. I am very curious to try their forthcoming graphene infused midsoles……

    Whilst this perhaps presents as overly critical, i loved this shoe – but for someone my weight, i’d classify it as a race day quiver type of shoe for events up to 30K’ish on harder trails, maybe up to a 50k if the majority of the event is on softer trails/soft ground.

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