ProView – Inov-8 Terraultra G 270
Living in Issaquah provides me with trails right out the back door, perfect testing conditions for the Terraultra G 270. Over the years, I have run in Salomon Sense Rides, Altra Lone Peaks, Altra Superiors, La Sportiva Lycans, and La Sportiva Kaptivas. I was eager to try the Inov8 Terraultra G 270 for its zero-drop profile and cushioning, a blend of the features I liked from the Altra and Salomon shoes I had run in. My biggest concern was durability: I am rough on shoes. Many of my runs involve some amount of off-trail travel, which eats into the upper and tread of shoes fast.
Inov-8 Terraultra G 270
Product Name: Inov-8 Terraultra G 270
Product Description: Named TRAIL RUNNING SHOE OF THE YEAR 2020 by Runner’s World and three other publications, the TERRAULTRA G 270 is taking the world of trail and ultramarathon running by storm. An evolution of the TERRAULTRA G 260, we have made several small, yet crucially detailed, improvements that deliver more grip, more bounce, more cushioning, more comfort, more everything.
Offer price: MSRP: $160.00
Inov-8 Terraultra G 270 offers a comfortable ride, loose fit, and impressive durability.
- Comfortable cushioning
- Tough graphene-infused rubber outsole
- Simple design with minimal points of failure
- Tread lacks grip for scrambling on rocks
- Flashy color scheme not for everyone
Summer in the Pacific Northwest is a dream for trail running, and I took the Inov8 Terraultra G 270 along with me for some amazing runs, through Mt. Rainier National Park, Grand Teton National Park, and the I-90 corridor near Snoqualmie Pass. Many of my runs involved 10-30 miles, with a variety of terrain from smooth and groomed trails to start, to all-out rock scrambling at points. I needed a shoe that could keep me going for 10-12 hour days with a supportive cushion while being grippy and snug for off-trail scrambling.
The Terraultra G 270 has a loose fit and wider toe box, not quite as square as an Altra foot shape, but wider than a La Sportiva fit. Overall, it’s quite comfortable for long runs where your foot swells but fits a little on the high-volume side. I double socked for runs where I wanted to have a snugger fit.
The cushioning of the Terraultra G 270 is quite plush, with a 12mm stack that has a soft cushion. There isn’t any “break-in” period needed out of the box, they come ready to rip. Around 450 miles in, I have started to notice the cushion beginning to compress, but it is still quite comfortable and shock absorbent.
The color scheme of the Terraultra G 270 isn’t for everyone. I chose lime green and black; they do have some other color schemes, but other than the black/black they feature some high visibility colors. Not my favorite colors, but nice for runs where you want some visibility of your feet amongst the bushes and plants, I guess.
The Terraultra G 270 has a simple design with no notable bells and whistles. I liked this, though, as it meant fewer points of failure or mechanisms that could break. I appreciated the simple lacing as well, as I am not a huge fan of BOA or other complex lacing systems.
The Terraultra G 270 comes in at 270 g, or 9.5 oz, per shoe, which feels light and nimble on your feet. They have enough ‘beef’ to feel supportive, but aren’t overly bulky. In terms of weight, they feel similar to an Altra Superior, but have much more cushion and padding than the Superior.
The Terraultra G 270 performs beautifully on the trails, no matter the mud or rocks in the way. They were built specifically for Damian Hall and the fells of Scotland, so they translate great to rough terrain. The 4mm lugs feature Graphene, a carbon-based material that improves durability, elasticity, and outsole strength. The outsole bites into dirt nicely, but lacks grip on long scrambles across rock slabs and boulders; to be fair, this should be expected with the lug design.
Still, I was able to take the Terraultra G 270 on numerous rock scrambles and found the performance acceptable up to 4th class scrambling. I wouldn’t want to venture into 5th class terrain with them, though, as they aren’t snug or responsive enough for tenuous scrambling.
The most impressive part of the Terraultra G 270 is its durability, thanks to the Graphene that Inov8 features in its outsole rubber. Graphene is an increasingly popular carbon material that is being used by running shoe manufacturers to improve the durability and strength of rubber, especially in the outsole. There are a rising number of scientific papers investigating the material properties and structural composition of Graphene within the construction of running shoes. It is impressive to see a company like Inov8 on the front lines of innovation like this.
I am abusive to many of my trail runners, but the Inov8 Terraultra G 270 are holding strong, even 450 miles in, with a mix of off and on-trail travel. There are a few places on the upper where the fabric is starting to fray and show wear, but no major holes or failures to report! I have seen Salomon, La Sportiva, and Altra shoes begin to wear and/or fail with fewer miles. There is no delamination of the outsole from the midsole, nor is there any degradation to the shoelace eyelets, two common failure points I have seen in other trail runners. The lugs are starting to wear down, but much less than other rubber compounds, such as Vibram or Contagrip, two common outsoles used by La Sportiva and Salomon. The graphene is working!
Friendliness to the Earth
Inov8 has an extensive Sustainability pitch on their website, which lists out the various initiatives they are taking to both improve their environmental impact and give back to their community. Just to list a few that stuck out to me:
- The shoes are delivered in a box that is made of 100% recycled cardboard and printed with vegetable based ink!
- Inov8 collaborates with the University of Manchester’s National Graphene Institute to pioneer cutting edge research into the sustainable manufacturing of graphene, the material used in the rubber outsoles of many Inov8 shoes.
- 5% of every purchase made on Inov8.com goes to help plant trees through the Cumbria Wildlife Trust.
- Inov8 has teamed up with the charity ReRun to distribute some of their used prototype shoes to those in need, such as refugees and low income families.
The Final Word
Overall, the Inov8 Terraultra G 270 is a comfortable and tough trail running shoe that stands the test of time! I laced up the Terraultra G 270 for short runs, long runs, smooth trails, rocky trails…no matter the terrain, I was pleased with the performance. The 12mm stack of plush foam provides a smooth ride that still feels responsive; the Graphene-infused outsole rubber is tough, durable, and doesn’t wear down like other rubber compounds such as Vibram or Contragrip. Most of all, the simple design of the Inov8 Terraultra G 270 removes common points of failure, such as delamination, eyelet ripping, or holes in the fabric of the upper. The Terraultra G 270 aren’t the best shoe for completely off-trail travel or steep rock scrambling, as they fit loosely and don’t edge well on rock slab. For everything else, though, these shoes are a wonder: a durable, comfortable, and innovative (yes, the pun) that stands up to miles and miles on the trails.
About the Gear Tester
Sam Chaneles is an avid mountaineer and backpacker, climbing peaks in the Cascades, Mexico, Ecuador, and Africa, as well as hiking the John Muir Trail and off-trail routes in Colorado. He has climbed peaks such as Aconcagua, Mt. Rainier, Cotopaxi, Chimborazo, Kilimanjaro, and many more. Sam graduated with a B.S. in Mechanical Engineering from Georgia Tech. During his time there he was a Trip and Expedition Leader for the school’s Outdoor Recreation program (ORGT). He has led expeditions to New Zealand, Alaska, Corsica, France, and throughout the United States. Sam is based in Issaquah, WA just outside of the Cascade Mountains. You can follow Sam and his adventures on Instagram at @engineeredforadventure, or on his website at www.engineeredforadventure.com.