Inov-8 TerraUltra G 270 Review
TERRAULTRA G 270
In this Trails Collective review of the Inov-8 TerraUltra G 270, we’ll take you through the specs, evolution of the model (and how it differs from the preceding G 260), a breakdown of components and functions, how it runs and holds up, who it’s good for, and possible comparisons.
Inov-8 is rooted in the Fells of England, a terrain made personal for me in a short time living in Scotland in 2001. The company was founded shortly after in 2003 and clearly anchored to those roots and function. The shoes were responsive, nimble, aggressive in lug pattern, and, pretty bad-ass in look. They became my first dedicated trail brand when I opened the Finger Lakes Running Company in 2006, and we’ve ebbed and flowed in keeping them in since. Check out this clip from Inov-8’s YouTube channel for a glimpse into the energy and glory which is Fell running. From that clip you’ll get a sense of what the shoes are designed for.
Outsole rubber: Graphene-Grip (with a claim of the World’s Toughest Grip)
Lug depth: 4mm
Fit: Grade 5 (inov-8 fit scale in the toe box is 1-5, with 5 being the widest). More details.
Component Stack Heights: Lugs – 4mm, Base Rubber – 1mm, 12mm (heel and forefoot), Lasting – 1mm, Insole – 6mm
Combined Stack Height: 24mm
Drop: Heel to forefoot differential, measured in mm: Zero
Weight: 275g (9.7 oz) (average weight across size curve), On the shop scale: 10.3 oz M11
TerraUltra G 270: Components and Evolution
The TerraUltra G 270 is an update to the G 260, a flagship graphene series model. We’ll take you through a few of the component evolutions.
The lug design and pattern were both revamped. The teardrop or waterfall (actually, they look more like the old Atari logo) lugs, which ran the center of the 260’s outsole, now wrap medially and laterally for full coverage. The lugs were given center slits to improve water channeling, and micro texturing to increase traction. The midfoot couple, which reversed the teardrop in the 260, now parallels those in the forefoot (i.e. spun their orientation). Although it may be splitting hairs, this may allow a bit smoother friction point in the midfoot. The lugs in the rear were also revamped, using the broader teardrop design, but in the reverse direction of the forefoot lugs. This classic pattern and reversal allows for a increased grip in the forefoot on the ascent, and in the hindfoot on the descent.
The G 260 had a cross or hash-tag configuration of Meta-Flex Grooves in the forefoot. That may have provided a bit of increased forefoot flexion in varied patterns. The TerraUltra G 270 moves to a more traditional groove design underneath the metatarsals. I think this allows the shoe to flex linearly in the forefoot while maintaining a bit of lateral structure.
Inov-8’s Graphene is indeed one of the best rubbers available in traction and durability. We confirmed this in head to head testing here. They mention a tweak in the Graphene blend, but I’m not sure how to qualify that. They did add small dimples to the outsole rubber and lugs to provide increased friction and traction. In my experience, the dimples, while tiny, do indeed increase traction.
Traction Bonus Category Winner:
Best in class traction for clutching on a John Deere 5200.
The midsole moved from using ExteroFlow to PowerFlow Max, with an increase from 9mm to 12mm in depth. Inov-8 claims that the new blend doubles its effective longevity through an increase in TPU (Thermo Poly Urethane). I’m always a bit dubious of those claims and would love to hear from someone who runs a full lifespan in each, and tracks their miles. They also claim that it provides 20% more energy return than the predecessor. Thereto, I’d love to see the force and compression studies and be a fly on the wall in that lab. What is felt is the additional 3mm and which I think is a good thing over longer efforts.
Their unique BOOMERANG insole features hundreds of expanded TPU beads that compress and then spring back for 40% more energy return – and greater cushioning – than previous insoles. They’re said to be tested to retain their thickness and optimum performance level for longer. In reality, I think it is a really nice insole. It’s cushioned yet hydrophobic, and feels durable / resilient.
As for their upper, their combination of mesh and rubbarized overlays they refer to as AdaptaFit. The claim is that it allows the foot to swell as needed, and adapt to any terrain. That seems a pretty generic and bold claim. On my foot the upper does allow for a bit of push with the overlays securing the foot over uneven terrain. The overlays have more integrity than the mesh so I do notice a bit of creasing at that interplay. The tongue is thin, with breathable mesh at the lower portion with a bit of leather or synthetic leather up top for abrasion resistance. What I think the tongue could use is a bit of padding underneath the uppermost lace lines as there’s a bit of pinch without it.
Fit and Feel
Inov-8 as a brand is not going to take the cake in providing a plush, “ooh-ahh” kinda feel out of the box. The midsole foam is firmer than what’s used by other brands such as Hoka, Saucony, or Brooks. It’s firmer underfoot with excellent ground-feel for a 24mm stack shoe. The tongue is thin, and higher insteps may experience pressure on the instep or front of lower ankle. Elasticized webs or gussets on either side of the tongue, designed to keep debris out and the tongue in place, have little material for bunching in the webspace, which is a nice design. The laces, moved from oval to flat between the 260 and 270, lay flat, stay tied, and don’t hang onto water.
The midfoot gauge of the 270, and Inov-8 in general, is narrower than I typically prefer. I can feel an overlay at my subtaler joint when standing in introspecting, but with no notice or rub while running. The welded overlays do allow the foot to push if needed, and are malleable while keeping the foot connected to the base over versatile terrain. The room in the forefoot is adequate, being a 5 on their scale, which equates to their roomiest toebox.
The TerraUltra G 270 I think is a pretty excellent match for the #BeastCoast. It has excellent ground feel for having a stack height of 24mm. In a landscape covered in root and rock technicality, having a responsive ride I believe is safer and more efficient. Yes, you may not be able to bludgeon through shots like you could in Hoka’s, but you know where your foot plants, and can quickly adapt to versatile terrain. The upper is fairly hydrophobic so it does great at not taking on water in crossings. The traction and durability of the midsole are as good as or better than anything else you’ll find on the market.
I’ve only put roughly 80 miles into the TerraUltra G 270. While this isn’t near long enough for adequate end of life comparisons, or to weigh in on what issues may arise down the trail, it can be compared to similar mileage into other models. So far it’s the outsole is holding up quite well, with only light abrasion in my high-wear heel area. It’s on par with Vibram’s Megagrip in prior model testing, and significantly better than VJ’s Butyl Rubber, both which offer similar levels of outsole traction. It’s too early for commenting on the durability of the upper.
Is The G 270 For You?
The TerraUltra G 270 is built for someone looking for:
- Unparalleled outsole traction
- Excellent outsole durability
- Prefers decent room in the toebox
- Okay with a drop of 0
- Looking for more responsive underfoot feel
Inov-8 Comparisons of other Graphene models:
- TerraUltra G 270: 4mm lugs, 12mm midsole with drop of 0mm, Fit Scale: 5, $160 (specs for comparisons below)
- Mudclaw G 260 v2 (9.2 oz): 8mm lugs, 8.5/4.5mm midsole for drop of 4mm, Fit Scale: 1, $185
- Mudclaw has more aggressive lugs, lower stack with less cushioning, and narrower forefoot
- TrailRoc G 280 (9.9 oz): 4mm lugs, 20/12mm midsole stack for drop of 8mm, Fit Scale: 3, $150
- Similar lugs with higher heel for greater drop, and narrower toebox
- RocLite G 275 (9.6 oz): 6mm lugs, 16/8mm midsole stack for drop of 8mm, Fit Scale: 3, $145
- More aggressive lugs, higher stack in heel, lower stack in forefoot for higher drop, and narrower toebox
- RocLite G 290 (10.1 oz): 6mm lugs, 11/7mm midsole stack for drop of 4mm, Fit Scale: 3, $135
- More aggressive lugs, lower stacks in both heel and forefoot, narrower toebox
Non-Inov-8 brand comparisons:
- Salomon Sense Ride 3: 4mm lugs, 25/17 for an 8mm drop, 280g, Contagrip, $120
- More cushioned than G 270, higher drop, decent traction but not quite as good as the Graphene, slightly narrower toe, firmer heel cap
- Check out our earlier review of the Salomon Sense Ride 3 here.
- VJ MaxX: 4mm lugs, 20/14mm stack heights for a drop of 6mm, 250g, Butyl Outsole, $160
- Similar lugs and traction, outsole rubber not quite as durable, a bit lighter than the G 270, more durable upper than G 270, higher drop
- Check out our earlier review of the VJ MaxX here.
- Topo Mtn Racer: 5mm lugs, 30/25mm stack heights for a drop of 5mm, Vibram MG outsole, $140
- Slightly deeper lugs, traction and durability of outsole close if not on par, higher drop with not as good ground feel, wider toebox than G 270
- Check out our earlier review of the Topo Mtn Racer here.
- Altra Lone Peak 4.5: 4mm lugs, 25mm stack height, 0 drop, 298g, MaxTrac Rubber, $120
- Similar depth lugs and zero drop platform, wider in toebox, outsole traction and durability not as good
Ready to Get in a Pair?
- Check with your local running store to see whether they carry or can order them.
- Support us and pick up a pair through the Trails Collective online shop.