Inov-8 TerraUltra G260 - Women's Review
Cons: Laces are short and stupid, expensive, potential midsole durability issues, zero drop may not be for everybody
Our Analysis and Test Results
The Inov-8 TerraUltra G-260 is a unisex shoe with a zero-drop design that balances all the metrics. It features a wide forefoot with that is exceptionally light, stable, and sensitive. It has the right amount of protection for all types of runs. Unfortunately, if you don't like a zero-drop design, this shoe is not the one for you.
For its sensitive and stable design, we are surprised by the amount of foot protection it's able to pack into such a lightweight package. It balances well with sensitivity, making it a wonderful option for all surfaces from technical terrain to flat zoomy single track. We tested this shoe on high mountain passes, traverses, desert trails, and snowy country roads. With these testing conditions, we're happy to say this trail runner is protective. It hosts a variety of features that keeps underfoot obstacles from causing injury.
The outsole is thin and has only 8.5-mm of cushioning throughout from the heel to the toe, which is a lot less than most trail runners. The cushioning is high density, packing a lot of responsive punch into a small area. With the integrated rock plate, this provides the sensitivity with just the right amount of protection. The Graphene sole is also pretty thick, protecting well from punctures and pricks you might find in the harsh environment of the desert.
Unfortunately, one of our testers who took this shoe on a particularly long rocky run mentioned that after about mile 12, her feet became quite sore, as protection is limited. With that in mind, it's important to break these shoes in and get them used to the higher impact you'll experience with its thinner design.
The upper is constructed of a kevlar mesh that is a great defensive wall from pesky particulates. Sandy, silt, and other dirt won't make its way through. While it is not waterproof, it does an excellent job of wicking away water. When fully drenched in a stream or river, the fibers are not absorbent and dry quickly.
It's a sensitive trail runner that will give you an intimate trail experience. The thinner forefoot construction will have you feeling the presence of underfoot hazards, but not so sensitive that there will be pain. The cushioning and rock guard protect well and are thin enough to allow you to feel what's underfoot. This high level of sensitivity makes it perfect for scrambling where edging might be required or while treading over super rocky terrain.
We love the traction of its Graphene outsole. The lugs are relatively deep, which works on both smooth and technical surfaces. The rubber itself does an excellent job of sticking to surfaces in both warm and cold temperatures. Since the lugs are flat and rectangular, they offer a high amount of surface area, which holds well on dry, rocky slabs. Travel is not impeded by super long lugs on roads, either; this is one of the reasons that we love its level of traction so much. It offers great lateral traction without sliding too bad on steep hard trails covered in kitty litter.
We also appreciate its performance on mud and snow. Just recently, on a super snowy run (with the odd mud patch here and there), it offered great traction the whole way without holding onto any of the mud. Another tester ran in a different pair of shoes that help all the snow and mud to the outsole, effectively making it useless; another reason it scored highly in this category.
The TerraUltra knocks it out of the park in this metric, as well. While it's not a super rigid construction, the heel and platform of the shoe feel incredibly stable on uneven terrain; this is largely due to its specific fit that wraps around the arch of the foot and hugs the heel. The heel cup almost feels like there are wings on the back (even though there aren't), keeping this shoe oriented in the appropriate position. We've taken this over tundra-like terrain where trails don't exist, and we felt confident that we wouldn't roll an ankle or fall down. Its lightweight construction makes it easy to change positioning quickly, while the sensitive forefoot keeps you in the know of where your foot is going. All of this contributes to its amazing stability suited for any kind of gnarly trail.
Comfort and Fit
Comfortable enough to simply wear to work and while traveling, its one that you can wear all day. The fit is specific and great for those with wide to narrow feet. This is largely due to the wider toe box construction that narrows at the arch and towards the back of the heel.
The underfoot cushioning is responsive, but we wouldn't call it "spring." It's more supportive than anything. The wider, more versatile fit contributes to its comfort on the trail. The upper is soft and flexible around the collar while the Achilles is supported with a little extra cushion. Even though the upper is composed of a harder composite that infuses Kevlar, it surprisingly doesn't feel rigid, nor does it feel scratchy. While we appreciate the comfort of this shoe, our biggest caveat with it is the laces. They are way too short, and the round construction comes undone easily. If you do buy these, you'd be better off switching them out as soon as you get them.
A super lightweight (8.5 ounces) shoe that feels nimble and quick. You can do your speed workouts or your next half marathon quickly. Even when wet, the shoe does a great job at wicking moisture and isn't very absorbent, staying light, even when wet. It's a good option if you're trying to find a pair for crossing streams and the like.
While the initial investment is high, this is a high performer when it is doing its job. If a zero-drop shoe with bomber overall performance is on your list of things to buy, this is a great option. However, if you're somebody who needs a little cushioning in the heel, this probably isn't the best shoe for you. After taking it out for about 500 miles, the cushioning has unfortunately packed out. The upper is still intact though, which is pretty impressive for a trail shoe to endure such abuse.
The Inov-8 TerraUltra G260 is a killer trail shoe suitable for all surfaces and all conditions. It offers the perfect balance of protection to sensitivity while offering immaculate stability, all in a neat lightweight package. We like the new colors, as well as a relatively wide toe box, and with a couple of runs, conforms nicely to the foot. While we wish this to be a shoe for every user, the zero-drop may not appeal to all out there. If you want something with a little extra cushion in the heel, check out other top performers to see if it's a better alternative for your purpose.
— Amber King