The Inov-8 TerraUltra G260 wins our Editors' Choice award for its versatile performance and durable design, which integrates Kevlar into the upper and Graphene into the outsole. It features a wide toe box and a zero drop design that offers a beautiful balance of sensitivity, comfort, and protection. If you're seeking a shoe that is meant to tackle the toughest terrain, this ultra-durable option is our top pick, and perfect for any distance, including ultra-marathons.
Take this shoe anywhere! Climbing, running and more!
Protective? Absolutely! The TerraUltra G260 comes fully loaded with a whole slew of features. The upper is Kevlar; yes, the same material found in bulletproof vests. The tightly woven overlay balances a great blend of breathability and protection from fine particulates and other materials that might fly in from the natural world. While you tread technical trails, the integrated rock plate in addition to the 9mm of cushioning keeps the soles of your feet safe from the random sharp rock underfoot; however, it is a lot more sensitive than thicker outsoles. That said, you will have an intimate trail experience that isn't only protective, but comfortable and interactive.
When testing the TerraUltra G260, we climbed to the tops of Fourteeners running out distances up to twenty miles. We also took on lovely single track and rock-littered rampages. The trails leading to these magnificent mountains and summits presents a plethora of surfaces perfect for testing--long country roads, zoomy singletrack, rocks n' roots, and more. In all scenarios, our feet felt protected from the elements. While the cushioning isn't the thickest out there, the integrated rock plate does a good job protecting from sharp rocks. When encountering a steep trail in Boulder, CO that offered submerged rocks with a diversity of surfaces — round, jagged, and smooth, we could feel the undulations of each underfoot. When accidentally stepping on a sharp one, we could feel it, but the rock plate provided sufficient protection to prevent injury.
While the toe cap isn't HUGE, it is certainly a protective feature of this shoe.
The toe cap is hard, but not as bomber as other trail shoes out there. When hitting an unsuspecting stub, our toes were protected. Not only that, but the overlay does a decent job of wicking away moisture and drying quickly in warm weather. All these features make for a wickedly protective shoe that will have you confident in tackling long distances on technical trails.
The overlays are actually bulletproof! Manufactured from a Kevlar polymer, the tightly knit upper doesn't allow pesky debris to enter...however it does allow great breathability throughout!
Stable as a rock! Featuring a wide forefoot platform, it allows you to spread your digits, providing great balance on technical trails and fifth class terrain. While it doesn't integrate any special stability features like shanks or the like, the shoe feels balanced throughout its extent. Since it offers a lower level of cushioning throughout, the trail experience is sensitive and intimate, adding to the stability of the shoe throughout the forefoot and heel.
The upper wraps confidently around the foot with a well-integrated harness that lives underneath the Kevlar upper. Pulling on the laces pulls this shoe around your foot. The rigid upper keeps the shoe in place, wrapping around the heel of the foot and the outsole is a little wider than the upper, providing a stable base that allows smooth and flexible transition, whether you're striking with your heel or your midfoot. Overall, this is an incredibly stable shoe that will keep you upright on the trail.
Take on the technical terrain with these bad-girls. The platform provides wonderful stability on technical trails.
This shoe boasts the best traction that we've tested thus far, featuring a Graphine infused textile that sticks the best to any surface we've tested. While the lugs aren't particularly long, they boast a high surface area with spacious areas that surround the lug to almost 'suction' to the ground. As a result of being well-spaced, it sheds mud well in rainstorms and sticks to the slipperiest surfaces out there. While some shoes do better in sloppier weather or less technical terrain, this design boasts the best of all worlds. The lugs are multi-directional with a variety of shapes that grab the Earth whether you're moving forward, backward, or side-to-side.
During our testing period, we wore this shoe during a few muddy rainstorms, to the tops of mountains, over steep and slippery town, and around town. We also trodded through wet rivers and over slippery rocks to truly test its limits. While we'd love to believe that an outsole can pretty much do anything, no shoe (thus far) has been able to stick to the slipperiest of rocks. While the TerraUltra isn't an exception, it indeed held better than any shoe we've tested so far.
A look at the outsole pattern that is absolutely stellar on the trail.
Inov-8 makes some big claims about this being the "world's toughest shoe." These claims are attributable to the construction of the outsole with the integration of a super durable Graphene material. Inov-8 also says that this material makes their rubber 50% more elastic, 50% more durable, and 50% harder wearing. During our testing, we experienced this higher level of elasticity which contributes to its fantastic traction on the trail. The rubber (on a micro scale) wraps around rocks and otherwise slippery terrain, keeping you upright and confident; this included while descending steep corners that offered only slippery sandstone rocks. While we were a little worried at first, our confidence soared when we didn't slip, fall, or trip.
A great diversity of depth of lugs keep you upright and stable.
When hiking downhill on slippery gravel over dirt, we found ourselves bracing for a slip or fall, but it never came. After just an afternoon in these shoes, we were far more confident on slippery terrain that we would have otherwise slowed us down. Overall, traction is incredible and above any other contender tested thus far! We are genuinely impressed and surprised.
The outsole is a little wider than the midsole, providing better balance and traction overall.
What is Graphene? The properties of Graphene make it an exciting material to integrate into any trail runner. It is a semi-metal that is made up of a single layer of carbon atoms, arranged in a hexagonal shape, creating a ridiculously strong latticework. This composition makes the outsole super durable, elastic, and sticky.
Comfort & Fit
Comfort in this shoe is decent, providing great responsive cushioning on the trail in addition to sufficient protection from underfoot obstacles. The fit is wide with a nicely fitting heel cup. The zero-drop technology utilized pushes the runner to strike with their mid-foot and doesn't add additional support in the heel or the arch area. The unisex fit is wide, providing much wiggle room and comfort for long days on the trail. While we think this shoe is incredibly well built with a pretty versatile fit, breaking it in is a different story.
Slipping your foot into these babies isn't the most pleasant experience on the first run out the door, but over time they do break in. With a Kevlar-based upper that is breathable and provides fantastic airflow in hot weather, it doesn't flex very much on your first run out. We dealt with some blisters because the upper material was so inflexible around the back of the heel. The collar of the shoe is quite thin and doesn't offer a whole lot of cushioning, which some of our testers liked, while others didn't. On the run, the tongue stays in place. Our most significant comfort caveat is the laces. They are round and slip quite a bit while on the run, so we would recommend removing and replacing them with a better set that doesn't unfurl after an hour or two. Other than these few negatives, this is an incredibly responsive shoe that keeps your feet comfortable for all-day wear.
The thinner uppers and precise fit make this shoe comfortable for the long haul. While it's not outfitted with uber amounts of cushioning, the midsole is incredibly responsive and makes for great transitions underfoot.
Weighing in at just 8.75 ounces, this is lightweight trail runner is perfect for tackling longer distances. The Kevlar upper is super breathable and doesn't hold a lot of water. When running through rainstorms, this shoe got saturated, but after the sun came out, it dried relatively quickly. In our dunk tests, it only held 3.1 ounces, making it a less absorbent shoe, and a great option for both warm and wet weather. Overall, this is a lightweight shoe designed to make you feel super light on your feet.
This award winner provides a fantastic balance of sensitivity and protection. With only 9mm of foam, this thinner shoe allows you to feel the curves and undulations of the trail. While you might feel a rock or root underfoot, the integrated rock plate still keeps feet protected. If you're seeking a barefoot experience, this shoe does not make that a reality. However, it provides a high level of sensitivity that will still allow you to strengthen your connection with the Earth on the run.
OMG…the Inov-8 TerraUltra is ridiculously versatile. Wear it for everything from your next training run, to your next race, or next ultra-distance--it'll do the job. Take it with you while scrambling over sketchy terrain or while walking the dog in the morning. While we love the performance of this shoe, we could seriously do without the screaming green color. As a unisex shoe, we wish for better colors, as black and bright, screaming green are the only current options. When considering wearing them to work on a casual day, we opted for a different pair of shoes as they aren't very stylish or subtle. As a result, they are best for just the trail.
Tackle summit, long trails, or training runs with this versatile trail running shoe. It wins an award for its amazing versatility and all-day comfort and protection on the trails.
At $150, this shoe is at the higher end of the price spectrum. That said, we still think its high value. Through our testing, we've logged over 300 miles and still haven't noticed any wear and tear through the upper or the outsole, which is super surprising. We took it running on the road to see if the lugs would wear down, and they didn't! The overlays stayed in tact…even through gross weather, and the tread seems to have worn down little, even after tackling rough, rocky terrain. Overall, we are super impressed with the durability and performance of this trail runer…making it an Editors' Choice and one of the more durable options tested thus far.
This Editors' Choice winner is super burly with amazing traction that will stick to almost every surface. It is incredibly versatile with a wider unisex fit and a responsive midsole that protects on the trail. The lightweight and ultra-durable design that provides all-day comfort is certainly worth trying out--you be the judge.
A favorite among our testers, it balances all the most important elements of a trail running shoe.