Inov-8 Terraultra G270 - Women's Review
Our Analysis and Test Results
What's New With the Inov8 Terraultra G270?
Let's take a look at what has changed from the previous iteration, the G260:
- A "more responsive" midsole cushioning that doesn't break down after a few miles
- Redesigned toe box without the Kevlar toe bumper
- New outsole with more specific lug positioning
- Improved lacing system
- A TPU skeleton with more durable elements
- Removal of the pull tab
- A narrower fit in the toe box
- Redesigned tongue
- New fit specific to women
- Way better color options
The Terraultra G270 stands out for its low profile performance on the trail that feels light and just protective enough for harsh conditions. It has a zero-drop design that is best for forefoot strikers that prefer an intimate experience on the trail. We love many of the new updates, including a better traction pattern and a lacing system that doesn't slip.
While this shoe offers an excellent impact distribution on the trail, it features only 12mm of underfoot EVA cushioning packed into a dense and responsive midsole. It has no rock plate. You can say this trail runner offers just enough protection from underfoot hazards, like pointed rocks and roots, but it's far from being the most protective option out there. It earned a below-average score in this metric, along with other highly sensitive shoes like the La Sportiva Bushido 2.
We took this trail runner on just over 60 miles of terrain ranging from smooth singletrack to county roads to rocky and muddy surfaces. When your foot hits the ground, you can feel absolutely everything underfoot, from undulations of rocks and roots to even small twigs. It gives you an intimate ground connection somewhat akin to a barefoot shoe. However, the forces are nicely distributed at the impact point, prompting us to double-check that this shoe does not actually have a rock plate. Instead, the dense and responsive foam works as a shock absorber, distributing that impact better than most of the protective shoes we've tested.
The upper is constructed with a water-wicking mesh and TPU skeleton overlay that protects particulates and the like. We tested it while running in sandy, muddy, and wet conditions. Unfortunately, it has no water drainage system, so when tromping through streams, the water pooled at the shoe's base. After about 15 minutes, it dried nicely, and water managed to escape from the mesh on the top of the shoe, but more dedicated holes at the front would improve the design.
We are in love with the traction of this trail runner. It features a Graphene Grip compound, a softer rubber that sticks to rocks. The lugs are 4mm in length, offering a toothlike grip on the trail, doing well on most types of terrain. However, it doesn't tout the best performance over ice and soft surfaces like clay-based mud, in which case you should look to the Salomon Speedcross 5.
We tested traction during the winter and spring months in Colorado, Utah, and Arizona. The G270 does best on trails and paths, crossing over to roads well. It also does well on hard-packed sand, rocky trails, and technical terrain. The soft compound molds to the undulations of the path, holding tough. On steeper gravel and kitty litter, it was able to parse through the stones to grip the path and dirt below.
We also enjoyed embarking on a few scrambly routes in Ouray, Colorado, namely the "blue dot" trail, a little local secret. It is a 1000ft rise over less than a mile on quartzite rock. This trail requires a nicely fitting shoe with a softer compound to cling to the more polished stones. For this trail, the Terraultra was a hands-down favorite for its grip.
Where it doesn't thrive is on super muddy terrain. While the lugs are 4mm in depth, they are placed relatively close together, which doesn't allow mud to shed well. The flat sole under the lugs does help to promote this, but we were left with mud build-up after an exceptionally wet rain.
The Terraultra is one of the most sensitive trail runners we tested, with only 12mm underfoot at the toe and heel. With no rock plate and only a densely packed midsole, you can feel the undulations and features of the trail. If you seek a sensitive ride, this is one of our favorites and one of the highest scorers in this metric.
We tested this shoe on runs ranging from one mile to 15 miles. While Inov-8 touts this as a distance running shoe, there is some time required to get your foot conditioned and ready for 10+ mile distances. On distances under 10 miles, we felt there was sufficient protection. Still, after that distance mark on terrain that was significantly uneven, our feet got sore as a result of the sensitivity.
While this is a mark of your body conditioning and becoming stronger, it's important to note that the level of sensitivity does take getting used to. This process is especially true if you're transitioning from a more protective trail runner or just starting with this sport.
This shoe is very stable because of its level of sensitivity and low-to-the-ground feel. It is categorized as a low profile with a mere 12mm of protection across the outsole. The toe box isn't very wide, but the shoe itself has a nice cradling effect upon landing, making it feel pretty stable on uneven surfaces.
If you plan on tackling rocky terrain or trailless tundra, this is a good choice. It balances sensitivity and stability with a low-to-the-ground feel. The shoe itself is flexible with an incredibly responsive and precise fit and thus is very stable. The toe box isn't very wide, but the outsole and collar of the shoe are wider than the upper, offering a broader landing platform in the forefoot and through the heel, which aids in preventing rolling.
Comfort and Fit
The G270 has a specific fit from heel to toe with a zero-drop design, which means no additional support in the arch and no additional cushioning in the heel (relative to the forefoot). It is one of our favorites and a top recommendation for forefoot strikers looking for a zero-drop. It fits a narrow foot fit nicely, and we recommend sizing up a half size if you prefer a little extra wiggle room. There is sufficient volume top to bottom with no pinch points that we noted.
Out of the box, we were a little unsure about the fit. The shoe looks smaller than the size 9 we ordered. However, when our main editor wiggled her wider foot into this shoe, she was surprised at the comfort. On the trail, this shoe feels like an extension of the body. On steep downhills, there's no heel-to-toe slippage or "toe bang," and the lacing system keeps your foot in place. We donned our running gear and were able to run 6 miles with total bliss straight out of the box. It was particularly popular with our testers with a narrow foot profile.
We touted the G260 for its wider toe box in our previous review. However, the newer G270 has a narrow fit in the toe box, which doesn't offer much room for toe splay like it once did. The new upper and toe bumper is a little more forgiving and not as rigid as the previous version and still allows a wider foot to get inside. The size 9 we ordered was just large enough for a precise fit. However, if you like a little extra room, say, for a thicker pair of socks or some toe splay, we would recommend sizing up a half size. We don't know about you, but on longer runs, our feet swell, and there's no extra room in this shoe for that. After 10 miles on rugged terrain, we wished for a wider shoe or a little extra space. That said, if you have a more narrow foot, you may think the sizing is just perfect.
Another notable feature is the new lacing system. In our previous review, we didn't like that we had to keep doing up the laces, but this new system features flat laces that are long and stay in place. It also features five eyelets that allow you to lace and fit this trail runner more specifically.
At 8.3 oz per shoe, this is a very lightweight shoe that feels like you're not wearing it at all. The G270 is low profile, streamlined, and doesn't feel bulky. For those seeking a trail runner with this performance, look no further. It feels like an extension of the body.
Should You Buy the Inov-8 Terraultra G270?
The Inov8 Terraultra G270 stands out in our lineup of for women for its low weight and zero-drop design. It features just enough protection with excellent sensitivity and stability for technical trails. The fit is specific, with just enough room for a wider foot but is preferred by those with a narrow foot. The previous version we tested proved to be highly durable; it got about 600 miles of work in until the midsole was compacted and had to be retired. That said, this new version has an updated midsole with a different make-up. It is still very responsive after 60 miles of testing with no signs of wear and tear, but time will tell if it lives up to its predecessor. This sleek and sexy shoe is an excellent choice if you want a shoe that feels like an extension of the body and comes highly recommended for its durable and streamlined elements. If this sounds like you, it would likely be a great addition to your outdoor footwear collection, just know it comes at a high price.
What Other Trail Running Shoes Should You Consider?
The Terraultra G270 is undoubtedly an investment with an upfront cost that is hard to stomach for some. You will be drawn to this shoe if you are looking for a lightweight zero-drop sneaker that boasts just enough protection and excellent sensitivity for most trails. However, for most people, there are less expensive options with a similar (but not exact) design. For one, the Altra Lone Peak 5 is another zero drop shoe that has a bit more cushion as a more wallet-friendly price tag.
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