The Inov-8 TerraUltra G260 is a revolutionary shoe that uses Graphene infused rubber for the lugs of its outsole. Graphene, a one-atom thick layer of Graphite, is the strongest material that has ever been tested in a lab by man, more than ten times stronger than steel! By infusing rubber with this material, Inov-8 has created what should be the longest lasting sole of any shoe you have ever worn. In their testing they claimed they gave up after 1000 miles per shoe, but we wore them almost every day for over two months, including on some runs over miles of insanely sharp lava rocks on the PCT in central Oregon, and see virtually no evidence of wear. We also love the fact that they are zero-drop, and recommend them as our Top Pick for trail runners looking for a zero-drop shoe! Why choose the TerraUltra G260 over your favorite Altra zero-drop? Because not only will they last you a whole lot longer, but they are actually designed to withstand the abuse of ultras, and don't simply slap some thin squishy foam underfoot and call it "protection." In short, these are not minimalist zero-drop shoes, they can go anywhere you would like to.
Inov-8 Terraultra G 260 Review
Cons: Very little interior padding, could be more comfortable, pricey
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Inov-8 Terraultra G 260
|Price||$150 List||$114.97 at Backcountry|
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|Pros||The most durable outsole, zero drop, amazing balance between foot protection and sensitivity, high volume fit||Great protection for the foot, snug fit makes for very stable and responsive ride, durable, drains water extremely well||Light, low profile, great traction, comfortable fit, great balance of sensitivity and underfoot protection||Comfortable, light weight, performs well in wet conditions, relatively affordable||G-grip graphene enhanced outsole is very durable, super comfortable, low to the ground and responsive|
|Cons||Very little interior padding, could be more comfortable, pricey||High price, narrow fit, slightly heavy||No rock plate, minimal upper foot protection, hard outsole rubber isn’t super sticky on rocks||Not much underfoot protection, a tad narrow||Not as sticky as previous versions, not super protective underfoot or in the upper|
|Bottom Line||The most unique and innovative trail running shoe we have seen hit the market in many years.||An incredibly fine tuned shoe that comes with a correspondingly high price tag.||This sleek, supremely comfortable shoe was our favorite trail runner and a no-brainer selection as our Editors’ Choice Award winner.||A great all around running shoe for peak bagging and trail running.||A very comfortable, low riding shoe that has excellent and durable traction.|
|Rating Categories||Inov-8 Terraultra G 260||Salomon S/Lab Ultra||Nike Air Zoom Terra Kiger 4||New Balance Summit Unknown||Inov-8 Roclite 290|
|Foot Protection (30%)|
|Specs||Inov-8 Terraultra...||Salomon S/Lab Ultra||Nike Air Zoom...||New Balance Summit...||Inov-8 Roclite 290|
|Weight (per pair, size 11)||22.2 oz.||23.5 oz.||21.1 oz.||20.0 oz.||21.6 oz.|
|Heel-to-Toe Drop||0 mm||8 mm||4 mm||10 mm||4 mm|
|Stack Height (Heel, Forefoot)||9 mm, 9 mm||26 mm, 18 mm||24 mm, 20 mm||26 mm, 16 mm||23 mm, 19 mm|
|Upper||Kevlar, mesh||Mesh||Flymesh||Syntetic/mesh||Mesh upper with ADAPTERWEB foot cradle system|
|Outsole||Graphene Grip||Premium Wet Traction Contagrip||Sticky rubber||Hydrohesion rubber||G-grip graphene enhanced rubber|
|Lacing style||Traditional||Kevlar Quicklace||Traditional||Traditional||Traditional|
|Wide version available?||No||No||No||Yes||No|
|Sizes Available||4-15||4 - 13||6 - 15||7-15||7 - 15|
Our Analysis and Test Results
The TerraUltra G260 is part of Inov-8's new G-series, which is made up of three shoes that all incorporate its new Graphene infused rubber. This one is designed specifically for longer, ultra length distances, and as such has moderately aggressive traction, a very heavily Kevlar reinforced upper, and a good balance between foot protection and underfoot trail feel. The other two models in the series are the Mudclaw 260, designed with 8mm lugs to provide optimal grip in the muddiest and slipperiest conditions, and the F-Lite 290, which is a crossfit and training shoe.
We are huge proponents of zero-drop shoes, because once your body has had the chance to adjust, wearing them is simply a far more natural way to live and run. However, we lament how zero-drop seems to be mixed up in the minimalist ethos all too often, and have long been waiting for a zero drop shoe that is super protective for long distances. In our experience, the foam cushioning in Altras is soft and squishy and doesn't protect our feet well, and also breaks down and wears out way quicker than we would like. This shoe answers all of those complaints. We recommend you check them out because we think they have a wider range of use and great durability, something any ultra runner these days can appreciate as they watch the outsoles of shoe after shoe break apart and disintegrate long before the training cycle is over.
This shoe strikes a great balance between underfoot protection and trail feel, attributes that are usually at odds with one another, but in the rare shoe are both very noticeable. It is nowhere near as protective as the thick and firm midsole of the Salomon S/Lab Ultra, but nevertheless provides a bit of padding as you roll over rougher, rockier terrain.
The upper of this shoe is also designed with durability in mind, as its light green felt is heavily overlayed with far more rigid blackish Kevlar fabrics, the same material that stops bullets from penetrating bullet-proof vests. We loved the eye to durability, but also noticed that the underlying fabric rubbed, tore, and abraded just like any other, and so are equally as prone to potential blowouts as the uppers of most other shoes in this review. The toe bumper is minimal, made up of the same Kevlar overlay combined with a little bit of rubber as it rolls up from the outsole. Overall these shoes protected better than average, but this wasn't their strongest attribute.
Inov-8 isn't disclosing their methods for how they "enhanced" the rubber of this shoe with the world's strongest known material, Graphene, but the result is a shoe that is simultaneously very sticky and grippy as well as highly durable, two attributes that are virtually never synonymous when it comes to trail running shoes.
That said, these shoes have an outsole designed for the trails, meaning they have somewhat conservative 4mm deep lugs that are more square shaped than arrow or chevron shaped. They are not nearly as aggressive as those found on the Roclite 290, but also won't rip off the moment you get into some sharp talus. They wouldn't be our top choice for mud, snow, or steep grass, but on any sort of trail conditions, including rocky talus or even scrambling, these shoes absolutely shine.
Did we mention that these shoes are also zero drop! Holy cow, how lucky we are to have finally been gifted a very durable, protective, and sensitive zero drop shoe! These are an incredible alternative the Altra Lone Peak 4, which in our opinion they outperform in nearly every way over long distances.
The spec chart provided by Inov-8 says they have a mere 9 mm of stack height under both the toes and the heel, but they must be measuring this differently than every other company, because the next closest is the Roclite 290, followed but the Topo Athletic Runventure 2, and these shoes have far more underfoot than either of those! Perhaps what is referred to is simply the thickness of midfoot foam padding. Regardless, these shoes have a wide landing platform, are very low to the ground, and are aided in their stability by the flexibility of the sole, cut in half down the middle by the "meta-flex" design. These are easily among the most stable trail runners you can buy, a huge plus.
If we have one complaint about these award-winning shoes it is that they simply aren't nearly as comfortable as most of the competition. Of course, comfort is highly subjective, so there is the chance that what didn't work great for our head tester could be optimal for your foot. Despite the comfort issues, he was still inspired to wear them pretty much all the time, so this issue is still relatively minor.
Specifically, these shoes lack a lot of the padding around the ankle and heel that has become popular in shoe designs these days and which holds the foot comfortably in place over all sorts of terrain. As such, our head tester experienced a slight bit of rubbing on some longer runs in the Achilles tendon area. He also noticed that at the crease point between the forefoot and toes, the fabric had a tendency to fold up and pinch a bit at times, but only on one foot. The standards for comfort in our book, the Nike Air Zoom Wildhorse 4 and the Nike Air Zoom Terra Kiger 4, still manage to provide amazing performance with incredible comfort, so there is room for improvement in this shoe here. That said, in our water bucket test they absorbed the third least amount of water, suggesting that they are a good choice for wet conditions.
Runners with large and high volume feet should be thrilled with the TerraUltra G260. The shoe runs pretty accurate in length, but is reasonably wide throughout the forefoot, arch, and even the heel, and also leaves a lot of room on the top of the foot. Runners with narrow feet may find the fit of this shoe to be too roomy and loose.
Our size US men's 11 weighed in at 22.2 ounces per pair, which makes them roughly middle of the road for this review.
As a zero drop shoe with minimal interior padding, a very low amount of midsole, and a light mesh upper, one would expect these to be among the lightest in the review. However, despite not being as light as the Altra Superior 4, they didn't feel heavy or clunky on the feet while running.
When it comes to sensitivity, these shoes are roughly average, but this aspect is well balanced with its underfoot protection. They are about as sensitive as the Salomon Speedcross 5 or the Saucony Peregrine 8.
When landing on sharp or jagged surfaces, such as rocks and roots, one can feel the impact in the sole of the foot, but there is no doubt that some of this impact is absorbed by the firm outsole as well as the minimal midsole padding. While they are nowhere near as sensitive feeling as the Altra Superior 4, we think that some shock absorption is a good thing for longer runs and races, as these shoes are designed for.
These shoes are best used as a high-volume trainer for someone who likes to pour miles into a shoe without having to constantly replace them. Due to their great durability, they are also a good choice for an ultra distance race shoe, provided you aren't looking for Hoka-esque levels of cushioning. For zero drop enthusiasts, there is no question they will retain their character longer than the squishy foam found underfoot in Altras.
These shoes retail for $150, making them one of the most expensive trail runners detailed in this review. That said, we are confident they will last most runners far longer than the average pair of shoes, so the price versus longevity makes them a good value.
The Inov-8 TerraUltra G260 are an innovative (see what we did there!) shoe that is the first in the world to incorporate Graphene into its outsole rubber compound. The initial round of testing was very positive in regards to the durability of this outsole, and this shoe is also remarkable as a high-quality alternative for zero drop enthusiasts.
— Andy Wellman