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.
The Terraultra G 260 is a revolutionary shoe meant for long distance trail running. They are highly durable, have great traction, and are also zero drop, a combination that many trail runners should love. Testing them here on the trails of the Sisters Wilderness in Oregon.
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 2, 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.
The upper of this shoe is made with kevlar overlays, the same material as found in bullet proof vests. These grey overlays, visible here, were indeed protective and durable, but we found the green mesh beneath to be somewhat susceptible to abrasion, which is the case with most trail running shoes.
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.
We put the traction on these shoes to the test with some scrambling to be sure that the lugs didn't just rip off with a little abrasion, as is common on large lugged, soft terrain shoes. Not only are they really grippy, but the lugs remain fully intact and unmarred.
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 Inov-8 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.
After about two months of exclusive use, the tread on the TerraUltra G260 is pretty much unmarred. The graphene-infused rubber really does seem to drastically increase the longevity of this shoe's outsole, a boon for trail runners.
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.
Built on a zero drop platform, and only advertising a stack height of 9mm (is this possible?), these are probably the most stable shoe you can find that are capable of handling longer distances on the trails. We are thrilled that this much needed gap in zero drop footwear seems to have now been filled.
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 standard for comfort in our book, the Nike Saucony Peregrine ISO, still manages 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 an impressively little amount of water, suggesting that they are a good choice for wet conditions.
These shoes are quite comfortable underfoot, but their durable upper is not the most heavily padded or snuggest fitting according to our head tester. They are high volume shoes, meaning those with large feet will be thrilled. Here on the summit of black crater in Oregon, with Mt. Washington in the background.
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.
A low weight for a shoe that can easily handle 100 miles without tearing to pieces and doesn't use tons of plush foam that will compress out after a few runs.
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 ISO.
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.
To test sensitivity we would often stop at rock patches such as this one and run back and forth a few times to really clue in on how our feet felt on sharp points. These shoes do a remarkable job balancing underfoot protection with sensitivity, allowing for plenty of trail feel while still taking the bite out of rough surfaces.
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.
With their graphene infused rubber compound, these shoes are best used on any type of surface, but are especially good on hard surfaces where a soft rubber would typically wear down quickly. We also think they have awesome grip on rock, as we tested here in the Sisters Wilderness, OR.
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.
An evening run on some more obscure trails at Smith Rock State Park in Oregon while wearing the Inov-8 Terraultra. They only come in bright green, making them one flashy shoe, but luckily have the performance to match.
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.