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Inov-8 Terraultra G 270 Review

The perfect definition of a do-everything trail running shoe, which also happens to be zero-drop
Inov-8 Terraultra G 270
Credit: Inov-8
Top Pick Award
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Price:  $160 List | $119.73 at REI
Compare prices at 2 resellers
Pros:  Excellent traction, protective and sensitive, light, comfortable, durable
Cons:  Expensive, tongue comfort affects some
Manufacturer:   inov-8
By Andy Wellman ⋅ Senior Review Editor  ⋅  Mar 6, 2022
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77
OVERALL
SCORE
  • Foot Protection - 25% 7.0
  • Traction - 20% 9.0
  • Sensitivity - 15% 7.0
  • Stability - 15% 9.0
  • Comfort - 15% 7.0
  • Weight - 10% 7.0

Our Verdict

The Inov-8 TerraUltra G 270 trail shoe is an improved version of the old G 260, with a few notable changes, including greater comfort, better fit, more cushioning in the midsole, and a stickier version of the much-lauded G-grip rubber. These are our favorite zero drop shoes by a long shot, and one of our favorite shoes we have worn. Designed for running on trails, roads, and other hard surfaces, we have found that they also grip rock exceptionally well, and with their stable, low to the ground platform, they are an excellent choice for off-trail missions or the most technical of trails. Compared to most zero-drop shoes, they have a lot of underfoot cushioning while still offering a pleasant trail feel and sensitivity. If you are a zero-drop fan or simply zero-drop curious and haven't tried these shoes yet, we highly recommend that you do.

Our Analysis and Test Results

The TerraUltra G 270 is an updated version of the TerraUltra G 260. The shoes look very similar to each other and, in fact, are very similar, with small but significant changes made to address tiny flaws in the previous version. Overall, they are an improved shoe, and in our opinion are one of the very best you can buy. The Graphene Grip rubber is easily the most durable rubber compound we have tested. Our many pairs of test shoes still have outsoles that look practically new (the lugs on outsoles are usually the first thing we notice wearing out on our many trail running shoes). The G-grip rubber feels stickier than past versions, and the cushioning underfoot has not only grown by 3mm but also includes a new foam compound designed to provide spunkier rebound while also lasting longer before flattening and feeling played out. While the underfoot feeling is only subtly different, we can feel how they are not as firm. The tongue and lacing system has also seen a re-design, and while the laces are easier to tie and have better friction to stay tied longer, the jury is out on the tongue, which is the primary point of complaint from online reviewers.

Inov-8 Terraultra G 270 trail running shoes - showing the new bright green g 270 on the right with the older...
Showing the new bright green G 270 on the right with the older version of the G 260 on the left. The shoes remain fairly similar, although the upper has been redone, with a drastically different tongue and new flat laces. The rubber compound was tweaked to be a bit sticker and grip better on rock, while the midsole now has 3mm more foam cushioning. All these improvements work to make this an improved and highly refined shoe.

Performance Comparison


Inov-8 Terraultra G 270 trail running shoes - the terraultra g 270 are our favorite zero drop shoe, and have...
The TerraUltra G 270 are our favorite zero drop shoe, and have enough spunky foam cushioning to not only protect you, but keep you bouncing along for ultra distances - provided your body can handle them in zero drop shoes. They feature the amazingly durable G-grip graphene rubber, and are also light and comfortable.
Credit: Andy Wellman

Foot Protection


Most trail running shoes emphasize either underfoot protection or sensitivity but don't strike a perfect balance between both. The TerraUltra G 270 is the exception to the rule, as they have a Powerflow Max foam midsole that not only adequately cushions and protects against anything you might run over but doesn't dissociate your feet by interceding with a thick, rigid rock plate. For many runners, zero-drop shoes are connected to the idea of an intimate trail feel, leaning in the direction of a barefoot shoe, so it is nice that this shoe maintains that connection. The foam is springy and has decent rebound but doesn't feel soft and squishy to the point where control is lost.

The upper is light and airy and features mesh with thin TPU film overlays that do a pretty good job of protecting the highest wear areas of the shoe but don't do much to cushion your foot from an accidental blow or kick to trailside rocks or roots. The toe bumper is pretty thin, simply a doubly thick version of the overlay, so it is still critical to be careful how you step. Due to the effort to maintain this balance, the TerraUltra earned an average score for protection.

Inov-8 Terraultra G 270 trail running shoes - these shoes strike a nearly perfect balance between foot protection...
These shoes strike a nearly perfect balance between foot protection and sensitivity, offering the best of both worlds, and putting a large smile on this testers face as he tries them out heading up this rocky mountain trail.

Traction


These shoes have incredible traction and earned one of the highest scores of the group, alongside the Saucony Peregrine 11 and the La Sportiva Karacal. The rubber outsole is made with the famous Graphene (G) grip, which combines graphene, the strongest textile substance known to man, with rubber. The idea is a far more durable outsole, and as far as the four (and counting) pairs of G-grip rubber shoes we've tested indicate, this stuff really does work. The outsole is littered with large, arrow-shaped 4 mm lugs and has a large flat surface on top for better purchase on smooth, hard terrain. The sharp edges of the lugs also provide a good bite into softer surfaces, although they aren't as aggressive as purpose-made off-trail shoes.

In the past, G-grip rubber felt durable but a bit hard and slippery to us, especially on brand new pairs of shoes, and we didn't feel like they gripped on rock very well. The compound has been updated, and we feel like the new version is not only far stickier but also has some of the best rock grip of any shoe we've tested. We've taken them scrambling on 3rd and 4th class peaks in Colorado and have felt super secure the entire time.

Inov-8 Terraultra G 270 trail running shoes - comparing the traction and lugs on the new version, left, with the...
Comparing the traction and lugs on the new version, left, with the old one, on the right. The lugs are more aggressive and further spaced apart on the G 270. Even more importantly, they are quite a bit more grippy and sticky, especially on rock.

Sensitivity


As we've already mentioned, the TerraUltra G 270 strikes a nearly perfect balance of sensitivity and foot protection, such that you get the best of both worlds. To adjust for the lack of a rock plate in the midsole, the foam compound protects while also allowing you to feel what you are stepping on, connecting you to your environment without simply deadening all feeling of what is beneath you.

These are not nearly the most sensitive shoes but are sensitive enough for this not to be considered a downside. They still managed to score above average in this metric.

Inov-8 Terraultra G 270 trail running shoes - with no rockplate and only eva foam underfoot, these shoes have a...
With no rockplate and only EVA foam underfoot, these shoes have a very flexible midsole that allows the foot to feel what it is landing on, while also bending over and molding to the obstacles it encounters.

Stability


These are very stable shoes and score on par with the Nike Air Zoom Terra Kiger 7. They fit precisely, hugging the foot with little to no movement at all, so you can always be certain that you will land squarely on top of the midsole. The zero-drop platform also ensures that they don't feel tipsy due to a high heel counter, and so these shoes are great for technical terrain where stability is needed.

Inov-8 added 3mm of foam to the midsole to aid with cushioning, but we have a hard time noticing any difference in stability. While there are undoubtedly minimalist shoes that ride closer to the ground, the idea is that these shoes aren't too minimal, so that you can take them anywhere you want to go. They still ride pretty low and are very stable overall.

Inov-8 Terraultra G 270 trail running shoes - these shoes hold the foot tightly in place so even when running...
These shoes hold the foot tightly in place so even when running downhill there is little to no foot movement. Combine this with a low to the ground zero drop platform, and these are among the most stable trail running shoes you can buy, a great choice for technical trails.

Comfort


In our opinion, these shoes are pretty darn comfortable, but still not perfect. They are about 1mm narrower than previous versions, but we still wouldn't consider them a "narrow" shoe overall. They fit average to slightly wide in the forefoot, but unfortunately, they don't come in a wide version. While a few online reviewers claim that the shoes fit better for them if they order a half size up, we felt they fit true to size.

Inov-8 Terraultra G 270 trail running shoes - the tongue is completely flat with no added padding, but still...
The tongue is completely flat with no added padding, but still effectively holds the foot in place while allowing the laces to comfortably tighten over the top of the foot.

Most of the complaints about comfort in this shoe seem to revolve around the tongue. The tongue is totally flat, with no padding, with flat laces folded over the top to adjust the tightness of the shoe. We felt a slight crease or pressure point at the bottom of the tongue in our left shoe, which manifested as soon as we put the shoe on, but we didn't notice it after a few strides. The upper, in general, is light and airy and breathes well — this is not a hot shoe, and unless you like to wear super thick socks, it is better suited to warm climates. While we find these shoes fit very well and are pretty comfortable, we admit that we've worn a few that are even comfier.

Inov-8 Terraultra G 270 trail running shoes - if we have one complaint about this shoe it is comfort related...
If we have one complaint about this shoe it is comfort related, specifically in this instance, where the crease that easily forms right at the bottom of the tongue and across the forefoot can cause a bit of pinching of the foot inside the shoe. This complaint is minor.

Weight


We weighed our men's size 11 pair of shoes on our independent scale and received a reading of 20.9 oz per pair. This number is impressively light compared to the vast majority of shoes we've tested and worn.

Shoes this light and lighter tend to have made sacrifices and compromises to get to this weight and usually lack the amount of underfoot protection one needs to run more than just an hour or two. These shoes differ significantly from the norm, as their very protective and nicely cushioned foam is designed to protect you for ultra distances, a job which they do very well as long as your calves and feet are adjusted to zero drop shoes. Light is right, and these shoes feel like feathers when wearing them.

Inov-8 Terraultra G 270 trail running shoes - at a mere 20.9 ounces per pair, these shoes are light! they feel...
At a mere 20.9 ounces per pair, these shoes are light! They feel like feathers on your feet.

Should You Buy the Inov-8 Terraultra G 270?


The TerraUltra G 270 is an excellent zero-drop trail shoe that strikes a nearly perfect balance between trail feel and underfoot protection while providing enough soft cushioning to keep you bouncing along for ultra distances. The G-grip rubber is the most durable we have tested, so your shoes should hold up for mega miles before needing to be replaced. If you love zero drop shoes, these are by far our favorites and some of the first ones we recommend to all of our trail running friends.

Inov-8 Terraultra G 270 trail running shoes - trying to outrun the thunderstorm back to the car high in the san...
Trying to outrun the thunderstorm back to the car high in the San Juan Mountains of Colorado with the running dog Rishi in tow.

What Other Trail Running Shoes Should You Consider?


The hardest pill to swallow with these shoes is the high price tag. We assume that the extensive R&D that must have gone into developing the G-grip rubber is a part of why they cost more than most of the competition. That said, these shoes are very well made, and if you choose to buy them, we think that they will become some of the most well-used sneakers in your closet. If they are outside of your budget, the Altra Superior 5 is another zero-drop shoe that is much more affordable, although it doesn't have the same level of traction or foot protection that you find on the Terraultra. If you love Inov-8 shoes, we also tested the Inov-8 Roclite 290. Although it didn't rank as high as its sister product, it has slighter better sensitivity and weight scores.

Andy Wellman
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