Inov-8 Terraultra G 270 (Graphene) Review | Cushioned Ultramarathon Running Shoes
The Inov-8 Terraultra G 270 was launched in the UK in July 2020 and replaces the Terraultra G 260. Like the G 260, the G 270 is a zero drop trail running shoe designed to be used for even the longest ultramarathon distances. A lot of the features are the same. The Terraultra G 270 still has a broader and rounded toe box, which along with the zero heel to forefoot drop promotes better foot function and good posture. There is room for your foot to spread on impact to absorb shock and spring you into your next stride. This spreading of the foot also stabilises you and so reduces the chance of twisting ankles or knees. Zero drop shoes have become very popular among the Ultra running community in the US because of these big benefits they offer. It also reduces wear and tear on the body caused by heel striking or over striding. The foot expands less over distance when it is allowed to function inside the shoes, a point illustrated by Paul Giblin, Scottish ultra runner, who was quoted saying that he thought that “bleeding, blistered and generally painful feet was all part of Ultra Running” until he discovered Topo Athletic shoes. Topo running shoes also have a broad rounded toe box like the Terraultra G 270.
To illustrate this further Sharon Gaytor, a GB International ultramarathon runner from Guisborough, finished 2nd overall in the 140 mile Coast to Coast Race in the Altra Lone Peak 4. The pictures of her feet that were in the Newcastle Evening Chronicle show no signs of blisters, reddening or rubbing. So it is no surprise that Inov-8 have stuck with a zero drop shoe with a broad rounded toe box.
What has changed between the G 260 and the G 270 is the thickness and firmness of the midsole and the shape and material of the upper. The G 260 has a firmer and responsive ride. They do feel nice to run in but for a lot of runners they were a little unforgiving over the ultra distance. The G 270 is a little softer in feel and the midsole a little thicker. They are still a nice responsive shoe that has the trusted Inov-8 feel for the terrain beneath you but at no time did I feel that the cushioning wasn’t enough. Even on road sections on long runs I felt that the cushioning was adequate. The increased stack height was unnoticeable and doesn’t seem to have added stiffness. In fact, the G 270 is very flexible and rides over broken ground very well for a shoe with this level of cushioning.
The outsole of the G270 is the same as the G260. It’s a sticky rubber with Graphene. This means that it grips well on wet surfaces, but the Graphene makes it durable enough to cope with hard tracks and the odd road section without excessive wear. The stickiness in some conditions is quite noticeable and almost feels like your foot is stuck to the surface. This gives you a lot of confidence on wet slabs of steps. The lugging is a good versatile length. They aren’t noticeable on hard packed trails but offer a reasonable level of grip on wet muddy paths. The responsiveness of the cushioning, flexibility and grips makes the shoes feel very nimble on single track trails. Something that shoes designed to be used over 50 miles plus often lose.
The upper of the Terraultra G 270 is much lighter than on the previous model. The Terraultra G 260 upper was a very tough material with Kevlar strands to increase durability. This made the upper bomb proof, but it didn’t mould to your foot that well. The upper on the G270 is still very durable but a lighter, more pliable material. The toe box has plenty of volume. The midfoot is quite relaxed but the heel fit is snug and secure. So even when descending quickly on steep broken ground I didn’t feel my skinny feet moving around in the shoe.
My longest run in the Terraultra G 270 was three hours, which isn’t an ultramarathon, but I found them very comfortable for the duration. I would usually use the Altra Lone Peak 4.5 for this type of running and I find the Inov-8 Terraultra G 270 just as comfortable. I think that the improvements that Inov-8 has made from the G 260 has made the Terraultra a genuine ultra trail running shoe and not just for the quicker runners, but for everyone. I now enjoy the Lone Peak 4.5 and Terraultra G 270. The Lone Peaks have a lovely slipper like feel, which is great for plodding a long and general wear. I find the upper of the Lone Peak pulls in around my feet a little better perhaps. However, the cushioning in the Terraultra (although initially feeling a bit firmer) does give more protection underfoot from stones etc. They also feel more cushioned on inevitable tarmac sections too. The Lone Peak 4.5 is that bit more flexible so feels a bit more natural to run in but the added firmness and stiffness of the Terraultra G 270 makes it easier to pick the pace up.
Damian Hall gave the Terraultra G 270 a good test while breaking the Pennine Way Record. 268 miles of almost continuous running in just over 2 and a half days on a variety of different trail running terrain! The shoes looked immaculate at the end, as did his feet.
All in all the Inov-8 Terraultra G 270 is a fantastic trail running shoe and hard to beat. You don’t need to be running ultramarathons to enjoy them off-road. If you aren’t used to zero drop shoes then it would be advisable to gradually increase the time you spend in zero drop. This is because shoes with heels stop the foot and lower leg from functioning, so even if you are happily running long distances, your feet and lower legs won’t be as fit and strong as the rest of you. You need to gradually build up so you don’t get any niggles caused by over-use. It is much easier to get used to zero drop shoes that are well cushioned, as the cushioning takes some of the stress off the feet. Trail shoes are also easier to adapt to as when running on the trails you have a less regular stride pattern, so you don’t stress the same area every time your foot touches the floor.
Charlie @ Northern Runner Newcastle
Altra Lone Peak 4.5
As mentioned in the article these are the established zero drop trail shoe and are therefore the obvious shoe to compare the Inov-8 Terraultra G270. Both shoes are zero drop with broad rounded toe boxes. It will come down to personal preference between the two shoes.
La Sportiva Jackal
If you aren’t into zero drop then the Jackal is a very good alternative to the Terraultra G270. Used by John Kelly to set the Pennine Way Record before Damian Hall lowered it further in the G270. They have a roomy toe box but, not the broad rounded shape of the G270. The cushioning is very good as is the grip.
These are 5mm from heel to forefoot with a broad rounded toe box like the Lone Peak and the G270’s. The cushioning is good as is the grip.
Hoka Mafate Evo
These are 5mm from heel to forefoot. A very well cushioned shoe. Like all Hoka’s they have a rocker to help maintain a good posture and reduce over striding.
Scott Kinabalu Ultra RC
These are 8mm from heel to forefoot and like the Hoka’s have a rocker to help maintain a good posture and reduce over striding. The fit is broader than other Scott shoes to allow for a bit of foot expansion. The rocker makes the shoes have a very light feel to them.