Sunday, August 02, 2020

inov-8 Terra Ultra G 270 MultiTester Review: Lots to Say...Sensational, Light, and Lively, Graphene Gripping Trail Marvel

Article by Renee Krusemark, Don Reichelt, Jeff Valliere, Nils Scharff, Jacob Brady and Sam Winebaum


inov-8 TERRAULTRA G 270 ($160)


Introduction

Sam: I have a long history with Inov-8 going back to 2007 when I ran everything trail in the Flyroc 310 and Roclite 315 (RTR Review). 


Inov-8 based in the north of England was truly the first shoe company created from the ground up for trail running. Light, protective enough, very secure uppers, and with great agility they were for sure not a re shod road shoe, toned down hiker, or a minimal almost nothing toe shoe as most of the competition at the time were offering. 


They stayed true to their firmer, snugger, high protection, deeply lugged if need be for mud approach, making shoes I found less and less versatile as the market evolved to greater comfort, more upper room, and lighter weights.  Their 2018-2019 G260, almost identical in appearance to G270, was a perfect example. Very firm with a strange kevlar “safety toe” and surprisingly questionable traction for their innovative Graphene infused sticky rubber I must say they were “not much fun”.

When we heard the G270 had 

  • a new PowerFlow Max foam midsole with more TPU in the mix for 20% more energy return than the G260 and for more softness,

  • an innovative TPU beads insole with claimed 40%  more energy return than standard insoles, 

  • a redesigned lighter upper with a broad toe box and no kevlar toe bumper, 

  • the same 4mm lug Graphene Grip material outsole but with more aggressive and directional lug shapes, dimples and grooves for water dispersion 

we were immediately interested. 

The zero drop, no rock plate and lowish stack had some a bit worried but the weight at a mere     9.1 oz /257 g for all the rest had me and the rest of the team eager to test. 


Spoiler alert there is general but not total consensus that the G 270 is one of the finest trail shoes of 2020 if not ever.. especially for low drop shoe fans and.. for sure also not just for them. Read on to find out what the team discovered on trails from Colorado, to Nebraska, to New Hampshire, to Germany.



Photo Credit: INOV-8.COM / DAVE MACFARLANE


And while we tested, on the feet of Damian Hall they just passed one of the ultimate FKT tests, a new record by more than 3 hours in 61 hours 34 minutes on the super rugged 268 mile Pennine Way in the UK, in of course bad weather. 

Photo Credit: INOV-8.COM / DAVE MACFARLANE


Photo Credit: Damian Hall


Damian rotated two pairs changing into a dry pair part way. He was kind enough to share photos of one of the pairs which has a total of approximately 320 rough miles on them. Our Don Reichelt has clocked 200 miles in his with only minor wear so durability is not in question here.

Photo Credit: Damian Hall


Jacob: I got the chance to test (the newer colorway!) later after hearing great things from the whole RTR team and seeing a lot of marketing media from inov-8. The Terraultra is only the third shoe from Inov-8 I’ve run. It is their flagship, varied terrain, long distance model. The previous iteration, the G 260, was also hyped up before/upon release, but I didn’t try it, didn’t know anyone who ran in it, and largely forgot about it. The G 270 has made quite a wake already with long-distance FKTs falling and extremely high praise from many testers, including my colleagues at RTR. Don R specifically thought it the “best trail shoe ever”. I was pumped to test, but also skeptical it could be as good as I’d heard, and anxious that it might not work for me.

Pros:

Sam/Renee/Jeff V/Don/Jacob: Incredibly lightweight at 9.1 oz for lots of substance

Sam/Jeff V/Don/Nils/Jacob: A totally secure, light on the foot, breathable, fast draining and drying upper with a roomy well held toe box. Foot as one with the platform. Truly outstanding

Sam/Renee/Jeff V/Don/Nils/Jacob: Lively slightly bouncy midsole (and insole) with plenty of cushion for the relatively low stack

Sam/Renee/Jeff V/Don/Nils/Jacob: Wonderful climber due to flexibility but also with plenty of front stability, adequately protected yet with great trail feel.

Sam/Jeff V/Jacob: Great technical terrain hiking option if you want agility and grip

Sam/Jeff V/Don/Nils/Jacob: Fast, agile and responsive on up to moderately technical trail and roads (dirt and paved)

Sam/Jeff V/Don/Nils/Jacob: Graphene Grip outsole with sipes and multi directional lugs sticks to everything I have run like glue with less sense of lug deflection than MegaGrip or Saucony and less harshness than Contagrip even in SG version.

Sam/Jeff V/Nils: Very balanced front to back and while zero drop no sense of a negative heel, in fact runs more like 4mm due to full rear outsole coverage and weight balance.


Cons:

Sam/Jeff V: While less noticed than many Altra, wish it had a 4-6mm drop and more stack height to extend range. Ultra use as named won’t be for all.

Sam/Renee/Jeff V/Nils: Flexible forefoot and climbing ability comes at the cost of less rock protection, although it is more than adequate. 

Sam/Renee/Jeff V: On the upper end of pricing

Renee:The thin tongue dug into my ankle.

Jeff V/Nils/Jacob: Thin tongue/lace bite/discomfort


Tester Profiles

Jacob runs a mix of roads and trails in the Portland, Maine area. He has been running every day for over two years and averages 50-60 miles per week. Jacob has run several marathons and shorter (≤ 50km) ultras and mountain races in the past two seasons, with a PR of 2:51 in the marathon. In addition to running, he surfs, rides (mountain/gravel/road), and nordic skis. He is 25 years old, 6 ft / 182 cm tall and about 155 lbs / 70 kg.

Renee is a former U. S. Marine journalist, which is when her enjoyment of running and writing started. She isn’t that awesome of a runner, but she tries really hard. Most of her weekly 50-60 miles take place on rural country roads in Nebraska, meaning mud, gravel, dirt, hills, and the occasional field. She runs a half marathon around 1:40 and hopes to get a full marathon at 3:30(ish) some day. 

Don is a competitive ultra runner with all kinds of races under his belt including a 16:27 100-mile trail PR and a third place finish at the 2018 Badwater 135. He primarily runs trails in Colorado but also holds a marathon PR of 2:45. 

Jeff V. runs mostly on very steep technical terrain above Boulder often challenging well known local FKT's. 

Nils is 30 years old, located in Heilbronn – Germany I’ve done all sorts of sports for all my life, often 5-7 times a week. But my young running career just started 3 years ago with a company run which I joined together with some colleagues in 2017. From there I never let go. I ran roughly 1000km in my first year, doubled and then tripled that number in 2018 and 2019. I've run 4 marathons to date with a PR of 3:14:49h. My other PRs are 18:14 for the 5k, 38:17 for 10k and 1:28:12h for the half. 

Sam is the Editor and Founder of Road Trail Run. He is 63 with a 2018 3:40 Boston qualifier. Sam has been running for over 45 years and has a 2:28 marathon PR. These days he runs halves in the just sub 1:40 range training 30-40 miles per week mostly at moderate paces on the roads and trails of New Hampshire and Utah. He is 5'10" tall and weighs about 163 lbs.


Stats

Weight:: men's 9.1 oz / 257g (US9) 8.03 oz /  228g women's / (US8)

Samples: men’s   8.89 oz / 252g (US8.5), 9. 9 oz /281g (US10), 11 oz / 312g(US12.5)

                 women’s (US8)  8.11 oz./230g (left shoe) 7.94/225g (right shoe), 10.86 oz / 308 g (US 12)

Estimated Total Stack Height: 21mm, 0 drop

(midsole 12mm, outsole and plate 5mm, insole 4mm) 

Available now  $160


First Impressions and Fit



Jacob: I was the first RTR reviewer to receive the blue/yellow colorway after the model was exclusively available in its defining neon green for a few weeks. Out of the box, the shoe looks awesome. Bright but not blaring—reminiscent of outer space with the yellow specs on the blue midsole. Flashy but not aggressively so; I think it’s great. The materials all appear very high quality; seamless, and without excess material or padding. The shoe is lightweight in the hand. It clocks in at 308g in my US men’s size 12, putting it within 10g of two other lightweight trail shoes I’ve been running a lot recently, the Saucony Switchback 2 and the Merrell MTL Skyfire.

On foot, the sizing is perfect for my average-width. Roomy enough in the forefoot and locked in from the midfoot and back. For fast precise running on highly technical terrain I’d like a narrower forefoot and lower toebox but for longer runs, comfort, and general use the sizing is exactly right. Underfoot the midsole feels firm but the sockliner soft and bouncy, which is crucial to comfort.

Renee: My first impression was great. My impression after 50+ miles is also great. The TerraUltra G 270 might be a shoe in which all of the fancy technology terms actually mean something instead of just being marketing buzzwords. It might be easier to write why a runner wouldn’t like this shoe rather than why a runner would like it. And my only “why you wouldn’t like it” reason is the TerraUltra G 270 is a zero drop shoe. If you don’t like zero drop, maybe just try it. See what happens. 


Oh, and Inov-8’s bright Hulk-Smash-green-colorway is out there and I am loving every minute of it. My first run with the TerraUltra G 270 was 19.25 miles on a single-track trail and the rest of my miles were on dirt and gravel county roads, ranging from 3 to 13.1 miles on rolling hills. 

I suggest taking a short walk or run in the shoes before deciding on the fit. I wore a women’s size 8. For a race-feel, I could probably wear a 7.5 women’s as long as I accept that my toes would be bruised afterward. For runner’s in-between half sizes (like me), you may need to decide if you want a race-feel (half-size down) or a roomy feel (half-size up). If you order from Inov-8 directly, be mindful of their return policy. And keep in mind that the upper will form to the foot after some miles.  

Sam: Oh boy so bright when new that they were hard to photograph when new due to the green “glow”. Not to worry as once trail dirt marked you will get a speckled look of bright and dirt as mud and dirt doesn’t seem to soak and stain the thin and dense mesh much if at all.


The fit is true to size for me with what I would consider a wider, soft toe box. There is a bit of excess taper on the pinkie toe side which combined with the great front flexibility can irritate a bit but never to the point of any blisters there even after many hours of continuous use. 


The rest of the upper and its fit is notable in its totally secure hold from front to back. Yet this is also a soft, light, breathable, and debris resisting upper. 


Lace up is decisive and one and done with the flat non stretch laces joining with the firmer top thin tongue and its gusset to instantly wrap the foot and once laced everything stayed put with minimal en route adjustments even after complete soakings.


Jeff V:  My history with Inov-8 is admittedly limited, but I was eager to get my feet into a pair after an onslaught of buzz and declarations about this being the best shoe this year or ever even, so how could I resist?  

They are bright as can be, almost blindingly so and certainly get attention.  The Graphene outsole is evident before even removing them from the box with a very powerful soot or tar like smell.  It is clear from the first moment that the TerraUltra 270 is a trim and lean, get down to business, no nonsense up tempo trainer/race shoe.  They are light, the upper is very thin and minimal and there are no frills or any extraneous material.  Fit is true to size and while quite roomy in the forefoot for my slim, low volume foot, the upper is outstandingly secure.  The naming convention here is a bit of a misnomer, as “Ultra” and 270 (grams) and they are actually lighter than that at 257g in a US9  do not usually coincide, at least not in my experience and for my preferences.

Don: Pulling these out of the box the first thing I noticed was how light they were. This shoe means business, and doesn’t do it quietly at all; that colorway is BRIGHT. The initial step in comfort set off alarm bells that this shoe could be onto something special. Everything fit the way I wanted it to right away, and you could tell that the midsole was dialed in, closing in on perfection. 


Nils: After hearing the guys' first comments on the G270 I was really excited that Sam was able to get me my first pair of Inov-8s for the German language review. For my first impressions my excitement just grew. The colour is awesome and the first step in just feels right. Fit is TTS with maybe a touch too much room for my narrow midfoot. But the lockdown is perfect nevertheless. I got my pair later than the others, therefore I can just report from today's first run: 26k with 700m of elevation - 90% moderate trails, 10% on streets. So please take everything I write with a little grain of salt. I will report after further runs and in more detail in my German language review.


Upper

Sam: Inov-8 describes the upper as follows:

  •  New ADAPTERFIT technology allows the fit of the upper to adjust to natural movements and swelling of the foot when running long distances. Redesigned lightweight tongue and wide toe-box further aid comfort.

  •  Stronger upper materials retain a soft feel but give more protection and durability, especially around the edge of the forefoot, plus a smoother feel on the inner. 

The upper is as described with a light on the foot soft mesh reinforced with laminated overlays.  


Together with the relatively stiff top of tongue and a shallow gusset, attached essentially only in the immediate area of the lace eyelets, it has provided me with a totally secure and comfortable fit on all terrain and at any pace from extremely rugged rocky steep hiking to fast smooth trails running.

Lace up is decisive and one and done with the flat laces joining with the firmer tongue and its gusset to instantly wrap the foot and once laced stayed there. I guess the Adapterfit works and works well as my foot never felt insecure and also never overly bound in the shoe. The underfoot platform and the upper always felt as one, front to back in what is on top of that a flexible shoe. It’s quite a sensation and would function just as well in a road version.

The toe bumper is a softer overlay than one usually sees on a trail shoe, reminding of what Skechers uses, and is light years softer than the kevlar extremely firm and stiff toe bumper or “safety toe” of the G 260 which was felt in the way on toe off and felt front heavy, if clearly highly protective. 

The new toe bumper is protective enough and very significantly contributes to the excellent toe off flexibility on all terrain and climbing ability 

The heel counter is substantial but is of the non totally rigid variety as was the 260’s. Over time I worry a bit and already feel  it may develop too much heel motion especially on my narrower left foot.


Through a variety of summer conditions the upper has proven breathable, drained and dried very fast, and due to the very fine weave of the upper has been debris resistant.


I would like to see a bit more generous taper at the pinkie toe and strange for such a light shoe maybe a side medial protective panel as XA Alpine has for heavy duty rock scrambling something the G 270 is perfectly capable of. I had no issues with the firmer thin top of tongue, noticing that at times but do recommend wearing quarter type socks

Jacob: The upper is a thin engineered mesh with many thin overlays for structure and durability. There is not much padding or any excess material, even in the heel collar. The design is visually polished and fit on the foot is spectacular. It is not plush or soft but locked in, unobtrusive, comfortable, and super-secure even without a tight lace—fantastic. The toebox is nicely roomy for long-day comfort but not sloppily wide. The upper keeps out water decently well due to the overlays and drains quickly if it does get wet. The only issue I’ve had is with some uncomfortable pressure on the top of my foot when I lace too tightly, but with more runs I have figured out the right tightness to avoid this.


Renee: The upper is comfortable, breathable, and forms to the foot. That’s the short story. Here’s my overly-long-too-much-detail story:

 

On first feel, I thought the upper had too much volume across the midfoot and toe box.  On Inov-8’s 1-5 width scale, the TerraUltra G 270 is a 5. I love a wide, roomy toe box so no worries there. After walking around, the shoes start to form better to the foot and there is a lot of success in changing the security of the upper using the laces. 


The ADAPTERFIT technology that is supposed to adjust to the natural movements and swelling of the foot seems like an actual thing and not simply a fancy term they billboarded in all capitalized letters.  The upper is comfortable, more so for me while running rolling hills on country roads than on a single-track trail. I had to pull the laces very tight to get a good fit across the midfoot area of the upper during my technical trail run. Even then, my foot was moving around a bit too much than I would like. If you have a narrow foot, keep in mind the TerraUltra G 270 is a 5 on Inov-8’s width scale. 


The tongue is paper-thin and it bunches after pulling the laces tight. I don’t mind a thin tongue, but the edge of the tongue on the TerraUltra G 270 dug into my ankle. I did not notice that so much while running, but afterwards I had a small blister wear the tongue hit against my foot. 


Did that sound negative? It did.  For clarity: the upper is comfortable and the issue with the thin tongue is not noticeable while running. The upper is super breathable and the overlays are well placed. The heel shape has minimum padding, which I found comfortable.


Don: I was quickly able to get the upper dialed in to a near perfect fit for my foot. The forefoot is wide, but not sloppy for me, but I’m someone who generally loves a wide toe box. I found the upper to give me just the right amount of snug where I needed it too without any real hot spots. The material feels premium, and after nearly 200 miles on them, hasn’t shown a lick of wear. 

My one very minor complaint about the upper is somewhat echoing Renee; the tongue did dig in a little to my ankle on hard technical downhills. I didn’t get the blister she did, but noticed a little tenderness there. 


Jeff V:  The upper of the Terraultra 270 is very secure and breathable and will fit a wide range of feet, from those like myself with low volume feet and preferring a snug lock down to those who want more wiggle room over longer distances.  Despite the very roomy and wide forefoot, I am able to achieve a very secure lock down that holds very well in technical terrain at fast speeds, off camber terrain and cornering fast.  To achieve that level of security however, I need to crank the laces quite tight, which in turn creates some lace discomfort and perhaps even bite due to the very thin tongue.  I think this could be completely remedied with just a bit more substance/padding of the tongue.


Short of running fast on steep and technical downhills, the upper is comfortable (and more so with each run as the shoe breaks in) and I do not notice the lace discomfort otherwise on more moderate terrain and appreciate the minimal nature and breathability.


The protection of the upper is a bit lacking due to it’s thin and minimal nature.  This goes unnoticed on smooth to moderate trails, but is very noticeable while running through loose rock and moving quickly through rock garden technical trails, as I find myself dancing some as to not take hard hits to the side of my foot, particularly the sides of my medial forefoot.


Nils: For my German low mountain range the G270's upper is more than adequate. Good breathability, strong hold, nice feel. It drains exceptional well. Ran through good portions of wet, high grass today which soaks every shoe in seconds. 2 minutes after I left this passage, the water was completely gone. Seems like the guys over in UK know how to craft shoes for wet weather.


Midsole

From Inov-8

  • New POWERFLOW MAX foam delivers improved plush cushioning that retains its thickness and optimum level of performance for twice as long. A 3mm increase in stack height (from 9mm to 12mm) further enhances underfoot comfort.

  • The new foam gives 20% more energy return than its predecessor for a snappier, bouncy feel with every stride – perfect for tired legs deep into an ultramarathon.

  • The new foam uses a blend of elements, with a higher percentage of TPU (Thermo PolyUrethane) than the TERRAULTRA G 260 for increased energy return. Greater anti-abrasion properties help maintain the thickness and optimum performance for longer. 

  • Unique BOOMERANG insole features hundreds of expanded TPU beads that compress and then spring back for 40% more energy return – and greater cushioning – than previous insoles. Tested to retain its thickness and optimum performance level for longer.

Sam: Each of the features described by Inov-8 performs as described although I can’t “do the numbers” as they do above but it sure feels like it!  


The POWERFLOW Max foam and  3mm more of it than in the 260 is highly dynamic and with for sure a unique sense of energy return which is a blend of bounce and response, affected of course in the response department by the outsole. 


This is not an (overly) firm midsole foam as in the 260 or an extremely bouncy and a bit out of control feel as Saucony’s PWRN+ all TPU midsole has. It sits closer to Saucony’s PWRN TPU EVA blend with clearly more TPU than PWRN. It is livelier and more forgiving than either PWRN or Salomon’s Optivibe and Energy Cell+ which have a dull dense feel in comparison. It is more bouncy than densely springy as the DNA Flash in the Brooks Catamount is and it blows away Altra A Bound, EGO, Quantic, etc..in its more dynamic yet controlled feel of energy return. 


I found the midsole to be balanced,  forgiving on the legs and dynamic especially considering we have a mere 12mm of midsole here in a zero drop geometry with my estimate of total stack at a relatively  21mm (outsole, midsole, insole).

And lest I forget.. The Boomerang insole with its TPU beads for sure contributes to the great feel here. Clearly it takes the edge off any landing or distance without compromising trail feel or response on three all day hikes on very rocky steep terrain or flatter smoother trails and even roads taken at much faster paces, record paces by a lot for my mixed terrain forest trails MTB single tracks and even some road test loop . All terrain versatile the midsole is for sure.

My only midsole concern to date concerns some visible and so far cosmetic abrasion wear just above the outsole after those three very rigorous rocky hikes in the White Mountains of New Hampshire totalling approximately 20 miles and over 7000 vertical feet.


Jacob: The Terraultra G 270 uses Inov-8s new POWERFLOW MAX EVA/TPU blend material which at the moderately low stack height of the G 270 strikes a good balance of ground feel, protection, firmness, flexibility, and bounce/energy return. The ride is on the firmer side but is not at all harsh even on rock/asphalt. There is a good level flex on uneven surfaces but not enough to feel roots/rocks in a negative way. The TPU bead sockliner is a critical component of the shoe as it is substantially thick and quick soft/bouncy. It gives the shoe a softer, comfortable, livelier ride than if it were just the firmer POWERFLOW MAX. The combination works very well and provides a balanced feel that runs well for any distance on any terrain.



Renee: My first run in the TerraUltra G 270 was 19.25 miles with about 2,600 feet of elevation gain (not much for mountain runners, but that’s a lot for me in Nebraska), so I think that says something about my confidence in the midsole for long distances, and I am not that awesome or experienced with long distance trail running. I do not have enough experience to say if I would not wear these for a 50M or 100M without switching shoes, but easily it would as a marathon or 50k distance trail shoe for me. The midsole is soft and comfortable for long runs, but responsive enough to run at a decent pace. 

It’s a win! And the insole has TPU beads built in, which is great. Like the upper, the midsole has a bunch of technology that is named with fancy capitalized words, and I think it’s more than just marketing buzzwords: the technology does what Inov-8 promises. Runners who like maximum cushion might find the stack height too low, but I like lightweight ground feel shoes. I do not think the stack height should be a strong deterrent from buying the shoes. If it matters, I’m weighing in at 110-115 pounds and can’t stand heavy shoes unless I want to run slow. 


Don: This is where this shoe goes from a good shoe to one of the all time best for me. It somehow gives me a ton of cushion without disconnecting from the ground feel that I love. Inov-8 clearly listened to the criticisms of the TerraUltra G 260, and made dramatic improvements here. 

How Inov-8 was able to figure out cushion, feel, low weight, and low stack height I’ll never know. But honestly I don’t care because the more I’m writing about this shoe, the more I want to get back out on the trails in it. 


Jeff V:  The midsole is fantastic and I find it very fast, responsive and snappy on the uphills.  Cushioning strikes a very good balance of firmness (predictable and stable) while remaining compliant and comfortable.  My only real critique is that for the rocky technical terrain that I frequent, I would prefer a bit more cushioning underfoot and perhaps a rock film to add some protection.  I also think that adding some cushion to the heel and changing the zero drop to maybe 4-6mm would be a big improvement.  Additional cushioning would also be a huge benefit if truly targeting the longer distance Ultra crowd as is implied in the name, as many look for a more substantial shoe for a full day out on the trails, but recognize that varies from individual to individual.

Nils: As I'm filling in here last minute there's not much left that hasn't already been said. The G 270 is my first zero drop shoe and I took the risk today and ran 26k with 700m of vertical out of the box. My Achilles needed the first 2k to get used to the drop, but after those it was unnoticed. There's a great groundfeel in this shoe but with more than enough protection against what I threw at it today. Even on asphalt the ride is just smooth and even springy. The flex grooves make for a great toe off and climbing ability.


Outsole

As described by Inov-8

  • Improved use of Graphene-Grip rubber, with cleats repositioned in key areas and flex grooves fine-tuned for agile sticky traction that lasts even longer.

  • Graphene is the world’s strongest material. We are the first – and only – brand to use it in sports shoes thanks to a partnership with Graphene experts at The University of Manchester. It delivers the world’s toughest grip - insane sticky traction AND increased durability, no compromise.  

  •  4mm deep cleats all now armed with water dispersion channels and rubber dimples to give even better grip on hard wet trails.

Sam: Inov-8’s Graphene enhanced rubber is said to be 50% stronger, 50% more elastic, and 50% longer wearing than other rubbers (not specified which). 

The idea is to have a rubber which is both sticky and long wearing. Usually stickier rubbers tend to see faster wear but not so here.

In my testing on dry and wet slab and bounder granite, wet grass, dirt, loose gravel dirt, and pavement the 4m lug outsole had outstanding grip in all situations. When I needed grip on steep granite slabs it was there for me, on smoother single tracks over roots and rocks I had total confidence and even on pavement the outsole handled it all with confidence and also comfort. I say comfort as trail outsoles can often be firm and stiff in feel. The elastic properties of the rubber was definitely noticed molding to all terrain without being overly firm as rock focused outsoles can be or in motion overly soft as soft ground outsoles with high lugs can be. 


For those who ran the G 260 the outsole in the G 270 with same 4mm lug height has continuous bands of rubber across the sole vs a more and more deeply segmented approach up front in the 260. 

RIGHT: G 270 LEFT: G 260

The 270 actually ends up as more flexible with a forward flex point whereas the 260 flexed further back behind all the kevlar toe box mess. There is no rock plate in either version and personally I don’t miss it as on steep super rocky hikes protection was more than adequate and on trail runs on more moderate terrain with the flexibility of the front contributed to great agility and speed. I did note a bit of front toe fatigue after hours on rock while hiking but will gladly trade that for the great climbing flex up front, a flex reminding many La Sportiva such as Mutant.


The 270 is somewhat more torsionally flexible than 260 due to the open area of exposed foam at midfoot. There is a touch less protection in that area but noticeably faster transitions and cushion. 

The 270 lugs are more aggressive in their profiles and directionality. I found traction noticeably better in the 270 as the 260 was quite frankly fancy graphene and all mediocre in its grip on anything softer than rock and even then doesn’t match the grip here.


Conclusion one of the best all around outsoles with a state of the art rubber that sticks and grips everything I have thrown at it. It has that special elastic feel molding to obstacles but not overly deflecting so good on hard surfaces, even road as well. The  4mm lugs are a bit noisy on road but never “slappy” as stiffer rock protected shoes can be. As the shoe has gotten more flexible the noise has gone down.  I agree with Renee below the outsole runs very well on road and with say 2-3mm lugs would be incredible there.


Wear with 20 rough trail miles and 12 fast smoother trail miles so far is excellent. But for a few forward lugs all the dimples are still visible.

Jacob: The outsole is a simple single piece of Graphene Grip rubber with wide, blocky lugs and key exposed midsole and flex grooves. It is well-designed for versatility across a wide variety of terrain. The wide 4mm lugs are shallow enough to give a smooth ride on groomed terrain like dirt roads (and even asphalt) but have confidence-inspiring traction on basically everything I’ve run the Terraultra on (wet/dry rock, dirt, roots, wet bridges, leaves, streams), with the exception of mud. Durability of the Graphene Grip appears average to good. For a versatile shoe, the outsole is top notch.


Renee: Unfortunately, I haven’t been able to test the outsole in mud and I don’t run mountain/rock terrain. I’m hoping that the Graphene grip provides some traction on the icy gravel roads and snow drifts, but it’s July, so I’ll have to wait to test that hypothesis!  


After 45 miles, the outsole has some wear on the lug texture, probably from me getting lazy and dragging my feet across gravel. The soft mid-area of the outsole has some small holes from running over small sharp rocks. Nothing that compromises the performance though. Don’t be afraid that the lugs and Graphene grip will be uncomfortable off technical trails. I found the outsole to be comfortable on country roads (dirt and gravel); 4mm lugs would seem to be too high for roads, but they were in no way uncomfortable. Actually, they ride like a road shoe, which seems impossible with 4mm lugs. 

Don: Living in Colorado, I’ve had the absolute pleasure of running the G 270 on just about every surface imaginable; rocky, flat, rooty, wet, dry…. You name it, I’ve run it in the past few weeks to the tune of 200 miles. And I will just state this very simply: this shoe keeps delivering. 

I found absolutely ZERO issues on any surfaces I tried it out on. Even super wet logs at river crossings, which are usually the ultimate test for a shoe, gave the Graphene grip no issues to get over. Wet rocks were an afterthought. Dry loose dirt didn’t know what hit it I was gone so quickly. 


Oh, and you want a shoe that last seemingly forever? 200 miles into my pair and I’m not sure they have any real wear showing on them. 

Graphene Grip outsole is the truth!


Jeff V:  Echoing Sam, Renee and Don, the Graphene outsole offers very impressive grip on a wide variety of surfaces.  I ran on steep rocky trails, wet and dry slab, loose off trail, steep decomposed granite on hardpack, dirt, gravel, creek beds, over logs and deadfall, mossy rocks, pavement, cement and cement like dirt, flatiron rock scrambling and was very impressed with the grip everywhere (though for the really loose stuff, a deeper lug might be preferable, but was still impressed).


Durability thus far is proving to be above average.


My only complaint would be that when running fast downhills on hard surfaces (very hard packed dirt, pavement, rock etc…), the outsole is a bit loud and slappy, which combined with the thin midsole can feel a bit harsh and abusive.


Nils: Just two additional thoughts on the amazing outsole: I ran through some really muddy sections today and the G270 was unfortunately really good at collecting this mud - especially at the midfoot area where the exposed foam disrupts the lug pattern. The mud fell of eventually after I was back on more dry paths, but it was at least noticeable. 


The other thing is quite the opposite of what the others here report: I found the Graphene Grip to be amazingly quiet on roads - at least for a trail outsole. My Speedgoats create more noise for sure while slapping them on the asphalt in front of my house.


Ride

Jacob: The Terraultra G 270 absolutely lives up to the hype! My first test run was on pretty smooth terrain with a few steep climbs and descents at the start, then a solid strava segment effort on crushed gravel singletrack, then just cruising on dirt paths. I wasn’t planning on any hard running but the shoes inspired me to do a bit of speed and I got three Strava CRs.


The ride is enjoyable, fast, and smooth with a soft bounce. It is a light, quick moving shoe and great for speedy climbs and ripping flats. However it is as comfortable as a hiking shoe as it is a short-distance racer. I took the Terraultra G 270 for a few hike/runs in the notoriously technical White Mountains in Western Maine and loved it for this.

Though at home on the most rugged terrain, the Terraultra G 270 is also a good choice for road-to-trail runs, as its on-road performance is surprisingly smooth and oddly well-cushioned. The TPU bead sockliner is a critical component in ride and adds softness/a slightly forgiving feel given the lower stack. I’ve felt the Terraultra was a good shoe choice—fast, comfortable, snappy, pleasant—for every run (technical hiking to dirt road). It’s only weak point was when trying to run fast on highly technical, rooted single track. Here, the forefoot was not secure enough and the toebox height was too tall (easy to catch on the recovery motion). At slow paces the same terrain is effortless, but at speed, I needed a more precise and narrower toebox. This would sacrifice long-day comfort so I’m glad the Inov-8 went with the wider approach for the Terraultra, though.

Renee: Smooth, quick, easy, and comforting. The TerraUltra G 270 is now one of my favorite shoes for country road running because it has enough grip and traction to prevent slipping during fast up and down hill running and the light weight and zero drop allows for easy, fast “on the toe” running up hill. Some runners might not like zero drop, but the TerraUltra G 270 is light and feels light and I’m not sure it would run as smooth with a drop.

Sam: Renee says it well in describing the ride as Smooth, Quick, Easy and Comforting. It has performed magnificently on some of the roughest trails anywhere as an agile very easy on the legs hiker and then the same week led me to taking down my route record, and by a lot, for a varied terrain loop (dirt road, grass field, smooth to moderately rocky, rooty single track, and road)  I test all trail shoes on when in New Hampshire.  



Strava segment PR’s on the way included a fast very winding flatter single track segment, a steep short uphill and within a second on the road one mile  finish. The prior record holding shoe was the Salomon S/Lab Sense 7 SG. 


This is one versatile ride in a light shoe. The combination of the slightly bouncy softer midsole and stout and smooth outsole along with the totally secure and light upper make it one of the most versatile shoes ever for me. While it may lack a bit of front rock protection, trading that for flexibility, it has a smooth smooth fast ride on the flats and outstanding climbing ability for navigating boulders and slabs It does it all with aplomb, security and comfort.


As a zero drop shoe the ride is remarkably balanced in feel but if not knowing one might think it might be 3 or 4mm because there is no sense of the heel bottoming out at slower or faster paces. And while hiking I actually prefer zero drop for full contact. I have had no calf or achilles soreness whatsoever and it is the first zero drop I have run in several months, most of my shoes these days 4-8mm for road and trail.


Don: This shoe begs to be run in! I’m not sure I have enough adjectives in my mental library to describe just how fun it is to run in this shoe. I loved it, and I don’t see myself taking it off anytime soon. 

The ride is out of this world, and no matter the surface, delivers a fun, smooth running experience. It can get over anything you put in it’s way with agility and quickness usually only seen in superlight trail shoes, but does so in a package that I would absolutely line up for a 100+ mile race in tomorrow if I could. (I really wish I could…) 


The more I felt like this shoe was among the best ever, the more I wanted to test its limitations. I tried it on every surface imaginable and it kept getting better and better. I even took it for quite a bit of road running and honestly if this was a road shoe it would probably be in the top half of road shoes I’ve tested this year, easily running sub 7 minute pace without effort or issue.


The mix of smooth, peppy, and agile ride is dialed in, while still retaining ground feel and a nice amount of stability on any surface. It’s only limitations to some might be the lack of a rock plate. I personally don’t love plated shoes, but for those that do tend to like that, this shoe might be limited to less rocky terrain for you.


Jeff V:  The ride is very fast, responsive and stable, smooth and especially quick on the uphill.  The fast and smooth ride for me is most appreciated on uphills at tempo effort and rolling moderate to less technical singletrack and softer surfaces.  This is a very fast and high performing shoe, however, while running downhill on hard surfaces such as hard rock, pavement and super compacted hard dirt, I found the ride to be a bit harsh and longed for a bit more cushioning.

Nils: I just agree with everything said above. I had high expectations for  the Inov-8 Terraultra G 270 and they for sure delivered. I was a bit cautious about the shoes being zero drop - never ran in 0mm before. But this wasn't a problem at all. Quite the opposite: As a runner who needs a little more stability in his shoes I really appreciate the stability and natural ground feel that the zero platform of the G 270 delivers. On road sections you could tell how amazing the midsole material and even the insole feel. The ride has some noticeable bounce and feels more plush than one might think based on the moderately high stack.


Conclusions and Recommendations

Renee: I wrote some negatives, but to clarify: the TerraUltra G 270 is becoming one of my favorite shoes for running hilly country roads. On my usual terrain, this would be my current first choice for a marathon or 50k run. I liked using the shoe for shorter, 5k distances too. This shoe is light, comfortable, responsive yet cushiony. And it has a roomy toe box! If you are not sure about the zero drop and stack height working for an ultra distance, you may find the G 270 is worth wearing for short and mid-distances. 

Renee’s Score: 9.6/10 

(-.15 thin/sharp tongue, -.5 possibly too much volume in upper for some runners, -.10 cost, -.10 soft areas on outsole might get premature wear)


Sam: I can’t say I have run highly technical trails in them fast as I run or hike technical slow and cautious and smoother stuff fast but I have hiked incredibly rough and rocky terrain and run relatively smooth single tracks and even some road. In both environments they are top of the class. 


They have been incredibly stable, very forgiving underfoot cushioning with the upper secure and roomy on rough rock for multi hour hikes. Then as fast as any trail shoe I have ever run on mixed more mellow trail and even road. 


Unusual for sure for a trail shoe to shine on that kind of range of terrain which is a tribute to the forgiving and lively midsole, tenacious gripping but smooth running outsole, and a light, very secure upper. Yet the shoe weighs barely over 9 oz /258 g.  Now all my testing has been in rough and tumble New Hampshire and my other trails in Utah, generally machine built MTB trails, are much smoother, constant grade and more obstacle free remain to be run in them. Prior Altra road shoes such as the Torin 2.5 have done very well for me there so I have high expectations for the G 270 on those trails.


These are trails where I had the slightly stiffer and more cushioned if not as secured upper Brooks Catamount my pick of 2020 for that terrain before the G 270 arrived and last year the Skechers Speed TRL. 


Off topic a bit but I could see them being an outstanding fast packing and thru hiking option as evidenced by Damian’s exploits on the Pennine Way


I say range of terrain as I have not taken them on the run to long distances and with the low stack and zero drop more may come more into play. I would not hesitate to race them up to 30K on any trail but the most technical where I might reach for the Xodus 10.  I leave it to our other reviewers to comment on longer runs and very fast highly technical terrain running  but for me as a fun very fast shoe with a wonderful combination of great upper, superb midsole foam (and innovative insole), and tenacious outsole the Terraultra G270 is the most versatile at either extreme of terrain shoe I have hiked and run this year and maybe ever. 


The G 270’s moderately technical and easy trails capabilities, comfort and sheer speed be it uphill, downhill, flats, field and even paved road are remarkable. And that is before we get to its highly technical rocky terrain hiking capabilities and easy on the feet comfort.


Inov-8 is to complemented for essentially completely revamping the awkward firmer and dead running G 260 into a far better shoe all around


At $160 they are a pricey option (although less than the Salomon S/Lab and at the same price the Brooks Catamount) with durability expected, and so far, excellent. I do think a touch more heel stack (and more of that marvelous Power Foam Max) and a very minimal rock plate might make it yet better and a super light ultra option for more runners as would a touch more pinky toe room in the otherwise wide toe box great fitting upper.

Sam’s Score: 9.6 /10

Ride: 9.8(30%) Fit: 9.8(30%) Value: 9(10%) Style: 9.5(5%) Traction: 9.8(15%) Rock Protect:8.5 (10%)

 

Don: I’ve spent nearly ten years working with and around running shoes both in the industry for a manufacturer, as an athlete, and as a wear tester. And during that time I’ve never once said what I’m about to say: This is the best trail shoe I’ve ever run in. It’s perfect.  


For the style of running that I do, and the demand that I put on my shoes, I’ve never run in another shoe that answers the call so perfectly. Inov-8 designers absolutely kocked it out of the park with this one, and my feet cannot thank them enough. 


I have run every surface imaginable in Colorado, and there’s nothing this shoe cannot do. Even the price concern that has been mentioned is an absolute non-concern for me based on the durability of the build of this shoe, as I think most people find the price per mile of the G 270 is going to ultimately be cheaper than most options on the market. 


Don’s Score: 10/10. I’ve never given a perfect score before, but I’ve never tested a perfect shoe before. Until now. 


Jeff V:  I am overall very impressed with the G 270, as it is very responsive, fast, light, agile, secure yet roomy and will fit a wide range of feet.  


The graphene outsole is absolutely outstanding, for sure one of the best out there for all around versatile grip on just about any surface with exceptional longevity and durability.  


Like any shoe however, it has its limitations and ideal range of use.  I personally do not prefer zero drop, but you know that ahead of time, so no surprises there.  


The upper, while it is breathable and provides excellent security and roomy comfort, I found that when pushing hard on downhills or even moderate paces but on steeper terrain, I find that in order to achieve adequate security, I have to tighten the laces enough that I experience a significant amount of lace pressure on top of my foot under those circumstances.  


While some may find the G 270 adequate for ultra distances, I think much of that depends on the running surface and the individual.  I prefer more cushion underfoot, a bit more in the heel for a heel/toe differential, as well as better underfoot protection (either more cushion and/or a film).   The G 270 is not my top pick for high speed running on rocky, steep, all mountain technical terrain or longer distances.  None of the above however is the least bit of a knock on the shoe, more of a reference point for where I think it does/does not shine.  I find them to be best suited for fast running on more moderate trails, softer surfaces, a lot of variation and in my opinion, medium to shorter distances.

Jeff’s Score:  9/10

Ride: 9, Fit: 9, Value: 8.5 Style: 9.5 Traction: 10 Rock Protection: 8


Nils: Again: Please note, that I'm just one long run in for this review (out of the box!). But what I experienced so far matches perfectly with what the others report. The Terraultra G 270 is an amazing shoe and fits all the bills for my mostly moderate trail use. It is on top of my list for my remaining peak race: A 54k with 1700m of vertical and 50/50 road/trail. I can't imagine anything the race director could throw at me, which the G 270 wouldn't be able to navigate through perfectly. Therefore, anything I have to complain about here is just nitpicking: The midfoot is a little too roomy for my relatively narrow feet. Therefore I tied the shoes as snug as I could for the most technical part of my run (snugger than needed!) which led to some uncomfortable pressure on top of my foot. But that shouldn't be the normal way to tie the G 270s, as the foothold is exceptional most of the time. I quickly readjusted the laces in this situation, which removed the pressure and still kept me with an more than adequate midfoot hold. Additionally one could wish for a little more rock protection. Other than that, Inov-8 crafted a shoe that just delivers. It's a keeper for sure!

Nils' Score: 9.6/10 

(-.1 for a little too much lace pressure on top of the foot if tied really snug, -.1 for possibly too much volume in the upper for some runners, -.1 for lack of further rock protection)


Jacob: I went into testing the Terraultra G 270 with high expectations and a critical mindset and was blown away by how performant and without weakness the shoe is. It is a fantastic do-it-all trail shoe. It has great traction, good durability, all-day comfort, a locked-in fit and rides smoothly and energetically on all terrain. I couldn’t ask for more and there is nothing I would immediately change. I enjoy every run/hike (currently my favorite hiking shoe) in the Terraultra and look forward to more adventures in it—hopefully some mountain races in the future as well. I think anyone could find a good use for this shoe.


Jacob’s Score: 9.52 / 10

Ride: 10 (30%) Fit: 9.5 (30%) Value: 9 (10%) Style: 10 (5%) Traction: 9.5 (15%) Rock Protection: 8.5 (10%)

 



Watch Sam, Don, and Renee Initial Video Review




Comparisons

Index to all RTR reviews: HERE


Inov-8 Terraultra G260 (RTR Review)

Don: The G 260 was too firm, and didn’t really shine much anywhere. The designers at Inov-8 clearly listened to feedback and kocked it out of the park with the next generation G 270. I’m a 12.5 in both. Honestly these two shoes are not even in the same league. 

Sam: Don says it well. G 260 didn’t shine anywhere and was kind of awkward with an overly firm midsole and strange safety toe. The G 270 is a completely new shoe top to bottom and in performance, appearances aside!


Inov-8 Mudclaw G 260 

Renee: The Mudclaw G 260 shares the Graphene outsole technology and is a durable shoe all around. Although it is useful for soft downhill running, it functions much more as an obstacle cleat than a running shoe. The Mudclaw is firm, stiff, and rather uncomfortable underfoot, which is why I was hesitant to try another Inov-8 shoe. The TerraUltra is totally different because it’s comfortable, flexible, and suitable for long distances. 


Altra Superior (RTR Review)

Don: The Altra Superior has been my go to trail racing shoe for some time now. I’ve found it’s been a great mix of lightweight and cushioned while still giving me great grip and trail feel. I raced in the Superior 4 my only race in 2020 (and won in it!) so it’s been the favorite in my lineup for some time. 


That reign has come to an end for almost all use cases. The G 270 gives me all of that and more. The only scenario I might consider using the Superior is on the rockiest of terrains, given it has that cool removable rock plate, but being a person that doesn’t really like a rock plate… that might not happen anytime soon.  For you Altra people, think of the G 270 like a better Superior with a more stable ride and the responsiveness of an Escalante. Sounds like a dream, right? It is. I’m usually a 12 in Altra, and am a 12.5 in Inov-8



Altra Timp (RTR Review)

Renee: I haven’t run in the Timp 2.0, and there are key differences between the 1.5 and 2.0. I run well in the Timp 1.5 because of the zero drop, but the weight was an issue and caused foot fatigue. For me, I can run farther in the TerraUltra G 270 because it’s lighter. The Timp 1.5 midsole is more plush/soft and so is the upper. That said, the TerraUltra G 270 is not firm or hard and I prefer the upper and midsole of the TerraUltra G 270. Neither shoe has a rock plate. I wear a size women’s 8 in both shoes. If it’s a choice, the TerraUltra G 270 wins, but I really like the Timp 1.5 too.


Don: The Timp 2 is a really good, and really easy comparison to the G 270. Everything the Timp does…. The G 270 does better. I’m a 12.5 in both shoes. 


Jacob: No question the G 270 is the superior shoe for me. It has better traction, better foothold, runs smoother on all terrain, is lighter, easier to run fast in... Though softer, the Timp 2 rides like a dull brick in comparison to the energetic G 270. The Timp has a softer/more plush feel but isn’t necessarily more comfortable and is much less performant than the G 270, so there is no scenario where I would pick it instead.


Hoka One One Torrent 2 (RTR Review)

Renee: I dare (double dare!) say that whatever distance you can run in the Torrent 2, you can run in the TerraUltra G 270 as long as the zero drop is not an issue for you. Consider it a challenge!


The TerraUltra G 270 is more flexible and comfortable in the upper (although the Torrent 2 is great too), the midsole feels softer (although not as well stacked in height), and I run faster in the TerraUltra G 270. The toebox of the Torrent 2 is not Hoka-narrow, but the TerraUltra G 270 is wide and preferable for me. If I needed more stack underfoot and couldn’t handle a zero drop, the Torrent 2 wins. The Torrent 2 is considerably cheaper too. Otherwise, the TerraUltra G 270 kicks ass. For the record, I like having both shoes. I wear a women’s size 7.5 in the Torrent 2 and an 8 in the TerraUltra G 270.


Don: Before the G 270 hit my doorstep, the Torrent 2 was my trail shoe of the year. Well that didn’t last long! The only type of run I would now consider running the Torrent 2 in over the G 270 would be a something that had a harder downhill, where the higher stack could shine. 


This isn’t to say the the Torrent 2 isn’t great, because it is, but I find the ride, the fit, and the running feel to be superior on the G 270. If you’re afraid of the zero drop of the Inov-8, or the price is a barrier, the Torrent 2 is a great alternative. 12.5 in both brands. 


Jeff V:  I find the Torrent 2 to be an overall better pick for longer distances and especially longer/faster downhills due to more cushioning resulting in better protection.  While I find the Torrent 2 upper to be an improvement over previous, it is still not quite as locked and perfect as I had hoped.  The G 270 is more locked, but I find the price for that is less padded comfort and lace pressure on fast/steep downhills.  The G 270 has a superior outsole to the Torrent 2, though the Torrent 2 still provides excellent grip.  The G 270 is also more agile and for sure more responsive on uphills.


Brooks Catamount (RTR Review)

Jeff V:  Catamount is much more protective underfoot, better cushioned and overall more comfortable for me with similar high speed response and great for fast running on moderate terrain.  Both struggle a bit in complicated technical mountain terrain, the Catamount due to less secure upper and limited tread, the G 270 due to lack of protection underfoot and thin upper.


Sam: I mostly agree with Jeff but the stiffer more cushioned and rock protected Catamount isn’t headed to the White Mountains on my feet anytime soon but may challenge the G 270 on my New Hampshire test loop, to be updated here but I skeptical as I am not convinced the upper will be as secure and the stiffer profile will struggle on the rocks and roots.  G 270 has a far superior outsole, more agility, and a more secure upper. The Catamount is a great smoother Western trails shoe for longer distances and I suspect G 270 will be for me too. So...


Brooks Caldera 4 (RTR Review)

Jeff V:  Caldera 4 is a super cush and more casual recovery run shoe, much more comfortable and substantial for longer distances, but not as responsive, agile, stable or well treaded as the G 270.  Both are relatively wide in the toe box, though Caldera 4 a bit wider perhaps.

Sam: Jeff compares well. The Caldera has firmer cushioning and a broader on the ground platform and despite being far stiffer than G270 can move along but for sure is less exciting and not as fast when the pace picks ip


New Balance Summit Unknown (RTR Review):


Jeff V:  Both are fast agile and responsive, but the Summit Unknown gave me blisters and I discontinued use.  Too bad though, because otherwise I thought if performed very well.  So, G 270 has superior upper, superior outsole, yet not as well cushioned or protected.


Don: Summit Unknown has been a go-to for short fast trail workout in the past for me, and that’s about it. I find it to be a little too minimal on some terrains, and found the stability of the shoe to be less than ideal. The G 270 hits all all of those points, and is a clear winner here. I might still opt for the Summit Unknown on the fastest of trail workouts, but nothing else. 12.5 in both. 


Sam: I see the Summit Unknown as a close comparison. It has a snugger upper, firmer midsole, and adequate traction. I liked it for moderate terrain fast, door to trail. The G 270 is modern in every respect, considerably more forgiving and comfortable and can go faster and longer than Unknown.


Salomon Sense Pro 4 (RTR Review)

Jeff V:  Both are very fast and responsive, but the Sense Pro 4 has a more protective upper, more cushion and protection underfoot and while not as wide in the forefoot as the G 270, that is OK with me as the Sense Pro 4 upper/last fits me as though it was custom.  I find that I can run longer and faster overall in the Sense Pro 4 than I can in the G 270 given the better fit, comfort and protection, though with no weight penalty.


Sam: Sense Pro 4 is all business and does it well but kind of joylessly in fit and ride. Denser foam, some rock protection, stiffer and less agile, it has a comfortable snug race upper, and a greater traction profile. I ran a virtual trail half in them in Park City on dry often pointy rock in smoother moderate grade single tracks and did very well. I am quite sure I would have been faster and happier in the G270. A more technical New England trail half with mud and steeps  is where the Sense Pro 4 would more likely be on my feet.


Salomon S/Lab Sense 8 SG (RTR Review)

Jeff V:  The S/Lab Sense 8 SG is even more minimal, lighter and comparably responsive (though I think much of this has to do with it’s featherweight) than it is the midsole.  The G 270 midsole is more cushioned and pleasurable underfoot with a more lively, connected feel and more compliant overall.  I think both are great uphill shoes and the G 270, though the G 270 out performs the S/Lab over longer distances and fast rolling terrain.

Sam: The G 270 took down the S/Lab’s record on my mixed terrain test loop in New Hampshire and by a lot. The narrow S/Lab platform on rocky rooty flaster single track just didn’t have me as confident as the more obstacle compliant G 270 ride and traction.


Salomon XA Alpine (RTR Review):

Jeff V:  The XA Alpine is a true all mountain shoe with thicker and more protective upper featuring sturdy toe bumper and rand to protect from rock bashing, where the G 270 is somewhat thin and vulnerable in rocky terrain.  The XA Alpine with sticky rubber climbing zone is great on scrambly terrain and underfoot protection is top notch for rock hopping and traversing any terrain, though is not nearly as light and quick on more moderate terrain.

Sam:  I have hiked both on super rocky New Hampshire White Mountains terrain and the G270 was more agile,  is far  lighter and left my legs fresher even if, as Jeff says, it is less protective. I do think the G 270 could use a medial protective layer at mid foot as the Alpine does. Taken at the run, things might be different for sure on that terrain. On smoother terrain at my test loop, the XA Alpine did very well but the weight of the front climbing rubber and overall weight and firmer midsole was noticed.. 


Saucony Switchback 2 (RTR Review)

Renee: Both the Switchback 2 and TerraUltra G 270 are lightweight shoes, but that’s about all they have in common to me. The Switchback 2 is fun for short distances, but the midsole feels much firmer and harder than the TerraUltra G 270. I can run the Switchback 2 up to 13.1 miles, but not ideally past a 10k. The outsole of the Switchback 2 is great for my country road miles, but didn’t work well on technical terrain, although it does have a rock plate. The TerraUltra G 270  is far more diverse in usage. The TU G 270 is my choice between these two shoes. I wear a women’s size 8 in both shoes. 


Sam: I agree with Renee. The all TPU Switchback midsole is bouncy but thin and firmer in comparison. The outsole, while great on roads and gravel, isn’t substantial enough to stabilize the rest of the softer bouncy midsole as the Terra’s does or go to big mountain terrain for me. The Switchback does have a woven rock plate which helps with protection and stabilizing but in the end not much more if at all than the Terra’s outsole alone does.


Jeff V: Renee sums this one up well, but I will say that I appreciate the underfoot protection of the SB 2, but the upper is not nearly as secure, traction pales in comparison and is not nearly as speedy.


Jacob: Two of my favorite trail shoes of 2020, and both similar weights, but with different uses. The G 270 is by far a more performant shoe, having significantly better foothold, traction, durability, protection, and deeper and more spaced lugs. The Switchback is more of a casual trail or road-to-trail shoe with lower, densely spaced lugs, very high flexibility, and a more minimal feel (despite a similar stack height). I wear the Switchback for mixed terrain walking almost every day and bring it camping/on trips as it can do it all adequately well and is very comfortable and easy to slip off and on, however I would not race or hike in it. 


Saucony Peregrine 10 (RTR Review):

Jeff V:  For rocky, loose, steep technical terrain, especially at speed, the Peregrine 10 offers more aggressive lugs, bulletproof underfoot protection, more cushion (though very firm), a more comfortable and locked upper, while the G 270 is lighter and more responsive for less difficult terrain.  


Jacob: The peregrine is much heavier, less flexible, duller (but more protected) underfoot, but more secure in the forefoot and more performant on highly technical or rough terrain. The G 270 is much more versatile, comfortable, and secure at the heel. I greatly prefer the softer, springier, and more energetic ride of the G 270 in all scenarios, and the fit is both more secure (except at the forefoot) and comfortable (wider toebox) so I would choose it in all scenarios except the most technical or muddy/wet conditions. The fun factor is much higher in the G 270 and it makes the Peregrine feel clunky and overbuilt. 


Saucony Mad River TR 2 (RTR Review):

Jeff V:  MR TR 2 has more cushion, protection and overall comfort, though is heavier and less responsive, speedy or agile.

Sam: While more cushioned the Mad River doesn’t have the confident trail feel, agility, or response of the G 270. I found its toe box overly high volume in height to push the pace in rougher terrain with G 270 much more a good compromise of room and hold.


Skechers Speed TRL (RTR Review)

Renee: The TerraUltra G 270 has a roomier toe box, and I wear a women’s size 8 in both shoes. The TerraUltra G 270 has more volume all around and forms better to the foot. The TRL has a drop whereas the TerraUltra G 270 is a zero drop. The TerraUltra G 270 has cushion and height for the distance. Personally, I’m not sure I could take the TRL to 26.2 miles, but I haven’t tried; whereas, the TerraUltra G 270 should be good for me to the 50k distance. The TRL might be slightly quicker and it has a rock plate. I like both shoes; for the longer distances, the TerraUltra G 270 wins, and it has a considerably better outsole for more aggressive terrain. I love both shoes though. 


Jeff V:  Oddly, I could run much further in the TRL and have put in some very long days in the mountains, only longing for a bit more traction and rock protection underfoot.  I think the TRL is overall faster and more responsive and a better choice for me, though that Graphene outsole on the G 270…..


Sam: A tough match up. The Speed TRL is a faster shoe mostly due to its front plate which also provides some rock protection and is ideally suited to smooth Utah low steepness grade single tracks. Not a shoe I would take to the high mountains hiking or fast packing as I would the G 270 so TRL suffers in verstatilty . Both have fantastic exciting rides that set the bar high in the light trail shoe category


Jacob: Another good matchup and each shoe has an area where it excels over the other. The Speed TRL’s realm is in smooth terrain and road-to-trail where it is springy, comfortable, and very fast/easy to run. However, the traction and foothold is poor compared to the G 270, especially in wet conditions where the Speed TRL is miserably bad. The Speed TRL is not a mountain/rough terrain shoe and I also wouldn’t even consider it for hiking (low durability, not that protected, thin upper), so the G 270 is much, much more versatile. In addition, the G 270 is also actually quite good on road and light trail, and really fast, so it’s overall my pick over the Speed TRL without question. If versatility doesn’t matter to you and the only use will be road-to-trail and groomed, dirt trails, the Speed TRL is faster and maybe a more fun ride.


Topo Mtn Racer (RTR Review):

Jeff V:  Both are wider in the toe box, but the comparisons stop there.


Don: I didn’t like the Mtn Racer. To be honest, the Mtn Racer better compares to the G 260, as both were too firm for me. The G 270 is a far superior shoe. 


Sam: I agree with Don, MTN Racer is firmer and its tri density midsole is potentially overkill. It does have more rock protection than the G 270. The uppers look similar and are with extensive external overlays. The MTN mesh is denser, stiffer, less comfortable but maybe a touch more supportive but its stiffness gets in the way of movement and speed more than the G 270’s as did the G 260’s with its safety toe bumper.


Read reviewers' full run bios here
The product reviewed was a provided at no charge. The opinions herein are the authors'.
Comments and Questions Welcome Below!
Please let us know mileage, paces, race distances, and current preferred shoes

The Terraultra G 270 is available from Inov-8
Men's  SHOP HERE  Women's  SHOP HERE

RoadTrailRun receives a commission on purchases at the stores below.
Your purchases help support RoadTrailRun. Thanks!
HOLABIRD SPORTS
AVAILABLE NOW!
Men's & Women's  SHOP HERE

AMAZON  
AVAILABLE NOW!
Men's & Women's SHOP HERE

RUNNING WAREHOUSE
USA  Men's & Women's SHOP HERE
FREE 2 Day Shipping EASY No Sweat Returns
EUROPE Men's & Women's SHOP HERE
AUSTRALIA Men's & Women's SHOP HERE

ROADRUNNER SPORTS
Men's & Women's SHOP HERE
Join VIP Family, Get Free Shipping and 15% in VIP Benefits on every order, Details here

REI Men's & Women's  SHOP HERE

AMAZON  
AVAILABLE NOW!
Men's & Women's SHOP HERE

WATCH OUR YOUTUBE REVIEWS ON THE ROADTRAILRUN CHANNEL



Please Like and Follow RoadTrailRun
Facebook: RoadTrailRun.com  Instagram: @roadtrailrun
Twitter: @RoadTrailRun You Tube: @RoadTrailRun

21 comments:

Jeff Valliere said...

Following

The Stoat said...

Thanks for the review RTR crew. Can you speak a little more about protection for the long run. It's clear from your review that the G270 has a more 'lively' feel than the G260, which sounds great, but how much more protection is there? I really enjoyed the G260 as a trail shoe for up to half marathons, but it lacked protection underfoot for rockier terrain and I have avoided using it for longer efforts (which it's name implies is it's intended use).

Everyone likes different amounts of cusioning and it's clear that this is no Hoka, but I'ma lighter guy and I've always been comfortable runing in the Terra Kiger for 50 milers, so how do you see the G270 with comparison to that?

Rudy Kaptein said...

This review sounded a bit much like 'shut up and take my money'. So I ordered them a few minutes ago :-). I just returned this weekend from the french alps where I ran (sort of, with all the steep ascents/descents) over 100 kilometers of trail with over 8K of vertical. All on my beloved Inov-8 260 (non G version, so without the stiff toecap and kevlar upper). In 1.5 years I've ran almost 700k in my 260's, with several runs being around 50K. The cushioning is indeed quite harsh, with almost all the cushioning coming form the thick ortholite insole (wich I swapped for a thinner one for gaining extra space). I have run a trail marathon on frozen ground were my legs felt pretty beat up afterwards, but most of the time with a bit softer underground they are just fine for me. But altough I'm missing patches of rubber / complete lugs at the bottom of the shoe, the upper is still almost intact, wich is quite a feat given the fact that te shoes are just wide enough for me (and with shoes like the Topo Terraventure where the upper has been ripped and the sides have blown out after the same amount of abuse).

So I hope the weight increase will indeed be minimal (I'm a big fan of lightweight (trail)shoes like the The Altra Superior 4, which I use for shorter distances), the width has been unchanged and that the 270 will be a worthy successor for my upcoming trailmarathons and ultra's.

Sam Winebaum said...

Hi Rudy,

Thanks for your complete feedback. Amazing distances in rugged terrain. Please let us know how the G 270 works out for you.

Sam, Editor

Thanks for reading Road Trail Run! See our index page with links 100’s of in depth shoe and gear reviews HERE. You can also follow RoadTrailRun on Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and Instagram where we publish interesting run related content more frequently as well as links to our latest reviews.
Shopping through links on articles help support RoadTrail Run and is much appreciated!

Jeff Valliere said...

Stoat, I am 5'9" and 143-145 lbs and as you may have gathered from my reviews, I run a lot of rocky, technical terrain (every single run pretty much, but for the sake of reviewing, do try to mix it up where I can to get an overall feel of how a shoe performs on various terrain). Of course preferences vary, but I could not see running 50 miles in the G 270, especially if the surfaces under foot were hard (rock, hard dirt, pavement, etc....). Honestly, running even moderate paces on steep, technical terrain with lots of rocks, I found 2 hours to be my limit and was longing for something with more cushion and protection under foot (not necessarily a plate, as some shoes do not even need one). The G 270 is not nearly as protected and cushioned as the Kiger and think the Kiger is a good choice for up to 50 miles of fast running with just about anything mixed in. Have you considered the Salomon Sense Pro 4?

Sam Winebaum said...

Hi The Stout,
i don't think you will find more rock protection in the G 270 than G 260. You will get a much faster and more pleasant shoe for smoother terrain up to moderate East Coast single track and for sure (when I get there but know already) Western built single track. One must not forget Physics here! With heavy hard downhills you will compress the thinnish stack softer midsole and feel rocks. That said at slow hiking paces in the Whites including in test: Carter Dome, South; Wildcat Ridge Trail, Jackson via Webster Cliff, and Cannon via Kinsman Ridge they are the easiest on the legs shoe and the most stable and secure shoes I can recall on similar terrain including XA Alpine, EVO Speedgoat, Hoka TOA and even Kaha, and Sportiva Unika. In all of the others I had sore legs and heels the next day. Zero here.
Sam, Editor

Unknown said...

I'm a lighter runner, 1,75m/68kg, I think my limit would bei 50k in these, but distance is growing every Run. When comparing to the Nike TK4 I(never run TK5 or TK6) protection is even, cushion goes to the Kiger. Still, Terraultra G270 is a much better shoe, if you like pure running, zero drop and everything comes together in a perfect way, great, great shoe !

The Stoat said...

Thanks for the input - sounds like better rebound, similar protection to the G260. I wonder how much of that is just simply the change in insole - those old 6mm otholite jobs were very dead feeling (and soaked up loads of water).

@Jeff V. Yes - I really like the Sense Pro 4. It's my goto dhoe for shorter/faster/more technical runs. The midsole is perfect but I am not a fan of the fiddle lace system - I can't quite get the balance right between a secure heel fit and cutting off the blood to my foot - less of an issue on shorter distances but problematic as things go longer. Half tempted to cut the lace system out and put in normal laces.

Unknown said...

I think this shoe could possibly be compared to the VJ MAXx shoe. In a odd euro way I don’t think stack heights are measured with either the insole or lug depth accounted for so both shoes are a bit more than spec. The VJ MAXx does have a full length rock plate and the grip is insane. Foot hold and toes box are also fine. Not sure yet of its distance capabilities (for me that is) but it’s a shoe that craves technical trail, is uber confidence inspiring and utterly bombproof. Absolutely a fun shoe that also makes a great hiker for technical terrain.

Rob F said...

Sam and team, thanks for your usual thorough, informative, and spot-on review.

I bought the Terraultra G270s a few weeks ago (I guess their advertising really hit the mark with me) and love them. The G270s are definitely in my rotation, along with my HOKA Evo Speedgoat and Altra Olympus 4s. You may be able to tell from the other shoes I am using, that I have trended toward grippy but high-cushioned shoes, which seem to suit my old-man joints these days. I wore the HOKA Evo Speedgoats last weekend for the Tushars 70k, and they were a dream. I remain wary, however, of using the G270s on long runs on rocky, technical terrain given what feels like limited protection under foot. However, your review has inspired me to give the G270s a try on some longer and rockier terrain to see how they do.

By the way, I bought a pair of Altra Timp 2.0s but I am not a huge fan, despite prior versions being my go-to trail shoe for a couple years. I like the snugger fit in the fore foot, but just didn’t the way they performed while running on-trail.

Keep up the good

Rob Flowers

Sam Winebaum said...

Thanks Rob for kind words!
And thanks for the feedback.
As far as technical terrain in these I think it depends alot on your downhill pace, weight,, agility, and the distance. Pace I don't have on anything technical but at moderate hiking paces plenty of protection for me. I would easily run any Park City trail in them and fast but and if I was doing Mid Mountain again would certainly consider them near the top with EVO Speedgoat my other top choice and would put them ahead of Sense Pro 4 or Sense Ride 3.
Sam, Editor

Rob F said...

Thanks for that color Sam. Did one of the easier but still somewhat rocky trails at PCMR, for about 1:45, and they felt good, but I agree with Jeff that up to 2 hours is a good length to run on these in technical, rocky terrain. Up to 2 hours the G270 are truly great shoes.

Hubert said...

Yes, this is really an awesome shoe. I immediately ordered one after your first video. A complet change in running feeling compared to other Graphene-shoes (Roclite 275 oder Trailroc 280. Up to now the sense pro 4 was my absolute favourite, now I have the "agony of choice". The flexibility of the forefoot ist really perfect for running up and the "rolling feeling" is a pleasure. A little drawback on narrow and technical paths the shoe is a bit "too large". Here I prefer the Salomon Ppro 4.
A little bit more cushion under the forefoot, a 4 mm drop and a bit more narrow toe box would be ideal for me. But anyway this shoe is worth any penny

Sam Winebaum said...

Hi Hubert,
A special shoe indeed! Thanks for your feedback. I agree a bit more stack and drop or a touch more heel stack and a very light plate or a touch more forefoot cushion would perfect. Or a new model with same. I personally wouldn’t change upper though.
Sam, Editor

Rudy Kaptein said...

It took some time for the shoe to arrive at my door, but last friday was the day and last saturday I had a trail marathon. Upper is virtually the same as the old non-G 260. I was suprised to find that:
A/ the shoe is lighter than my old 260's (size 12) and it's not any residual mud on the old shoe (should be lighter with the lost patches of rubber underfoot).
B/ The outsole width at the forefoot has lost more than a centimeter in width, altough the upper inner width has stayed the same.

I decided to put them straight to the test on saturday. I swapped in a thin(ner) inov-8 insole (to gain some extra width / foot space in the initially stiff upper). The marathon went fine (finished it in 3:31) and this were my findings:
- I still love the ride
- I still love the grip and is has improved
- cushioning without (the provided) plush insole still pretty minimal, like it was in de 260, in spite of the powerflow max and slightly increased stack height.
- Something caused my left big toe to go numb (is still numb for more than 2 days now), but I haven't found out the cause. I suspect it has to do with some wobbly finish of the footbed in the shoe, the material there is a bit folded. The 260 had a rubbery finish, where the 270 has a sort of nylon fabric. On my right foot my big started to hurt after 20km on more technical terrain and I had to pull it up inside the shoe to get rid of that feeling. Never experienced something like that with the 260's and I also ran in them with thin insoles
- the tongue is tricky (like mentioned in the review), it can rub your foot, but luckily I had thick socks.

Next run will be with the provided insole. It is strange for me to have any problems with my big toes, normally my pinky toes suffer during long runs (but they were totally fine, so that's an affirmation the width of the shoe hasn't changed)

the shoes (and me) in action

Marcel said...

great review! i am really on the fence of buying the TerraUltra 270 or the Salomon Sense Pro 4. Therefore, could you give us some more information regarding the grip on wet surfaces? Inov-8 says the Graphene outsole has the "toughest grip" but i am afraid that toughest is the opposite of "stickiest" as sticky rubber tends to be less durable. I use the Inov-8 F-lite 260 knit in the gym which also has a graphene outsole and on some surfaces it alsmost feels like walking on ice. graphene is durable for sure, but is it sticky on wet surfaces...?

Sam Winebaum said...

Hi Marcel,
Personally I have found the inov-8 grip stickier on all rock wet or dry to anything else. It does not have as aggressive a tread pattern as the Sense Pro 4 which will outperform it on soft and loose terrain.
Sam, Editor

Marcel said...

Hi Sam,
thank your for your take on grip. In the meantime i ordered the TU270 and walked around in them in my appartment. like the F-lite 260 (also graphene, but no lungs), it slips over the parket floor like on ice while all my contatrip Salomons stick on it like glue even when doing australien pushups (i know, not the field of work for a trailshoe, but i guess it illustrates the difference very well). therefore, i'll guess i will go with the SP4 heavy-heartedly even though i would have tried something new very much.

Marcel said...

it should be "pullups instead of "pushups" of course where you are in an almost horizontal position.

Arsène said...

Hi Sam,
Was wondering if you could update the comp vs Catamount, now that you (probably) had time to try them in both locations.
I own a pair of G270 and found that they actually behave very well in north-east roots, rocks and reasonably muddy conditions. lowered all my 2,3 and 4 he PB.
But always on the lookout for fast shoes.
Love your reviews and keep it up.

Sam Winebaum said...

Hi Arsene,
Thanks for kind words!
I am in UT now but didn't test my Catamount back in NH but now have tested the G 270 which.. took down one of my uphill segment PR from the Cat and was 5 sec slower on the UT test loop (30min) of up and then down smoother single track a couple of days after arriving at altitude and with lots of fire smoke in the air,
I can be pretty certain the G 270 is superior to the Cat for the Northeast type terrain as its upper is more secure and underfoot not as stiff, more root and rock conforming and agile while in UT the Cat might be a bit faster on the smooth downhill trails here
Sam, Editor