We spent 8.6 hours reading reviews from experts and users. In summary, this is what runners think:

6 reasons to buy

  • Unanimously agreed by most runners is the insane grip of the Ultra 290 GTX on very difficult outdoor terrain.
  • Comfort comes as a close second when the top assets of the shoe are ranked according to a majority of runners.
  • A common reaction from many users is the Inov-8 Ultra 290 GTX’s responsive features.
  • An all-weather makeup is another aspect that many users loved in the shoe.
  • A number of runners observed how nimble the shoe runs despite some significant protection and support features.
  • The moderate cushioning allows the shoe to be a fantastic option for daily training or for 5Ks to ultra-long runs.

2 reasons not to buy

  • The price is high.
  • No break-in time should be needed for a shoe having this price, remarked a handful of users.

Bottom line

Inov-8’s first ultra-long distance running shoe shines in practically all outdoor surfaces. It has ample arch support, light, and very comfortable. Regardless of the distance or off-road terrain, runners will be able to have fun on the trail in this shoe.


  • Running on unpredictable terrain is easier with the Inov-8 Race Ultra 290 GTX. This is a version that includes a waterproof membrane, which enables the wearer to perform more confidently when exposed to wet conditions. Durable materials are still at work here, making sure to provide protection and security to the foot throughout the running session.
  • Aside from a waterproof layer, the upper unit of this running shoe uses a breathable mesh in order to keep the foot well-ventilated. The inner sleeve doesn’t rub uncomfortably against the skin, effectively reducing irritation.
  • The mid-sole of the Race Ultra 290 GTX uses the Inov-8 Shock-Zone construction. It enables the platform to deliver a specific level of performance that caters to the needs of runners. An ‘arrow system’ distinguishes the level of support and protection the runner gets from the mid-sole. This model has a ‘two-arrow shock zone’, which means that it is able to deliver a balanced mix of responsive cushioning and impact protection.
  • Three different rubber compounds are at work in the outsole unit of this running shoe. They protect the mid-sole from wear and tear, while also ensuring reliable traction on multiple types of surfaces. The entire external surface of the sole unit is shielded from the potentially damaging effects of ground friction and continued use.

The GTX version of the Inov-8 Race Ultra 290 uses standard measurements when it comes to sizing. Men and women are able to get the correct fit when they choose this shoe. The available width is medium, so it is able to accommodate those with medium sized feet. Its semi-curved shape mimics the natural shape of the human foot.

The outsole unit of the Inov-8 Race Ultra 290 GTX uses the Tri-C™ Compound, which places three different rubber units into a single unit. The forefoot and mid-foot areas have a soft, sticky rubber material for grip and responsiveness; the endurance rubber material runs from the heel to the metatarsal area to give durable protection against wear and tear; and a harder rubber that’s also sticky is put on the sides to prevent abrasion and tears.

Injected Ethylene vinyl acetate provides responsible underfoot cushioning and protection against impact. It doesn’t feel stiff or restrictive, so natural flexibility is afforded freedom.

The 2-Arrow Shock-Zone gives a mix of responsive cushioning and protection from impact shock during the foot-strike. It’s a design that’s made for types of terrain that are not too aggressive on the platform.

The X-STATIC Footbed adds a bit more cushioning o the underfoot. It has anti-moisture and antimicrobial properties, thus making the interior shoe-environment as clean, healthy and odor-free as possible for the runner.

Breathable mesh allows the environmental air the enter the shoe and keep the foot cool and dry. It allows the wearer to stay comfortable and free from moisture, even if they’re running for long periods of time.

The GORE-TEX® membrane covers the upper and prevents water from infiltrating the interior chamber. It heightens the confidence of the runner when it comes to running under wet or muddy conditions.

The anti-friction construction of the upper allows the fabrics to move along with the foot, thus preventing skin irritation and enables more comfortable running experiences.

Jens Jakob Andersen
Jens Jakob Andersen

Jens Jakob is a fan of short distances with a 5K PR at 15:58 minutes. Based on 35 million race results, he's among the fastest 0.2% runners. Jens Jakob previously owned a running store, when he was also a competitive runner. His work is regularly featured in The New York Times, Washington Post, BBC and the likes as well as peer-reviewed journals. Finally, he has been a guest on +30 podcasts on running.