The TerraUltra G 260 is a really comfortable well designed and robust shoe, and there’s every chance that it may get close to the 1000 miles that Inov-8 promised.
The shoe is designed for Ultra-distance running and combines an upper which is spacious in the forefoot with a responsive midsole and versatile outsole. This makes it a great choice for long runs, especially those that involve a variation in terrain.
The TerraUltra G 260 has also become my all-rounder for easy off-road runs on anything but hard-packed surfaces, though I’d leave it at home for faster stuff.
If you're after a versatile off-roader which will keep your feet comfortable hour after hour, then this could be the right choice for you. Just as long as you're happy with a minimal feel without an awful lot of cushioning.
- Spacious, breathable upper
- Excellent outsole grip and traction
- Responsive ride
- Minimal cushioning
- Laces could be improved
The Inov-8 TerraUltra G 260 is one of the shoe company’s new range of shoes incorporating graphene-enhanced rubber within its outsole. It is marketed as “the world's toughest shoe for running the world's toughest long-distance trails.”
The phrases “tough and toughest” are peppered throughout the marketing for Inov-8’s new Graphene range, but this shoe really is more than just an off-road shoe with a robust sole, and in some ways it’s a shame that the marketing seems to focus solely (no pun intended) on this aspect of the shoe.
As the name suggests, the Inov-8 TerraUltra G 260 is designed for running long, but it really is more versatile than that.
The upper is far more spacious than most of the Inov-8s range, especially in the toe box. The midsole offers shock absorption rather than cushioning, together with a little more responsiveness than some of their shoes that are designed for more technical terrains.
The shoe is also lighter than many of Inov-8’s range, and the relatively low lugs of the outsole are designed together with grooves in the midsole to offer flexible sole that is a more forgiving on the foot than some of their technical shoes, whilst retaining a good feel for the ground, and a confidence on a range of terrains.
I am lucky to be able to run in the mountains of Snowdonia and around the coast of Anglesey. This can throw up a variety of terrains in any single run, and I was looking forward to finding out whether this shoe could handle them all!
Over the last few weeks, I’ve run around 70 miles in these shoes, subjecting them to a wide variety of terrains including forest and hard-packed trails, mountains and beaches, and even a fell-race. The longest run I’ve done in them is around 3 hours, so whilst I can’t speak for the truly long-distance feel of the shoe, I feel that I’ve tested them out thoroughly enough to review them.
First impressions & appearance
The TerraUltra G 260 is a great looking shoe which is fortunate because it’s also a shoe that you can’t miss in Inov-8’s Graphene inspired bright green with only an occasional hint of black.
The shoe does initially look more like a rugged road shoe than Inov-8’s usual off-road fare, but this is primarily due to the wider forefoot and the visible foam of the midsole.
Picking the TerraUltra G 260 out of the box, it feels light. In part, I think that this is because the weight is evenly distributed around the shoe, whilst other shoes such as the Roclite or the Mudclaw have a heavier-weight outsole which can initially make the shoe feel heavy when handling.
Handling the shoe initially, I was surprised at how thin Inov-8 have been able to make the outsole; the grip provided by the 4mm lugs are enhanced by grooves in the Exteroflow Foam midsole, and I’m sure that the graphene within the rubber allows for a thinner rubber outsole without compromising the durability.
The TerraUltra G 260 is listed at 260g (hence the name). Whilst not truly lightweight, this comparable to a road-running shoe in terms of weight, and lighter than many shoes of this type.
As expected, my UK 13 (14.0 US) shoe weighed in heavier at 312g, which is a more modest increase in weight than many shoes.
Most importantly, the Terraultra G 260 feels light when running. I think that this is as much to do with the weight distribution mentioned above as the number on the scales. Designed for running long, the lightweight nature of the shoe is going to be an important factor as the time and distance increase.
My UK size 13 fit just right, with no need to size up, and given that the shoe is designed to allow swelling of the foot. My suggestion is that most runners will find the shoe true to size.
I’m used to a snug Inov-8 shoe which holds the shoe securely through even the steepest of technical terrains. I do much of my off-road running in a Roclite or the Trailroc shoe, or a Muclaw for very wet and muddy conditions.
The TerraUltra is a little different, however. It comes in as a “5” in Inov-8’s width guide (the widest shoe), compared to a “3” in my regular.
This additional width allows the foot to swell, and for the toes to splay, especially over long distances. It also comes as a welcome relief to someone who suffers from the occasional flare-up of Morton’s neuroma.
Despite the additional width, I did have to loosen off the laces significantly to get my foot in, and this is because the foot is held well around the ankle and heel.
This means that while the forefoot can enjoy the extra room, the foot is safely locked in at the back, preventing the foot from moving forward and the toes from hitting the front of the shoe on even the steepest descent.
My only real issue is with the laces. I really struggled to get them to tie securely.
This was for two reasons. First, the laces just aren't long enough to tie in a double knot when using the top lace holes (this may not be an issue with smaller size shoes), and the round "springy" laces just don't feel secure when tied.
This accompanying photo happened to catch a time when the laces had come undone whilst running.
In a shoe with a sole designed to last 1000 miles, it's essential that the upper can last the distance too. This is especially important in an Inov-8 shoe, given that the company has not always produced shoes with the most robust upper.
Having said that, my Roclite 290 and Trailroc 270 shoes have both around 500km of running on them (mainly mountain running where 500km translates to much longer on the feet than in a road shoe).
Aside from an occasional application of superglue to the lace loops of the Roclite, they have stood up well, though I couldn’t see them lasting the same distance again.
Inov-8 have addressed questions over the durability of the upper by incorporating Kevlar Aramid Fibres (think bulletproof vest) into the heel cup and with noticeably robust overlays forming the "Metracradle" which wraps the midfoot, and the toe cap at the front of the shoe.
Added to this, the breathable mesh that forms the mid and front sections of the upper feel more durable than in other Inov-8 shoes, and there's a good chance this upper may last the 1000 miles that Inov-8 claims.
So in detail…
The heel cup is more robust than a standard Inov-8 shoe and solid enough to hold the heel firmly, whilst also allowing the heel to move with the foot over variable terrain (it does not incorporate a solid plastic heel cup as in some shoes).
Cushioning in and around the heel cup is similar to most Inov-8 shoes I have experienced; not a great deal, but sufficient for comfort.
The Kevlar Aramid fibers should ensure continued durability, and there is a plastic overlay into which the Inov-8 gaiter can be secured.
This is important where gaiters will be worn as the sole of the shoe will not really accommodate the elastic gaiter straps which would be the alternative method of securing them.
The tongue offers more cushioning than in most Inov-8 shoes, and this is no doubt a nod to the fact that this shoe is designed to be worn for many hours, and this extra padding will allow for the midfoot to be held securely without compromising comfort.
The tongue is secured at the bottom and most of the sides to prevent debris from entering the shoe. Overlaid across the midfoot mesh is Inov-8’s Metcradle to which the laces are tied, and which again holds the foot well without preventing movement.
In the case of the TerraUltra, the Metcradle is the most comprehensive yet. The overlays begin at the front of the heel cup and continue right across the midfoot with the foremost one overlapping with the toe cap at the front of the shoe.
The toecap is fairly large on this shoe and appears to be constructed from some form of reinforced engineered mesh rather than a rubberized compound which is found in much of Inov-8's shoes.
In use, it does offer a good level of protection, and I would imagine that this method of construction helps to reduce the weight of the shoe. The most significant aspect of the front of toebox is the space for toes to move and splay.
Inov-8 claim that the Exterofit upper “adapts to the natural swelling and movement of the foot when running long distances”.
Terraultra G 260 definitely feels very different from my other Inov-8 shoes where the entire foot feels very snug. Here, the forefoot is allowed space to move and breathe.
The midsole uses Inov-8’s Enter flow foam, and significantly offers “zero drop”; that is, no difference in depth of the foam between the heel and the forefoot, with a midfoot stack at 9mm from front to back.
According to Inov-8, this “next-generation underfoot technology strikes the perfect balance between comfort and responsiveness.”
The appearance of the shoe, and especially the midsole is that of a hybrid road/trail shoe, but do not be fooled into thinking that there is a tremendous amount of cushioning in this shoe.
Think shock absorption rather than cushioning. The 9mm of Exteroflow foam will reduce the impact of the foot on even the rockiest of terrains, but you will retain ground-feel throughout.
My personal view is that whilst this lack of cushioning may not be an issue with the elite and front-of-the-field runners, there will be many mid-field and back-of-the-pack runners who find that they would prefer a more cushioned shoe as the miles and the hours build up during an ultra race.
The responsiveness described by Inov-8 comes from a combination of the Exteroflow foam and the Dynamic Fascia Band integrated into the outsole of the shoe, and which replicates the plantar fascia ligament to deliver a “windlass effect.”
With its origin at the heel, the Dynamic Fascia Band extends forward and divides into individual bands as a similar manner to the plantar fascia, stretching as the heel leaves the ground and propelling the body forward at the beginning of each stride.
This is where the Graphene enhanced rubber is used to provide “the world's toughest grip on hard-packed trails.”
The design of the outsole is really interesting, with a comparatively thin layer or rubber for such a shoe, and one that is integrated with the midsole to enhance the grip and deliver good flexibility and ground contact.
The lug depth on this shoe is relatively shallow at 4mm. But this is combined with grooves in the midsole to effectively double the tread depth, making it more effective than it, otherwise would be even in loose and muddy conditions.
The location of the groves, both laterally and in the front to back plane, combine to make this shoe flex in all directions as the foot lands. This is especially important of uneven and rocky terrain where it ensures that as much of the sole as possible is in contact with the ground through every footfall.
The innovative design, graphene rubber and the integration of the midsole and outsole have combined to create an incredibly versatile sole unit which provides confidence in pretty well all conditions and terrains.
This is a great shoe - not just for long-distance ultra-marathons (as the name suggests), but also for shorter runs on a variety of terrains.
It will cope with fairly technical routes, though at speed, the foot will move around a little too much for my liking during quick changes of direction at speed. I love the outsole/midsole design and would really like to see it on a precision shoe in the future.
This is a shoe designed for running long. I’ve now run close to 100 miles in this shoe, but I should admit that the longest I’ve run to date is around 3 hours on fairly mountainous terrain. I’ve used it on a variety of surfaces including woodland trails, sand, hard-packed trails, gravel and fell and feel able to comment on its performance.
Many of my off-road runs begin with a little time on tarmac, and as mentioned above, this shoe provides shock absorption rather than cushioning. As a larger runner (6’2” and currently 90kg), it really isn’t a shoe I’d use for any distance on hard surfaces.
Once off-road, the design of this shoe really starts to show through. Inov-8 claim that the shoe delivers a balance of comfort and responsiveness, and that really is how it feels. Aside from the occasional particularly sharp rock, the tough outsole and Exteroflow midsole protect the foot from the terrain.
At the same time, the sole is flexible enough to wrap around larger rocks, stones, and changes in the surface to maximize the ground contact at all times. The result is that the shoe provides the type of confidence that you’d expect from a more technical shoe such as the Roclite or Trailroc.
On more even terrain, when you can begin to increase the pace a little, the responsiveness kicks in and the shoe helps you to move faster, all the time maintaining the confidence provided by the midsole/outsole combination.
The shoe does, however, has its limitations at a faster pace and is obviously designed for ultrarunning. The heel and to an extent the mid-foot is well held by the shoe, but the front of the shoe and toe box are deliberately wider than many of their shoes and allow movement of the forefoot.
For review purposes, I wore this shoe on a short fell race a few weeks ago and found that the foot will move around a little in the shoe if you try to take tight turns at speed, especially on a steep descent.
I mention this only as an observation. The shoe isn’t designed for this purpose, and Inov-8 have many far better models for fell-racing!
On forest tracks, this shoe makes you feel as if you can run all day; light, responsive, and with more adequate cushioning for this type of surface.
Up in the mountains, the shoe copes really well with rock, stone and grassland alike. Its weight is a real benefit as you tire, but still, need to lift the foot up and over, or onto obstacles. The longer you run in this terrain, the more you’ll be glad that you chose to wear the TerraUltra G 260 rather than a precision-fit shoe.
The shoe easily copes with sand and gravel, and the wider footprint, especially at the front, helps to limit the sinking of the foot on these surfaces, and anything that can reduce the energy-sapping nature of such surfaces even a little has to be a good thing.
If you are running long on hard-packed trails, then you may have a decision to make. I have no doubt that the closer you get to the front of a race, the more this shoe will suit you on this type of trail.
If you are a little further back, however, or a heavier runner, I'd suggest that you may want to look for a shoe with more cushioning than this shoe provides especially as the time and miles stack up.
Finally, I should address the “zero drop” nature of the shoe. My shoes tend to vary in the heel-toe drop, from a 10mm Brooks Ghost for long-easy runs on the road to a 4mm Roclite or Trailroc for mountain running, so I am by no means an advocate of zero-drop shoes.
I tend to find that the drop on shoes becomes less relevant in off road running, and especially on more technical terrain where the angle and position of the foot changes with every footfall.
As such, I didn’t find any problems running in the zero-drop TerraUltra G 260. Having said that, if you’re used to higher drop shoes, I’d suggest getting used to running with zero drop over long distances before heading out on your first ultra with this shoe!
I really like this shoe, and it quickly becomes my first choice for easy off-road running on most terrains. For faster sessions, especially on more technical terrain, I’d still opt for my Roclite shoes, or Trailroc for dry, rocky routes.
This is a really comfortable well designed and robust shoe, and there’s every chance that it may get close to the 1000 miles that Inov-8 promised. The zero drop will appeal to many, but shouldn’t put off those who may be concerned about the transition; take a little time to get used to it and I’m sure you’ll enjoy the ride.
The shoe is designed for Ultra-distance running, and the spacious upper combined with a responsive midsole and versatile outsole make it a great choice for long runs that may involve a variety of terrain.
The key consideration as to whether to buy this shoe will be about how much cushioning you will want in a shoe, which you may well choose to run for hours. In conclusion, this shoe really works, and it's not one to be left in the box and taken out only for ultra-long runs.
You can enjoy the shoe for those easier days out on the trails and in the mountains knowing that your feet will appreciate the change to breathe and spread out a little, whilst the sole will work well on almost any terrain.
Inov-8 TerraUltra G 260 is – as suggested by the name, a shoe for going long on trails. According to Inov-8, it is “the world's toughest shoe for running the world's toughest long-distance trails.”
Lofty claims, indeed! Some of the more notable features of the shoe include:
- Zero-drop (9mm midsole stack at toe and heel)
- Wide-fitting toe-box (5 on Inov-8’s scale of 1-5)
- Use of state-of-art materials, including graphene in outsole and Kevlar in the heel
- Lightweight (my size UK 10 came in at 306 grams)
- Exteroflow midsole compound
The sharp-eyed reader would have noticed that zero-drop and wide-fitting toe-box are the twin hallmarks of another brand known for trail shoes, often favoured by ultra-runners: Altra.
In this respect, TerraUltra G 260 already looked promising since I am a fan of Altra’sTimp and Torin 3.0, as noted in previous reviews. Indeed, I have now completed two 100-mile ultras in my Timp with no issues whatsoever.
In a way, zero drop shoes and ultra-distance running are well-suited to each other. When running 50 miles or longer, pace naturally slows, quite often to a “jogging” pace.
At a slower pace, in my experience, it is easier and feels more natural to shorten the stride length. It allows foot-strike to be more fore- and mid-foot, rather than at heel, and to land beneath the bulk of body weight, minimizing joint impact.
And it is this very factor that proponents of zero drop put forward as the main reason why zero drop shoes can help prevent impact injury. This is something critically important when racing for over 10, 20, or even 30 hours in an ultra event.
Of course, some mention must be made of graphene, the world’s first two-dimensional material to be discovered and the thinnest and, more importantly, with 200 times the strength of steel.
Graphene-enhanced rubber reportedly is 50% stronger, 50% more stretchy, and 50% more resistant to wear than the corresponding industry standard rubber without graphene.
Inov-8 in 2018 became the world’s first to incorporate the material into running and fitness shoes, which is somewhat fitting since graphene is isolated from graphite, a substance first mined some 450 years ago in the fells of Lake District, where the company is also based.
The “G” in the TerraUltra G 260 denotes the use of graphene in the outsole, versus the non-graphene version which at £120 is £20 cheaper.
Innovative use of graphene
Out of the box, the shoe had bulk but felt light nonetheless. The upper mesh, despite fairly substantial overlays, looked and felt airy, as well as sturdy.
As should be for any trail shoe, the tongue is gusseted, presenting a barrier to any debris making its way into the shoe. I even liked the eye-catching lime-green colour!
I wasn’t entirely sure what the use of Kevlar in the heel area brought to the table. Note that toe protection was rather minimal and made a mental note to stay away from overly technical trails with loose stones and where kicking a rock was a possibility.
Dubious use of Kevlar in the heel cup area
The shoe has an unconstructed feel and is very flexible. In the absence of a rock plate, foot protection comes from the rugged 4mm graphene-enhanced lugs.
Although the use of trademark Meta-Flex did leave parts of the mid-foot exposed and vulnerable to potential sharp rocks.
On feet, the shoe is immediately comfortable with no potential hotspots.
I have gone for the same UK 10 (US 11, EUR 44.5) as in other Inov-8 shoes, including Parkclaw275 GTX and TrailRoc285, and the sizing is consistent with them, albeit more loose and wide-fitting as expected given the description and intended use.
The bulky feel of the shoe belies the numbers. The shoe comes with a 6mm footbed, 9mm midsole stack, and 4mm lug depth. I was surprised that the midsole stack was only 9mm since on foot, it feels like more.
As a comparison, Altra’s most minimal model, Superior 4.0, carries a stack height of 21mm, and even Vibram Five Fingers V-Trail has 5mm. Essentially, the TerraUltra G 260 is, as I was to find out, a near-minimal shoe disguised as a bulkier shoe.
I was unfamiliar with the midsole material, named Exteroflow. My previous Inov-8 shoes Parkclaw 275 GTX and TrailRoc 285, both used Powerflow, which I had no problems with.
I couldn’t find much on Exteroflow, other than that the compound is also used in Mudclaw G 260 and it "absorbs, stores and releases energy to propel you through the gait cycle,” which is, of course, something that all modern midsole compounds strive to do.
Road (trail) test
Slipper-like. These really are slipper-like. I thought to myself again and again during my inaugural 10-mile run in the Terraultra G 260.
The roomy yet snug fit, flexibility, and lightness all combined for a very un-trail shoe like experience, since most trail shoes due to added protection in upper and toe area and intended use on uneven ground tend to have a tighter feel than road shoes, and it’s not easy to forget that you have them on.
The ride is firm but felt sufficiently cushioned and, as someone already familiar with zero drop shoes, enjoyable, but not remarkable. But foot comfort was the factor that stood out by far.
The graphene outsole, once the initial shine on them had rubbed off, performed excellently, giving me confidence on wet tarmac and what little rocks I came across. But I reiterate, the insubstantial upper, along with inadequate lug configuration, would prevent me from attempting to take these on more technical terrain.
So impressed was I with the comfort that I decided then that I would use these for my upcoming 100-miler race along the Thames Path in Southern England, the TP100. I had previously completed the same race in a pair of La SportivaHelios SR and felt that the gentle and flat nature of the Thames tow path would be well-suited to TerraUltra G 260.
On TP100, enjoying the early miles
This decision also meant something else. It meant that I did not have the confidence in the shoe to take it to a more challenging, technical terrain.
Due to the minimal nature of the upper, there's little protection offered on the toes. The looser fit does not do much in terms of confidence underfoot, and the lack of a rock plate for foot protection.
The lug depth and configuration also ruled out any potential use in mud. I had pretty much decided, since unboxing, that the shoe was better suited to gentler hard-packed dry trails.
The use of graphene may have been overkill
What this means, critically, is that the use of graphene may have been unnecessary for this particular shoe (there is a non-graphene model of TerraUltra260 available at a lower price point).
The use of graphene better saved for models intended for mountain and fell running on potentially wet rocks and scree where the grip was much more critical. This, I believe, is one of the two key downfalls of the shoe.
The other, second problem with the shoe became evident after about 30 miles into my 100-miler, when I developed an issue on the top of my left ankle.
This was certainly not the only factor since the unusually low night temperatures for the time of year also played a part, but I ended up calling it a day (or night, since it was well-past 1:00 am) at mile 71 for my first-ever DNF in an ultra.
It has taken me a while to process this, not only emotionally, but also to fully dissect the reasons behind the DNF. Was the twinge on my ankle due solely to the shoe? Had I trained sufficiently for the race? Had I packed enough warm layers into my kit bag? Was race nutrition a factor?
Indeed, was there anything I could have done differently to achieve a different outcome? And all the while, I was conscious of trying to stay objective since (as is well known) what works well for one person does not necessarily hold true for another when it comes to running shoes!
It wasn’t until I took the shoes out for an 8-mile run again yesterday, more than two months since my last run in them, that I finally realized the problem.
The TerraUltra G 260 is a very firm shoe. And this firmness of the Exteroflow midsole, combined with relatively low stack height and zero drop, results in a shoe that, at least for me, is unsuited for running ultra distances in.
As a fairly experienced runner who has run in many different types of shoes, I feel the TerraUltra G 260 would be a far better shoe with more cushioning, and at the very least, with a softer midsole compound.
As things stand, the shoe, in my view, is limited to a small number of extremely efficient, light-on-feet runner types.
On the plus side, the graphene outsole showed minimal wear after over 150 miles, supporting the claims on durability. But efficient runners, by definition, are gentle on their shoes, so this is neither here nor there.
Minimal wear after 150 miles
So there you have it! TerraUltra G 260 has many positives going for it, mainly the comfortable upper and fit. Still, unnecessary use of graphene and insufficient cushioning are the two reasons why I would hesitate to use them for my next ultra race, even on non-technical terrain.
I have concluded that my DNF at TP100 was largely due to my heart not being in the race, but I would also cite a lack of sole as a contributing factor!
- Comfortable fit
- Unconstructed, flexible feel
- Overly firm cushioning
- Too minimal for ultra distances
- Unnecessary use of graphene
- Lack of toe and foot protection
- Unsuited to technical terrain
Although I’ve come to really enjoy the barefoot/minimalist/zero drop shoe space, I have to be honest...sometimes it really hurts when you’re not paying attention to what’s underfoot!
When the TerraUltra G 260 came out, I was intrigued. Could this be a solution for tired feet when upping volume, intensity, or terrain difficulty on the trails? Read on!
A quick note before we begin to give you an idea of where I am coming from in this review.
I alternated this shoe with the Xero Trail Mesa, and most of the runs were at midrange speed on road, gravel trails, sandy forest track, and some rocky mountain trails with varying degrees of rainy New Jersey winter weather.
And please keep in mind I'm coming from about a year of dedicated training in barefoot, minimalist shoes such as Merrell, Vibram Five Fingers, and Xero Shoes.
The TerraUltra tested included Inov-8’s line of revolutionary graphene-enhanced rubber soles. Claims are made for its ability to offer superior elasticity, harder wear, and an all-around stronger material.
While I can attest that the outsole definitely feels sturdier and more flexible, it will take many more miles than the 50 miles from this review to see about the wear.
Each Inov-8 shoe is built from the ground up, starting with unique lug design. This version offers 4mm of superior grip on slick, wet surfaces.
Amazing how much different it feels when you run when it’s wet in this shoe, much better than when conditions are dry. Worth the extra for the Graphene layer.
Here, in this reviewer’s humble opinion, is where the Inov-8 really sets itself apart. There’s a lot of technology layered in here which offers a perplexing panorama of support, springiness, and flexibility.
The main midsole is a 9mm ETPU and EVA blend, which offers firm, durable support. Although this adds weight to the shoe, no cushiness will fade here, so consider it a worthy tradeoff.
To back up and enhance the ride, Inov-8 includes the Dynamic Fascia Band (DFB) technology as a shank and Meta-Flex grooves in the outsole and midsole.
The DFB is located between the midsole and footbed and made to mimic the plantar fascia and help delay fatigue in the foot (the support helps out when your heel comes off the ground while your toes are still planted).
The cutout Meta Flex grooves in the shoe greatly enhance the flexibility, allowing your foot to rock and flex a little more freely while still providing substantial support, many more times over a minimalist sole and much more than a supportive trainer.
This is the Inov-8 magic at work here.
On top of the midsole sits a 6mm footbed of an undisclosed type of foam. Personally, about halfway through the testing, I took it out and never really missed it again.
Doing so knocks down the weight down to 240g/8.5oz, lightens up the gait, and really improves the ground feel and overall flexibility of the shoe.
Nice long-lasting construction by Inov-8 is another high point of this shoe. Kevlar® aramid fiber is used in the heel, and a high-density nylon weave on the toe cap provides lightweight, breathable protection.
These shoes look like they can take whatever the trail will throw at you while delivering a flexible feel that’s not overly stiff or sweaty.
Exterofit technology included in the design adapts to the movement and swelling of the foot.
There are nice reinforcements around the eyelets, a tongue that is not too bulky or over padded, and additional overlays on top of the lightweight mesh material for extra protection.
The laces could be a little more grippy and sturdy-feeling, but I didn’t really have any functional problems with them.
Although the TerraUltra offers the widest shoe, for a barefoot runner, they will still feel a little narrow in midfoot. I tried different lacing techniques but ended up ditching the footbed and tightened the laces a little more than I normally would.
The Exterofit design kept the fit snug without being restrictive, though I would use socks as the inside of the upper and exposed stitching could be pretty abrasive over the long run.
This model is a zero drop with a 19mm total stack height. The shoe delivers great mechanics, but the thicker sole definitely mutes underfoot feedback.
This shoe is great to save your feet in a long race, but a lot of weight for daily training (unless you run on rocky mountain trails every day).
If you’re not facing extreme conditions, ditching the 6mm footbed brings you down to 13mm by my math and cuts off 20 grams/.65 oz, greatly improving the ride.
It's hard to really feel the ground through almost 2cm of rubber and foam. I suspect you could get even leaner on the remaining midsole foam and have a truly great minimalist shoe but horses for courses as they say.
These shoes are a fantastic alternative to squishy, cushy Altras, and Topo’s when you need the protection. The stiffer midsole foam adds a bit of weight but combined with the outsole offers great traction and protection from rocks and roots.
You’ll likely notice the tread when running on road surfaces, but there is no real detractor other than it feels like a lot of shoe.
- Super flexible sole
- Durable upper, zero concerns, still very breathable
- Phenomenal grip, great lug design
- Nice fit out of the box
- Good toe box and midfoot space
- Thickness to the sole, heavy
- Still narrow compared to other barefoot-style shoes
- Laces are the weak link in the upper
- Definitely not minimalist, but appreciate the protection
- Extra support is not needed all the time
Hindsight being 20/20, I would have preferred these shoes to the Topos and Altras I used to transition down to the zero drop and minimalist shoe combo.
The stiffer sole is closer to what true minimalist shoes feel like while the midsole offers commendable protection—an excellent option for long distances on slick, rocky trails.
When I first learned of the TerraUltra 260g, I knew I simply had to own a pair. On paper, it ticked all the right boxes - grippy, zero drop, rugged, wide last (and Inov-8!). As soon as they became available, I scoured the web for a deal and forked out the £s mail-order straight from the UK!
After a few days, they arrived, and I immediately took them out for a run. I was disappointed! It was not the wide zero-drop version of my beloved X-talon I was hoping for. They were stiff, heavy, bugged my pinky toes and way too warm.
Neon-green or not! Trail running shoes are not for the catwalk - they are tools and supposed to be covered in dirt!
Having paid a lot of money for them, I decided to use them for "variation." So for a couple of months, I only took them for the occasional run. After a while, as summer turned to autumn, I found myself more and more often unconsciously picking the TerraUltras.
Not only because I felt I had to, but because I wanted to. Come winter they were regulars in my shoe rotation. Just weeks ago I opted for the TerraUltras when doing a 50 miler (the Salomon Hammer Trail Winter Edition).
What had changed? How come a shoe that I didn't like much suddenly had become my "go-to" ultra shoe. Read on to learn why!
I don't know why Inov-8 decided that the signature color of their Graphene range should be neon-green. But at least they have been consistent with the 260g, which is a mixture of mostly neon green and a bit of black. They do stand out from the crowd, but I'm not entirely sure I like it much.
The TerraUltra 260g sports a zero-drop, and this is not for everyone to enjoy. But if you (like me) prefers a low or zero-drop, they are a welcome addition to a rather narrow niche of mildly cushioned zero-drop shoes.
Especially when it comes to grippy trail shoes, we zero-droppers are not exactly spoiled for choice. We are pretty much "stuck" with a few brands and models.
The TerraUltra 260g is, as the name implies, constructed with ultra running in mind. When you need to go for hours on end, your shoes must be comfortable.
For me, a key to comfort is plenty of space for my toes to splay. The TerraUltra provides that space nicely and comfortably. Not too roomy, not too narrow, just perfect (for me).
Well, not all was rosy at first! As mentioned in the introduction; the TerraUltra 260g was not overly comfortable to start with. Mainly because the upper was too stiff and kept bugging my pinky-toes.
Not as much as the X-talon 212 (precision fit), but enough for it to be annoying. The break-in period lasted longer than usual - some 150 km, but by then the upper had softened sufficiently.
After that, the toe-space seemed ample, and my toes and feet, in general, are very happy with the TerraUltra 260g. No hot-spots! Overall the TeraUltras with a significant break-in mileage become some of the most comfortable running shoes I have ever owned/tried.
They are now my "go-to" shoe for pretty much any type of terrain and trail. In particular, when I know, I will be running for more than an hour.
The tongue is sufficiently long and not overly cushioned yet still very comfortable. It is of the "semi-open" type. By that, I mean that the tongue itself is an independent unit, which is sown on to the upper via 2-3 cm wide elastic fabric.
This allows the tongue to shift and move with your foot, yet still, keep out debris and sand. With a gaiter attached the TerraUltra are superb at "keeping out nature."
The seams along the side of the tongue have been set rather clumsily.
The tongue is not all good though. They have seams from the top and down along each side. Those seams have (at least on my pair) been set rather clumsily.
Because of this, the tongue has an inherent tendency to fold back (in) on itself when I put them on. The folded tongue is extremely uncomfortable for the instep, and near impossible to straighten once the shoe is on.
By trial and error, I have found a way to put them on. I have to untie them very thoroughly and gently insert my foot while at the same time inserting a finger between the tongue and the instep.
If I don't use this technique, the tongue will fold on me, and I have to start over. This makes putting them on a bit of a project. However, they provide a snug, comfortable and secure fit once they are on.
The upper consists of two different fabrics. The inner layer a soft'ish breathable fabric, which is nice and hugging against the foot. On the outside of that is an outer webbing of kevlar enforced Cordura-like nylon.
The breathable inner upper is exposed between the structural blackish/green kevlar enforced webbing. Please note a seam has started to break in the bend zone.
The outer layer (webbing) is very stiff and offers great support, protection, and structural strength. The softer, breathable inner fabric is exposed between the outer webbing, and this allows for excellent drainage and ventilation. Mind you, despite their breathable qualities I find the TerraUltras are at their best in cold conditions (autumn, winter).
The upper is supposed to be water-repellent, and at first, they held out water nicely. But after 375 km they no longer work that way - especially in the "bend-zone" around the forefoot. My trusty old X-talon 212 standard fit (upwards of 500 km) still repels water a lot better than the TerraUltra 260g does.
The heel cup is very much like the X-talon. Simple, thin, hard and snug yet comfortable - perfect! The ankle collar sits a teeny bit higher than on most running shoes. But not enough to hit my malleolus. A high collar is good for keeping out water, mud and other geology/biology.
The laces on the TerraUltra 260g are quite thick and round. They are rather "slippery", and unless I wear gaiters, I have to tie double-knots to prevent them from sliding open every once in a while. Once the laces are tied properly (double knot) they hold your feet very comfortably and securely fastened for hours.
The graphene outsole has offered a superb grip in pretty much all conditions I have tried. Grassy, slippery, gravelly, rocky, muddy, sandy, icy ... been there, done that! I have only had the occasional slip on very steep, icy patches. Then again, anything but studs or chains would slip in those kinds of conditions.
The TerraUltra 260g leaves little room for a classic "strap-underneath"-type gaiter.
One very minor issue with the outsole is that the lugs are not overly deep. If you plan on running through some really deep mud, I'd recommend going with the MudClaw or X-talon instead.
Apart from deep mud, the TerraUltra will handle any type of terrain/condition. This is especially nice in trail ultras where you are likely to experience a range of conditions. Sandy, slippery, rocky, technical even the odd bit of tarmac - the TerraUltra does it all - and does it well
I'm used to shoes with little cushioning, e.g., X-talon 212, 200, and TerraClaw 220. In comparison to these, the TerraUltra is rather beefy and takes away a lot of the ground-feel at first.
With time and practice, the ground-feel has improved markedly. At their current stage, I find that the TerraUltra offers a superb combination of protection/support without drowning out the ground-feel completely. It is not a minimal shoe in any way - but you still have a "fairly good touch."
The TerraUltra do not offer much "springy-ness" - like most ordinary running shoes. For the urban runner this is not optimal - but for the rugged trail ultra, it is perfect. Again the TerraUltra is made for trail-running - not tarmac.
The TerraUltra 260g sports the Inov-8 gaiter attachment system introduced with the TrailTalon, and now pretty much standard on all Inov-8 trail shoes. Tiny up-side-down pockets that match the Inov-8 gaiter hooks hence moots the line/wire underneath the shoe.
Unfortunately, the pockets on the Terra Ultra 260g are not open at the top end, and not nearly deep enough for a secure hold using my old Race Ultra gaiters.
This also means the gaiters only have to travel a short distance downwards to detach themselves. Hence, they come off easily if you happen to run in thick brush or other uneasy terrains that might cause a slight downwards push.
The gaiter attachment pockets on the side of the shoe are too shallow.
One particular issue with my pair though was that I had to pry open the "gaiter pockets" on the outside with a sharp knife because they were completely glued together from the factory.
Please note that when it comes to gaiters, the outsole of the TerraUltra is flat and solid throughout. Plus whatever little space there is between the lugs is angled the wrong way. Thus, most traditional "strap-underneath-type-gaiters" (e.g., Inov-8 Debris gaiter or Salomon high/low gaiter) is not a viable option.
Inov-8 claim in their marketing material that the TerraUltra 260g is the toughest trail shoe, and will last 1000 miles. This for a running shoe rather extreme mileage should be accomplishable thanks to the kevlar enforced upper and the graphene-enhanced outsole.
At first, I felt quite convinced by the marketing material that Inov-8 was on to something. The entire feel of the shoe was also very solid at first.
But after some 375 km, I see a significant amount of wear on both the outsole and the upper. A visual inspection of the outsole shows that the lugs are not even anymore. Especially at the back of the heel and around the forefoot the lugs have clearly grated away.
Visible outsole wears on the heel of the TerraUltra 260g after only 375 km.
Wear and tear on running shoes is very individual - both the type of runner and the terrain/ground has a significant impact. However, I don't think I have abused my shoes beyond what is to be expected - neither gait-wise nor ground/terrain-wise.
There are also clear signs that the seems/fabric around the "forefoot bend" has taken its toll too over the first 375 km (See image 1). I'm quite certain it will break way before I reach 1000 miles.
I guesstimate the TerraUltras have to be retired sometime around a 1000 km (not miles). Which coincidentally is what I usually get out of my Inov-8 shoes.
The TerraUltra 260g is not the fastest shoe around - quite the contrary! On average, my usual everyday training runs have been 10-20 seconds slower per kilometer when wearing my TerraUltras. I don't think this is only because I pick my TerraUltras for technical and difficult runs: I have taken them pretty much anywhere.
My pair currently weigh in at 262 grams each for size UK 7. This is 20 to 80 grams heavier than most of my other shoes. That might explain some of the speed difference, but I don't think weight is the sole reason.
I speculate that the shape of the shoe - zero-drop, un-twistable arch, and the rather stiff midsole to some extent also influences speed. This, however, is likely to be highly personal, and other runners may experience less of a slow-speed effect than I have.
To me, it is only natural that stability, support, and comfort takes precedence over speed in a shoe that is designed for ultra running. And when it comes to comfort, support, and consistency during an ultra, I can highly recommend the TerraUltra! They are simply eminent!
I have taken mine as far as 50 miles in very varied terrain on a wide array of surfaces. Usually, I get "ultra fatigue" in my feet around 6-8 hours - perhaps you know that "tired" numb-ish feeling, especially in the footpads. With the Terra Ultra 260g, my feet just keep feeling fine and fresh throughout the race.
Another great thing with the TerraUltra is that they are true-to-size and very stable. Somehow they've managed to make a wide footbed feel compact.
Furthermore, the center of gravity sits low. Hence, they are very stable and good for running on technical trails, such as gravelly/bouldery shores and riverbeds. I hate to waste energy by focusing on not falling over, not slipping or not twisting my ankles. I find that the TerraUltra are simply superb in this regard - I'm able to relax while running.
Seen from the back you understand why the TerraUltra feels so stable - the outsole is quite a bit wider than the midsole/upper.
The TerraUltra 260g is a superb shoe for long trail runs, both training, and racing. They are comfortable, stable and provide super grip in a huge range of conditions. For the zero-drop ultra-runner, they are the ideal choice when running mixed-type trails.
Based on personal experience they will easily hold you up for a 50 miler. Be comfortable all the way and give you no trouble what-so-ever. That is after you've first broken them in properly.
If you are more of an urban runner and do not dabble particularly in ultras: I'd say the Terra Ultra 260g should not be your first choice. The TerraUltra 260g is a tool and a very good one for its intended purpose. But it is overkill if you just go for the odd mosy around the park.
Please also note that if you are not used to zero or low drop, the TerraUltra might not be for you! As always, try before you buy.
Finally, for a £140+ running shoe, I would have expected a better build quality. There should not be simple workmanship issues like the glued together gaiter attachment pockets, seems breaking and the clumsily set seams along the sides of the tongue.
This is simply not up to par - not for Inov-8, not for this otherwise super shoe. Inov-8, if you read this: Step up your quality control!
Please note that I'm an independent recreational runner. I'm not affiliated with or paid by Inov-8 for this review. I bought my TerraUltra 260g with my own money, and this review reflects my personal experience and opinion only.
I first heard about Inov-8 using graphene in their shoes about six months and having heard that graphene was going to be the biggest revolution in product design in recent years I was instantly intrigued.
I am grateful to Inov-8 for sending me these to test so I can see the upside of using graphene for myself.
Graphene is incredibly tough meaning the G260 should last for ages whilst the weight should be light as less materials will be needed. Graphene is also super flexible so I was expecting them to move with my feet naturally.
The first thing that strikes you when opening the box is the colour. The G260s are bright, very bright. Personally, I really like the colour as I like my shoes to stand out.
Obviously, you probably won’t be wearing the G260s casually but for running the colour is a bonus. Even the laces look like they would glow in the dark.
They don’t but they do remind me of my green highlighter pen. The black against the green finishes them off really well. A great design job from Inov-8. They also look compact and well proportioned. The sole is thick enough that they don’t look long and wide as some shoes in my size can.
Once you pick them up the G260s feel light, really light. I have some TerraUltra 275s and the G260s feel much lighter than the 15g difference between them would suggest.
As well as the graphene in the soles there is Kevlar on the uppers and despite the light weight, the G260s feel like they are built to last. There is protection around the toe box and support around the midfoot and over the lace holes. Time will tell but I would expect them to last for ages.
Putting them on was a bit tricky at first as the heel cup is a bit stiff and inflexible however they did start to loosen up after a few runs. There is a handy loop on the back of the shoe, so this really isn’t a problem.
The toe box is roomy and the heel cup kept my foot nicely in place providing a secure feeling when running. I was a bit worried the heel might rub but this wasn’t the case and the G260s had no pressure or rubbing from my first run.
The cushioning was obvious straight away and I could tell they were meant for longer distances. For comparison, the Terraclaw 220s have felt much firmer and not something I would want to run much more than 5K.
The G260s have a lot more cushioning and a bigger heel drop so they feel bouncy from the toe off. Despite being a bit heavier they still feel light and fast and perfect for trail races over a range of distances.
There is plenty of grip for downhill sections giving you the confidence to push on even when conditions are damp. I really liked being able to throw myself downhill sections without the nagging feeling I’d lose my grip.
The benefit of the graphene on the sole is that you don’t need to worry about wearing down the tread whilst running on the road to trail.
I would not run miles and miles on the road as the cushioning is not like a road shoe but they coped just fine with a bit of road use and the soles looked completely unaffected. So far the graphene looks like the real deal.
As mentioned before there is plenty of space in the toebox and the middle and back of the shoe keep your feet nicely in place. The laces are ok. I prefer flat to round laces normally as they tend to untie themselves less often.
The tongue is nicely padded and is stitched to the upper to stop debris entering the shoe. This worked well and there were no issues at all with the tongue. The G260s are airy around the toe and midfoot and my feet never felt hot or clammy when running in them. I am a UK 10.5 in all my shoes and the sizing was spot on here.
The G260s are close to a shoe for all runs. The cushioning is good enough for a bit of road and longer runs on hard packed trails.
The grip inspires confidence in all conditions but the thickest mud and light weight and airy upper means you can run in them all year round. Their light weight and flexibility mean they feel fast and nimble, much more so than some of Inov-8’s other, slightly heavier shoes.
To sum up, they are really comfortable, made to last and shoes you can put on when you don’t really know where you are going to end up or how fast you will be running. The G really does stand for green, go faster and graphene.
Thanks again to the kind people from Inov-8 for sending me the G260s to test.
‘Forged in the fells of the British Lake District’, Inov-8 know a thing or two about running in bad weather and have put that expertise into developing a range of kit capable of tackling just about anything.
Their specialist shoes are more often than not seen on the feet of canny fell runners who value the deep studded outsoles traditionally used in this punishing sport. But although fell running may be as old as the Cumbrian hills this doesn’t mean the kit shouldn’t evolve.
In the running shoe arms race, manufacturers are constantly looking to weaponize new technology to capture a greater piece of the market.
While early adopters delight in the thrill of the new, cynics argue upgrades serve only to part consumers from their well-earned cash. Whichever your opinion, it’s clear from their name alone which side of the fence Inov-8 stands.
If, as Tom Feston suggested: “Innovation is taking two things that already exist and putting them together in a new way”, then Inov-8 is certainly living up to their moniker.
Inov-8’s G series range sees outsole rubber infused with Graphene, a Nobel prize winning, two-dimensional, carbon material which is 325 times stronger than steel. Combine this with the TerraUltra G260’s Kevlar enhanced upper and the result is a shoe that could be seen as a proclamation of war against the big sportswear brands.
The Inov-8 TerraUltra G260’s upper is robustly constructed from tough, synthetic mesh of a couple of different densities.
The substantial toe bumper is made of thicker mesh with printed overlays on the lateral and medial side of the shoe with the heel bolstered by Kevlar Aramid fabric. The heel counter although firm has some inherent flexibility.
The Terraultra G260 is not plush or slipper-like shoe. The cushioning around the ankle is moderate at best with similar padding around the firm Achilles support. Although this may sound somewhat Spartan in reality this is more than sufficient and very comfortable.
The padded tongue provides adequate protection from the laces without feeling cumbersome. The lacing is straightforward with a loop on the bottom row to help secure the forefoot and a second loop towards the top which helps anchor the tongue.
The upper is attached to the tongue with an elasticated gusset which not only helps prevent movement but keeps out debris. It’s nothing fancy but it all works well and there is only minimal tongue slippage.
The upper is breathable but not too airy. Although the TerraUltra G260 isn’t waterproof it drains and dries easily, a preferable option to a waterproof shoe, for me anyway. This all adds up to a resilient, supportive and moderately structured upper.
Inov-8 helpfully grade their shoes 1-5 by fit: 1 being the closest fitting with little internal movement.
The TerraUltra G260 is rated 4-5 meaning there is additional space up front and best suited to longer runs when the foot might swell. It also makes it a good option for those with wider feet.
In practice, this results in a secure midfoot fit with some extra space in the forefoot. The heel fit is superb with a satisfying thunk as you slip your foot in, similar to the Adidas Adizero range. The ankle feels enclosed and well supported.
The lacing allows you to lock down well while the upper conforms beautifully around the foot. The laces are synthetic, soft and round but do have a tendency to come undone if not securely knotted.
The toe box is squared off and roomy, although not quite as wide as Topo or Altra. I felt minor pressure on my little toes during the first couple of runs but this quickly settled. The additional space allows the toes to splay adding to the feeling of stability.
The fit is slightly large and the upper does stretch out a little with use so bear this in mind when buying. If you are usually between sizes or size up then consider the smaller option. Although good straight out of the box the TerraUltra G260 benefits from a period of wearing it over 30-40 km.
My UK weighed in at 281g, very respectable for such a durable shoe capable of longer distances.
Mid & Outsole
The Inov-8 Terraultra G260’s chunky appearance belies the fact that this is a zero drop shoe with a mere 9mm of stack height front and rear.
This is a welcome alternative to the current trend of maximal cushioning yet provides greater protection than a purely minimalist trail shoe aided by the thicker than usual 6mm footbed. The arch support is non-obtrusive and the wide footprint adds some additional stability.
The midsole is Inov-8’s proprietary Exteroflow and appears to be a single density EVA foam. There is a series of cutouts matching the segmented nature of the outsole which adds to its excellent flexibility, more on this later.
In case you have been wondering, the clue to where the TerraUltra G260 sits within Inov-8's roster lies with its name: Terra indicates harder ground, Ultra to longer distances, the 260 specifies the weight in grams and finally the prefix G stands for Graphene.
Until now there’s always been a trade-off between a softer, sticky rubber that provides good grip but wears quickly (eg On Running CloudVenture Waterproof) and a harder wearing compound.
Inov-8 seemed to have solved this with the University of Manchester by developing a Graphene infused outsole which is 50% more elastic, stronger and harder.
The outsole has flat widely spaced lugs with a modest 4mm depth suited to firmer conditions. The outsole is segmented with criss-cross cutouts adding to flexibility and reducing weight.
Within the midsole, there is a finger-like arrangement of 4 polymer bands extending from the front of the heel to the forefoot. This replicates the action of the plantar fascia, a tough band of fibrous tissue in the foot. When the forefoot is flexed the Dynamic Fascia Band is put under tension and propels the foot forward rather like an elastic band in a catapult.
The Inov-8 TerraUltra G260 is a flexible, low platform shoe with a firm, responsive ride.
In some ways they feel like a much like a more minimal shoe because of the exceptional ground feel however the TerraUltra remains protective and cushioned, it’s a fine feat to pull off.
The Exteroflow's firm cushioning helps to reduce shock impact and you never get a feeling of it bottoming out. The TerraUltra G260 is very responsive and deceptively agile allowing a quick turnover on uneven trails. The Dynamic Fascia Band provides extra spring to the toe off.
The Exexteroflow midsole isn’t a soft pillowy ride, it’s firm underfoot which I really like but it may not be to everyone’s taste. It feels different walking and running in the TerraUltra so if you want to try them out it’s worth taking them for a spin rather than strolling about a shop.
The cushioning feels softer underfoot when walking but becomes firmer and more responsive when running. Strangely the grip was rather slippy on my wooden floors at home but anywhere else was superb.
The Inov-8 TerraUltra G260 performs best on harder surfaces like packed dirt but is almost equally at home on rough, loose ground, grass and firmer mud. It achieves the previously impossible task of a good grip on slippery rocks, perfect for the wet, slate trails I often run on.
In short, the grip is outstanding. You’ll need deeper lugs if you run on the boggy ground but Inov-8 produce some equally fine shoes for this task including the tempting Mudclaw G260. For those that run road-to-trail, the TerraUltra G260 is tolerable on the road, if a bit slappy.
What I love most about the TerraUltra G260 is the multidirectional flexibility. Again the chunky profile is misleading, they are exceptionally supple in all planes not just across the MTP area.
This flexibility along with the low platform and zero drop work with the foot’s natural movement whilst maximizing ground feel all contributing to better proprioception. The TerraUltra G260 is exceptionally comfortable and after my testing period will remain firmly in my rotation.
Protection & durability
The TerraUltra G260’s upper is exceptionally well constructed from thick durable mesh and the heel is virtually bulletproof with the Kevlar reinforcement.
Of particular note the toe bumper is extra thick and made from a stronger mesh material; combined with a rubber rand and the additional space in the toe box, toes will be well protected from bumps.
Optional gaiters with three-point attachment provide additional protection and water resistance.
The gaiters fix onto the 1st lace and then into two anchor points in the upper. There are similar to two inverted pockets but aren’t immediately visible. They are reasonably easy to fit once you get the hang of it and are stretchy enough to fit without removing your shoes.
There is a trade-off for the excellent sensitivity and ground feel in the TerraUltra G260. With no rock plate and a segmented outsole, you will feel sharper rocks; for me, this is a valid compromise but for others, it may be something to consider.
That’s not to say that the TerraUltra G260 is lacking protection, it was more than adequate for the very rocky trails I tested them on and perfect for hard packed surfaces.
As expected the Graphene outsole shows no wear after over 100 km of running.
The TerraUltra G 260 has the makings of a cult classic for serious trail runners. If you subscribe to the rule of thumb that you should ‘only wear as much shoe as you need’, then look no further than the Innov8 TerraUltra G260. Sure it won’t be first on the list for everyone, but those who usually look for maximal cushioning or a rock plate write it off at their peril.
It’s hard to fault the Inov-8 TerraUltra G260, it’s designed for a specific purpose and it does that superbly and is the best trail shoe I have ever run in. You’re left feeling that, compared to some other shoes, the TerraUltra G260 was developed in vivo on wet and windy mountains rather than on an iMac in a shiny white office; now that’s true innovation.
From the home of Inov-8, It’s a short jump to Manchester. My adopted city for over 20 years, it's not only the birthplace of Graphene but also votes for women, the computer and more musical genres than you can shake a maraca at.
As Tony Wilson said, “This is Manchester, we do things differently here” and surprisingly it is possible to put together a decent trail run around the city that doesn’t involve laps of the local park.
From inside the circular M60, you can pick up the river Mersey in Chorlton water park down to the Bridgewater canal taking in various nature reserves along hard packed canal pathways. This route takes you past notable sites like Old Trafford and the BBC before arriving in the city center for a well-earned pint of Boddingtons with a pie and mushy peas, nice one our kid.
As well as this route I put in over 100km on various terrain.
As soon as I picked up this Inov-8 model, my first real pair of running shoes came back to my mind - the Nike Free 5.0. I did something that should not be done. I wore these trail shoes for a road race.
If you think about it, it often happens to cover stretches of asphalt during the trail, so it is not so wrong to test them even on the road. I wanted to see if the resemblance to Nike was only the result of my imagination or if there was a real affinity in the behavior of the two shoes.
What I discovered, after 18 km of asphalt and other 40 or more on the trails, it is that Terraultra 260 is a versatile shoe, even if minimalist.
The Inov-8 TerraUltra 260 is a shoe with a snug upper and made of durable fabric, slightly wide toe box, with a heel counter but without the inner shell and yet stable in fit. The rubber layer that covers the tip is very soft, and it does not protect a lot of impacts.
Laces are a flaw - too soft and with a tubular shape. They don’t give you the feeling of being able to be adequately tightened. Moreover, the extra hole is not so comfortable because knot results to be too high on the ankle and end up annoying during the race.
The sole is characterized by 4 mm-high plugs inside where there are water drainage channels. I have not had the opportunity to test them on particularly muddy terrain or in the presence of water, but this shape of the sole does not seem to fear such conditions.
The sole is marked by "empty" areas, where the midsole has deep grooves which led to the sole-midsole department a wide range of flexibility, especially under the fingers. This means more agility while running on rough trails and increases the ability of the shoe to “copy” the terrain, further improving the grip.
The agility of this shoe is also supported by the "zero-drop" between the height of the midsole to the heel and the forefoot. This geometry allows the natural torsional capacity of the ankle and the distension of the foot.
That "zero" can also be interpreted as "zero cushioning" "zero propulsion" and "zero protection," as this shoe replicates barefoot style conditions, fully.
If compared to any other trail shoe of the same weight, the TerraUltra does not have equal-protection conditions from the roughness of the bottom and impact cushioning. It's painful if you run on the stony ground, maybe downhill, and you land with your heel on some stones.
I ran on my usual paths on the Grigne in the low Italian Alps, all covered with stones of various sizes. And after a dozen miles, especially at the end of the descents, I found my foot very tired from feeling the bumps.
Feeling more protected inside a shoe, I usually increase my speed, which also increases the speed of fall and the impact energy is greater. And with these shoes, it means more fatigue.
The rubber of the midsole does not have the ability to "return" energy. It has a very dry behavior which is a good feature if you want to develop a barefoot run, but it implies more effort.
Greater consumption = more energy requested. If you are a heel striker, you need to have a fast pace which speeds up the heel-toe transition.
Inov-8 Terraultra 260 is a demanding shoe which needs strong athletes who want to express themselves to the maximum of competitiveness even on long and ultra distances.
But if you are an amateur runner, who plans to run at an average pace of 5 km, this shoe should be used to the maximum distances around 20 km, with slopes around 1500 meters and important descents.
I was really excited about the Inov-8 TerraUltra G 260. Zero drop, graphene, kevlar, and electric green everywhere—what was not to love?
I pre-ordered and paid full whack at my local running store. This shoe is pitched at ultrarunners and has a lot of the ingredients that will make it attractive to that market.
There are, however, some limitations that will not suit every occasion on the trails.
I have run around 300 miles in them. And, I have done so in lots of conditions from steep, technical Italian trails to Scottish mountain trails through winter.
They have fallen into place as a solid door-to-trail option for me now, but would not be in consideration for an ultra race.
Initial impression and fit
Straight out of the box, I really liked the fit and feel of these shoes. They lock down the heel well and felt tough.
The kevlar in the upper meant they were not too stretchy, but that was not a major worry at this stage. They are quite wide at the toes, allowing a natural splay that many minimalist runners enjoy.
I was, however, really surprised at how low profile the stack of the shoe is for one pitched at ultrarunning. They look like they have more cushioning than the actual feel of them.
They run pretty true to size. I am 10 in most Inov-8 shoes and 10.5 in the likes of Salomon and Hoka.
If you are looking for a minimalist ultra running trail shoe, this might just be what you need. They are low profile and offer a brilliant ground feel. Considering the durability, they are very lightweight.
The TerraUltra G 260’s are in their element on smooth trails with limited mud. They perform well on wet rocks.
But, still, it is not market-leading. I would say a solid B+ here though—they won’t let you down.
After around 300 miles, they are still holding up well. There is some wear around the heel underfoot. However, the Graphene seems to make a small difference here.
I have a heel issue that can sometimes tear through shoes quickly, but there is no problem at all with the TerraUltra’s.
These shoes are fantastic when it comes to ground feel. They feel light and relatively nimble, considering the wider than average toe box.
Most importantly, they lock down really well in the heel, which helps with stability on the trail. In the past, that has been my complaint with Altra zero drop shoes.
However, Inov-8 really did nail the heel area of the shoe, with no excess padding or material.
These shoes don’t have a huge number of weaknesses as such, more trade-offs.
For example, they are light and offer great ground feel but the trade-off is not much protection underfoot. This limitation is the biggest one for me.
It is an area I think that Inov-8 might have been better to offer a slightly increased stack height. I am not convinced it would detract from the positive factors.
It would have made me more likely to opt for this shoe for longer, more rugged trails more frequently.
They are not that great when the conditions get wet. Think Scottish rain level of wet - they are just not ideal for this. There is another in the G range that has been designed for this though.
Again, a trade-off, these are highly functional trail running shoes but are certainly not for the fashion-minded trail runner. They come in one colour, and it’s a striking one!
I paid £140 for these shoes (circa $290 NZ). The graphene is the marketing selling point here. But, at that price, they are a bit too expensive.
Given its cost, it still shows the typical signs of wear for a pair of shoes of this age. Having said that, the kevlar upper is still in one piece.
I do like these shoes. After a solid trial period across multiple terrains, I can safely say the Inov-8 TerraUltra G 260’s are worth a look for the more minimal-minded trail runner.
If you like zero drop and is okay with the lack of colour choice and cost, you should consider these. An alternative is to explore the non-graphene version that comes in much cheaper.
In particular, versus its minimal counterparts, this shoe fits neatly around the ankle and heel. It locks your foot down for a nice, secure footing on the trail.
I still like to use these shoes on days when I am focusing on my running form. The ground feel is brilliant for this purpose.
Personally, the only thing stopping me from grabbing these shoes more often (in dry-ish conditions) is the lack of protection underfoot.
For a shoe that has Ultra in its name, this shortfall stops me from making it my real favourite shoe.
Aside from that, it is just not for wet and muddy conditions, which is not really a shortfall of the shoes but just a trade-off.
1. Lacks underfoot protection
2. Weak grip in wet conditions
3. No colour option
Good to know
- The Inov-8 TerraUltra G 260 is a trail running shoe that is specifically-made for runners who have neutral foot mechanism. It utilizes the Graphene material, an enhanced rubber that offers the right amount of traction. It is durable enough to withstand the hazardous nature of the trails.
- The upper section of the Inov-8 TerraUltra G 260 is made of a breathable mesh. This component of the footwear is meant to keep the foot cool and dry throughout the running session. Along with the breathable mesh is the Kevlar overlays. This material is used in making bulletproof vests. With the utilization of the Kevlar, the upper unit becomes more durable. It will have a longer lifespan even after running several times a week.
The Terraultra is a neutral running shoe that has a large fit. The footwear was crafted with the Inov-8’s Standard Fit last. It is sure to provide a more comfortable fit because of the shoe's rounded toe box. With the utilization of this kind of toe box, the foot is able to expand under heat. The toes will also have enough space to wiggle. The available widths for both the men's and the women's version are Medium.
The outsole of the Inov-8 TerraUltra G 260 utilizes the Graphene. This material an improved rubber that provides additional durability. It also offers the right amount of traction needed when running on paved surfaces. The Graphene is 50% harder wearing, 50% more elastic and 50% stronger when compared to other rubber outsoles.
Utilized in the shoe are deep grooves. This component of the footwear makes the Inov-8 TerraUltra G 260 more agile and flexible.
Shock impact is minimized because of the EXTEROFLOW midsole. Shock absorption is essential in dissipating a large amount of kinetic energy that enters the runner's body. Another purpose of the EXTEROFLOW midsole is to deliver energy return without sacrificing ground feel.
The Dynamic Fascia Band or also known as DFB is integrated into the Inov-8 TerraUltra G 260. The primary purpose of this technology is to deliver an underfoot kick of energy. As a result, a faster, more efficient running.
A lightweight upper is utilized in the shoe. This breathable and super-tough mesh work well with the Kevlar overlays. This mesh is meant to increase the durability of the platform. Kevlar is a material that is commonly used in making bulletproof vests.
Lacing eyelets are used in the footwear. These are fabric materials that are stitched through the upper area. Using a simulated lacing technique, it offers a more comfortable and snugger fit.
The gusseted tongue is sewn into the TerraUltra G 260. This unit is essential in keeping debris out of the footwear during the running activity. It provides a more secure fit as well.
With the utilization of a wide toe box, runners will be able to experience a more comfortable ride. This component of the shoe aims to let the user start and finish his session confidently and comfortably.
When running on long distances, the Exterofit technology reacts to the natural movements of the foot. As a result, a more enjoyable and comfortable ride is experienced by the runner.