Remember Goldilocks and the Three Bears? Think of the Ultra G280 as the Inov-8 Trailfly Baby Bear—not too technical like the G270; not too rugged like the G300. This is one of those pairs you just reach for without thinking: stable and protective enough for grueling ultras, but also energetic and agile enough for bombing down slopes. In the words of Goldilocks, it’s “just right.”
- Comfortable and airy upper
- Durable from the ground up
- Lively midsole foam
- Bouncy but stable ride
- Nimble and conforms to the terrain
- Grip is among the best of the best
- Ample cushioning for long runs
- Light enough for fast runs
- Forefoot doesn’t feel as protected
- Tough to get a good lockdown
- Lacks ground feel
Who should buy the Inov-8 Trailfly Ultra G280
The Trailfly Ultra G280 is a great trail running option for:
- Runners prone to heel striking, thanks to its markedly thicker heel stack.
- Those who want a fast-yet-comfortable ultra-running shoe.
- Trail enthusiasts who want a do-it-all shoe for all their runs.
Who should not buy it
Midfoot and forefoot strikers, be warned, runners say that these shoes felt “neither soft nor protective on impact”—a more evenly cushioned option is the Brooks Caldera 6. Those looking for a more secure lockdown will find it in the Hoka Challenger 7.
How it stacks up against other Trailflys
The release of the Ultra G280 completes Inov-8’s ultra-running trifecta—sliding smack dab in the middle of the G270 and the Ultra G300 Max.
While definitely less performance-oriented than the fast (i.e. firm) 270 and less cushioned than the protective (i.e. heavy) 300, the G280 makes up for it by combining the best of both worlds. Its roomy upper and higher stack provides more comfort, while its nitrogen-infused foam makes the shoe lighter and speed-capable.
The knit upper is surprisingly neat
The Trailfly G280 caught everyone by surprise by using an upper that’s atypical in the trail scene: knit. Testers found that this made the shoe more comfortable and voluminous—a godsend for swollen feet during longer efforts.
Despite their initial apprehensions, they also found that it didn’t lack structure, was breathable even in warm temps, and held up well to the wear and tear of 100 km’ worth of trail runs.
The Ultra G280 is all about that vertical space
Its roominess, however, may present security issues for low-volume feet. Some runners reported that they had trouble getting a good lockdown in the shoe; only obtaining it after cranking down on the laces—which unfortunately left an odd-looking “camel-like hump of fabric” over the toe box.
Moreover, “despite being broadest on Inov-8’s fit scale,” one shoe expert found that the toe box was still too narrow that his “pinkie toes still push out the sides of the knit.”
Like NOS for your shoes
Also quite uncommon to the trail-running world is the Ultra 280’s nitrogen-infused midsole. The foam gave the shoe a unique feel that one user described as “quite soft and energetic” without feeling sloppy.
The G280 feels like two different shoes
Across the width of the G280’s midsole runs an 8-mm groove called the Adapter Flex. This gives the forefoot and heel a feeling of being independent of each other and lends some extra agility for moving across uneven terrain.
However, this midsole separation also makes the 8-mm difference in stack heights more noticeable. Experts felt that the heel had barely any ground feel but was more “capable of sucking up pounding,” while the forefoot had way less protection and “pointy rocks can be felt.”
Just sinks its claws in and sticks
The shoe’s Graphene-Grip “belongs among the who’s who of outsoles,” expressed one critic. Its soft-rubber quality adds to the cushioned feel of the midsole and makes the Trailfly 280 “exceptionally quiet for a trail shoe.”
The graphene enhancement also made the outsole “insanely durable” and, combined with the 4-mm lugs, grippy on most surfaces, “from grassy plains to moist mountains.”
Won’t have you second guessing
According to runners, the Trailfly Ultra G280 has a bouncy-but-never-unstable ride that inspires confidence “even on the most technical of trails,” and runs light despite its ample cushioning.
As summarized by one reviewer, it’s ”the perfect middle ground” for daily training, faster short runs, and longer races and adventures.