The inov-8 Terraultra G-grip is my first choice of footwear for running long distances and going hard on rocky and technical trails.
Durable, but lightweight
Industry leading graphene grip
Less confident on mud
Upper not as durable as sole
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Designed for putting in big mileage on technical terrain, the inov-8 Terraultra G-grip 270 is a shoe for the ultra runners out there, although it’s good for shorter scampers too. Inov-8’s famous Graphene-grip (G-grip) sole is the foundation block, as it is for all the brand’s footwear.
Fashioned from the hardest substance on the planet, this grippy sole is super robust and longlasting. On the inov-8 Terraultra G-grip, the tread is formed with 4mm lugs, complete with water dispersion channels and rubber dimples for enhanced confidence on wet, rocky trails.
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They’ve stuck an extra 3mm in the stack height for more comfort and the midsole has been improved on this shoe, too, with the use of ‘powerflow max’ to further increase cushioning, and the new ‘boomerang’ insole improves energy return by a significant amount.
The shoe also has a more robust upper than earlier editions, a new lightweight tongue and a wider toe-box than its predecessors, and they have tweaked it to accommodate some foot swelling – the inevitable consequence of running long distances.
• RRP: $160 (US) £145 (UK)
• Weight: 270g / 9.5oz
• Materials used: Hard wearing mesh upper, graphene-grip (G-grip) sole, powerflow max midsole
• Drop: 0mm
• Colours: Black / Blue and yellow / Green and black / Orange and black
• Compatibility: Comfortable and capable on any terrain, but especially technical trails and wet rock
On the trails
I wore my previous inov-8 trail running shoes, the Roclite 275, almost to death, which took some doing, because those graphene soles genuinely are tougher than old boots – the lugs did wear down a little bit, but only after several thousand kilometers of trail bashing, and not before the upper was looking much worse for (extended) wear.
If you’re looking for durability, inov-8 shoes are pretty much impossible to beat. Subsequently, we’ve spent several months running the Terraultra across hundreds of kilometers of trails and a variety of landscapes, including Exmoor, Dartmoor and the Mendip Hills, and along lengthy sections of the South West Coast Path. The shoe has 4mm cleats, which are not the most aggressive (and can struggle on very muddy terrain) but on the surface they are designed for – slippery, rocky, technical trails – they are fairly faultless.
Some big-distance runners have criticised inov-8 in the past, for making shoes with virtually indestructible soles, but not matching that durability with their uppers, and they have addressed this by using stronger materials for the chassis in the Terraultra (although we’re pretty sure the sole will still outlast the upper, and most organic life on this planet). They’re not waterproof, and don’t claim to be, but don’t hold on to water for long either.
The weight of the shoe remains really impressive, especially considering how tough it is. The tweaks to the toe box and elsewhere, intended to accommodate foot expansion during monster outings, truly do add to the comfort level of this shoe on big runs, and the extra bounce promised by improvements to the mid and inner sole is noticeable.
Author of Caving, Canyoning, Coasteering…, a recently released book about all kinds of outdoor adventures around Britain, Pat has spent 20 years pursuing stories involving boots, bikes, boats, beers and bruises. En route he’s canoed Canada’s Yukon River, climbed Mont Blanc and Kilimanjaro, skied and mountain biked through the Norwegian Alps, run an ultra across the roof of Mauritius, and set short-lived records for trail-running Australia’s highest peaks and New Zealand’s Great Walks. He’s authored walking guides to Devon and Dorset, and once wrote a whole book about Toilets for Lonely Planet. Follow Pat’s escapades on Strava here and instagram here.