Introduction

The Inov-8 Terraultra G 270 (9.5 oz / 270 g, MSRP $160) is a moderately-cushioned, zero drop, wide toebox trail running shoe with better-than-average durability and fantastic fit.

Photo: Inov-8.
Photo: Inov-8.

Highlights

  • zero-drop, wide toebox
  • superior fit
  • comfortable midsole hits the sweet spot between thickness and responsiveness
  • better-than-average durability
  • an ideal all-around zero-drop backpacking shoe
  • excels on hard pack trail and dry conditions

Review Rating: Highly Recommended

The Inov-8 Terraultra G 270 is comfortable, responsive, and durable (for a modern trail runner). The thin, ergonomic tongue, close-fitting inner, wide toebox, and 22 mm stack height make it the most comfortable and blister-free trail runner I’ve ever used. Zero-drop/wide toebox construction isn’t for everybody. But if you’ve tried the Altra Lone Peak and aren’t impressed with the durability or the fit, you should seriously consider giving the Inov-8 Terraultra G 270 a try.

The durability is exceptional for a trail runner but doesn’t quite live up to the standards set by the Inov-8 marketing materials (or the standard set by one of Inov-8’s other shoes, the Inov-8 Mudclaw G 260). But I still easily got 500 miles (800 km) out of this shoe – something that previous incarnations of the Altra Lone Peak can’t come close to.

Though I wish for slightly more aggressive lugs and a gaiter loop at the forefoot, neither of those factors was enough to outweigh the positive qualities the Inov-8 Terraultra G 270 brings to the table.

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Review Context

My lifelong tendency to suffer from blisters (regardless of sock type, trail conditions, skin lubricants, and pack weight) has led me to 20+ years of experimentation with footwear. Minimalist trail runners, clunky Chacos, beefy hiking shoes, minimalist hiking sandals, you name it, I’ve tried it.

a man's dirty legs sitting out of a pair of green shoes
Wearing Inov-8 Terraultra G 270 trail running shoes on a bikepacking trip.

The sweet spot I’ve landed on after all this experimentation is a wide toe-box (also called foot-shape pattern), zero-drop trail runner with moderate-to-aggressive tread and moderate stack height. If you think this sounds like a somewhat narrow category, you’d be right. Inov-8 and Altra are the two leaders in this category, though if you are willing to accept a few millimeters of drop you can find competitive offerings from Topo Athletic, Hoka, and others.

I most often paired the Inov-8 Terraultra G 270 with Darn Tough socks of various thicknesses. I also wore Injinji Run Lightweight No-show NuWool toe socks and Defeet Wooleators in my testing period.

This is a Performance Review based on 500 miles (800 km) of use in a variety of activities: trail running, multi-day backpacking trips, one-night/two-day backpacking trips, and bikepacking. Read more about our types of reviews here.

Features

  • mesh uppers with welded components
  • thin tongue with ergonomic ankle shape
  • wide toe-box
  • close-fitting inner
  • no shank or rock plate

Specifications

All specifications pertain to men’s size 9.5:

  • weight: 9.5 oz (270 g) per shoe
  • drop: 0 mm
  • lug depth: 4 mm
  • stack height: 12 mm
  • graphene-infused rubber on outsole

Product Category Overview

The Inov-8 Terraultra G 270 belongs to a narrow subset of trail running shoes. It has a wide toebox, no drop from heel to toe, lacks a shank or rock plate, and has a moderate 4-mm tread (lug) height. These collective qualities set it apart from most trail running shoes. But what’s interesting about the Terraultra G 270 is that it doesn’t really belong in the minimalist trail runner family either. It simply has too much of a cushioned midsole to fit in that category.

A green shoe sitting in a bed of pine needles
The Inov-8 Terraultra G 270 has a moderately cushioned midsole.

This is good news for backpackers who like the feel of a zero-drop shoe but want more comfort (and durability) than true minimalist trail runners have to offer.

A common and entirely justified critique leveled at trail runners of all types is their lack of durability. Additionally, wide toebox shoes are often accused of sloppy and unresponsive fit. How Inov-8 addressed these concerns – as well as how the Terraultra G 270 would perform on the mixed hardpack terrain of my local trails – was the principal thing on my mind going into my testing period.

Performance Assessment

Description of Field Testing

I began my testing period with the Inov-8 Terraultra G 270 in January of 2021 and logged 500 miles (800 km) by August of 2021. About half of these miles were while running on hardpack trail punctuated by areas of deep sand and erosion – the typically granitic conditions of the eastern Sierra Nevada. Roughly 100 of these miles (160 km) were on pavement.

A man rests against a rock while wearing green shoes.
Backpacking while wearing Inov-8 Terraultra G 270 trail running shoes.

The other half of my logged miles was while backpacking on fully loaded multi-day trips and one night/two-day quick overnighters.

Some of my runs and backpacking trips were winter trips on well-packed snowmobile trails – sometimes while wearing microspikes and sometimes not. I also wore the Inov-8 Terraultra G 270s on shoulder season trips and runs where I punched through icy surface snow on a regular basis.

A man backpacks with rugged mountains in the background.
The dry, hard-packed trail around the eastern Sierra Nevada is ideal for the Inov-8 Terraultra G 270.

Additional uses were two or three days of light scrambling on talus, six days of bikepacking (with lots of hike-a-biking), and two days of off-trail bushwhacking.

I also tapped into Backpacking Light Publisher Ryan Jordan’s experience with these shoes. He’s been wearing them since May 2021 and has logged about 200 miles (320 km) on them while trail running, day hiking, and backpacking on dirt trails, limestone sea beds, mud, talus, and alpine tundra.

How Many User-Days?

  • 100+ (Andrew)
  • 30+ (Ryan)

List of Performance Criteria

  • comfort
  • grip/performance
  • durability
  • drying time/drainage

Comfort

As I said in my introduction, the Inov-8 Terraultra G 270 is the most comfortable trail runner I’ve ever used. The tongue is thin with ergonomic wings that wrap around the lower ankle for a smooth transition from shoe upper to sock.

a close up of a shoe tonue
The thin, ergonomic tongue is a major factor in the comfort of the Inov-8 Terraultra G 270.

The lacing area fits snugly against the top of the foot – so snugly in fact that it’s easy to crank down on it too tightly if you aren’t careful. But once I had my laces dialed in, I had to do very little adjustment. They stayed as tight (or as loose) as I wanted for hours and days at a time.

a close-up showing the rear of a shoe.
The zero-drop construction of the Inov-8 Terraultra G 270 isn’t for everybody, but if you like zero-drop shoes, this is a great option.

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