Before we get into that, lets start Inov-8’s own description of the TERRAULTA G 260 Graphene. This is the “... world’s toughest shoe for running the world’s toughest long-distance trails. Revolutionary graphene-enhanced rubber delivers the world’s toughest grip on hard-packed trails, while next-generation underfoot technology strikes the perfect balance between comfort and responsiveness.”
My first Impressions
First thoughts on getting these out of the box are, wow they are green, really green! The second thought, which follows a fraction of a second later, is how light they feel. At 260 grams for a UK size 8, these feel even lighter in your hands, al- though the scales show the measurement to be accurate.
The upper is made of a green breathable mesh, with Kevlar used to add struc- tural integrity and strength. That is right, I said Kevlar, the same thing used in bullet proof vests! This is placed at the toes to provide protection from rocks and also to wrap your foot as you tighten the laces.
The tongue is gusseted and sewn into the shoe, to help reduce debris getting in as you run. It is also compatible with the Inov-9 ankle gaiter if you want added protection around your ankle. The laces provide a firm grip and tie well, with min- imal slip or loosening as you run.
The real innovation with these shoes, is the the use of Graphene in the outsole to add strength and durability. On this model, you have 4mm wide lugs, ideal for rough trails and races like Lakeland 50. For muddier ground its sister shoe, the Graphene Mudclaw 260, would be preferable but for most trail or ultra races in the UK and Europe, these look perfect.
With 9mm of cushioning, they provide good protection between your feet and the underlying trail. The one surprise is that Inov-8 have opted to go with zero drop for these shoes, something which will be attractive to fans of shoes like Altras but will take some adjustment for those of us used to having some element of drop between our heel and toes in our trail shoes.
Running in the Inov-8 TERRAULTA G 260 Graphene
So, how did these feel on the trail? In the testing I have done so far, I have made the effort to run routes which take in a mixture of surfaces, for instance road, grass and various types of trails.
The first impression is how roomy and comfortable these once on your feet. I opted for a UK size 11.5, so half a size up on my standard shoe size and my pre- ferred size for trail and ultra running. The TERRAULTRA is one of the widest fits that Inov-8 offers (fit scale: 4/5) and this was immediately obvious on pulling the shoe on, with plenty of room to move my toes, even with my wide feet.
I was concerned by the zero drop, as this is something I have not done a lot of miles in recently but I was able to comfortably run fifteen miles in them pretty much straight out of the box. In fact, when on they didn’t even feel like they were zero drop, which was encouraging.
Across a range of terrain, even tarmac, they were really comfortable to wear and my legs appreciated how light they were. While I will withhold judgment on their durability until I have covered at least a hundred miles, at the moment they are wearing extremely well, with little or no signs of wear on the outsole.
Its early days but that said, I have to say that I think Inov-8 are onto a real winner here. Yes the use of innovative technology means this shoe is significantly more ex- pensive than similar products in the Inov-8 line-up (RRP £140) but with the in- creased lifespan that the use of Graphene and Kevlar should bring, this will bring the cost of ownership down.
Personally I love the bright green but I appreciate this may put others off. Like- wise the zero drop in these shoes may be a concern, as it was initially for me. When wearing the shoes though, the lack of drop is not as readily apparent, to me any- way, as it is in other zero drop shoes. Therefore, I would encourage you to not let this put you off these shoes entirely, although I would still suggest building your mileage up gently, if this is your first experience of zero drop shoes.
The key thing for me is how comfortable they are to wear across a wide range of trails and conditions. The recent dry spell here in the UK has meant I have been unable to try them in muddier conditions but it has eaten up whatever I have thrown at them so far, which is encouraging to see.
While I continue to manage how I wear these, to allow my feet and legs to get used to the lower drop, I readily reach for them at the start of every run and am sure these will quickly become my shoe of choice for my longer trail runs and ultra marathons.