By Brian Metzler
Inov-8 is a small British shoe brand known for making exceptional trail running shoes for a variety of surfaces – including those right out its back door in the English Lake District. One of the reasons it’s been able to compete with much larger brands is that it’s learned not to mess with a good thing, especially when runners like a particular model of a shoe. Annual updates to shoes are necessary for a lot of reasons – the most obvious one is to spur new sales – but only if those changes don’t significantly impact the proven performance of a particular model.
That brings me to Inov-8’s G 270 trail shoe, which has been recognized by numerous media outlets, bloggers and shoe geeks (including me!) as a best-in-class light and fast, zero-drop trail running shoe that’s ideal for speedy runs and short to moderate-distance racing. Subtle changes have only enhanced the just-released second version of the shoe. None of the updates negatively compromise the original fit, feel or performance of the first edition. It’s one of those shoes which, aside from new color motifs, you might not immediately notice the changes as you first start running.
What’s New: The updated version has a new upper with more stretchiness, support and breathability in the forefoot and a smoother and cushier fully gusseted tongue that both contribute to a better overall fit – both when you lace them up and when you’re out rambling on the trails. The subtle changes, highlighted by new overlays for strength and stability, help this shoe run better and feel better while also offering a touch more durability and protection. And yes, there is a $10 price increase, which is the case with many shoes this year largely because of increased shipping costs. The improvements make it worth the money, in my opinion.
Fit/Feel/Ride: The G 270 v2 fits true to size with a narrow-to-medium interior volume in the heel and midfoot, but with modest wiggle room in the toe box. The midfoot/arch area feels much more secure than the original version and that means a vast improvement when it comes to support and control on technical terrain. There isn’t a lot of interior cushiness to this shoe, but the expanded TPU Boomerang footbed adds to the bounciness and significant energy return of the PowerFlow Max midsole foam. Although it’s not very thick (12mm midsole thickness and 22mm overall stack height), it still provides a lively feeling for such a low-to-the-ground shoe. And that’s what enables this shoe to be such a smooth-handling gem running at fast paces over variable surfaces. It’s a finely tuned racing flat with a smart collection of trail-specific features.
Why It’s Great: The Graphene-enhanced rubber outsole is still the best feature of this shoe. It’s grippy, mildly elastic and durable, which is why it’s ideal for quick and dynamic movements on the trails. The rugged 4mm rubber lugs adhere to just about everything as much as you need them to, making it incredibly reliable for uphill running, downhill running, cornering and off-camber foot placements. In other words, it allows you to be as nimble as you need to be without having any doubt about your foot slipping or sliding on any given stride.
Inov8 Trailfly G 270 v2
Weights: 8.1 oz. (women’s size 8), 9.5 oz. (men’s size 9)
Heel-Toe Offset: 0mm (22mm in the heel, 22mm in the forefoot)
Why You’ll Love It: If you’re looking for a light and fast shoe for running smooth to moderately technical trails, the G 270 v2 is a very good one to consider. It has the liveliness of a road running shoe with the sufficient grip, protection and stability to handle a variety of trail surfaces. It has just enough midsole cushioning to be soft and protective without getting in the way of agile foot placements. All of those details make it an ideal shoe for short- to moderate-distance racing on a variety of dirt and rock surfaces. It doesn’t have the lug depth to consistently run through mud or wet grass, but it can definitely hold its own for short sections without slowing you down. I also found it to be very reliable on snowy roads and bike paths, too.
Pro: The G 270 v2 is much more durable than the original version. The combination of the new upper and best-in-the-business outsole should allow this shoe to take a beating and still hold up for an entire season of running and racing on the trails.
Con: As with any low-to-the-ground shoe that has a zero-drop platform, this shoe isn’t for everyone. Many trail runners will want more cushioning under their feet and some won’t adhere to the level platform right away. Neither of those things detract from this shoe, but they are points to consider when buying a model like this.