Last Summer when ATRA member inov-8 launched the TERRAULTRA G 270 we were big fans of the zero drop graphene-grip pioneering trail shoe. This light and grippy shoe quickly became a go-to kick for racing on the loose and slippy. As good as that zero-drop shoe is, there are many athletes looking for a bit more cushion and drop for their long haul trail runs. Nine months later inov-8 “innovates” again with the TRAILFLY ULTRA G 300 MAX.
Here are the top line differences between the TERRAULTRA G 270 vs. the new TRAILFLY ULTRA G 300 MAX:
- Weight: 270 grams vs. 300 grams
- Midsole Stack Height: 12mm vs. 19mm/25mm
- Drop: zero vs. 6mm
In spite of these differences, the new TRAILFLY ULTRA G 300 MAX has many of the features that made TERRAULTRA such a good shoe including:
- Graphene-Grip rubber outsole which is 50% stronger, 50% more elastic and 50% harder wearing.
- The BOOMERANG insole boasts a 40% increase in energy return versus the previous footbed.
- ADAPTERFIT technology in the upper works with your foot to adapt to any swelling or changes in terrain and improve overall comfort. This is particularly for a shoe designed for ultramarathons and longer runs.
Numbers and brand jargon aside, what’s it really like to run in? In a word, comfortable! Most trail runners familiar with inov-8 know they’ve long been known for high traction shoes for lots of different surface conditions. In the past many athletes seeking ultra-cushioned shoes went for others brands better known for that feature. With the TRAILFLY ULTRA G 300 MAX, inov-8 combines the best of both traction and a more cushioned shoe for longer runs and races.
25mm of G-FLY graphene enhanced foam in the heel provides a plush ride while also being controlled, stable and offering good “trail feel”. This definitely is not your grandparent’s numb maximally cushioned shoe.
The upper shoe materials are both lightweight and stiff; not stretching when you snug up the traditional laces. This isn’t to say the upper feels inflexible or has hot spots; it does not. Even out of the box, the TRAILFLY ULTRA G 300 MAX will be comfortable for your first foray onto the trails.
Contributing to the comfortable ride is the segmented outsole; separating the heel and forefoot sections with a 10mm grove. This make the otherwise chunky and aggressive outsole for flexible so it can adapt to uneven surfaces as your foot rolls from heel to toe.
Other features we like include the thin but strong gusseted tongue which holds the top of your forefoot firmly without producing hot spots if you choose to snug up the laces tightly. The material around the ankle and Achilles tendon is well contoured and finished to reduce any gaps that might catch dirt and grit. Nobody likes stopping to remove an annoying pebble that’s gotten under their heel during a trail run.
With a bunch of great trail shoe innovations, what conditions is the TRAILFLY ULTRA G 300 MAX less suited to? While the traction offered by this shoe is fantastic in loose, slippy surfaces, it’s going to be overkill on the kind of smooth, dry trails you might find in the San Francisco Bay Area for example. For runners looking for a hyper-light, short distance trail racing kick, the TRAILFLY ULTRA G 300 MAX is going to be too much shoe. For those situations, inov-8 fans who like a zero-drop shoe might consider the TERRAULTRA G 270 (pictured below) or one of the X-TALON (for mud) or ROADCLAW (for smooth trail) models.
Bottomline? When conditions get rough and messy during long trail runs or races, the TRAILFLY ULTRA G 300 MAX is an excellent choice. On sale now at a speciality run retailer near you for $190 USD. For pricing and availability outside the United States check out the inov-8 website.