The world's most in-depth and scientific reviews of outdoor gear

Inov-8 TerraUltra G260 - Women's Review

A unisex trail runner that offers amazing all-around performance on all surfaces.
Editors' Choice Award
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Price:  $150 List | $150.00 at Amazon
Pros:  Wonderful traction, balance of sensitive and protection, durable outsole and upper, unisex design
Cons:  Laces are short and stupid, expensive, potential midsole durability issues, zero drop may not be for everybody
Manufacturer:   inov-8
By Amber King ⋅ Senior Review Editor  ⋅  Nov 29, 2019
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87
OVERALL
SCORE


RANKED
#1 of 19
  • Foot protection - 20% 8
  • Sensitivity - 20% 10
  • Traction - 15% 9
  • Stability - 15% 9
  • Comfort and Fit - 15% 7
  • Weight - 15% 9

Our Verdict

The Inov-8 TerraUltra G-260 continues to carry the Editors' Choice torch over the last few updates this year. As a unisex shoe, it doesn't offer a women's specific fit, but many of the women on our testing team like it. Its lightweight construction provides a perfect balance of sensitivity and foot protection, and you can feel the trail without feeling the pain of the trail. The outsole is versatile enough to go from the pavement to the highest and most technical trails. We also appreciate the ultra-durable outsole and upper that is built out of kevlar, just like a suit of armor. While we appreciate that it's incredible, its zero-drop construction may not be appealing to all women. We've also heard from friends that use this shoe day in and day out that the midsole can break down after just a few hundred miles. That said, we haven't had that experience, and after putting a couple hundred on ours, we continue to love them.

2019 Update
The new update sees a slight change in the upper that cuts out a little weight and makes the toe box a touch more narrow.


Compare to Similar Products

 
Awards Editors' Choice Award Top Pick Award Best Buy Award Top Pick Award  
Price $150.00 at Amazon$129.74 at Amazon
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$89.93 at REI$129.95 at Backcountry
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Pros Wonderful traction, balance of sensitive and protection, durable outsole and upper, unisex designExcellent traction, great balance of foot protection and sensitivity, specific fit, durable outsoleComfortable, versatile fit, great responsiveness, fantastic value, durableWide toe box, great lateral stability, all-terrain traction, cushioned midsoleInexpensive, super lightweight, light cushioning, comfortable, zero-drop, wide toe box yet narrow profile
Cons Laces are short and stupid, expensive, potential midsole durability issues, zero drop may not be for everybodyHigher heel is less stable, lugs wear down on pavementDoesn't shed mud well, some midsole compaction over timeNo rock plate, loose fit in the mid-footPotential durability issues, less aggressive outsole not meant for muddy surfaces
Bottom Line A unisex trail runner that offers amazing all-around performance on all surfaces.An aggressive trail shoe that is built for the steepest and most technical trails out there.A superior performer that offers exceptional value on all types of terrain.A wide shoe with a little extra cushioning in the heel.A zero-drop shoe boasting lightweight cushioning and a super wide toe box.
Rating Categories Inov-8 TerraUltra G260 Speedcross 5 Peregrine ISO Ultraventure Altra Superior 4.0 - Women's
Foot Protection (20%)
10
0
8
10
0
9
10
0
8
10
0
7
10
0
5
Sensitivity (20%)
10
0
10
10
0
8
10
0
8
10
0
8
10
0
9
Traction (15%)
10
0
9
10
0
10
10
0
9
10
0
7
10
0
5
Stability (15%)
10
0
9
10
0
7
10
0
8
10
0
8
10
0
9
Comfort And Fit (15%)
10
0
7
10
0
9
10
0
8
10
0
8
10
0
8
Weight (15%)
10
0
9
10
0
4
10
0
6
10
0
8
10
0
10
Specs Inov-8 TerraUltra... Speedcross 5 Peregrine ISO Ultraventure Altra Superior 4.0...
Measured Weight 8.45 oz 10.7 oz 9.8 oz 9.3 oz 7.9 oz
Ideal Terrain All terrain Soft surfaces, technical terrain All terrain All terrain All terrain
Width Options Regular Regular and Wide Regular and Wide Regular Regular
Heel-to-Toe Drop 0 mm 10 mm 4 mm 5mm 0 mm
Stack Height from toe to heel (mm) 9/9 10/20 18.5/22.5 25/30 21/21
Upper Kevlar Mesh Nylon mesh, sythetic overlays IsoFit Nylon mesh Engineered knit
Midsole EXTERFLOW Injected EVA PWRFOAM Multi-density EVA Altra Quantic
Outsole Graphene Grip Contragrip PWRTRAC Vibram XS Trek rubber MaxTrac/TrailClaw
Rock Plate? Yes Yes None None Yes
Sizes Available 4 - 15 5 - 12 5 - 12 6 - 11 6 - 11

Our Analysis and Test Results

The Inov-8 TerraUltra G-260 is a unisex shoe with a zero-drop design that balances all the metrics. As one the lightest, most stable, and sensitive, it has the right amount of protection to keep doing with you on all types of runs. An excellent shoe for those that love to tackle short to medium distances that are built for performance. Unfortunately, if you don't like a zero-drop design, this shoe is not the one for you.

Performance Comparison


Amber (our main author) runs out steep trails in Ouray  Colorado with ease (thank goodness for downhills). The TerraUltra G260 made by Inov-8 proves to offer amazing performance in all categories winning our Editors' Choice award.
Amber (our main author) runs out steep trails in Ouray, Colorado with ease (thank goodness for downhills). The TerraUltra G260 made by Inov-8 proves to offer amazing performance in all categories winning our Editors' Choice award.

Foot Protection


For its sensitive and stable design, we are surprised by the amount of foot protection it's able to pack into such a lightweight package. It balances well with sensitivity, making it a wonderful option for all surfaces from technical terrain to flat zoomy single track.


We tested this shoe on high mountain passes, traverses, desert trails, and snowy country roads. With these testing conditions, we're happy to say this trail runner is protective. It hosts a variety of features that keeps underfoot obstacles from causing injury.

Tackling a few leftover snow patches this summer somewhere high in the mountains.
Tackling a few leftover snow patches this summer somewhere high in the mountains.

The outsole is thin, and has only 8.5mm of cushioning throughout from the heel to the toe, which is much less than most trail runners. The cushioning is high density, packing a lot of responsive punch into a small area. This, with the integrated rock plate, provides the sensitivity needed that any great trail runner offers, with just the right amount of protection. The Graphene sole is also pretty thick, protecting well from punctures and pricks you might find in the harsh environment of the desert.

We appreciate the minimal amount of cushioning from the heel to the toe.
We appreciate the minimal amount of cushioning from the heel to the toe.

Unfortunately, one of our testers who took this shoe on particularly long rocky run mentioned that after about mile 12, her feet became quite sore, as protection is limited. With that in mind, it's important to break these shoes in and get them used to the higher impact you'll experience with its thinner design.

The toe cap is reinforced and burly while the upper is very protective. While not waterproof  it does good work of drying out quickly.
The toe cap is reinforced and burly while the upper is very protective. While not waterproof, it does good work of drying out quickly.

The upper is constructed of a kevlar mesh that is a great defensive wall from pesky particulates. Sandy, silt, and other dirt won't make its way through. While it is not waterproof, it does an excellent job of wicking away water. When fully drenched in a stream or river, the fibers are not absorbent and dry quickly.

Sensitivity


It's a sensitive trail runner that will give you an intimate trail experience.


The thinner forefoot construction will have you feeling the presence of underfoot hazards, but not so sensitive that there will be pain. The cushioning and rock guard protect well and are thin enough to allow you to feel what's underfoot. This high level of sensitivity makes it perfect for scrambling where edging might be required or while treading over super rocky terrain.

The outsole and midsole offer flexibility that isn't too cushioned which allows you easily feel underfoot hazards.
The outsole and midsole offer flexibility that isn't too cushioned which allows you easily feel underfoot hazards.

Traction


We love the traction of its Graphene outsole. The lugs are relatively deep, which works on both smooth and technical surfaces.


The rubber itself does an excellent job molding in both warm and cold temperatures. Since the lugs are flat and rectangular in shape, they offer a high amount of surface area, which holds well on dry, rocky slabs. Travel is not impeded by super long lugs on roads, either; this is one of the reasons that we love its level of traction so much. It offers great lateral traction without sliding too bad on steep hard trails covered in kitty litter.

A look at the bomber traction pattern. The outsole itself is very durable and quite protective.
A look at the bomber traction pattern. The outsole itself is very durable and quite protective.

We also appreciate its performance on mud and snow. Just recently, on a super snowy run (with the odd mud patch here and there), it offered great traction the whole way without holding onto any of the mud. Another tester ran in a different pair of shoes that help all the snow and mud to the outsole, effectively making it useless; another reason it scored highly in this category.

A look at the mud-shedding capability of the Asics Venture 7 (left) and the Inov-8 TerraUltra260. Who do you think wins this test?
A look at the mud-shedding capability of the Asics Venture 7 (left) and the Inov-8 TerraUltra260. Who do you think wins this test?

Stability


The TerraUltra knocks it out of the park in this metric, as well. While it's not a super rigid construction, the heel and platform of the shoe feel incredibly stable on uneven terrain; this is largely due to its specific fit that wraps around the arch of the foot and hugs the heel.


The heel cup almost feels like there are wings on the back (even though there aren't), keeping this shoe oriented in the appropriate position. We've taken this over tundra-like terrain where trails don't exist, and we felt confident that we wouldn't roll an ankle or fall down. Its lightweight construction makes it easy to change positioning quickly, while the sensitive forefoot keeps you in the know of where your foot is going. All of this contributes to stability and its success as our Editors' Choice award winner.

Since you can feel the terrain intimately  stability is no issue.
Since you can feel the terrain intimately, stability is no issue.

Comfort and Fit


Comfortable enough to simply wear to work and while traveling, its one that you can wear all day. The fit is specific and great for those with wide to narrow feet. This is largely due to the wider toe box construction that narrows at the arch and towards the back of the heel.


The underfoot cushioning is responsive, but we wouldn't call it "spring". It's more supportive than anything. The wider, more versatile fit contributes to its comfort on the trail. The upper is soft and flexible around the collar while the Achilles is supported with a little extra cushion. Even though the upper is composed of a harder composite that infuses Kevlar, it surprisingly doesn't feel rigid, nor does it feel scratchy. While we appreciate the comfort of this shoe, our biggest caveat with it is the laces. They simply suck. They are way too short, and the round construction comes undone easily. If you do buy these, you'd be better off switching them out as soon as you get them.

Comfortable enough to wear them everywhere else that's not the trail! Wear them while traveling  head to work  or performing basic chores around town.  Oh  and they'll keep you comfortable on short to medium-length runs as well.
Comfortable enough to wear them everywhere else that's not the trail! Wear them while traveling, head to work, or performing basic chores around town. Oh, and they'll keep you comfortable on short to medium-length runs as well.

Weight


A super lightweight (8.5 ounces) shoe that feels nimble and quick. You can do your speed workouts or your next half marathon quickly. Even when wet, the shoe does a great job at wicking moisture and isn't very absorbent, staying light, even when wet. It's a good option if you're trying to find a pair for crossing streams and the like.


This shoe is lightweight and flies with you on the trail.
This shoe is lightweight and flies with you on the trail.

Value


While the initial investment is high, this is a high performer when it is doing its job. If a zero-drop shoe with bomber overall performance is on your list of things to buy, this is a great option. However, if you're somebody who needs a little cushioning in the heel, this probably isn't the best shoe for you. Check out our Best Buy Winner instead, which also competed for the Editors' Choice award. We've run in this shoe for 60 miles, and put 200 miles on the previous version and had no durability problems, but have heard about how the cushioning has disappointingly broken down around 500 miles for various users and experts we talked to; keeping this in mind will help you determine whether it is of value to you. For its performance, it's one we'd throw down on, despite this experience from another tester who has this shoe.

The TerraUltra G260 provides all the stability you need when exploring the high alpine terrain in the Rocky Mountains of Colorado.
The TerraUltra G260 provides all the stability you need when exploring the high alpine terrain in the Rocky Mountains of Colorado.

Conclusion


The Inov-8 TerraUltra G260 is a killer trail shoe suitable for all surfaces and all conditions. It offers the perfect balance of protection to sensitivity while offering immaculate stability, all in a neat lightweight package. We like the new colors, as well as a toe box that is relatively wide, and with a couple of runs, conforms nicely to the foot. While we wish this to be a shoe for every user, the zero-drop may not appeal to all out there. If you want something with a little extra cushion in the heel, check out the other top performers to see if it's a better alternative for your purpose.

The Inov-8 Terraultra G 260 (a unisex shoe) has the same level of cushioning from the front to the back. This is an example of a zero-drop shoe that is best for those that don't need additional cushioning in the heel. Mid and forefoot strikers will appreciate these best.
The Inov-8 Terraultra G 260 (a unisex shoe) has the same level of cushioning from the front to the back. This is an example of a zero-drop shoe that is best for those that don't need additional cushioning in the heel. Mid and forefoot strikers will appreciate these best.


Amber King