True Grit: Inov-8 Graphene-Toughened Shoes Tested

Earlier this week, British brand inov-8 unveiled its new graphene-enhanced G-Series sports shoes to a small group of journalists. We went to England for this review.

Having learned about the impressive properties of graphene, I salivated over the world’s first graphene-infused running shoes. So I was stoked to take the Terraultra G 260 and Mudclaw G 260 for a spin on the morning following the launch.

To test the bright, lime-green fell and trail running shoes, inov-8 chose Rivington Pike. This hill sits in the West Pennines about 20 minutes outside of Manchester, England. It’s home to the oldest established fell running race in the U.K.

Rivington Pike’s mix of fast dry trail and steeper technical, soft terrain was the perfect place to put these shoes through their paces

Inov-8 Terraultra G 260 Review

Designed for long-distance running on hard-packed trails, the Terraultra G 260 is a zero-drop, 9-mm-stack shoe. It’s all about comfort and ground-feel for ultra distances.

A crew of shoe testers mounts up for a run

If you’re regularly clocking big mileage and find yourself going through running shoes at wallet-bludgeoning speed, then the lightweight Terraultra G 260, with its super hardwearing graphene-enhanced rubber outsoles, could be the answer to all your problems.

Noticeably wide in the forefoot, the Terraultra G 260 should meet the demands of endurance running. And the mesh upper is designed to expand as runners’ feet swell over long distances.

While I found the Terraultra G 260 to be a touch roomy for my low-volume, narrow feet during the short 10-km test run, I imagine I would appreciate the extra space over ultra distances and multiday events.

I tested the Terraultra G 260 on a low-level, standard trail followed by a steeper, rockier ascent en route to the summit of Rivington Pike.

The shoes delivered a speedy, springy underfoot ride in both types of terrain. I felt able to change direction with ease and confidence. Grooves along the shoes’ in the mid and outsole adapted to grip the terrain.

Time constraints and the need to transition to the Mudclaw G 260 meant I didn’t have the opportunity to test the Terraultra G 260 on the descent. It seemed to offer decent levels of traction on slippery sections of the climb. But I would really have to take it for a downhill spin to fully assess its potential grip.

Overall, I found the Terraultra G 260 comfortable, responsive, and lightweight. What sets it apart from other ultra-/endurance-focused running shoes is that the graphene-infused outsoles and Kevlar uppers the brand says will endure more miles than traditional construction.

Inov-8 Terraultra G260

  • Designed for: Long distance, hard-pack
  • Price:  $150
  • Weight: 260g / 9.17 oz
  • Stack: 9mm
  • Drop: 0
  • Lug depth: 4mm

Inov-8 Mudclaw G 260 Review

Next up, I tested the Mudclaw G 260. This is a shoe for muddy mountain runs and Tough Mudder-type obstacle course events.

I made the transition to the Mudclaw G 260 for the final ascent to Rivington Pike. I admired the panoramic views of the English countryside, then blasted down the technical descent back over the fells and down through muddy fields and forest trails.

The immediately impressive shoe felt snug and comfortable out of the box. The narrow fit of the 4-mm drop, 8.5-mm stack Mudclaw G 260 is ideal for runners looking for precision and grip on soft and wet ground.

Rivington Pike’s steep, muddy technical downhill sections provided the perfect testing ground for the Mudclaw G 260. The 8-mm studs simply clawed to the mud and stuck to the slippery roots and rocks, offering unbelievable and reassuring traction even when traveling at speed.

In saturated terrain, torrential rain, deep mud, and the like your feet are going to get wet no matter what. The problem with waterproof footwear is that it then holds that water inside the shoe. Thankfully, the Mudclaw G 260 has been designed with the specific goal of letting water in and out of the shoe, simultaneously allowing your feet to breathe when working up a sweat in the wet slop.

The Mudclaw G 260 let water in, but all other elements of the trail were kept firmly on the outside during our test run. I found the lightweight yet mega-robust upper with Kevlar overlays did a great job keeping trail debris at bay. But if you’re looking for additional protection, the Mudclaw G 260 comes with an attachable gaiter.

The Mudclaw G 260 has pretty good protection. I found the flexible rock plate shielded feet from sharp rocks and stones.

Despite its precise, low-profile feel, the Mudclaw G 260 is undeniably tough. Inov-8 developed it to handle demanding trails and obstacle course events. The addition of graphene-infused rubber on the outsole makes the already hardy shoe even tougher, combining soft ground performance with improved durability.

Inov-8 Mudclaw G260

  • Designed for: Obstacle endurance events, wet mud
  • Price:  $150
  • Weight: 260 g / 9.17 oz
  • Stack: 8.5 mm
  • Drop: 4 mm
  • Lug depth: 8 mm

Inov-8 G-Series Trail Shoes: A Strong Offering

The G-Series trail-running shoes will appeal to a variety of mountain running enthusiasts. They offer premium performance and durability that justifies its price tag.

The zero-drop Terraultra has a wider forefoot and is best suited to long alpine runs where the ability to adapt, endure, and respond is key. The 4-mm drop Mudclaw G 260 is a soft and wet ground specialist. It fits the bill for muddy mountain runners looking for a precise fit with maximum grip.

The price for both shoes will be the same — $150 — when they go on sale July 12.

We all know high-end gear comes at a premium. And while the G-Series isn’t cheap, it falls within or even slightly below the average trail-running offerings. And the integration of graphene means they should last a long time.

Most running experts recommend you change your shoes after 500 miles. But thanks to the new graphene outsoles, inov-8 says you can expect to get about 1,000 miles out of a G-Series shoe.

If the durability proves to hold true, this shoe could be a winner for big mileage runners.

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