inov-8 Race Ultra 270
- Anatomic toe box
- Outstanding traction
- Strong underfoot protection
- Upper runs warm
- Stiff heel collar
- Still on the heavy side for the lightweight category
The inov-8 Race Ultra 270 is built to handle any type of terrain in all kinds of trail conditions. It’s comfortable and durable enough to sustain high-mileage training, but on race day its weight will be a drawback.
If you’re accustomed to the narrow midfoots and toe boxes of traditional inov-8 models, you’re in for a nice surprise, as the Race Ultra series uses an anatomic last with an ideally proportioned toe box—roomy enough for toe splay, but narrow enough for agility. The heel collar is rather stiff and did cause some heel soreness with the first few runs, but softened to a comfortable level with continued use. Midfoot overlays loop into the lace system, and the laces lock down tightly and stay secure through long runs.
Chafing or hot spots in the forefoot are prevented by the spacious toebox. The longitudinal meta shank provides dependable impact dampening even on rocky or rooty terrain. Material construction in the upper is somewhat thick on the interior surface, and ventilation of the Race Ultra 270 is noticeably lacking in hot conditions. The tongue and heel collars have moderate padding that ride comfortably against the ankle and top of the foot.
Inov-8 is famous for crafting outsoles that excel at providing grip for high speed fell running or other intense off-road applications. The Race Ultra 270 is no exception, featuring the company’s highly durable Race Ultra outsole with various densities of rubber. The grip is outstanding in loose dry conditions as well as wet muck; when combined with a low platform and minimal heel-toe drop, it’s hard to improve upon the ground stability of the 270.
The midsole material on the Race Ultra 270 is primarily compressed EVA, as compared to injection-molded EVA found on the Race Ultra 290. This results in a relatively firm ride with unremarkable energy transfer from rearfoot to forefoot. Thankfully, the meta shank rock plate is thin and pliable, so underfoot protection doesn’t compromise mobility or heel to toe flexibility.
Speed and agility
The outstanding traction and strong underfoot protection make the Race Ultra 270 well suited for hard efforts on technical trails, but its overall weight makes it better suited for an everyday trainer than a racing shoe.
Heeluxe, our shoe testing laboratory partner, tests the responsiveness of a shoe by measuring how thick a running shoe is and multiplying it by how much pressure the forefoot foot feels while running. The softer or thicker the midsole, the less responsive a shoe will feel, but the more comfortable the shoe will generally feel. The thinner or firmer a midsole is, the more power you’ll feel at toe-off.
How We Tested It
We tested this shoe with approximately 150 miles of running in Monterey County CA, predominantly on fire roads and single track with occasional asphalt exposure. The longest single run was 32 miles. The terrain included forest trails, moderate to severely steep (10-20% grade) climbing and descents, stream crossings, and occasional muddy conditions.
In our Spring 2015 trail running shoe test, we tested 20 new shoes head to head against each other in two categories—Lightweight and Comfort & Protection. Heeluxe, our running shoe test laboratory partner based in Santa Barbara, California—used it’s specialized laboratory equipment to measure the breakdown of the shoe after 150 miles, as well as measurements of cushioning and heel drop. Finally, our wear test team of 8 experienced runners—with varying weights, paces, and foot strikes—shared their feedback on each shoe after multiple runs. To ensure standardized fit, each tester wore the same sock. This year’s sock was Wigwam’s Ironman Lightening Pro Low Cut.
You can find more details on how we test and rate shoes here.
The products featured in this test have been loaned to the Gear Institute. For more on our policies regarding editorial objectivity and sample returns, see here.
About the Author
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- Heel Height: 17mm
- Forefoot Height: 13mm
- 0-mile Unweighted Heel Drop: 3.5
- 0-mile Weighted Heel Drop: 2
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