In the past year, Inov-8—a brand known for its low-to-the-ground minimally constructed shoes—has expanded its line of trail running shoes to include a few with a bit more cushioning and protection for long-distance trail running. The Race Ultra 270 is somewhat of a takedown of the Race Ultra 290 that debuted last year, but, in some ways, it’s much closer to many of its original models than the slightly bulkier 290. It’s definitely not a minimalist shoe, but it does have a low-to-the-ground demeanor, offers exceptional “feel” for the trail and allows for mountain-goat-like agility on more technical terrain. Our wear-testers thought this shoe ran extremely light and had a firm ride with just enough protection against obstacles on the trail. Runners needing arch support noted that the Race Ultra 270 didn’t provide much, if any, but truly neutral runners felt stable and supported. Everyone appreciated the lightweight, racy feel of this shoe and its trail-grabbing, “chewy” traction. It’s also among the most flexible in the forefoot that we tested, making it a great choice for long climbs. A couple testers noted heel slippage when running uphill, but most enjoyed the wide forefoot that allowed the toes to splay for more control on downhills.
This shoe is for you if … You typically like “less shoe” than “more shoe,” you have good mechanics and you want to feel fast and agile on hilly or mountainous trails full of rocks, roots and other obstacles.
Weights: 9.5 oz. (men), 8.8 oz. (women)
Heel-toe Offset: 4mm; 11mm (heel), 7mm (forefoot)