Review: inov-8 TrailFly Ultra G 280 running shoe

Connect to the trail like never before with the all-new inov-8 TrailFly Ultra G 280 running shoe

new inov-8 TRAILFLY ULTRA G 280

by live for the outdoors |

The new inov-8 Trailfly Ultra G 280 is designed to give trail runners the ultimate in long-distance performance, so we've teamed up with Sportsshoes to check out what it can do.

Boasting a light and sustainable nitrogen-infused midsole foam, this is a trail running shoe built to provide flex and spring while cushioning every step. But how does the third addition to inov-8's popular TrailFly range perform on the trail?

Sportsshoes Ambassador and experienced Yorkshire-based fell runner Ben Mounsey has been busy putting the inov-8 TrailFly Ultra G 280 to the test.

Inov-8 TrailFly Ultra G 280 - main features

  • Extra cushioning over long distances, adding more stability and control

  • Nitrogen-infused foam, creating a lighter and bouncier ride

  • Weight: 280g

  • Graphene grip with 4mm multi-directional lugs for off-road traction

  • Adapter-Flex groove, enabling optimal underfoot control

  • Lightweight knit upper, delivering ultimate comfort and breathability

The Trailfly Ultra G 280 is great for long-distance runs and is designed to give a softer ride, greater bounce, and more underfoot trail control. But what else do you need to know about it? Let's start from the top...

Breathable and protective

Ben says: The upper is made from a knit material which provides more comfort and breathability when running. There is also a protective rand and toe bumper at the front of the shoe for added protection against loose rocks. Aside from the upper material, another difference between this shoe and others in the range is the tongue – it’s padded, a different size and shape, and more traditional in fit and look. Personally, I prefer this design as it sits more comfortably against the top of my feet and absorbs the pressure of tight laces.

Cushioned and durable

Ben says: This shoe boasts a new nitrogen-infused midsole foam that is both light and sustainable, as it reduces the amount of energy and chemicals used in the manufacturing processes. By infusing nitrogen gas into the midsole, it creates a foam with greater durability. The midsole design and technology allows you to feel connected to the trail whilst still enjoying a significant amount of cushioning. I think inov-8 have managed to strike a perfect balance here, as this shoe gives you just the right amount of flex, spring and soft cushioning in every step. It delivers underfoot comfort, incredible bounce, and plenty of energy return for inov-8's softest-ever ride.

This shoe also features the ADAPTER-FLEX Groove, first used on the original TrailFly G 300. This was my favourite feature of that particular model, as it really helps the shoe to adapt, flex and mould to uneven terrain. This deep groove allows an incredible amount of bend and flex in the shoe, essentially you move with the terrain and not against it.

An incredible amount of bend and flex in the shoe.

Weight saving

Ben says: Another big difference between the TrailFly G 280 model and the original TrailFly G 300 is the weight. Despite a difference of only 20g, this new shoe feels much lighter to wear and at times almost invisible. Whilst I only really use the G 300 for training, I knew from the very first run that the G 280 would be suitable for both training AND racing. It actually feels much lighter than 280g, so would be a great choice for someone looking for a trail shoe for both training and competition. And if you're looking for a TrailFly model even lighter than this, then the TrailFly G 270 will save you an extra 10g.

Consider the fit

Ben says: In terms of width, this shoe is rated 5 on the inov-8 fit scale, meaning it’s the widest fit possible. This fit has been designed to support and adjust to the natural swelling of the foot when running long distances. The wide toe box also allows extra wiggle room and comfort for toes, which are also protected by a front bumper. I have thin feet (usually I’m a 1-2 on the fit scale), but this shoe feels really comfortable to wear and will suit a greater range of foot shapes and sizes because of the extra width.

One thing to bear in mind is the length of fit. I opted to go for a UK 10.5 rather than a UK 10 as I find the TrailFly range to be a slightly smaller than some of the brand's other trail shoe models. Comparatively, with inov-8 X-Talon models, particularly the X-Talon 210, I wear a UK 10 for racing.

What lies beneath?

Ben says: This shoe has a stack height of 33mm at the heel and 25mm at the forefoot, with a drop on 8mm – making this shoe more suitable to a runner (like me) who strikes the ground with their heel.

The outsole boasts the famous graphene grip that has become synonymous with inov-8 trail shoes. Graphene is the world’s strongest material and when mixed with rubber compound, it extends the life of the outsole – meaning you get better grip for a longer period of time. Usually, I would expect a shoe like this to last for over 500 miles – although I’m still in the early stages of testing, it’s so far so good in terms of durability.

The 4mm lug depth on the outsole means that this shoe is most suitable for hard-packed trails, rocky ground and dry to mildly wet conditions. These multi-directional lugs have been meticulously shaped and positioned to improve both propulsion at the front and braking at the rear.

It provides incredible grip on almost every trail surface, except for really wet and muddy ground. For extreme conditions, I would choose to wear something like a Mudclaw or X-Talon shoe, which have deeper 8mm lugs and are designed to tackle more challenging terrain. The TrailFly G 280 is more suitable for regular training miles and daily usage, during spring, summer and autumn months.

Shop all inov-8 TraiFly Ultra G 280 trail running shoes at sportsshoes.com

The full lowdown

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