inov-8 Race Ultra 270 ReviewJune 7, 2015
- 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.