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Gear Review – Inov8 Race Ultra 290 Shoes

Might be discontinued, you can still find the Race Ultra 290 all over the internet

Again to the footwear conundrum I’ve been coping with for the final… eternally, I’ve tried my luck once more with a pair of Inov8’s: the Race Ultra 290. I do know I stated I might be avoiding Inov8 footwear after my Cape Wrath Path expertise with the Trailroc 235 in 2015, however I had an opportunity to come up with a pair of Race Ultras so I went for it.

A primary caveat about this evaluate: the Race Ultra 290s (or the 270s) stopped being produced in summer time 2016, in order that they have been solely obtainable for the 2015 season. This can be a common drawback with Inov8: they replace their entire vary (or so it feels) each season or so, leaving common customers confused and annoyed, not with the ability to get a alternative for the footwear that they did like.

Might be discontinued, you can still find the Race Ultra 290 all over the internet

They could be discontinued, you’ll be able to nonetheless discover the Race Ultra 290 everywhere in the web, properly discounted

A second level to say is that I truly didn’t pay for my footwear, no less than not with cash – a good friend of mine purchased them a few yr earlier than and had used them twice. Sooner or later I used to be speaking to that good friend and he provided me the footwear, regardless of them being a measurement greater than I often put on, for a couple of bottles of my residence brewed beer and a deal was struck. So on a sunny afternoon in a pub in south London, I participated in what certainly appeared like a dodgy deal of suspicious wanting beer bottles for a pair of Inov8 Race Ultra 290’s.

Again to our level: the footwear, and why I’m making an attempt yet one more pair. I’ve talked about many occasions on this weblog how a lot of a problem it’s for me to seek out footwear that really match me, and Invo8 are not any totally different: too slender and with a toebox that’s all incorrect. One other massive challenge that has provide you with Inov8 in the previous few years is how fragile they’re and that they must be changed typically, particularly for lengthy distance mountaineering or ultrapacking. I’ve tried utilizing the Altra Lone Peak, Merrell Naked Entry 1, and extra with out nice success: too clunky, too slender, disappointing soles and lots of different points. So when the prospect to only give the brand new Race Ultras a go got here up I figured I might attempt, particularly as they have been free.

It was worth traying the Race Ultras as ultrapacking tools and practices are very relevant with them

It was value making an attempt the Race Ultras, as they go alongside very nicely with ultrapacking instruments and practices

I had a primary clear drawback with the Race Ultra 290 (particularly): an eight mm differential and a reasonably excessive stack (18 mm heel) – they’re extra shoe than I’ve had for some time, I want zero-drop footwear. My unique plan was to get the Inov8 Race Ultra 270s with the four mm differential however couldn’t discover any good offers on them (means too costly again then), so the free pair of 290 it was. The primary purpose I needed to attempt the Race Ultra vary is it was the primary ultrarunning particular shoe that Inov8 made with a wider match, larger shoe quantity and a mixture of robustness and lightness that completely matches my ultrapacking philosophy.

Since I acquired a maintain of the footwear in spring of this yr, about 7 months in the past, I’ve tried them in a very broad number of environments and actions however I’ve but to truly tackle a extra then in a single day journey. I’ve run over 100 miles in them (that I truly measured on Strava), subjected them to each day use and greater than their share of trails. Up to now, I like them, ish.

Running in the Race Ultras

Operating within the Race Ultras

Out of the field they have been fairly mild, however felt cumbersome in comparison with different footwear I’ve been utilizing lately. The excessive stack made me really feel farther from the bottom than I’m used to. However, I used to be actually pleasantly stunned by the width and quantity I had within the footwear: it solely had a little bit of strain on my fifth toe (not touching my 4th!), which is an enchancment in comparison with most footwear.

Some particulars

Inov8 have modified their “specialisation” many occasions of their 10 years of manufacturing, focusing totally on footwear and totally on path operating, that they had occasions they tried too make too many issues and occasions they haven’t made sufficient. In the intervening time, Inov8 are making footwear for operating (path, street, multi terrain and excessive) and coaching (primarily crossfit), clothes, packs and hydration methods. One other problem that I’ve with Inov8 is that as a part of their quickly altering vary of products (enhancing?) they have a tendency to cancel profitable merchandise, so should you discover a pair of footwear you want, it in all probability gained’t be there if you end up prepared to exchange an previous pair, so you must purchase in bulk.

Thicker mid soles mean a more robust shoe that lasts for longer

Thicker mid soles imply a extra strong shoe that lasts for longer

The Race Ultra vary is a part of Inov8’s try to hitch the extremely operating wagon in 2014, introducing the Race Ultra 290 in late 2014 and the 270 in early 2015. The footwear are a part of the multi-terrain group, aimed for use primarily on packed and unfastened trails, however have a sticky sole that may work in wetter circumstances and a bounce for roads. The 290s are three arrows and the 270’s are 2 arrows – extra about Inov8’s Shockzone arrows right here.

Hiking up to Angel's Rest in the Columbia Gorge with the Race Ultras

Mountaineering as much as Angel’s Relaxation within the Columbia Gorge with the Race Ultras

Final, and importantly, is that for a really, very very long time Inov8 footwear have been outrageously slender. Inov8 have been making two matches: commonplace and precision and for some time each have been very slender, however over time the Precision stayed very slender whereas the usual received a bit roomier – virtually to the purpose of broad, however not give up vast sufficient for me. I went 1 measurement as much as accommodate my 2EE width ft. The difficulty with having the matches is that every shoe will get just one match (precision or normal), with the very minimalist footwear all getting the precision match and are subsequently ineffective to me.


290 grams, 10.2 oz, per shoe is the marketed weight, however mine are 323 grams (11.four oz) at a measurement 10 US.

Higher: artificial, TPU with a mesh lining. In actuality the outer is fairly strong whereas staying skinny sufficient to dry in an inexpensive time-frame, although slower than the Trailrocs I had. The entrance TPU rand is genius, actually growing the shoe’s sturdiness and toe safety

Synthetic upper with TPU and a robust rand

Artificial higher with TPU and a strong rand

Insole: 6mm X-Static insole. X-Static use silver ions to scale back micro organism progress and remove shoe stench

Midsole: injected EVA, Meta-Shank III. This can be a half stiffened shank that it stiff from the mid foot to the heel, giving additional safety with softer toe particular extension (like a plastic flat skeleton) that permits some lateral roll and forefoot flex. This interprets to sufficient bounce to run utilizing a midfoot strike whereas decreasing heel roll and ankle hazard

Bouncy midsole with enough cushion to reduce trail fatigue

Bouncy midsole with sufficient cushion to scale back path fatigue

Sole: Race Ultra, Tri Endurance compound. A sticky compound with three densities, every overlaying a unique space to maximise grip and scale back put on. More often than not it really works nicely however the lugs themselves are nonetheless not sufficient in muddier circumstances

Additional: Gaiter clip. Particular clips on the footwear to clip on Inov8’s operating gaiters

Small nicks on the upper where the gaiters can fit

Small nicks on the higher the place the gaiters can match

How I exploit them

First off, the excessive differential on the 290’s have been a problem from the get go for me and I attempted to unravel it a couple of methods: decreasing quantity on the again, entrance insoles, liquid gel within the entrance and so on. None actually labored properly so I ended up simply adjusting to the differential. Combing them with common use of a zero drop operating shoe has labored nicely with out ruining my calves or my heels, however I do really feel strain after an extended day in them.

At this level the 290s are my go to footwear for many issues, particularly on trails or off path: operating, climbing, backpacking, only a stroll within the park. If it will be muddy, rocky, unfastened gravel or something that isn’t paved, I are likely to take the them.

Extra point out-in a position journeys they’ve gone on:

  • First outing was an epic tenting night time with my 2.5 years previous daughter and I needed to carry a full pack with gear for each of us and her on my shoulders. They fared properly with the load strain however my knees did harm on the finish of every day from the differential
  • A cheeky and really muddy “microadventure” fashion journey within the North Downs, UK
  • A bunch of day hikes round north Wales and the Yorkshire Dales (UK) within the Summer time
  • A gruelling 2 days of dry and tough terrain on the Yam-le-Yam path in Israel
  • A couple of day hikes across the Columbia River Gorge (Oregon, USA) as a part of my transition to USA
Dusty Race Ultras on the Yam-le-Yam trail in Isrel

Dusty Race Ultras on the Yam-le-Yam path in Isrel

As you possibly can see, I’ve but to truly do multi day journeys however I’ve taken them into virtually all circumstances in addition to snow and ice, which they may quickly within the coming winter.

Regardless of my preliminary really feel of width and the hope they might increase a bit, the 290s stay a bit tight and after 25+ miles I do really feel the strain on toes four and 5. Regardless of the strain they’re nonetheless higher than most footwear on this class and I’ve but to interrupt the material that’s being pressured, which is a primary.

In any case this time with the footwear, the only is beginning to present some put on and tear, I’m guessing primarily from these 2 days and 50+ miles in Israel. The higher is but to point out any indicators of wear and tear and is absolutely intact – plainly the rand across the entrance of the footwear actually helps in maintaining them collectively. Perhaps Inov8 have truly managed to unravel a few of the sturdiness points that they had with a extra strong design and higher supplies.

Sole starting to show signs of wear

Sole beginning to present indicators of wear and tear

The great

  • A very good combine of strong design and lightness
  • Versatile sole that can be utilized on a mixture of terrains
  • Snug all day design
  • Wider than common toe field with excessive quantity mid foot
  • Thicker midsole permits for simpler carry of heavy masses and operating on packed trails
  • I personally like the color
Wider toe box compared to other Inov8 shoes

Wider toe field in comparison with different Inov8 footwear

The dangerous

  • Excessive differential can create plenty of strain on knees and again
  • Regardless of a wider toe field, it isn’t vast sufficient for E+ width ft
  • Can really feel clunky and large, not likely a minimalist shoe
  • Heel is usually a bit unstable
You can see the stress on the upper and rand where the 5th toe is

You’ll be able to see the stress on the higher and rand the place the fifth toe is

Backside Line

The Race Ultra 290 are really versatile footwear which might be simply extra sturdy than the typical path trainers, lastly giving backpackers a greater answer from Inov8. I’m planning on persevering with to make use of them however my concern is that over multi days journeys, after three-four days of 25+ miles days, I’ll see some foot bruising.

I’m intrigued with the Race Ultra 270 and I feel I’ll find yourself shopping for them too as they’re rumoured to have a good wider toe field than the 290.


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