Inov8 TrailFly Ultra G 300 Max ($190 / €195 / £170)
It’s been one month since I first unboxed my Inov8 Trailfly Ultra G 300 Max trail shoes.
In this post, I’m going to do as thorough and honest a review as possible based on my experiences so far.
I have not yet run an ultra in these shoes, which is their intended use. In fact, I have not yet run an ultra full stop, though I am training towards one.
I have been doing 4 runs per week of varying distances between 5-20km on steep rocky trails. I’ve also done a few long hikes, including 50km over two days, again over steep rocky terrain.
I’ve been alternating between the Trailflys and a pair of Salamon Supercross for comparison. Not the perfect comparison, but the closest I have available.
Anyway, with that in mind, I hope you find my review useful.
Inov8 Trailfly Overview
The Inov8 Trailfly Ultra Max G300 is Invo8’s first max cushioned, deep stack, high drop trail shoe. It’s a big move away from their trademark minimalist, lightweight trail shoes.
The following is the official Inov8 sales pitch:
Trailfly Ultra Key Features
- GRAPHENE-GRIP™ – Traction AND durability, no compromise. 50% stronger, 50% more elastic, 50% harder wearing.
- ADAPTER-FLEX™ technology, aiding adaptability and flexible grip when running over uneven terrain.
- 35 multi-directional 4mm deep lugs improve both propulsion and braking.
- Spacing between the lugs shed mud, and water dispersion channels give extra grip in the wet.
Graphene-Enhanced Midsole & Insole
- G-FLY™ Graphene-Enhanced Midsole gives 25% more energy return. It retains thickness and rebound for longer. Energy return AND increased durability, no compromise.
- Laboratory tests show that even when the foam is aged to mimic extensive use, it still delivers more energy return than some unaged foams.
- A 30mm Stack height make this Inov-8’s most cushioned shoe ever. A 6mm drop hits the sweet spot for long-distance comfort.
- The “boomerang” insole features TPU beads that compress and spring back for 40% more energy return.
- ADAPTER-FIT™ technology ensures a snug fit that adjusts to the movement and swelling of the foot over long distances. Lightweight, breathable materials give a soft, natural feel without compromising on durability.
- A wide toe-box and lightweight tongue enhance comfort, while a toe guard provides protection against rocks. The tongue is gusseted to keep debris out of the shoe.
The question is, does the shoe live up to the hype?
TL,DR Pros & Cons
- Excellent Grip on rocky trails in dry and wet conditions
- Very snug and secure fit
- Well-cushioned without being squishy
- Good protection via the sole and upper against sharp rocks and undergrowth
- As good on the tarmac as on the trail
- Weight – Quite a heavy shoe
- Cumbersome – Not great for super technical trails
Is the Invo8 Graphene Grip as good as they claim?
I’m going to say yes, it’s very impressive.
I run a lot of steep rocky trails where slips and falls can happen easily, and are never pleasant. Good grip is therefore of utmost importance to me.
The Trailflys did not disappoint. I’d give them a 5/5 for grip on rocky trails, both in wet and dry conditions.
I’ve not come across any mud yet, so can’t vouch for how they’d perform when conditions get sloppy. If you’re mainly going to come across dirt and tarmac though, the Trailflys do the job beautifully.
The other claim for the graphene grip is that it lasts much longer than traditional rubber grips. With only one month of usage, it’s too early for me to judge.
How about the G-FLY™ Graphene-Enhanced Midsole?
The thick midsole definitely does a good job of keeping your feet protected on long rocky trails. I can charge down forest roads at high speed without the soles of my feet feeling like they’ve taken a pounding.
This does come at the price of a loss of agility and connection to the trail though.
If my goal wasn’t to build up to ultra distances, I’d stick with a shoe with a smaller stack. I prefer having that contact with the surface underfoot.
Even on longer trails, if the terrain was very technical, I’d go for a different shoe. The stack is so large on these, that you feel a bit like you’re wearing platforms. Great for easy tracks, but not agile or responsive when the trail gets steep and technical.
While the “Adapter-Flex” groove is supposed to allow the sole to bend and flex to the terrain, I can’t say I noticed. Perhaps the G-Fly sole is more flexible than it would be otherwise, but I actually find the Salomans more flexible and adaptable. (Which have the same size stack).
The injection of graphene into the midsole is said to deliver a 25% increase in energy return. It is Inov8s response to the carbon plate found in the Nike Vaporfly and now North Face Vectiv. This should enable you to run further and faster using less energy.
The shoes do feel springy, particularly on hard surfaces like tarmac or rock. Over the distances I’ve been running (5-20k) though, I haven’t seen any measurable difference in performance.
Of course, we’re looking for marginal gains here. It could well be that on larger distances of 50k+ these energy savings become more noticable.
Does the “Adapter-Fit” Upper really need a ™?
I can’t say whether it’s revolutionary or not, but the Trailflys do have an excellent fit.
The stretchy upper and tongue keep your foot snug without being overly tight. They’re not the most breathable trail shoe I’ve encountered, but they’re not a sweatbox either.
The toe guard is a good addition. The trails here in Spain are full of sharp rocks and undergrowth, and so far the Trailflys are holding up superbly.
One thing that surprised me was that these are my first Inov8s in which I’ve experienced rubbing. My little toes press against the toe box. It never resulted in a blister, and the shoes seem to be broken-in now so no major issue, but I’ve never had that before in a pair of Inov8s. It’s surprising as the Trailflys are billed as having an extra-wide toe box. I have pretty slim feet, so not sure how someone with broad feet and big toes would fair.
Inov8 TrailFly Ultra G 300 Max Overall Impressions after 1 Month
The Inov8 TrailFly Ultra G 300 Max is an excellent long-distance trail shoe.
It has a great fit, excellent grip, and really protects your feet on long arduous trails.
That said, for the runs I’ve been doing (5-20k over steep rocky trails in Spain), I still have a slight preference for my Salamon Supercross trainers.
For more technical sections I find the Trailflys a little heavy and cumbersome. While the grip is excellent and I’ve not yet had an unexpected slip, the lack of connection with the trail leaves me with less confidence in my footing.
On longer runs, this may well be compensated by the extra cushioning and energy return, but I’ve yet to reap these rewards.
I’d also note that the RRP of the Trailflys is high, at €195. That’s a lot more than the €110 RRP of the Salomons (which I actually bought on sale for €65).
Of course, this could be compensated if the graphene does increase the longevity of the sole and treads. The Salomons have a very soft tread which I think will wear down quickly.
Before I can give a truly fair assessment of the Trailfly, I’ll have to put in some more miles. I need to run some ultras! That’s not going to happen overnight, so I’ll do an update in 6 months and a year.
For now, I’d say that the Invo8 Trailfly Ultra Max is an excellent choice if you run 50+ km per week on a mix of road and easy to moderate trails.
They’ll keep your feet and legs fresh, and the increased longevity provided by the graphene will compensate for the higher purchase price. Indeed, from a sustainability perspective, I’d rather pay more for a shoe that needs to be replaced less frequently.
If you’re not running ultras, and/or run mainly on steep technical trails, it may be better to opt for something more minimal. Perhaps other G Series shoes such as the Terraultra or Roclite might be the better option.