Inov-8 TrailFly Ultra G 280 First Impressions

The TrailFly Ultra G 280 is the first “nitrogen-infused” type shoe I have owned. I was curious to see how these new trail running shoes felt out, and so recently I picked up a pair for myself.

I’ve now had the chance to take them out on a few runs with mixed surface trails. This blog post will be a “first impressions” style review, highlighting my initial thoughts and impressions.

Out on some local trails for an initial test run in the TrailFly Ultra G 280 shoes

TrailFly Ultra G 280 First Impressions

Taking them out of the box, I was happy to find minimal and low-impact packaging. A basic cardboard box, some paper lining and a bit of cardboard to keep the shoes in shape.

Minimal packaging

They look good. I chose the pine/nectar colour option in size 11.5 UK, my usual shoe size. They fit well, so there doesn’t seem to be any weirdness about needing a half size more or less with these.

Form

The shoe hugs my feet really well on the sides without being overbearing. There is a fairly roomy toe box that allows my toes (now mostly clad in Injinji or Hilly toe socks!) to splay out nicely.

The upper consists mostly of breathable mesh, which seems to be quite durable on first inspection. There is a decent protective layer/hardened section around the front of the shoe too. This has already saved my toes from a couple of frontal stone strikes, so I can say it works well.

The tongue is very comfortable on the TrailFly G 280s and stays in place once the laces are tied down. It is nice and spongy, and the laces don’t bother me. Tongue comfort is something I have been missing on both my Hoka Speedgoat 5 and Hoka Rincon 3 shoes.

There is a lot of flex in the shoe. Taking the ends and bending the shoe into a roll is quite easy. There is a diagonal line underneath that helps the shoe flex on uneven surfaces. Great for those uneven surfaces and trails with plenty of camber.

TrailFly Ultra G 280 Specs

The first thing I personally looked at when purchasing this pair of shoes was the drop or offset. At 8mm they are double what I am used to with my Speedgoat’s 4mm drop.

There is no concrete evidence that any particular drop or offset is best – it all really comes down to what works for you.

The one thing I have felt is that increasing the drop to 8mm (from my usual 4mm) was immediately noticeable for me. It does feel like there is slightly less work on my calf muscles and achilles tendons, and a slight bias toward my knees and hips now.

Recently I did have some calf issues in the last 20 miles of of running the North Coast 110km Ultra, so these shoes do feel like they’re giving them a bit of time to recover.

I do still like the 4mm drop from my other trail shoes, so I think I will be adding the TrailFly Ultra G 280’s into my shoe rotation to see how they do longer term. My thinking is that mixing up the 8mm and 4mm drop will help bring some equalibrium to the way my leg muscles are worked.

The nitrogen-infused foam definitely feels like it delivers a bouncier and lighter experience on the trail. At 280g (9.8oz) they feel slightly lighter. In fact I felt great in my first few kilometers in these shoes.

The lugs are prominent, and the graphene grip seems to work well on all surfaces I tried.

Stack height is something that helped influence my purchase of the TrailFly Ultra G 280. It is quite a bit lower than my current daily driver, the Speedgoat 5.

I was keen on a lower stack height, as running trails there is more risk of an ankle roll the higher the stack is.

The TrailFly Ultra G 280 has a midsole stack height of: Heel: 22mm and Forefoot: 14mm. A fair bit less than my Speedgoats. I definitely feel closer to the ground in these!

TrailFly Ultra G 280 Running

Over ultra distances, they provide a comfy running experience. If I had to rank them for comfort, I would put them right in-between my Hoka Speedgoat 5 shoes (super soft and comfy) and my much firmer/harder riding Saucony Peregrine ST 10 and ST 11 shoes.

So the TrailFlys feel like they’re a great balance for long distance trail running. They are comfortable, but still feel like they give you a good connection to the ground.

In fact this seems to be exactly where Inov-8 were aiming to be with the 280. The TrailFly Ultra G 280 shoes are positioned as the ‘bouncy’ option in their TrailFly range. On the other hand, the TrailFly 270 are the lighter, speedier option. The TrailFly G 300 Max option is their ‘protective’ set in the range, being more durable (but heavier).

I’ve taken these shoes on stoney, rocky trails, thick muddy trail through farmland, some shorter rock scrambles, as well as grassy trail covered in fern and bramble with a lot of changing camber. In all cases the grip performed really well.

I have not yet had a chance to see how they do on wet rock, but that is always a challenging scenario for any shoe grip, and I suspect they won’t do as well in the grip department there.

TrailFly Ultra G 280 Pricing and Conclusion

Being new on the market, they are quite expensive. They are retailing for about £165 here in the UK, so they’re not a cheap option. I do feel like they deliver quite well for the price though. Be sure to check for coupon codes and discounts. I managed to bag a £25 discount on mine, so I got them for £140.00.

My first impressions are that these are good trail running shoes for a wide range of scenarios. They’re comfortable, feel light and bouncy, and give my toes a lot of room, while still keeping the rest of my foot well stabilised.

I do wish they had a slightly lower drop / offset, but that is just my personal preference. For now I plan to rotate them into my training shoe mix and see how I go with a mix (and hopefully balance) of different offsets.

4 thoughts on “Inov-8 TrailFly Ultra G 280 First Impressions”

  1. These sound like great shoes!
    My podiatrist highly recommends shoes with the diagonal line in the soles. Apparently, it’s important for the foot’s stability.
    I just hiked the Drakensberg with Hokas. They have a high stack and it went well, but for running I’d prefer a lower stack. I will definitely have a look at these Inov-8 Trailflys! Thanks for this review, Sean!

    Reply
    • Interesting that your podiatrist recommends the diagonal line/flex area – definitely adds more merit now – I’ll keep that in mind for future shoes too.

      Oh Drakensberg! I really miss that area. I was born and grew up in a city just a few hours away from there. I hope you enjoyed the Hike. In fact, I’m off to your blog shortly to see if there is a post with photos to bring back memories! Hokas are great, I’m still rotating them in my running – trying to find a good balance.

      I was thinking the higher offset/drop figure on the TrailFly might be good for your achilles (in terms of alleviating some of the work while its recovering).

      Thanks Catrina!

      Reply
      • We just got back from the Drakensberg – it was amazing!! What a fantastic place.
        I will write a post about it by next week, with a gazillion photos to go with it. 🙂

        Reply

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