Dirt in your skirt blog

Shoe Review: Inov-8 Race Ultra 290

Posted on January 2, 2015 by Margaret Schlachter

IMG_7983There is one shoe review I have had in my queue for now over 6 months. Normally most shoe reviews I can do a week or two after I get the shoes and yet this one kept slipping away from me, why? In all that time I was too busy actually wearing the shoes and not just wearing them sometimes but wearing them everywhere! So much so that I am already on my second pair with another fresh new pair in a box in my garage. This shoe that has become my favorite – the Inov-8 Race Ultra 290.

Before getting into the adventures the shoe has taken me on first the details about the shoe and particulars. Inov-8 has always been a leader in the trail running and obstacle racing world. They have been known for their minimalist shoes and lightweight construction. Their new Inov-8 Race Ultra 290 is specifically designed for long distance races and training.


About the Shoe:

Screen Shot 2015-01-02 at 10.35.34 AMMany in the running community had said to Inov-8 they loved their shoes such as the Trailrocs, Roclites, and X-Talons but for the longer endurance races they needed more cushioning and a little more comfort when it came to the long races. Inov-8 responded to the demand and came up with the Inov-8 Race Ultra 290. The shoe has a much different look than many of the shoes in the current lineup but this shoe serves a very distinct purpose and has had me jumping for joy at races that last more than 12 hours.


The Inov-8 Race Ultra 290 comes in a standard fit and comes in their 2 arrow system (8mm heel to toe drop). The shoe weighs only 290 grams. Many in the past have complained that the Inov-8 toe box seemed small, the Race Ultra seems to have fixed that problem allowing for foot expansion after the miles rack up. The shoe comes in both mens and women’s specific sizing.


Screen Shot 2015-01-02 at 10.35.26 AMShoe Specs:

Weight: 290G / 10OZ



Lining: MESH

Footbed: 6MM

Drop: 8MM

Women’s Sizing: 6 1/2 – 11 (including half sizes)

Also Available in Men’s Sizes and Colors


In The Field

IMG_8383Out of any shoe ever tested the Inov-8 Race Ultra 290 was put to through it’s paces . Living in the drier but diverse climate of Utah these shoes have run in the desert, in the mountains, in the shoe, they have been through races like World’s Toughest Mudder, Across The Years, and have been my work shoes covering races like Spartan Race World Championships and OCR World Championships (12+ hour days on my feet).

There are not many places that the shoe has not been or many climates it has not performed in. The extra cushioning is perfect for the rocky trails of the Wasatch as well as the long flat loops at Across the Years. As someone who for years looked for the most minimal shoe on the market, these days I find myself looking for a little more cushion and padding.

While these shoes are definitely not made to be an obstacle racing shoe they did serve me well at World’s Toughest Mudder. I am not sure how they would fare on a course with a lot of rope climbs, but for everything else they have passed the test.

The lugs are smaller than some of the other Inov-8 models so if you are looking to use them in an obstacle race with deep mud the X-Talon might be a better choice but for the average racer on almost any course these shoes will definitely hold up.


The Verdict

IMG_1304As many who know me, I have gushed over these shoes for the last couple of months. Anyone who would listen has heard me talk about them. They have become my shoe to do everything in from grocery shopping, hiking in the mountains, race day, training day, and more. They have held up and then some. One additional feature that is great but takes a little getting use to is the gaiter that builds right into the shoe. During World’s Toughest Mudder the gaiter was key to keeping dust and desert debris out of my shoe.

So if I had to sum up what this shoe is to the Inov-8 line, it would be Workhorse! This shoe does it all and just keeps working.