Inov-8's new graphene trail running shoe literally nitro-boosts feet
True to its name, British running footwear company Inov-8 has never shied away from new materials or features. For a few years now, it's been focusing in on graphene for its trail running shoes. Now it's mixing a little nitrogen into the formula. More specifically, it adds a nitrogen-injected foam it calls "Flyspeed" to enhance the new Trailfly Ultra G 280 with a light, soft ride and a response that's reportedly so reactive it almost feels like cheating. And who couldn't use a little extra zip in their stride on the last few miles of a high-alpine ultra?
The 280 launches as "the bouncy one" in Inov-8's graphene-enhanced Trailfly lineup, which also includes "the fast one" (Ultra G 270) and "the protective one" (Ultra G 300). The latest release incorporates the nitrogen-infused foam into its midsole in a bid to improve energy return and add some extra bounce into each step, propelling the runner forward that much more.
"The nitrogen foam we’ve created gives an amazingly lighter, softer ride for those runners looking for that," explains Wayne Edy, Inov-8 founder. "It debuts on our new Trailfly Ultra G 280 shoes, which we can’t wait to get on the feet of trail and ultramarathon runners. It has great cushioning while at the same time delivering incredible bounce and a feeling of being connected to the trail."
The Trailfly Ultra G 280 is Inov-8's first nitrogen-infused trail runner design, but it isn't the first to market. Brooks Running has the Caldera 6, and Puma has the Fast-Track Nitro multi-terrain running shoe. Both companies also have greater nitro lineups that include road running models.
Inov-8's combination of nitro-infused midsole foam and graphene-enhanced rubber outsole construction is an intriguing one. The company says Flyspeed foam testing revealed an energy return of 65 to 68 percent, 20 percentage points higher than the standard foam midsole against which it compared, which returned 45 to 48 percent. Put in the same effort, get more back.
The rest of the Trailfly Ultra G 280's composition helps ensure the extra bounce doesn't inhibit grip or control. The shoe conforms to the foot with a combination of light, breathable stretch-knit upper and traditional laces, keeping feet comfortable with a cushioned tongue and wide toe box. The graphene-enhanced rubber adds grip and durability to the 4-mm outsole studs, while an 8-mm diagonal groove across the center of the outsole helps the shoe flex and better adapt to the terrain underfoot.
The "280" references the new Trailfly's per-shoe average weight in grams, falling directly between the weight of the ultralight G 270 and the beefy, rugged G 300.
The new Trailfly Ultra G 280 hit the market this week in men's and women's versions for a retail price of US$185.