Inov-8 Race Ultra 270 $120 — 9.5 oz, 4mm drop.
True to Inov-8’s British fell running heritage, the Race Ultra 270 – as in a lightweight 270 grams – is a responsive, low-profile, minimalist, firm and protective shoe that manages to provide excellent traction. And, like many fall running shoes, the Race Ultra is more about impact dampening than cushioning, which left our testers wishing for more in the way of midsole forgiveness, although they appreciated the flexibility and found them fine for softer surfaces. The toe bumper was a welcome touch and the fit was very generous, especially for Inov-8, which has earned a deserved reputation for making narrower, low-volume shoes. Observed one tester, Inov-8 “got a little carried away with the ‘foot shaped’ idea as the toebox is overly roomy and my foot slides around quite a bit” despite it being the correct length.