Inov8 Trailfly review

At first glance, the Inov8 Trailfly appeared unlikely to hold up to the brutality of ten-hour days on rough terrain. But after over 600 total miles, I can confidently say that this is one of the best shoes I’ve ever worn in terms of ruggedness, breathability, responsiveness, and comfort.

The Trailfly is supremely grippy, cushioned, and comfortable, hugging your heel and leaving loads of room for your toes. Six hundred miles later, my pair is still going strong.

Inov8 Trailfly At a Glance

MSRP: $150
Fit: Standard and Wide
Lug depth: 4mm
Stack: 29 mm in heel, 23 mm in forefoot (6 mm drop)
Weight (pair): 560 grams (19.7 ounces) for US M 9.5 standard

Circumstances of Review

The Trailfly arrived a few weeks before I was set to walk the 100+ miles I had left to complete the Arizona Trail, followed by a planned one-month hike on the Appalachian Trail. I trained in them on local trails in Minnesota that are steep, eroded, rocky, and muddy, then wore them exclusively on both trails (so in Arizona,  Georgia, North Carolina, Tennessee and a wee bit of Virginia) for a total of 600+ miles. 

Intended Use

Out of the box, the shoes look far less rugged than they are. But they proved well-fitting and comfortable and handled beautifully, especially when running up and down the stupidly steep and slippery hill at the Minneapolis Ski Jump where many of us in the Midwest train for “real” mountains.

The Trailfly is recommended for exactly that: it’s a trail-running training shoe meant for everyday use and maybe a possible longer race.

READ NEXT – Best Trail Runners for Thru-Hiking

Ino8 Trailfly Materials and Features

Footbed: “Boomerang” insole
Midsole: “Powerflow Pro” 
Upper: air mesh upper
Shank: “Meta-Plate” rockplate
Sole compound: “G-Grip” Graphene Rubber
New for 2024: “Go Wide Fit”

Inov8 Trailfly held aloft showing black rubber outsole, other shoe set upright atop wood railing in background

Boomerang Footbed: The “Boomerang” footbed is a cushioned insole that Inov8 claims gives the wearer faster and bouncier results while cushioning each footfall. Personally, I found the insoles a bit too cushy, especially when combined with the high-cushion foam midsole, so I replaced them with a firmer pair of Superfeet.

Airmesh Upper: The upper is well-ventilated and drains extremely fast. While Inov8 recommends these shoes for dry conditions, my pair saw extensive rain, river crossings, and a great deal of mud. The Airmesh managed well in all conditions, drying quickly and holding its shape.

The shoes also felt extremely light and springy, important when on your feet all day. 

Anatomical Fit (Available in Wide): Because I have arthritic toes and my feet are wide, I normally order slightly larger than my size. While this is my first test of the Trailfly and I can’t make a comparison, Inov8 redesigned the fit in 2024 to be tighter at the heel and wider at the toes. Sometimes this made it tricky to shove my heel inside them, but once fitted, they felt like a second skin. These shoes are available in Wide.

Met Cradle Strips: The Met-Cradle strips hold the mesh uppers in place and provide extra security. It helps that the shoelaces (which get pulled and tightened each day) last just as long as the shoes.

Rock plate: The rock plate and toe guards protected my feet from inevitable stubs, yet I still felt in touch with the ground as if in climbing shoes.

Graphene Grip: Inov8’s original claim to fame, the graphene lugs are designed and arranged for optimal performance (translation for a runner: speed, unnecessary for this middle-aged hiker). That being said, they clung well in all kinds of conditions including wet rock, mossy and muddy surfaces, as well as while crossing streams and on loose stones while descending. 

And after all those miles, the lugs were only lightly worn. Inov claims the inclusion of graphene in the rubber outsole increases their durability, and I’m here to officially confirm this.

The shoe generally held together (minus some loosening of the rock plate itself at the heel), and I imagine I’ll still get at least another 100 miles out of them. 

close-up of Inov Trailfly toe cap showing some wear and outsole starting to peel away

Inov8 Trailfly Pros

Ultralight: At just under 20 ounces per pair, the shoes are on the light end of average for a trail runner. They don’t feel bulky or heavy at all.

Durable: I got a good 600 miles out of the pair on rough and uneven terrain without fully wearing them out. In comparison, most trail runners only last 400-500 miles.

Wicks water: Even in Appalachian Trail rain, the shoes eventually dried on my feet.

Grippy and responsive: I used the shoes in Sedona, Arizona on red rock after finishing the AZT and found that they clung well, even in wet conditions. I did not use them for running but still appreciated the feeling of responsiveness to quick changes in direction.

Available in wide: The Trailfly has the roomiest toe box I have worn without sacrificing fit around the entire foot.

Pricing: The price is average for a shoe of this type, and shipping is free (even in the United States) for orders over $150.

Inov8 Trailfly Cons

Runs small: The Trailfly runs slightly small, so I highly recommend sizing up a half-size.

The insoles are too cushy: I replaced the insoles with Superfeet. If looking for less padding, the Trailfly Speed has less drop and less padding with even stickier grip.  

Overall Value

muddy pair of grey and blue inov trailfly shoes with laces undone

Seven years ago, I ran an ultramarathon in the United Kingdom called “The Fellsman.” It’s named for the hills – or fells – of the region, which are run by “Fell Runners,” most of whom launch their bodies straight down unimaginably steep, tussocky and uneven slopes at fantastic speeds. I am built to ascend, not descend, so I lost a lot of time in that race on those wild descents.

Inov8 was founded over 20 years ago for and by those crazy-strong Fell Runners. But I see now that their intention was to help us lowly wannabes achieve some semblance of “flow” when we move (even if hiking and not running) where we no longer think about our gear or our bodies, but rather simply move as we’re supposed to.  

As my feet have aged, becoming more oddly shaped with arthritis, I have had an extremely difficult time finding shoes both wide enough and durable enough for the hundreds of miles of rough terrain that I hike. 

I believe I’ve found just that perfect shoe in the Inov8 Trailfly. 

Shop the Women’s Inov8 Trailfly

Shop the Men’s Inov8 Trailfly

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The Inov8 Trailfly was donated for purpose of review

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Comments 2

  • Jamie D : Jun 7th

    Oh yet another British brand that gets it. As an American who hikes a lot in the UK, i have foubd quite a few brands over there that stomp pretty much everything we have access to in the US, and they do it w/o much of a weight penalty!! The Lakes (Lake District) has the hardest most gnarliest rock I have ever walked on for some reason. Inov8s are based near there, so its no wonder these shoes lasted the way this reviewer stated.

    Reply
    • Alison Young : Jun 7th

      exactly! Just by a fluke of scheduling I wore these shoes so many miles for a test and it blew my mind that they still held up.

      I peak-bagged in the Lakes a few years back and agreed, the rock is gnarly. Looking forward to wearing Inov8 in the Pyrenees.

      Reply

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