Inov-8 has launched its new Trailfly Ultra G 300 Max, which is designed to give 25% extra energy return and increased comfort for long runs.
Having three years ago become the first in the world to use graphene in the outsole rubber, the company has now introduced the world's strongest and thinnest material to the midsole foam.
The result of this world first is a shoe which Inov-8 says will maintain excellent levels of bounce and comfort on a run but also last up to twice as long before it needs replacing.
The Trailfly might appear to take inspiration from new carbon-plate technology, which has led to controversial radical improvements in race times on the road and has even recently made a foray into trail running. However, with Inov-8 being known for innovation, the company says its design is "bucking the trend".
Inov-8 founder Wayne Edy explained at the launch the reason they had steered clear of carbon plates. "Eighteen years ago when I founded Inov-8, our philosophy was to develop innovative sports footwear that dared to be different and this is still the case today," he said. "At the heart of that was understanding the athlete's interaction with the environment must always be at the core DNA of all our designs. In terms of footware, that means ensuring the runner feels connected to the terrain. Carbon plates would not be true to our philosophy."
He added by way of introduction to the Trailfly: "What you are about to see, however, definitely is."
In 2018, the brand were the first to use graphene in the sole of a shoe with the TERRAULTRA G 270. Graphene is 200 times stronger than steel yet is the world's thinnest material Collaborating with the University of Manchester, Inov-8 has now gone further with this relatively new "supermaterial".
Inov-8's testing showed that graphene fused into shoe foam gave 25% greater energy return and is far more resistant to compressive wear. Inov-8 says this helps runners maintain a faster speed over greater distances, keeps their feet feeling fresher for longer, and extends the life of their footwear.
Inov-8 COO Michael Price said: "A number of our testers commented on how much further they could go. We were getting distances of around 1200km and the foam is still responsive, still going, which compared to industry standards is probably twice the distance."
A shoe's extra life span would also have great implications for the environment. The company said this gain in longevity easily makes up for any marginal added impact from the process of putting graphene into a shoe.
Dr Aravind Vijayaraghavan, who worked on the shoe as a reader in nanomaterials at the University of Manchester, added: "The graphene is produced from graphite, which is a mined natural mineral, and all the byproducts in the manufacturing is all recycled. Added to that is the fact that we use a relatively small amount of graphene. Even though the impact is significant, we only have to use a very small amount of graphene to deliver that. So overall, graphene doesn't measurably deteriorate the carbon footprint of the shoe."
The brand also claims the Trailfly is the first deeply cushioned shoe that adapts to uneven terrain, thanks to "Adapter-Flex" technology.
Although the shoe is designed for longer runs, Inov-8 says it will perform well on shorter stints, even on the road too. Whereas the TERRAULTRA's low profile meant it was good as a racing shoe, the Trailfly excels due to its long-term comfort properties. With 35 multi-directional 4mm-deep lugs, it also claims great traction.
The shoe is available from April 8, priced at £170.
Inov-8 Trailfly Ultra G 300 Max specs
Heel-toe drop: 6mm (25mm at the heel and 19mm at the front)
Full stack height (heel): 30mm
Lug depth: 4mm
Fit: Grade 5 (widest on 1-5 scale). Details
Available from: April 8