Inov-8 F-Lite 195
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72% say it's true to size.
Overview of this review
After over 20 years of running, I attended my first technique session with a running coach.
Having known about the benefits of minimalist running footwear, I was finally convinced of the new running technique and the increased performance it offered.
The Inov-8 F-Lite 195 was my chosen shoe to enter into this new running style. Now 18 months later, here are my findings.
My typical running shoes
I have used Asics road and trail running shoes mainly but generally, prefer the lightest shoe possible for long distance road and trail runs.
Introduction to the Inov-8 F-Lite 195
The Inov-8 F-Lite 195 is super light and the upper part of the shoe is almost see-through.
There is not much stability in the heel but it didn’t seem to matter to me. It feels more like a slipper than a running shoe when I have them on my feet.
Taking them for a test drive
The transition to this type of shoe takes some getting used to. My calves and hamstrings were stretched more than normal after the first few runs.
I needed to build up the distance gradually as my legs got accustomed to the flatter and less-cushioned sole. But they were very responsive and helped apply a more efficient running stride.
Road running experience
Running on the roads has been great and the shoes really encourage me to keep running on the balls of my feet.
Typically, I would unconsciously move to more of a heel strike motion when I get tired but these shoes don’t allow for that with the thinner sole being too jarring.
Trail running experience
I rank a 45km mountain trail run (Sixfoot track in Australia) in these shoes and they performed admirably. The creek crossings were also easier to recover from as the water escapes easily and the shoe dries quite rapidly.
Towards the end of this event, I did start to feel sharper rocks more and more as my feet got tender. I would say if an event or trail was extremely technical these shoes may lack the support in the ankle.
The price was low, just over $100 when compared with $150-200 I have normally paid for running shoes as far back as I can remember.
After 18 months of solid use, a few blowouts have appeared on both sides of the shoe. The upper has simply detached from the sole.
My shoes generally wear in this area though as I have quite wide feet. It’s just that the lightness of the material may not be as hard wearing or as strongly stitched as other shoes.
The sole is very durable though and being flatter has meant it actually wears less in the usual areas, which is great.
Would I buy the Inov-8 F-Lite 195 again?
I am actually going to try out the Salomon S-Lab Sense 6 shoe next.
This is to experience another type of flat running shoe, plus I like the convenience of the quick draw laces that I have enjoyed on Salomon trail shoes before.
I will likely try the Inov-8 F-Lite 195 again in the future though as I saw they have just released the v2.
Profile of the Inov-8 F-Lite 195
The F-Lite 195 is a lightweight CrossFit trainer from Inov-8, designed to meet the demands of people who lead an active lifestyle. It is equipped with a supportive Met-Cradle in the upper, a lightweight EVA midsole, and a durable stricky rubber outsole.
The F-Lite 195 has a rubber outsole that is durable and flexible. It has a sticky nature that allows it to function well on wet surfaces and uneven terrains.
The Meta-Flex system has grooves that are found in the forefoot area. They align with the metatarsals to maximize the bending capacity of the foot.
The Fascia Band is a feature that mimics the function of the plantar fascia to make the sole more reactive, thus propelling the foot forward with less energy. It has strips of rubber that start at the heel area and spread to the forefoot.
The medial and lateral portions of the outsole feature the RopeTec technology. It is designed to grip onto ropes and prevent the shoe from sliding down too much while rope climbing.
The F-Lite 195 utilizes the IMEVA foam. This type of cushion is lightweight, durable, and is designed to absorb the shock with each step.
The shoe also features a removable 3 mm foam insole that adds another layer of comfort and shock attenuation to protect the foot during intense workouts.
At the back portion of the midsole, below the Inov-8 logo, is the 1 Arrow Shoc-Zone marking. According to the company, this single arrow indicates a medium level of cushioning, responsiveness, and speed.
The upper of the Inov-8 F-Lite 195 uses a breathable and fast drying material. This fabric not only keeps the inside well ventilated, but it also makes it easier to keep the shoe clean. The toe area features a synthetic overlay that protects it from abrasion during high-intensity workouts.
A traditional lacing system helps in keeping the foot securely in place. The lightly padded tongue has a small slot through which the round laces pass to keep it from sliding to the sides.
A Met-Cradle thermoplastic polyurethane (TPU) webbing system wraps the side panels. It extends from the base of the midfoot area to the eyelets of the lacing system. It acts as a cage that adheres to the tightening and loosening of the shoelaces. This material also reinforces the lace-holes and protects the lateral and medial sections of the upper during rope climbs.
The lightly padded collar prevents chafing in the ankle area. It also keeps the foot from sliding out of the shoe during workouts.
The shoe’s upper undergoes a significant transformation in the second iteration of the model. The F-Lite 195 v2 features a sleeker style with the help of nylon mesh and hidden Met-Cradle overlays.