What to expect from the best Inov-8 training shoes
Inov-8 is one of the youngest yet eminent brands in the competitive arena of athletic footwear. Launched in the tiny English town of Wolsingham in 2003, it has expanded its trade to nearly 70 countries. The company’s founder, Wayne Edy, started it as a niche brand which produced running shoes specifically targeted at the off-road running buffs.
New horizons opened up for the brand when it introduced the Inov-8 F-Lite 195. Grippy, stable, lightweight, and supportive, this trainer soon became very popular among cross-training enthusiasts. The shoe turned out to be versatile enough to be sported for running, plyometrics, weightlifting, and even CrossFit WODs. In addition, Inov-8’s simplistic approach to performance, which aims at promoting natural movement of the foot, immediately clicked with athletes. They can now select from a wide range of Inov-8 training shoes, depending on their specific demands and preferences.
Types of Inov-8 training shoes
If you are up to test Inov-8 footwear, there are a few things to consider before settling on a specific pair. Even though a vast majority of Inov-8 training shoes are crafted with versatility in mind, some models are better suited for certain types of activities. The brand currently offers the following series of training shoes: the F-Lite, the Bare-XF, the All Train, and the Fastlift.
● The F-Lite
Use. The F-lite range is the brand’s pioneer training shoe series. These trainers can be easily referred to as “do-it-all” footwear. Any shoe from this range can be sported for CrossFit WODs, HIIT, gym workouts, weightlifting, and even short-distance running.
Weight. One of Inov-8’s major aims is to offer athletes all the benefits of a well-performing training shoe at the lightest weight possible. That’s why the F-Lite trainers only weigh between 195 and 275 grams per shoe. The fastest way to find out the weight of Inov-8 training shoes is to look at the name of a model. The number corresponds to the number of grams of that particular shoe.
Traction. The F-Lite range employs the brand’s Sticky rubber compound to shield the platform. Designed with the use of climbing rubber technology, this material is meant to deliver exceptional grip, even on wet surfaces. The more recent Inov-8 training shoes feature an enhanced version of the STICKY, named the Sticky Grip.
Flexibility. The shoe’s ability to bend with the foot throughout a cross-training session is crucial. That’s why the series employs the Meta-Flex groove on the outsole unit. It is placed in the forefoot section to ensure unhindered flexibility of the foot.
Cushioning. The Powerflow technology is used in the midsole unit of most F-Lite models. This proprietary foam material aims to deliver 10% more shock absorption in the heel section and 15% better energy return in the forefoot compared to the standard EVA foam used in earlier Inov-8 training shoes. This type of cushioning is not plush which ensures steadiness and sensitive ground contact during multi-directional movements and weightlifting.
Drop. This series of Inov-8 training shoes comes in 0 mm, 3 mm, and 8 mm, depending on the model. The smaller the drop is, the flatter is the foot positioning. A 3-4 mm drop is often preferred by CrossFit aficionados due to the natural and sure-footed experience it gives during WODs. The bigger drop implies an elevated heel which provides a cushioning benefit for heel-strike runners.
Heel stability. Some of the F-Lite trainers employ the Powerheel technology to prevent the rearfoot from wobbling during weightlifting. This compound makes the heel section about 40% denser than the forefoot.
Rope protection. Each F-Lite shoe is geared with a rubber reinforcement called the Rope-Tec. This add-on is specifically designed for rope climbing exercises. It features a rubber compound which shields the sole in the midfoot section. In some Inov-8 training shoes, it also covers the upper. The rubber ensures grip by biting the rope on ascents and guards the shoe against abrasion during descents.
Upper. The F-Lite trainers vary in the type of material used for the upper unit. Some employ a more traditional open mesh, while the newer versions tend to offer a knitted material for a snug yet well-ventilated coverage. Most models use welded synthetic overlays on the midfoot for lightweight support.
Lockdown. The integrated Met-cradle lacing system ensures a secure foot lockdown. Its synthetic webbing is non-restrictive and adapts to the foot movement. The F-Lite 275 model features a new Adapterstrap closure. It is the brand’s variation of a hook-and-loop Velcro strap that complements the laces for enhanced support.
Examples of the F-Lite Inov-8 training shoes: Inov-8 F-Lite 195 Classic, Inov-8 F-Lite 195 v2, Inov-8 F-Lite 235 v2, Inov-8 F-Lite 260, Inov-8 F-Lite 275
● The Bare-XF
Use. The minimalist construction of the Bare-XF shoes makes them a good choice for all sorts of training regimens. However, this series of Inov-8 training shoes does not offer any cushioning and only accommodates those athletes who seek a barefoot-like experience in their workouts.
Weight. The current iteration of the Bare-XF comes at around 210 grams per shoe in both male and female versions.
Traction. The proprietary Sticky rubber lines the bottom of the shoes. It is designed to provide grip on all sorts of indoor and outdoor surfaces.
Flexibility. A thin 3-mm rubber outsole and the absence of a midsole make the platform of the Bare-XF more flexible than other Inov-8 training shoes. The horizontal Meta-Flex groove in the forefoot also contributes to the natural bending of the foot.
Cushioning. Given its minimalist design, the Bare-XF series features no dedicated midsole. Very minimal cushioning and shock attenuation is offered by the 3-mm Power Footbed.
Drop. The 0-mm drop implies that the heel and the forefoot are evenly placed on the shoe’s platform.
Heel stability. This type of Inov-8 training shoes has the most grounded foot positioning. Along with a zero-drop heel, it allows athletes to feel stable during multi-directional movements and weightlifting exercises. The Y-lock system is added in the rearfoot. It is a thick synthetic overlay that wraps the back of the shoe for extra support.
Rope protection. The brand’s Rope-Tec feature extends to cover the lateral and medial sides of the upper for 360-degree protection.
Upper. The Bare-XF shoes use open mesh for a lightweight and breathable support. The ventilation pores help in keeping the foot chamber aerated.
Lockdown. The foot is secured by the Adapterweb cradle system. Comprised of strategically-placed synthetic overlays, it works together with the lacing system to provide a snug yet flexible support.
Examples of the Bare-XF Inov-8 training shoes: Inov-8 Bare-XF 210v2
● The All Train
Use. As the name suggests, the All Train shoes are crafted with versatility in mind. They are most efficient in workouts that involve high impact, agility, and speed training. Some of the examples are HIIT, Bootcamp, Circuit training, and boxing. This model of Inov-8 training shoes is NOT geared for rope climbing and is also NOT recommended for heavy weight training.
Weight. Fast and intensive workouts require light footgear. That’s why the versions of the All Train weigh 215 grams per shoe.
Traction. The geometrical pattern on the outsole is designed to deliver grip during all sorts of movements and direction changes. The brand’s Dual-C sticky rubber compound is placed in the key areas for enhanced traction.
Flexibility. The All Train inherits the Meta-Flex feature from other Inov-8 training shoes. It is a horizontal groove that creates a flexion point in the forefoot for a natural foot bending.
Cushioning. The midsole is made of Inov-8’s Injected EVA Fusion foam. This compound is meant to absorb shock upon the impact and to bounce back at the toe-off.
Drop. The 8-mm heel-to-toe drop provides an extra benefit for runners and supports the Achilles tendon during an agile workout.
Heel stability. An External Heel Cage (EHC) is found at the back of the All Train shoes. It is an additional synthetic layer that wraps around the rear to keep it in place.
Rope protection. This kind of Inov-8 training shoes does NOT employ any add-ons for rope-climbing.
Upper. The All Train shoes are offered in a traditional mesh version. The updated model comes with a breathable knit material for a more comfortable, sock-like fit.
Lockdown. The Adapterfit Met-cradle is placed on the midfoot. It serves to provide a secure yet flexible fit as it adapts to the movements of the foot throughout the workout.
Examples of the All Train Inov-8 training shoes: Inov-8 All Train 215, Inov-8 All Train 215 Knit
● The Fastlift
Use. The Fastlift series was created in response to the athletes’ need for a shoe that would be sturdy enough for weightlifting yet flexible enough for plyometrics. However, this type of Inov-8 training shoes is NOT appropriate for high-impact workouts or running.
Weight. Inov-8 weightlifting shoes are among the lightest weightlifting trainers on the market. They range from 325 grams to 400 grams per shoe, while other brands offer this type of footwear at 400-600 grams.
Traction. The series borrows the acclaimed Sticky rubber compound from other Inov-8 training shoes. It ensures grip on rubber, wood, and concrete surfaces. The suction cups are added in the heel section to further minimize the chance of slippage.
Heel stability. The hallmark feature of the Fastlift models is the Power-Truss heel wedge. It is comprised of multiple TPU pillars that provide an incompressible platform for athletes to lean back on during squats and lifts. An External Heel Cage works together with the Power-Truss to hug the rearfoot for enhanced heel steadiness.
Drop. The elevated heel distinguishes the Fastlift trainers among other Inov-8 training shoes. It is placed 16.5 mm higher than the forefoot, supporting the Achilles tendon during squats. Such disposition also allows the wearer to reach greater depth with a more upright posture.
Flexibility. The sole of the Fastlifts is designed to bend only in the forefoot. A shallow Meta-Flex groove allows just enough foot flexibility for exercises like burpees, double-unders, box jumps, and push-ups.
Upper. These Inov-8 training shoes wrap the foot in a tightly-woven mesh material for a snug fit. The mesh has an open construction on the toe box to keep the interior ventilated.
Lockdown. While the earlier incarnations of the Fastlift used a Velcro strap on top of a lace-up closure, the newer versions have stepped up the game with the BOA system. It is comprised of a low-friction cable which is locked up by a regulation knob. The tightness is adjusted by turning the knob: 1 click equals 1 mm.
Fit and sizing of Inov-8 training shoes
Lengthwise, Inov-8 trainers tend to run true to the sizing scheme. The US, EU, and UK sizes conversion chart is available on the brand’s website.
Widthwise, Inov-8 training shoes are classified on the scale from 1 to 5, where 1 is the tightest and 5 is the widest. Since all Inov-8 training shoes have a Met-cradle technology locking down the midfoot, the difference in width is only noticed in the toe box.
Can I run in Inov-8 training shoes?
Given the versatile nature of most Inov-8 training shoes, they can be used for short- and mid-distance running sessions. If these are part of your exercise regimen, then the F-Lite and the All Train models with thicker cushioning and an 8-mm drop could be the footwear of choice. However, a pair of dedicated Inov-8 running shoes would work better for long-distance running, trail traversing, and competitions.
How much do Inov-8 training shoes cost?
The price of Inov-8 training shoes ranges from $110 to $140 per pair. The cost directly depends on the type of materials and technologies used in a particular shoe. The Fastlift trainers tend to be more expensive (around $190) due to the TPU heel wedge and the BOA lacing system.
Can Inov-8 training shoes be customized?
Customization is not available for Inov-8 training shoes. However, the brand offers its products in an array of color options to satisfy the various tastes of its customers.
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