About two months ago I was contacted by inov-8 who asked me to write a post to contribute to their blog. Unfortunately, I was too busy writing my dissertation at the time so had to turn down their offer. Instead, I was lucky enough for them to send me two pairs of their shoes to review in the meantime. I had never even held a pair of inov-8s before never mind wore them so I was excited to see what all the fuss was about. I had built up a misconception around the brand for some reason. I thought that they only created endurance running type shoes and presumed that they wouldn’t have spent money on research and development to create a gym trainer and weightlifting shoe. Maybe this was because the people I know who wear inov-8 are of this nature. People at CrossFit Leeds rave about them and were very brand loyal and so I couldn’t wait to get my hands on a pair.
After speaking to numerous people at the gym, I decided to go with the inov-8 F-Lite 250 and inov-8 Fastlift 370 BOA. I had read online that the number after the shoe was how much it weighed in grams and thought this was pretty cool. No one ever takes this into consideration when buying a trainer, but inov-8 believe that this is important. After learning this I had a look at their other products and was surprised to find that they had a full trail running, climbing and outdoors collection along with a broad range of clothing. Why had I been so arrogant not to see this brand for what it was before now?
After receiving a pair of trainers and a pair of weightlifting shoes, I couldn’t wait to go and test them out! I was like a child running home from school trying to get from work to the gym asap (more so than normal!). My first thought was that the F-Lite 250s look a lot like the Reebok Nano 4s. The Nano 4s were my first ever pair of Crossfit trainers. However, I haven’t looked back since Nike brought out the Metcon range. With the Flite 250s being a similar shape to the Nano 4s I thought they might just be a copy. I was wrong.
inov-8 F-Lite 250
I have worn the F-Lite 250’s for eight consecutive training sessions to get a good feel of them. They are comfortable and true to size. As soon as I put them on they were pretty snug around the ankle but quite wide around the toes. It’s still early days but the inov-8’s seem very sturdy and hardwearing when doing strenuous movements such as rope climbs, weightlifting and putting them through their paces outdoors. The shoe is very flexible and moves well when running and performing movements such as burpees. This means that these trainers are very consistent throughout any length of a crossfit workout. The trainers provide athletes stability when weightlifting, support when doing gymnastics and flexibility when performing fitness movements. The inov-8 F-Lite 250s have their strengths against the Nike Metcon 2s and performed well. In my opinion, I’d say that the Nike Metcon 2 trainers are more suitable for weightlifting and handstand press-ups whereas the inov-8s are better for general training and other gymnastics movements. To put the record straight, the F-Lite 250s are not a copy of the Nano 4s, they’re much better!
After I had opened my first present, I opened the best one of all, some new lifters!!! I love lifters, and these have kept the love alive. My first thoughts to the Fastlift BOAs was that the fastening mechanism looked a little flimsy and I was worried it might break pretty quickly. I hadn’t used this device to fasten any shoes before and again this was a misconception. It’s as strong or if not stronger than laces. I have owned Nike Romaleos and various Adidas lifters. My preference is currently the Adidas Adipower weightlifting shoes as they are lighter and more comfortable than the Nike Romaleos. The Adidas lifters I find are good for both lifting and wodding in, but how do the Fastlift BOAs compare to the Adidas Adipowers?
inov-8 Fastlift 370 BOA
Again, I wore the inov-8 Fastlift 370 BOA’s for eight weightlifting sessions and then tested them in the movements provided in the table above. These movements often come up after weightlifting movements in workouts at competitions, so a decision is made by a CrossFit athlete whether to wear weightlifting shoes or trainers. The inov-8 Fastlift BOAs, like the F-Lites, are comfortable and have good stability. The inov-8 and Adidas lifters were very similar when weightlifting and have the same heel height which aids squat depth while wearing them. The Fastlift’s flexibility is way more superior than the Adipowers, and I found this made them more suitable for a variety of CrossFit movements. Adidas made their shoe with only weightlifting in mind, but it appears inov-8 may have made their shoe more versatile for people who wanted to be able to mix a little bit of fitness with weightlifting. This means that the Inov8 lifter can be worn if necessary for shorter workouts and movements such as burpees and even running if necessary. Both lifters perform well in handstand press-ups as the heels are plastic and slide on brick walls very well, which surprised me. If you intend to do CrossFit, the inov-8 Fastlifts 370 BOA are a brilliant shoe to do some workouts in and all of your weightlifting. I would recommend.
Both pairs of inov-8 shoes cost less than the ones I currently wear. I’m wearing my inov-8 250s for running and longer workouts and loving it. I’m currently also in the process of phasing in the inov-8 Fastlift 370 BOAs, as these feel better and better the more I wear them.
To answer the question in my title:
‘Are inov-8 training shoes all what they’re cracked up to be?’
As soon as you slip these training shoes on you can tell a lot of thought and research has gone into their design. The results above speak for themselves, as I have reviewed Inov8 alongside two of the biggest selling training and weightlifting shoes in the world. The F-Lite 250s and the Fastlift BOAs beat these established shoes in a number of categories and this proves how serious Inov8 are about performance. If performance wasn’t enough to entice a purchase their colour range maybe. They come in a variety of colours and look great on. I will wear both pairs of shoes, but for different movements as said previously, but the Fastlift BOAs were my favourites and I cannot recommend these enough!
Thank you inov-8 for sending the shoes and hopefully you may see some of my content in their blogs soon.