Inov-8 have updated their hugely popular F-LITE 235 fitness shoe. But have they improved it enough to fight off fierce competition from Reebok and Nike?
Inov-8’s update sees a change from a more cotton based material shoe to now include a welded overlay construction of a lighter fabric. This thinner material certainly looks the part and makes the shoe look lighter. The new ADAPERFIT met-cradle is ever visible in the stripes down the side of the shoe behind the logo. These look a lot better than the triangular stripes of the original 235. There is a change to the back of the shoe – like a lot of its competitors inov-8 have invested in new technology to make the user’s ankles more secure during workouts. The new ‘powerheel’ sees a cage run around the back of the shoe in the same colour as the logo to contrast the main colour of the shoe, which looks class! A new toe bumper has been introduced to match the main fabric colour and makes the transition between the welded overlay to the softer fabric seamless. I love the look of the new F-LITE 235 V2 (nearly as much as my Nike Metcon 2s)!
As always I ran my shoes through ten sessions of training to give them a variety of movements to complete. During this time the F-LITE 235 V2’s were put through; burpees, box jumps, squats, weightlifting, running, rope climbs and handstand pushups.
These are one of the snuggest fit shoes I have ever had the pleasure of wearing and they fitted to my feet like a pair of gloves! These felt really light in comparison to the F-LITE 250s, which I wear regularly. Straight away I could tell that these were more of a workout shoe than a weightlifting shoe. They were more flexible and durable than any fitness shoe I had previously worn.
The new burpee bumper toe is a great introduction and was welcomed during a tough workout. This gave me more cushion and protection when dropping into burpee reps. In the long run, this addition will no doubt increase the longevity of the shoe. The ADAPTERFIT met-cradle swells to the foot during workouts meaning my feet felt more secure moving laterally. This allowed me to transition through fitness based movements such as running and box jumps better than any shoes I had worn previously.
the 360-degree Rope-tec made rope climbs a doddle. This feature locks the rope between your feet and doesn’t allow for any slack or movement or wear into the shoe material. With some shoes, I am often scared of damaging them if I do too many rope climbs. However, I am confident that the 236 V2’s will last the test of time through 100s of rope climbs.
The new ‘power heel’ gives the heel of the foot 40% more density than the forefoot to allow for heavy weightlifting movements. This definitely helps such a light shoe when exposed to heavy weights. I could perform every weightlifting movement in these shoes no problem and they excelled through all Olympic lifting movements during workouts. However, it was no surprise that such a light and flexible shoe struggled a little with support throughout lifting heavy weights in comparison to heavier bulky rival shoes. Ankle support is lacking when going for big lifts where your ankles range of motion is tested in order to achieve the lifts. In some cases, this wasn’t the shoe’s fault but my ankle mobility. Plus when I’m lifting heavier weights I tend to swap my shoes to the inov-8 FASTLIFT 370 BOAs.
The F-LITE 235 V2 could be improved to cater for handstand push-ups. This gymnastics movement is performed against a wall and the heel of the shoe feels quite sticky when completing reps. In comparison to Nike’s heel gliding innovation, this shoe makes handstand pushups difficult. This addition would make the shoe heavier of course, but I think this is what is needed in the future, as CrossFit workouts are starting to include these more and more. This is the only thing I would change on this shoe.
I love wearing my inov-8 F-LITE 235 V2s in the gym and will always wear these in fitness specific workouts in the future. The flexibility, versatility and durability of the shoe is unrivalled in my opinion. Like all shoes of this nature, improvements can be made, but this shoe comes closer than any other shoe I have worn to being perfect. I would recommend this shoe to anyone wanting a new CrossFit or fitness specific shoe.