I have been dying to try out the shoe that is all the rage among the Crossfit community right now, the Inov8 F-Lite 230. My patients are always asking for shoe recommendations, so I like to have a large pool to draw from for different sports and activities. The folks from Inov8 were kind enough to send me a pair to review. I picked the brightest color they had available, the Azure Blue and White.
This shoe is super lightweight, at 230 g (or roughly 8.1 oz). It has a flat, low profile midsole with a sticky rubber outsole (the F-Lite tread pattern). The shoe features a 6mm differential from the heel to the forefoot. The upper is constructed of nearly 100% mesh, which is breathable and drains well if it gets wet during a trail run. It provides toe protection and has a low, comfortable back and cuff. The outsole provides traction on slippery rocks and wet grass, but since the shoe does not have lugs, it does not collect and track mud.
Because these shoes are minimalist, they may take some getting used to. If you are used to wearing built up running shoes with serious arch support, you may need to take your time to build up the muscles in your foot with these shoes before running distances. For folks who have already made the switch to “Five Fingers” or barefoot running, this shoe is very comfortable and provides protection from the elements when you are running outdoors.
The sticky outsole also makes these shoes ideal for indoor workouts including box jumps, jumping rope, weight lifting, rope climbing, and rings. The shoes are so lightweight that you will barely notice them as you go through your workout.
I am very picky about shoes (anyone who knows me has heard all about my bunionectomy gone bad, which involved nerve damage to my right foot). I was unable to wear shoes for the first 6 months after my foot surgery, and it took nearly a year for me to begin running again. I can’t tolerate anything between my first and second toes because of the nerve hypersensitivity, so Five Fingers were never really an option for me. I have been weight lifting and working out barefooted until now, and I am happy to say that the Inov8 F-Lite 230 were amazingly comfortable right out of the box. The shoe is so lightweight and flexible that I felt like I could wear them all day. I took them on a test drive, and rock climbed, rope climbed, jumped rope, did box jumps, climbed a tree, and ran on a trail all without the slightest feeling of irritation to my foot. I think that these shoes will get even better with time, as they become even more flexible.
If you are looking for some protection from the elements while you make the switch to a lower profile shoe, this is a perfect shoe to start with. The folks at Inov8 couldn’t be any nicer, and I think they put out a great product. Give them a try and let me know what you think!