inov-8 f-lite 235 (Product Review)
According to inov-8, the f-lite 235 is actually the first of their shoes designed specifically with functional fitness in mind. The previous models were based off mountain racing flats.
While you may have been a fan of inov-8’s shoes over the years, it was hard not to face the fact that functional workouts did a real number on them. They’ve always been considered great shoes to work out in, pretty unanimously, but they weren’t known for their durability. With the f-lite 235s, inov-8 aims to change that situation.
About the f-lite 235
- 8.5oz weight (“f-lite” stands for feather light)
- Zero drop
- Removable 3mm insole
- Roomy toe box
- Toe bumper
- Denser heel than previous models
- Rope-Tec grip for rope climbing
The toe bumper is intended to help with the wear and tear from burpees, while the expanded Rope-Tec is for not only withstanding rope climbs, but also helping you grip the rope better. If you’ve climbed ropes in minimalist shoes, you know it can be a challenge to get your foothold. I was not able to test this with mine, but from other reviews I’ve read, the Rope-Tec works well.
Despite the light weight, these shoes feel more substantial, and therefore more durable, than previous models of inov-8 that either I or our second tester have worn. In addition, the gripping ability of the outsole feels improved, which makes a difference when your workout routine is constantly presenting you with different scenarios.
Of course, these shoes come in crazy colors. From early on, inov-8 figured out that flashy colors go a long way in the athletic footwear world. And you know what? As someone who used to own about three dozen pair of etnies, I’m totally down with that.
"If you’re a CrossFit athlete or anyone who likes minimalist shoes, but regularly puts them to the test, the f-lite 235s are something you should look into and at least give a test drive."
The 235s certainly don’t disappoint. The women’s version comes in: Purple/Yellow, Black/Grey, and Blue/Pink. The men’s comes in: Black/Grey, Black/Yellow, and Chili/Blue. All of the color combos are split down the middle in a bit of a Jekyll-and-Hyde design.
While inov-8 says this shoe has a cushioned forefoot, to me there is not much actual cushioning going on there. I may be biased, though, as my Saucony Kinvara’s are downright fluffy in the forefoot and that’s how I prefer my minimalist shoes.
"In the end, like any other sort of gear, finding the right shoe is about finding the right shoe for you. So while the f-lite 235 might not be up my alley for all uses, it’s probably perfect for someone else."
On the other hand, the inov-8 feels as though it has a rather stiff arch support, which is not to my taste. We had two people testing these shoes and both of us found them a little stiffer than we expected. Two things to consider, though:
- We haven’t worn these shoes in like someone wearing them every day training would.
- The stiffness may be a side effect of the expanded Rope-Tec technology and the additional sturdiness for weightlifting that this model claims.
To me the breathability of the shoe can also be an issue. If you are indoors or in a hot environment the meshy fabric is great for keeping your feet from becoming a soggy, sweaty mess. If you go outside in the rain or into a damp environment, though, you are going to quickly have wet feet. So while the inov-8 website rates these for indoor, outdoor, and rope usage, I would be cautious with your outdoor adventures in these.
In the end, like any other sort of gear, finding the right shoe is about finding the right shoe for you. So while the f-lite 235 might not be up my alley for all uses, it’s probably perfect for someone else.
If you’re a CrossFit athlete or anyone who likes minimalist shoes, but regularly puts them to the test, the f-lite 235s are something you should look into and at least give a test drive.