My first run in with the Inov-8 Fastlift was back at OC Throwdown in January. Except then, it wasn’t called the Fastlift, but rather the Crosslift. I guess to drop the stigma of it being just a crossfit shoe, they changed the name to Fastlift. Which IMO, doesn’t quite have a great ring to it. It even still seems to be marketed as a crossfit shoe anyways. Go figure. Anyways, I didn’t get to try it on at the time, so all I’ve been going on was what my friend was saying about the shoe when he tried it on. Keep in mind, this friend favors Vibram Five Fingers and owns no other Olympic lifting shoes. His impressions of them were favorable, but then again, he had nothing to compare them against, so while I gave him the benefit of the doubt, I also took everything with a grain of salt. Since then, my anticipation for the shoe garnered more and more as I would see it pop up on the internet. Would the Inov-8 stand up as a contender for the Reebok oly’s, as far as a hybrid shoe is concerned? How would it perform for pure Olympic lifting? Well, let’s just get down to what I’ve come to think about this shoe with only one day of experience.
- Sizing & Fit: Normally Inov-8’s in sz 9 (210 & 195) fit me with a little room to spare up at the front of the toes. Perfect. With the Fastlifts in sz 9, my toes are right at the front. Moving around in them actually feels good, but my toes were really uncomfortable doing some light jerks. I know oly shoes should be snug, but the jury is still out here. I might exchange them with 9,.5 depending on how they work out this week. Otherwise, expect a more narrow shoe, familiar to Inov-8 running shoes.
- Performance & Feel: Still limited here. When I first put them on at my house, I thought they felt unstable. I was worried that since they were a little more narrow than some of the other hybrid/oly shoes, that I wouldn’t feel as planted during lifts. Wearing them at the gym proved to be another story. Dropping into the bottom of a snatch felt fast and sturdy at the same time. It’s actually very easy to move around in these shoes, they don’t feel clunky like the Reebok’s. I actually feel like I could run in them. The front of the shoe flexes pretty easily as I whipped through double unders. I hit a 3RM front squat PR @285#; which honestly isn’t so impressive to me since every other time I tried to PR my FS, I made stupidly large jumps without even trying 285. Squatting in the shoes felt nice though; I didn’t notice any kind of give in the heel. Moving around on the oly platforms we have, I noticed the bottoms aren’t as sticky as I would like. Then again, the platforms were dusty, and no shoes I’ve tried on them has been able to truly glue themselves to the platform like I would want.
- Design & Looks: Looks are very much a subjective thing, but I think the Fastlift’s are slick, not to mention one of the better looking oly shoes. I have the shoe in the black/red colorway, but if I had to do it again, I would get the Again Faster (black/blue) models. The external heel cage looks cool as it sports a carbon fiber look. The front of the toe box is a very hard material. The upper is synthetic, looks like it’ll withstand the rope for climbs, but I’m not about to test that theory out just yet. The laces are thin and crappy feeling, but easy to tie. The heel is made out of a (Power-Truss system?) TPU, which I tried to press down with my fingers to see if it gave any. Along the edges, it didn’t, but towards the middle it did. I don’t actually think this is such a big issue seeing as how the heel doesn’t give in the most important area. I’m not so sure about the indentations on the heel actually giving you a suction-cup like action. I certainly didn’t feel it. Heel height? Lower than most others, at 0.65″. I doubt this is going to affect 90% of the people using this shoe, but it’s worth noting that the majority of oly shoes are 0.75″ in the heel. The weight is 335g or 12oz, making the Fastlift the lightest “oly” shoe on the market. Trust me, working with heavy weight, those couple of ounces makes a huge difference when you need to move your feet quickly.
- Value: Retails at $149.99. I managed to do some wheeling and dealing online to get this shoe for $130 after tax and shipping though. Price $25 under the Reebok Lifter Plus, the same as the original Reebok Lifters and $60 more than the Adidas Powerlift Trainer 2.0, which really are the only true competitors against the Fastlift. Up to you here, swim in the mainstream or be a hipster and go with the original brand for functional fitness? Do you really need that 0.10″ in the heel or does having a more light and agile shoe entice you?
So, what do I think? The Inov-8 Fastlift has a lot of great things going on here. It looks good, it’s light, it’s stable enough for Olympic lifting/power lifting, you can run in it (short distance), it’s not clunky feeling like most lifters are, and you can get a deal on it, making it cheaper than the Reebok’s. For most people, this is going to be the only Olympic lifting shoe they’ll ever need. Don’t get rid of your training shoes just yet, as these are NOT designed to run in. As a hybrid shoe, there’s nothing too new here since the Reebok Lifter did this first. Most importantly, the Fastlifts just give you more variety as far as getting a hybrid shoe is concerned; which in a market with only about 3 other choices, is a big deal.