The question I get asked the most from people is “What Olympic lifting shoe is the best?”.
I never really have a great answer for this; I feel like every shoe that’s a contender for “the best” have their own pro’s and con’s. Really, it’s all about what’s going to work the best for you. Unfortunately you can’t go to the store and try most Oly shoes on, so I still try to do my best to describe what I think about each shoe. The most important question you have to ask yourself when purchasing an Oly shoe is, “What am I using this for?”. If you’re into functional fitness and you’re going to need to do more than squat, clean, jerk and snatch, well then you might want to look into more of what I refer to as the “hybrid” Oly shoe.
Inov-8 came out with the original FastLift 335 a little earlier last year and it quickly ended up as the staple Oly shoe in my gym bag. I praised the shoe for being lightweight, flexible, and more than stable enough to Oly lift in. Earlier in 2014 at the CrossFit Games, Inov-8 showed off their new design of the FastLift, the 370 featuring an all new lacing system that included BOA dials. Previously the only experience I had with these dials was on the SetWear Fitness Smart Back belt, and I thought it was great. At first I thought it was a little weird looking on a shoe, but I quickly warmed up to it after receiving my test pair of 370’s. All those funky feeling about how they look quickly dissipate when you actually put them on and use them; they work great!
A few things have changed in the design of the 370 from the 335. Obviously the biggest change being the inclusion of the BOA dial lacing system. Sounds gimmicky, but it works very well and is super convenient. No need to worry about shoe changes or laces coming undone. The main dial tightens with a turn and pull it to “pop” it off to loosen the system; you will have to retighten though. The strap dial is adjustable both ways (righty tighty lefty loosey), which is kind of odd because you figure both of the dials would just do the same thing; or maybe this dial should have been used in both applications. Many of the other changes really just come down to visual cues to the upper, which is mainly constructed the same as the original 335 with some additions of motivational quotes on the strap that I could live without. The outsole remains the same with the Power Truss heel and .65″ heel height.
The shoe actually feels pretty much exactly how I remember the 335 feeling, which is good. I never noticed the increase in weight, as much as I noticed how convenient the dials are. For those of you wondering if the heel height would be for you compared to .75″; I’m sure you wouldn’t be able to even tell the difference. I wouldn’t go as far as to say the FastLifts best the major weightlifting shoes in stability, but it does an admirable job while being much more flexible and lightweight than the AdiPowers and Romaleos. I prefer the FastLifts because I feel like I can move my feet a little faster wearing them. While you can definitely do WOD’s with light running, box jumps and double-unders, I probably wouldn’t be taking these shoes for a mile run.
I don’t know how popular the all white color way is going to be, but I probably wouldn’t buy this shoe in this color. There is just no keeping it clean. On top of that, the white on the heel and outsole isn’t as white as the white on the upper so it kind of gives it that old shoe look. I really liked how the 370’s looked when I got them, but after a few uses they quickly got dirtied up. Oh well, they’re gym shoes, they’re supposed to get dirty. Going back to the whole dial thing, I think the shoe would be better off having all the same dial system, but that’s a minor quibble. Another thing I find weird is Inov-8’s sizing, I wear a 9 in the 370, a 9.5 in the 335, a 9 in the 252, an 8.5 in the 195…well you get it…the sizing is all over the place!
So back to that question…”What are you using the shoes for?”. If that answer involves functional fitness, you’d do well to look into getting the (still great) Inov-8 FastLifts 335’s. If you want even more convenience or you’re just really lazy and a great shoe, then you might want to look into the 370.
Thanks to Paul over at Inov-8 for swinging me a pair of 370’s for testing!