When it comes to training shoes, Inov-8 might just be one of the most innovative shoe manufacturers in the game right now. We all know them for their classic 195’s, the first unofficial “cross-fitness” shoe, but since then Inov-8 has come out with new things almost every year to try to change the game. Whether or not they’ve been successful in this is debatable, but you can’t argue the fact that some of the stuff they’re putting out isn’t cool or useful to some people.
The formula for training shoes has largely remained untouched by everyone that isn’t Inov-8. Why mess with something proven? Well, there are still people out there that don’t necessarily benefit from the same cookie cutter shape the masses do (and people that might not know that they don’t). Mobility issues are far more common than not and so far Inov-8 is the only one to address that in a shoe that’s not a weightlifting shoe. The new F-Lite 275 is an evolution of what the 250 was, but with a few more useful additions that make it a little more easy to live in.
Build Quality/Construction – 6/6
At first glance, the 275’s look like Inov-8 took the 235v2’s, slapped a strap on to them and called it a day; it’s a very familiar look that we’ve come to expect from their training shoes. The upper is a combination of the same type of breathable mesh and polyurethane overlays, creating a look that is distinguishable of Inov-8’s training department. Love or hate the look, it definitely screams utilitarian where function supersedes form.
The most notable addition to the 275’s is the medial strap (AdapterStrap) but there are some small differences throughout the shoe as well. Now the mesh that surrounds the toebox continues further up the shoe up until the ankle area and the heel counter has a more Metcon 4 cut-out style, compared to the 235’s wrap around style. Besides the strap, the biggest difference to the construction of the shoe is the use of the Powerflow midsole, more recently found in the 195v2 in addition to the elevated Powerheel. The outsole tread, material and tech (more on that later) are all identical to the 235v2.
Inov-8’s have never had the best track record when it comes to durability in their training shoe line, but the newer models of training shoes aim to change that. From the welded rubber bumper to the AdapterStrap, the 275’s feel like they can stand toe to toe against any other flagship training shoe in quality of materials and construction. While the 195’s were built for the most natural movement and flexibility, the 200+ shoes were built for the more harsher realities inside the box. Only time will tell on the test of durability, but if my 235v2’s are any kind of indicator, the 275’s should hold up just fine.
The 275 in the name stands for how heavy or light the shoe is – In ounces we’re looking at 9.625, which is heavy by Inov-8 standards but a feather compared to most training shoes.
Fit – 4/6
Inov-8 recently dropped their precision/natural fit designations for a more simpler approach to the width of their shoes. Now you can figure out how you’ll fit into their shoes on a scale from 1, being the most narrow, to 5, being the widest. The 275’s fall on the number 4, which makes them a wide shoe – but not as much as their widest, the 235v2 (5, obvi.). I’d say the only difference in width between the two shoes is in the midfoot area of the shoe, where you can get a little tighter of a fit with the 275’s because of the AdapterStrap; no heel slip issues here! Otherwise, the toebox width is exactly the same, as is the total length of the shoe.
Like the 235’s, the 275’s fit a little bit on the longer side. I did not size down because I’d run the risk of my Morton’s toe digging into the front toe bumper of the shoe, which has been problematic for me in the past (235v1/210v2) and makes the shoe unusable for me. If I ever get the chance to try on a pair of 9.5’s, I’ll update the review to reflect that. If you don’t have Morton’s toe (2nd toe longer than big toe), I’d say you’re safe on sizing down by a half. Going off what I know from a size 10, these shoes run big and wide on my foot leaving the toebox with a lot of extra space.
My sizes for reference:
- Nano – 10
- Metcon – 10
- Chucks – 9.5
- NoBull – 10
- 195v2 – 10
- 210v2 – 10
- 215 – 10
- 250 – Tested in a 9.5, but extended wear made my 2nd toe rub against the front. I’d size up to a 10 if I had to test them again.
Flexibility/Comfort – 5/6
If there’s anything you can count on Inov-8 to come through with, it’s flexibility. The mesh upper of the 275’s is lightweight, breathable and moves easily with your feet. Inov-8’s Meta-Flex outsole technology continues to improve with every iteration of their shoes and paired with the PowerFlow midsole, makes flexibility and comfort probably the best it’s ever been on any 200+ training shoe I’ve tested yet from Inov-8 and is only slightly worse than their 195v2.
I really liked the addition of the PowerFlow midsole on the 195v2, so I’m happy to see it make a reappearance in the 275. From a comfort standpoint, it makes running and bounding exercises a lot easier to deal with because of it’s shock absorption at the heel and energy return at the forefoot; though running can still feel a little bit clunky due to the overall width of the shoe. If you’re a heel striker or just a lazy runner like myself, you’ll definitely appreciate the extra cushioning from the elevated heel and softer midsole compound. Where the 275’s really shine is for plyometric movements – the benefits from the shape and cushioning really come together to form a responsive, yet comfortable trainer that you can bounce around in.
These are training shoes, so they’re inherently more stiff than any running shoe is going to be. Still, the 275’s are not only really flexible, but also have a forgiving midsole to boot, so they’re actually pretty comfortable for most of the the runs you’ll be doing during a WOD. If you didn’t mind sacrificing a little bit more stability for comfort, the 195v2’s are still going to be the top choice for a training shoe to run in.
Stability – 4.5/6
When the F-Lite 250 first debuted, it was the first of its kind to combine the platform of a training shoe with the heel of a weightlifting shoe. I didn’t know what to expect prior to receiving mine, but after using them, I was sold. An 8mm drop on a training shoe might sound alarming at first, but the way that it’s utilized is in the same fashion as a weightlifting shoe where the drop is more steep than gradual, giving you a bit more mobility without pitching you forward. The addition of the AdapterStrap gives you another benefit of a weightlifting shoe without actually being a weightlifting shoe, but does that actually mean you can ditch your Oly’s? Depends…
If what you’re looking for is a shoe to give you a hand with poor mobility for lighter loads during WOD’s the 275’s are the best choice currently out there; it actually might be the only one out there considering the 250’s are discontinued. While the heel isn’t anything close to the drop of a true weightlifting shoe, it’s still enough to give you a little bit to sit back on to achieve depth a little easier. Since the drop isn’t so gradual on this shoe, your feet don’t slide forward like they could in the 215’s, which has an 8mm drop as well, but is purposed differently. You can really dig in and get a great base with the 275’s; Inov-8’s sticky rubber outsole is one of the best out there in terms of traction. No matter what surface you put the 275’s on, it grips with confidence, including for rope climbs. Even though the heel counter has been cut down, it still does a great job holding your heel in place with the help of the AdapterStrap.
While this doesn’t make the shoes unusable, the PowerHeel in the 275 compresses a noticeable amount under heavier loads. It’s not to the extent where you could blame the shoes for missing a lift, but it’s definitely noticeable in comparison to the most stable training shoes out there as well as it’s predecessors the 250 and 235v2. Squats in the 80%+ range are where I noticed the compression the most and it while it didn’t really detract from power delivery much, if at all, it was just distracting. I still think the PowerFlow midsole is balanced well, but you do lose a little bit of stability for the added comfort and energy return it brings.
For me personally, the width detracts from the stability of the shoe the most. Even laced up tight with the strap on, foot containment for me just isn’t that great which is due to the extra space that I have left in the toe box. It wasn’t until I got to the heavier percentages for Olympic weightlifting movements where this bothered me at all; barbell work found during WOD’s was fine. This is something highly subjective based off of your feet. Wide footed people probably won’t find this as much of an issue as I did.
Can you get rid of your Oly shoes? I wouldn’t, but the 275’s are an excellent shoe to have for all but the heaviest of lifts.
The 275’s have an MSRP a little higher than most flagship training shoes at $140. At the normal price it becomes a subjective buy depending on what you need as an athlete.
How valuable the F-Lite 275’s are going to be to you largely depends on your ankle mobility and foot shape. If you’re in need of mobility big time, the 275’s extra heel height will be invaluable to you because it’s going to make your life easier when it comes to reaching depth for the more technical lifts. These shoes also cater well to those that have wide feet or those that despise any kind of heel slip. If you’re all of the above, there is literally nothing else you should be considering.
Anyway you look at it, the 275’s do everything really, really well. They were never intended to replace you Oly shoes, but to be a more versatile option for a training shoe. Depending on who you are, you might utilize some of the benefits of the shoe a little more than others, but no matter what, the 275’s are another solid training shoe from Inov-8.
Final Score: 24/30
(Highly recommended for those with poor ankle/hip mobility!)