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Altra HIIT XT Training Shoe Review

Seems like everyone nowadays is trying to get in on the training shoe market Not that you can blame them though, training in general is more popular right now than it’s ever been all 32 years I’ve been alive; or at least I think it has. Barefoot/minimalist shoes aren’t exactly new things anymore, but they have been increasing in popularity due to the training craze. Altra is a fairly young company with a big cult following, which was founded on the premise of wide, neutral, minimalist running shoes; all characteristics you’d want in a competent training shoe. Everyone I know that runs in Altra’s, swears by them. So why not just use the shoes on hand to train in? I’ve never owned another pair of Altra’s, but I’m going to assume it’s because of midsole cushioning. If they specialize in minimalist shoes, why has it taken them so long to come out with a training shoe? Well, that’s anybody’s guess, but let’s just say they’re coming to the party fashionably late.

2017 has already been a big year for training shoes, one could assume that Altra held off the release of the HIIT XT until the shoe was just right, or maybe until it was after the rush of early year training shoes. Either way, this has been the most hyped shoe that no one had seen coming. It’s pretty clear that Altra can make some competent running shoes, but how will they fare on the training shoe front?

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Looks/Construction:

Another shoe that I hope to check out from Altra are the Escalante’s, I was sold on them just by the looks alone. I can’t say the same about the HIIT XT’s, while they’re not the worst looking shoes I’ve seen and pictures online definitely make them look a lot worse than they do in person, but they won’t be winning any beauty contests any time soon. Unlike the Escalante’s, I feel like there’s just way too many lines here and crosshatches there on the upper of the HIIT XT’s, giving them way too busy of a look. Altra’s logo isn’t bad at all, but the material they used for it is stiff to the point where I can feel it from inside the shoe. I hope to see this just printed on in the future. The most ridiculous claim I’ve heard is that these shoes look like Metcon’s; my response to that is that you probably need to get your eyes checked.

On the flip side, the shoe feels extremely well built. From the “Powersole” platform to the not so great looking upper, everything at least feels like it’s meant to take a beating. The upper is a combination of mesh materials with PU overlay’s on top of it; there are reinforced areas of PU at the front of the toe box and a built in heel counter at the rear of the shoe. The tongue is well padded, the ankle collar even more so, making you feel like there may be a little too much to the upper to the HIIT’s. Since pretty much the whole upper is mesh, your feet never really overheat.

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A nice little touch that Altra included is the “stitch ‘n’ turn stitching underfoot”, so that you can use the HIIT XT’s with or without the included 5mm insoles. I was surprised to find that the stack height was a fairly tall 24mm, but removing the insoles drops it down to 18mm. The problem here is that unless you have a beefy foot, you’re going to end up with an excess of space inside the shoe. In my testing, I didn’t really notice any response differences anyways so you’re better off just keeping the insoles in.

The drop, like all Altra shoes, is 0mm. For a men’s 10, I weighed the left shoe at 12.3oz and the right at 11.8oz, close enough to the 11.2oz listed weight. They’re on the heavier side of training shoes, but fall in line with the the more popular Nano and Metcon’s.

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Fit:

One reason people love Altra’s so much is because they’re wide shoes, and the HIIT XT’s are no different. Altra’s technology behind this is called the FootShape toe box, in which their lasts are 360 molded around actual feet, rather than a sleeker shape to increase appearance.  I have to be honest, this took a little bit of getting used to since the toe box was a lot bigger than what I’m used to, but it’s a welcome change overall and I ended up really liking the extra space.

Though the HIIT XT’s are wide shoes, they run on the small side length wise. Honestly, I don’t think the shoes actually run small, but the unnecessarily stiff front toe box cap gives it the illusion that they are. I ordered my normal size 10 and my toes eventually end up running into the front of the shoes. It’s not so bad before a workout, but at the end of the workout I have to end up switching my shoes or altering the way I walk. I recommend that you go with half a size up from your normal training shoe.

My sizes for reference:

  • Nano – 10
  • Metcon – 10
  • Speed TR – 9.5
  • Inov-8 195 – 9.5
  • Oly shoes – 9.5
  • NoBull – 10

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Performance:

To say I was excited for my first pair of Altra’s would be an understatement, but I’ve got to be honest, when I received the HIIT XT’s, I wasn’t super impressed by them. First off, I felt like they were really bulky and clunky, a huge departure from the 195’s I had just reviewed. Secondly, they ran small, my toes pressed slightly up into the front of the shoes. Finally, for a “minimal” shoe, they’re fairly tall with a thick insole. Still, with all that, I kept an open mind and wore them day and night hoping something would change – It did.

The first workout I did in the HIIT XT’s was a combination of running and clean and jerks, where I basically found myself tripping over my own feet because I wasn’t used to the wide platform of the HIIT’s. Having just reviewed the 195’s, I wasn’t used to the platform for running either, the shoes just felt really clunky to me. I didn’t make it throughout that workout without switching my shoes. Afterwards, I did some squats to check the stability of the HIIT’s, to where the wide platform really shined. Like I mentioned before, I didn’t really notice any stability or power differences with or without the insoles, but overall, squatting with the ultra wide zero drop platform felt great. The gum sole on mine also did an amazing job keeping my feet from shifting around.

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Probably the most notable area that the HIIT XT’s perform best at is Olympic weightlifting. The supremely wide base and outsole material make for the most stable of landings, just so long as your mobility can match up to the zero drop of the shoes. Keeping your toes or heels down might also be an issue for some people, but personally I do better lifting in flat shoes so I felt right at home in the HIIT XT’s, and soon I found myself maxing out my clean and jerk without any kind of second thought – something I hadn’t done since February. With a little bit of practice, going for reps started to feel better as well. My main issue on day one is that I wasn’t moving my feet enough (a bad habit) to compensate for the bulk and grip of the shoes, causing me to trip up on the ground when going for reps. Once I figured that out, repeatedly picking the bar up became an almost mindless task where I could just hold on, push my feet down and the bar would fly up. I could see definitely see myself reaching for these shoes not only for heavy oly days, but also for “grip it and rip it” workouts like “Grace” or “Isabel”.

The biggest movement that I needed to adjust to was running. Initially, I thought these shoes were going to be thin and lightweight, but they’re the opposite, wide and a little heavy. I’ve had plenty of experience with zero drop shoes, but never any that had quite as much cushioning as the HIIT XT’s. The first day I ran in them was the fist day I got them in and they felt clunky, kind of like I was running in Oly shoes. Still afterwards, my feet/calves felt great, like I hadn’t run at all. With a little bit of break in, the shoes eventually got to the point where you’d be pretty surprised they were that flexible, given the way they look. The platform is a little bulky, but the PowerSole midsole allows for a more powerful stride, though there’s not a ton of bounce. The width in turn makes the shoes very stable so you don’t have to think about where drop your foot down, which is nice to have one less thing to worry about when running. I was able to pretty consistently sprint 100m at around the 17 second mark (with a turn) and also keep my mile pace sub-8 mins. I’m not a great runner (I suck), so that’s pretty good by my standards. I still think the shoes could be lighter, but I think the width actually ended up helping out my running.

Where the Altra’s aren’t spectacular, are burpees. No one likes them, but that doesn’t mean you don’t have to do them. Once again, the Altra’s are a big shoe with a stiff toe cap, making getting down and up somewhat uncomfortable. Sounds silly, but burpees are just as important as running or weightlifting. The HIIT XT’s are responsive enough for rebounding box jumps, but I wouldn’t be going for any max height work. Overall, they’re a little clunky for plyometric movements and wouldn’t be my shoe of choice to do any kind of agility work in. You can’t have it all, but keep in mind that there’s worse out there too.

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Value/Conclusion:

The HIIT XT’s retail for a little bit less than normal at $99. I think Altra made a very good decision in selling the HIIT XT’s at a lower MSRP than their competitors. As far as I know, the HIIT XT’s are Altra’s first training shoe, so having a slightly lower price point makes people a little less wary to try out a new shoe that they’re buying based solely on the brand’s reputation. To further ease your shopping experience, Altra has a 30-day satisfaction guarantee where you can return or exchange the shoes no matter what. You can at least try them out without repercussions. I expect the price to go up incrementally as Altra gains more training shoe experience and releases more models, but a bill is a an excellent place to start for their rookie debut.

Nothing that comes easy in life is worth it.

This review would have looked a lot different if I had just used these shoes for a day.  While they might take some time to break in and get used to, I ended up really liking the HIIT XT’s. No shoes are without their faults – I still think the shoes could be lightened up, slimmed down, lose the toe cap and are in need of a facelift. But what the HIIT XT’s do right, they do really well, and not to mention do it at a significantly lower price point. It’s easy to forgive them for what they don’t get perfect and considering that these are Altra’s first training shoe, I’d say they have a really solid foundation to build upon.

These are my very first pair of Altra’s, so I don’t have anything besides other training shoes to compare them to – but overall, I think the HIIT XT’s are an extremely well built, excellent performing pair of trainers, especially for $100. They’re not going to be for everyone, but if you’ve got a wide foot, have the mobility, and are into supporting a smaller brand (which would mean furthering their training shoe development), I think you should definitely check out the Altra HIIT XT’s.

The Good:

  • Extremely stable shoes with good grip.
  • Zero drop promotes better bio-mechanics.
  • They only cost $99

The Bad

  • A little heavier and bulkier than one would expect from a minimalist shoe.
  • Wide platform might take some getting used to.
  • Narrow feet won’t do very well in these shoes.

The Ugly

  • They run small, size them up compared to your normal training shoes.
  • Not immediately comfortable shoes and require some breaking in.
  • Appearance won’t be for everyone.

Get your Altra HIIT XT’s here!

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Inov-8 F-Lite 195v2 Review (2017)

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I was into minimalist shoes long before I even knew I wanted to start CrossFit. At the time, the pickings were slim, but one shoe that I kept seeing pop up over and over again was the Inov-8 195’s. In everything I read about them, people swore by them, and they just so happened to be the unofficial shoe of CrossFit. Eventually, I picked up a pair after I found them on sale; this was at a time where there really were no sales on them and I never even spent over $100 on shoes. I remember putting them on for the first time and being floored by just how light, flexible, and how well they fit. Not long after getting my pair, I started CrossFit. I was spoiled since I already had “the” CrossFit shoe, never knowing what it was like to use clunky running shoes at the box. Even though I spent more money on them than I was used to spending at the time, I felt thoroughly satisfied with my purchase.

As time passed, I started sipping the Kool-Aid and gravitating more towards Reebok Nano’s and eventually Nike Metcon’s. I never stopped loving my Inov-8 or anything, but worries about durability made me use them less and less. I’ve seen CrossFit shoes over the years become more stiff for lifting and less well rounded overall; which in a sense, is backwards to the well roundedness that the CrossFit theology embodies. At this point, we’re seeing trainers that are as stiff as Olympic weightlifting shoes.

The original 195’s were favored by many because of just how adaptable they were in the CrossFit setting. Flexible with just enough cushioning to run in comfortably but not enough to make the shoe unstable, 3mm drop with a low midsole stack height, sock-like fit and incredibly lightweight.  Durability of the fabric upper material was the only questionable area. After a slight hiatus, Inov-8 has refreshed their legendary shoe for 2017, retaining a lot of the features that made the shoe so popular, but now with an improved and hopefully more durable upper. 195 fans, rejoice.

Looks/Construction:

The original 195 had a look that could only be described as “Inov-8”. Aside from some choice colorways, I don’t think Inov-8 makes bad looking shoes at all, they’re just shoes you’d only want to be caught wearing with athletic gear and not something you’d want to be wearing out with some jeans on. Though the more minimal look of the new 195’s is definitely a step in the right direction, I don’t forsee myself wearing these out to the club or anything. The new upper is structured internally, the Inov-8 “tiger stripes” are still there but they’re a little bit harder to see since they’re under the new translucent mesh-ish upper. The logo is still on the side of the shoe, but it’s a little more low key nowadays; I think Inov-8 would do well to swap it to some kind of emblem, maybe just the foot/eight.

While not quite a giant shoe brand, Inov-8 still manages to produce shoes that are built solid, at least when you first get them. The plush fabric upper material was always the Achilles heel of the 195, but has been upgraded to a flexible nylon mesh for the V2. It’s dropped a ton of cushioning that made the originals so comfortable, most notably around the ankle collar, but it’s still very flexible. The bends of the shoe are a little sharper feeling but it’s still a very comfortable shoe to wear. It is also noticeably much more breathable; I would not hesitate to wear these shoes without socks on if that’s your jam. As previously mentioned, the “tiger stripes” that give the shoe structure are located inside the shoe, the toe-cap returns in the form of a thin PU external version, and though not mentioned, there is a built in heel cup to give you a little more stability when lifting. In my opinion, the nicest upgrade to the shoe happens to be the new eyelets for the shoe laces; it’s a small detail but really cleans up the look of the shoe.

The biggest things left virtually unchanged from the previous 195 are the midsole and outsole combination. I say virtually because while the midsole looks identical to the originals, the drop has been changed from 3mm to 4mm and it’s picked up the name “Powerflow”. The sticky rubber treading, Meta-flex and dynamic fascia band technology remain the same and they still come with the RopePro that was added in somewhere in the later variants of the 195. I always loved the way the midsole of the 195 felt and the outsole never failed me , so I’m not bent out of shape to see it remain the same.

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Fit:

The 195’s fall into Inov-8’s “Precision” fit line, which are typically D width shoes with a more running shoe silhouette. The toe is pointier, which accommodates Morton’s toe very well; flatter toe shapes are an issue that plagues me with training shoes, making me have to size up just so my second toe doesn’t jam into the front of the shoe. Originally I had sized the 195v2’s in my normal training shoe size, 10, but they ended up fitting way too big. 9.5 ended up being right on the money, so I’m going to say go ahead and size down half a size for the 195v2’s. Also keep in mind that these are fairly narrow shoes and don’t accommodate wide feet at all. If you’ve got Flinstone feet, you’re going to want to go with the 235v2’s.

My sizes for reference:

  • 235v2/250/215/210 – 10
  • OG 195/240 – 9.5
  • Nano – 10
  • Metcon – 10
  • WL Shoes – 9.5
  • Converse – 9.5
  • NoBull – 10

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Performance:

Well rounded AF.

195’s are legendary for a reason. Even if you’ve never owned a pair, you’ve probably heard people rave about them in your box. Usually people that never switch over to Nano’s or Metcon’s, love their 195’s because they’re so lightweight and flexible. I can’t blame them, coming back from foot purgatory that is the current state of training shoes, putting my feet in the 195v2’s felt like heaven; I feel like I can move again! Okay, that’s a little dramatic, but it almost feels like you’re not wearing shoes with how freely the 195v2’s let your feet move.

Running is always a taboo area for training shoes. Comfort usually takes a dig at stability, but not so much in the case of the 195v2’s. The midsole stack is short so there isn’t a ton of material between your foot and the ground, but it’s just enough to cushion your feet from being demolished by whatever you’re running on. The 195v2 uses an injection molded insole called “Powerflow”, that gives you better energy return than it’s compression molded counterparts, but still manages to be just as responsive. The heel area absorbs shock better while the forefoot has better energy return. They surprisingly have a good amount of “bounce” when you move around. From box jumps to double unders, I could not think of a better shoe to do a bodyweight metcon in than these shoes.

The “weak” area of the 195’s is their overall stability that they sacrifice for mobility. The 195v2’s have a more narrow platform compared to the other heavy hitters on the market and even Inov-8’s own 235v2, but they let you move more naturally so you have to rely on your own balance versus stability created by a wide outsole. Part of the reason people swear by minimalist shoes is that they don’t create a false sense of security when it comes to balance. It might take a little bit to transition to lifting in the 195’s if you’re accustomed to using Metcon’s or Nano’s, but at the end of the day, it’ll be worth it. You shouldn’t have any issues with slow lifts being unstable, but Oly might take some balance adjustments if you’re not used to more minimal shoes. Power delivery however, is excellent despite the 195’s having a “soft” injection molded insole (it’s not that soft). Once again, it doesn’t really get in the way since the stack height is so short. Would I be going for PR weight in the 195v2’s – probably not, but the 195v2’s should handle most of the weight you’re going to find on a daily basis.

Interestingly enough, though the midsole of the 195v2’s is supposed to be higher and the drop is supposed to be greater, the new models feel lower to the ground and flatter than the old models. Finally, the 195v2’s are excellent rope climbing shoes! I have no idea how that little Ropetec guard manages to hold on to the rope so well, but climbing the rope in the new 195’s is as effortless as could be. Durability is still a wildcard, but the new upper doesn’t show wear from the rope as of yet.

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Value/Conclusion:

Now that the market has so many options, Inov-8 is often overlooked just because it’s not Nike or Reebok, which is a true shame because people don’t even know what they’re missing out on. The 195v2’s pricing falls directly in line with the more popular Metcon and Nano at the standard $130. Not that the 195’s aren’t worth the price tag, they 110% are, but people are easily enticed by brand names. OG’s will have no problem dishing out the cash for the ever so excellent 195v2’s. If you’re not familiar with the name Inov-8, I’ll put my name on the line for them, they’re one of the best shoe manufacturers around and their shoes stay true to who they are as a company.

“The athletes’ interaction with the environment is the single most important factor when designing products.”

Training in the 195v2’s again feels like coming home after a long vacation. There were a lot of good times while you were away, but there’s nothing like the comfort of being at home. If what you want is an ultimately stable weightlifting shoe that you don’t care to run in or do any other variety of movements in, there might be better options out there in the form of Nike or Reebok. If you’re’ looking for one of the most capable all around training shoes on the market, you need to give the 195v2 a shot. They’re currently in my top 5 training shoes, I promise you won’t be disappointed in them.

The Good:

  • Great cushion and energy return for running.
  • Stable enough to lift most weights in.
  • Flexible and lightweight frame allows the foot to move naturally.

The Bad:

  • Won’t fit everyone because they’re narrow.
  • Styling is still ho-hum.

The Ugly:

  • People might overlook them!
  • Durability of the new up is yet to be determined.
  • They run really long.

Purchase your 195v2’s here!
Black Grey: http://amzn.to/2vPICWT
Grey Red/Green: http://amzn.to/2fAGbko
Womens: http://amzn.to/2vwQwSj

Reebok CrossFit Speed TR 2.0 Review

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The original Reebok Speed TR was quite possibly one of the best shoes that Reebok has ever made, but it wasn’t always the same with the earlier models of the shoe. The first generation Speed was decent, but a little too soft and lacked any decent colorways. Then came along the Sprint TR, which might be the worst CrossFit shoe that was ever produced. It had some interesting features, looked okay, the midsole wasn’t cushioned too much like the Speed, but the platform was EXTREMELY narrow. The 2nd gen Speed TR brought back some of the Sprint features like the midfoot shank and multi-directional tread pattern but had some tricks of it’s own too, a flared outsole which provided a wider base for lifting without making the upper too wide, the “kipping klip” for handstand push-ups, and a new 3mm drop. The Speed TR actually became one of my go-to shoes, until the Nano 6.0 came out. I could go on and on about why I think the Nano 6.0 is the greatest training shoe of all time, but if you’ve been following my reviews, you’d already know that.

To be honest, I never really thought of the 2nd gen Speed TR as a “running” trainer, but more of a more narrow Nano 5, since they shared a lot of the same traits. Even though they were described with having an ultrasoft midsole, I thought they were just as good for lifting as Nano’s. What I really liked about the Speed’s was that the shape of the toe fit my feet better than the squarish Nano toe box. The major thing the Speed’s lacked was the Kevlar upper, which ultimately led to the shoes major downfall, it’s durability. I personally only had one blowout in all of my pairs, on my Team USA one’s no less, but that was enough for me to just stop using the shoes altogether since I didn’t want to ruin my 2016 Regionals or Murph variants. The monomesh upper just wasn’t robust enough to handle the rigors of CrossFit.

After the astounding fail that was the Nano 7, I was elated to hear of an updated Speed TR coming out this year. When I set my eyes on the shoe for the first time, feelings of elation rushed through my body as it looked like it could be the spiritual successor to the Nano 6.0 and the Nano 2.0, my favorite’s of the whole line-up. While not quite Nano 6.0 level, the Speed TR 2.0 still does not disappoint.

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Looks/Construction:

Like I said, it looks like the Speed TR 2.0 was birthed from the Nano 2.0 and 6 with it’s very unassuming and familiar upper design. You can’t hate on the way the shoe looks, because it’s definitely on the safe side, which is totally fine in my book. We had way too many years of gaudy Reebok designs and CrossFit logos anyways. The lines are clean, the side only has the Reebok delta, and the heel counter has a small CrossFit logo – perfect.

The main change to the upper is the new Cordura fabric they’re using instead of the monomesh, which is still layered with the hotmelt overlay. The new Cordura fabric feels almost identical to the mesh in the Nano 6.0’s toe area which is extremely flexible and much more comfortable than the stiffer monomesh.  I thought the previous generation Speed had a comfortable upper, but it doesn’t even come close to the plush new 2.0’s. Keep in mind that although it’s more comfortable, there is also less structure to the shoe. Unlike the Nano 7.0’s TPU heel counter, the Speed 2.0 uses some kind of hotmelt overlay, that does a great job in holding your heel in place nonetheless. As with all Reebok CrossFit shoes, the build quality of the Speed TR 2.0 is top notch and feels like it should definitely cost more than the $100 they’re asking.

Fit:

Aside from the durability, I think the second biggest issue of the Speed TR was how it fit. It seems like they used a similar or maybe even the same last to base the 2.0 off of, because they fit similarly. Thanks to the new upper material, the 2.0’s feel a little more roomy inside. The 2.0’s are indeed slightly wider than the originals, but not as wide as Nano’s, or even close to. They still do run long in comparison to Nano’s, causing me to size down half, but even then I had a lot of space in to toe, so I went down another half and then it was too tight. At the end of the day, I stuck with the size 9.5 which left me with a little more than a thumb’s width distance from the front of the shoe. Though it’s a little loose, it’s still comfortable and at least my toes aren’t being crushed in front and with a little activity, my feet swell and fill the shoe up better.

There isn’t much in the way of arch support inside the shoe, so if you’re flat footed you’ll definitely appreciate this over Nano’s.

My sizes for reference:

  • Speed TR – 9 (tight fit)
  • Nano – 10
  • Metcon – 9.5-10
  • NoBull – 10
  • Strike Mvmnt – 9.5
  • Adidas – 9.5

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Performance:

You should not think of the Speeds as running shoes.

As with the previous generation, the Speed TR’s are some of the best training shoes that Reebok makes. I might go as far to say that they’re the best that Reebok currently makes…

The Nano 7.0’s, Weave’s included, left a gaping hole in Reebok’s CrossFit footwear line-up. I still think the Weave’s are awesome looking and that there are no better shoes for lifting, but they’re still awful to run in and just plain uncomfortable for extended periods of wear. In my eyes, the Speed TR 2.0’s do a much better job encompassing the spirit of CrossFit in a shoe. There’s nothing you would think twice about doing with having the Speed 2.0’s on, including running!

Early on, people were hoping that the Speed 2.0’s would just be a current day Nano 6.0, which it is, kind of. Like the 6.0, you’ll want to do everything in the Speed 2.0’s because they just feel so capable on your feet. The platform has a more narrow, running like shape and doesn’t quite hold your foot in place like Nano’s, but I wouldn’t go as far to say that the Speed’s were unstable in any direction. Initially a few things led me to think the Speed 2.0’s were softer that it’s predecessor, but I was wrong, they’re as responsive, if not more. The midsole offers only a little bit of cushioning, but still airs more on the stability side, meaning it doesn’t compress very much at all, almost identical to the previous generation. Power delivery is on point, I wouldn’t think twice about going for any heavy lifts in these shoes.

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What really seals the deal for the Speed 2.0’s is that they’re just extremely flexible and comfortable. You’ll genuinely want to do everything a WOD will throw at you in these shoes because of how they let you move your feet unhindered. Not only is the upper more plush and flexible, the outsole and midsole is more flexible as well, letting your feet move more naturally. The only non-flexible area is around the middle where the RopePro is, where there’s definitely a midfoot shank to help with propulsion. Speaking of the outsole, the compound and multi-directional tread pattern are more reminiscent of the Nano 7 than previous gen Speed. Which is a good thing, because that outsole pattern makes for some of the grippiest shoes on the planet, whether it be the ground or the rope.

Despite the name being what it is, the Speed 2.0’s wouldn’t be my first pick when it comes to run a marathon in, but I wouldn’t hesitate to strap these on to run the occasional mile or whatever distance comes my way in a WOD . Sure, they have a little more midsole cushioning, they’re extremely flexible, and have a midfoot shank, but they’re still training shoes at the end of the day and the platform is still fairly rigid. I personally like neutral running shoes anyways and I feel right at home with the 3mm drop. Best of all, the shoes are extremely lightweight, coming in at 8.5oz per shoe. These are definitely the best trainers to run in that Reebok has ever come out with, even besting the Nano 6.0.

Some other things to note – The heel counter actually does a pretty good job of keeping your heel in one spot. The Kipping Klip is a much larger piece of TPU that is rounded and does a much better job sliding up the wall than the previous gen Speed. The laces that come with the shoe are trash and repeatedly come untied, be prepared to double knot.

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Value & Conclusion:

Like the previous gen, the Speed 2.0’s only cost $100! Making them a steal once again compared to Nano’s, maybe even more so this time around because they’re in my eyes, a better shoe. Durability is yet to be determined, the best indicator for that is how well Nano 6’s are holding up since they have the same mesh. I personally haven’t had any issues with that, so I’m going to say its safe to assume the Speed TR 2.0’s will be more durable than the predecessor. For those of you that only have money to spend on one pair of CrossFit shoes, these are the ones.

I like shoes that you can do everything in and since the Nano 6.0’s are out of production, the Reebok Speed TR 2.0’s are currently the best shoe in Reebok’s line-up. They can hang with Nano’s when it comes to lifting, but you won’t want to take them off when it comes to running as well. Hell, you probably just won’t want to take them off because they’re just so nice to wear! Any angst I had from the Nano 7.0’s is gone with the release of the Speed TR 2.0 – they’re one hell of a shoe.

Get your Reebok Speed TR 2.0’s here!

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Inov-8 All-Train 215 Shoe Review

We’ve been at a standstill in training shoes for quite some time now, not a ton of technology has really changed. Not that the formula didn’t work, but we’ve really just had the same shoes with different brands on it. It’s just the beginning of the year but 2017 is looking to change all of that. As the sport of fitness evolves, so does the footwear we require.  Interestingly enough, we’re starting to see a departure from the rigid, flat soled shoes into shoes that are a little more geared towards all around performance, with running included. Not that you couldn’t run in flat shoes of old, but they were a little clunky and athletes nowadays are required to be more agile than ever.

Late last year, I reviewed the Inov-8 F-Lite 235v2, which I loved. It has all the makings of a great training shoe: zero drop, flexibility, lightweight, and dense midsole. I don’t mind running in them, but like all wide and rigid trainers, they can be a little choppy to run in.  Leave it to the masterminds at Inov-8 to shake up the formula with the All-Train 215 by fusing their roots in all-terrain running shoes and training shoes to make one of the best all around trainers of the year.

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Looks/Construction:

Honestly, Inov-8 trainers have never been my favorite shoes to look at since the 195. While the 235 and 250 are great performing shoes, their blocky aesthetic and choice of color combinations are probably the biggest reasons why they haven’t really taken off with the mainstream. I don’t really think they care that much to appeal to everyone, but having attractive shoes isn’t a bad thing. The All-Train 215’s are the best looking shoe silhouette that Inov-8 has come up with, period. They look like the spiritual successor to the ever so popular 195 – not overdone, sleek with a little bit of tactical badassery. Most of the colorways fit the design of the shoe and aren’t really outlandish, but this is still an area I think Inov-8 could work on a little bit. When in doubt, just get black.

Build quality is the typical, excellent quality of Inov-8 shoes though one might initially mistake them for being built cheap because they’re so lightweight weighing in at just 7.5oz/215 grams per shoe. Inov-8 keeps things flexible compared to a lot of the other brands out there with a more normal synthetic and mesh upper. One question might be long term durability, but I don’t think any of us have had these shoes long enough to comment on that. They survived a few rope climbs here and there, but who knows what they’ll look like after a hundred or so.

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Fit:

Inov-8 shoes run small on me, so I went with a size US10. I would always recommend just going with the EU size since I think the sizing is a little more accurate that way, in which case I wear an EU43. Compared to the 235’s, the 215’s feel a little bit more fitted since the shape is more like a running shoe, which I prefer over the more boxy toe. I wouldn’t say the 215’s are narrow shoes, but they’re more so than the 235’s just mainly at the toe. Here are my sizes for reference:

  • 215/235v2 – 10
  • Nano 6/7 -10
  • Metcon – 9.5
  • Ultraboost – 9.5-10
  • Boots – 8.5
  • WL Shoes – 9-9.5

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Performance:

Are they running shoes or are they training shoes? They’re both.

The 215’s aren’t marketed as “cross fitness” shoes (which I’m using them for), but rather as a more general training/HIIT gym shoe. It seems that Inov-8 is trying to attract a broader/different audience with the 215’s, or even new grassroots fitness communities, since ours isn’t so much of one anymore. Either way, the 215’s still work excellent for what we do as “cross fitnessers”.

Before receiving the shoes, I was thinking that they might not be good to lift in because of the way they’re marketed. The biggest difference from the 235 is the midsole construction, in that the 215 use an injection molded Fusion EVA midsole rather than a compressed one. While it’s similar in height and drop to the F-Lite 250 (20mm heel/12mm forefoot/8mm drop), the overall feel is different since the 235 and 250 both use the stiffer CMEVA Powerheel. You’ll notice that steps in the 215 have a little bit more “bounce” and are cushioned more, which favor running and plyometric movements, but that doesn’t exactly make them running shoes, as they’re still very responsive for lifting.

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One thing that takes a little bit of getting used to is the forward bias caused by having the larger drop. On the 250’s, you can anchor down more on the heel of the shoe since it doesn’t compress, where you might notice your feet sliding a little forward more in the 215’s due to the slightly more compressible midsole. Even though the majority of the cushioning is at at the heel of the shoe, it doesn’t give enough to detract from most lifts. I’d still use my 235’s for 1RM deadlifts or backsquats, but I felt comfortable enough to do all of my percentage lifting in the 215’s.

Where the 215’s shine the most is in the name: All-Train. These aren’t shoes designed just for lifting, they’re for everything in the fitness world. If you want to go on a trail run, then hit the gym for some lifting, and maybe even go on a swim – the All Train 215’s are the shoe for you. For me, they’re one of the most complete WOD shoes available. They have just enough cushioning to keep my feet comfortable for runs I’m doing in WODs, but I wouldn’t be afraid to wear them for up to a few miles. Since WOD’s don’t typically have 1RMs in them, they’ve been stable for all the lifting I’m doing in a WOD. They’re probably best suited for workouts with a fair amount of plyometric movements since they’re so flexible and most of all, lightweight. You’ll barely even feel like you have shoes on, except that the outsole lug pattern gives you excellent footing no matter what the surface is, asphalt, gravel, rubber or wood. For most people, you’ll never need another pair of training shoes!

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Value/Conclusion:

The All-Train 215’s retail for $110, but you can usually find them slightly discounted if you shop around. At MSRP they’re a steal, but if you can get them cheaper, it’s a no brainer. The All-Train 215’s are currently one of the best deals in training shoes.

I typically favor shoes that are just rigid, flat and favor weightlifting, but it’s impossible to not like the 215’s. If you were a fan of the 195, or more so the 240/230’s, you will no doubt be a fan of the 215. These shoes return to the greatness (not that they ever left) that were the original Inov-8 cross-training shoes. There are better lifting shoes and there are better running shoes, but there are very few shoes that have combined the two as well into a training shoe like the All-Train 215’s. If you’re a cross-fitnesser looking for a WOD shoe and you do your lifting in Oly shoes, or if you’re just someone looking for a damned good pair of training shoes, this is the one.

Get your Inov-8 All-Train 215’s here!

For additional information check out Inov-8’s product page.