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.
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.
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
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.
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.
- Great cushion and energy return for running.
- Stable enough to lift most weights in.
- Flexible and lightweight frame allows the foot to move naturally.
- Won’t fit everyone because they’re narrow.
- Styling is still ho-hum.
- People might overlook them!
- Durability of the new up is yet to be determined.
- They run really long.
Not a full review, but just a first impressions and what I’ve noticed about the changes between the original Nano 7.0 and the new Weave. Full performance review is coming, but for now this will probably answer most of your questions on this shoe!
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.
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.
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
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.
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!
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.
With all the talk about Nano this, Metcon that, it’s easy for Inov-8 to get overshadowed by the bigger companies. The grand papi of minimalist training shoes, and really the first functional fitness shoe (besides Vibrams), Inov-8 just keeps on chugging along making great trainers that often get overlooked because their marketing budget just isn’t quite as big as the other giants. They’re still producing the widely loved and well regarded 195, which you can find being worn in many boxes to this date. The 195 was a workhorse of a shoe that just did everything right, without any fancy bells or whistles. Sure, it has it’s share of shortcomings, but if you wanted flexible, comfortable, minimal and lightweight, the 195 is the shoe to get…well…until Inov-8 brought out the 235.
Last year’s model of 235’s took Inov-8’s training shoe know how and upped it 100%. Many issues that plagued their previous training shoes were addressed, and it was one of the finest training shoes I had ever used. The 250 was a spin on the 235’s, and ended up being one of my favorite training shoes of the year. Fresh off the press, the 235v2’s look to up the ante by improving on everything that made the 235’s excellent to make a play for the title of the best functional fitness shoe.
Quite possibly the only thing that’s going to prevent the 235v2’s from being a star in the functional fitness world, are it’s hate it or love it looks. Personally, I don’t hate the way the shoes look, but I don’t love them either. I can appreciate them trying to do something different with the styling, which to be honest, is pretty true to Inov-8’s standards. Most people are not going to see it the way that I do and will go for one of the more “safe” choices. The actual silhouette of the shoe isn’t awful, but some of the colorways don’t quite get along with the lines of the shoe. The grey/blue/black scheme that I got is definitely the best of the bunch and I have gotten compliments on it. Though I have heard quite the opposite about some of the others. This can easily be remedied down the line, as Inov-8 usually does this and then adds in more “safe” colorways later on.
The F-Lite 235 is a completely new shoe designed specifically for functional fitness, but it still carries on the creed of the 195, with enhancements for today’s athletes. Sporting the new “Standard” fit, the 235v2’s has a wider base and much denser heel for stability during lifts. A well known issue with the 195’s was the durability; a few rope climbs and you’d see some pretty substantial damage to the shoe. Inov-8 added the Rope-Tec guard a little bit later on in the 195’s life, but honestly it didn’t do a ton to fix the issue as you couldn’t always count on the rope being in that exact spot. The redesigned 360 Rope-Tec system now carries onto the 235v2’s upper and with the inclusion of the much denser outsole, provide excellent tracking and durability against rope climbs.
On the feet, the 235v2’s feel just as well built as any of the top fitness shoes on the market. You can definitely feel the solidity of of the Powerheel, but also how incredibly flexible the new “AdapterFit” technology upper is. During movement the upper conforms to your foot and provides one of the most natural feeling shoe experiences around. Upon entering the shoe, you’ll notice the midfoot “hug” from the Met-Cradle, which provides a more customized fit in the midfoot. Also new to the 235v2’s is the external heel counter that was present in the 250’s, working hand in hand with the Powerheel to up the shoe’s stability.
The flat laces are more dense but have the tendency to become untied unless you really tighten them up. Another slight annoyance is that the toe area of the shoes have a tendency to attract dirt and marks that take a little more than water to wipe away; nitpicking here, but it drives my clean shoe OCD crazy.
This time around, I went with a size 10 compared to my normal size of 9.5. I’ve been finding myself needing to size up lately as deep into workouts, my feet have the tendency to swell and my toes jam up into the front of them. The front toe guard is kind of a double edge sword here: it’s gives extra protection when doing burpees, but if you’ve got Morton’s toe like me, it’s inability to flex will end up smashing your second toe. Only an issue I had deep into workouts with the 250’s, but isn’t an issue with my size 10 235v2’s. The fit is comfortable and never feels too big, so consider going up half a size ONLY if your second toe is longer than your big toe.
The 235v2’s are FLAT, just the way I like it. Since the fall of “minimal” shoes happened (Vibram?), there hasn’t been a ton of zero drop shoes on the market. Personally, I like to do everything in flat shoes, and the flatter the better; granted this might not be the same for everyone, especially those with poor mobility. Is this a huge departure from the popular training shoes on the market? Nope, most of them have a 4mm drop, which is pretty darn close to nothing, and it doesn’t take long at all to get acclimated to a zero drop shoe. What is quite different than most of the shoes out there, is the amount of ground feel that you get from the 235v2’s due to its low (10.5mm/3mm insole) stack height. The 235v2’s are as close to “barefoot” shoes as you can get without sacrificing protection. This makes for a very responsive, if not the most responsive feeling training shoe out there.
The outsole brings back some familiar technology in the Meta-Flex split grooves and Dynamic Facia Band (DFB). The latter keeps you in motion while the former makes it so your foot doesn’t feel constrained doing it. The pattern used is designed to maximize the contact area of the shoe’s sticky rubber outsole, giving you a sure step every time. Traction in any terrain has never been an issue and is maximized if you’re stepping into a gym with rubber flooring. Tread with confidence.
Power delivery is excellent with anything from Olympic lifts to plyometric movements. This has been my “go-to” shoe, and I haven’t ever looked back towards any of my big named shoes. Not saying they’re not excellent picks either, but the 235v2’s are just as good, if not better at things. Squatting in the 235v2’s couldn’t feel any better due to the zero drop and extremely dense Powerheel. I’ve saved some snatched that had gone awry from the 235v2’s keeping my feel planted into the ground. Did I mention that these are the most flexible trainers I’ve ever used? I did, but just so you know, moving around in the 235v2’s is like a breath of fresh air. Speaking of which, the 235v’2s are also the most breathable shoe I’ve ever used. Probably awesome during the summer, but also could be a bad thing if you live in cold areas. It’s getting California cold (50-60 degrees, lol), and sometimes my feet can get really cold.
If you’re looking for a true, minimal training shoe, this is the one. Zero drop, flexibility of a Yogi, reflexes of an F-1 car and light as a feather at 8.2 oz.
The F-Lite 235v2’s run for a standard price of $129.99 per pair. This puts them in direct contention with the major manufacturers. I know you’re thinking you might as well go with the popular options for that price, but if you’re looking for a minimalist fitness experience, the big names just can’t deliver. Don’t get me wrong, they’re excellent shoes and some people might be looking for a little more support, or like the styling better, but give the 235v2’s a shot and I promise you won’t be disappointed. The purist experience just can’t be replicated by anything other than the Inov-8 F-Lite 235’s.
Now to check out the crazier All-Train 215’s…