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!
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:
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…
Going back a few years, when Inov-8 released the FastLift 335, I thought it was a revolutionary shoe. The first time I saw it, was at the Inov-8 booth at the 2013 OC Throwdown. From it’s good looks to some innovative (no pun intended) features that made it stand out as a hybrid lifter, I knew I had to have it. They became my primary lifting shoes for a few years, with me even preferring them over my Romaleos and Adipowers. So what made them special? The .65″ heel height for me was spot on. Call me crazy, but I always feel that .75″ heeled shoes push me too far forward. My ankle dorsiflexion is pretty good, but my hips are generally pretty tight, leaving me with a more forward position altogether. This is also why I prefer flat shoes to lifters when I squat and clean; but snatching, pistols and overhead squats, I will wear lifters for.
I managed to score a pair of FastLift 370’s from being an Inov-8 tester. Inov-8 changing things up again by the Boa dial system. I loved that shoe for the ease of slipping it on and tightening with a couple twists while retaining everything good about the 335 and just slightly increasing the weight. The newest iteration, the 325,replaces the now defunct 335. It’s more of an update to that shoe, featuring a standard lacing system, Power-Truss heel, .65 heel height, it weighs a little less and some new colors. Honestly, I wasn’t planning on discontinuing use of my 370’s but I couldn’t say no at the opportunity to test out the newest iteration of the FastLift series.
If you’ve never tried out Inov-8 lifters before, they make their name by providing the lightest oly shoe, that is stable, flexible and has a slightly lower heel than most oly shoes. Like the Inov-8 F-Lite 250’s I just reviewed, the heel is 17mm/.65″, slightly shorter than most dedicated oly shoes. Obviously the target audience in mind is one that would need to be able to go from lifting, to burpees to double unders while not needing to switch your shoes. Like all of the previous FastLift models, the 325 is capable of doing all these things without much issue. Will double unders in them be totally comfortable, no, but they’re doable and you’ll still get the benefits of having a rigid, elevated heel for pistols. You’re just going to need to compromise; compared to dedicated oly shoes, transitioning from lifting to gymnastics movements in the 325s (or any FastLift) is a breeze.
Being a capable functional fitness shoe is one thing, but the 325’s should be not taken lightly for a serious pair of platform ready shoes. Returning is the Power-Truss heel system that brings an extremely lightweight, but 100% rigid outsole for lifting. I really think the flexibility of the forefoot in the 325’s helps immensely with split jerks and even when you need to take a few steps to save a lift gone awry. Some people have complained that the lightweight nature of the shoe is detrimental to stability; while you won’t feel as planted to the ground as Romaleos, you also don’t have to deal with the heft of them either. Once again, a compromise I’m willing to make because I have issues with moving my feet anyways; I don’t need anything slowing them down.
When sizing the Inov-8 325’s, you should go with your normal shoe size. Typically with lifting shoes, I go half a size down because they run big. The 325’s are more trainer-esque and so is the last they probably designed it on; they fit more like a regular shoe than a lifter. For reference, I wear a 9.5, just like all of my other shoes, besides my Romaleos and Leistung’s that are size 9. Another thing to note, while the Inov-8’s may look more narrow than other lifters, they’re still designed with their standard fit. Fear not, these are not narrow shoes at all. While everyone’s doing all sorts of new synthetic uppers, Inov-8 chose to go with nylon rip-stop fabric with a ballistic nylon mesh in the toe area. The Power-Truss heel extends slightly upward and acts as a cup for your heel for added lateral stabilty. A single medial velcro strap locks down the top of the shoe and the outsole provides excellent grip with the “suction” cup design at the heel. As always, build quality is excellent and I wouldn’t worry about durability issues (my 335’s are still immaculate looking too).
So what could be wrong with the 325’s? Like the 250’s, the lack of interesting color ways is probably the main flaw. Another thing, that isn’t actually Inov-8’s fault is that there are just other popular big brands that people will gravitate towards. I can see the weightlifting hipsters turning their noses up towards the Inov-8’s because of their dual functionality marketing, which is a shame, because the 325’s are a very capable shoe both ways.
For current owners of the 335, while the 325 is an excellent replacement, it’s just an evolution of the 335 and honestly doesn’t really warrant the upgrade for the loss of 10g. Unless of course your shoes are wrecked. For those of you looking for a hybrid fitness/oly shoe for the first time, you won’t find anything nicer than what Inov-8 has to offer (unless you REALLY needed that extra .10″). There’s just nothing that is as lightweight and comfortable to both WOD and lift in as the FastLift series.
Inov-8 has a long standing history of being a “functional fitness” shoe, without actually saying anything about being a functional fitness shoe. When I first started fitnessing, there weren’t very many options; Reebok, Inov-8 or Vibram. I owned a few pairs of Vibrams but I was on the tail end of my “barefoot” phase. Reebok was, well, just Reebok. Inov-8 was completely new to me, and the 195’s were on sale, so I went that route. The feeling I first got when I put them on was unlike any I ever had when I first got a shoe; they felt exceptional. Minimal, but not barefoot, fitted but flexible, and oh so lightweight. Not to mention the grey and red colorway was beautiful. It had all the makings of a functional fitness shoe, features that would be mainstays for all the fitness shoes for years to come. Until they didn’t…
Inov-8 training shoes are distinguished by their “F-Lite” monicker. Now you’ve got two different styles of fit, with their precision (narrow) and standard (wider) fits. That old 195 has gotten a few improvements over the years, but still remains true to its heritage; bare bones, lightweight and functional. A year ago or so, the 235 came on to the scene, providing something a little more similar to what the “big brands” were doing, with a slightly wider platform, increased rope protection, and a thicker, but more dense outsole. With the addition of the F-Lite 250, we see most of those same traits, with something radically different: a raised heel.
Typically, with Oly shoes, you’ll find anything from a .75″ heel (Romaleo/Adipower), all the way to 1.25″ (Anta/Position). With both Inov-8 oly shoes and the 250’s, you’ll find a 17mm/.65″ heel, only a tenth of an inch shorter than two of the most popular lifting shoes in the world. Why not a full 3/4 inch, probably because these shoes are mainly marketed towards functional fitnessers, whereas the Romaleos and Adipower are weightlifting shoes that have been adapted to fitness. An elevated heel, helps out with correcting mistakes and improving mobility, but having too high of a heel can be bothersome when you’re doing things like running and box jumps. Due to the nature of Oly shoes, they also have an incompressible heel and a rigid outsole, making them unsuitable for most metcons.
Since the 250’s were made for fitness as a whole, the heel is slightly more forgiving for things like running, but is still far more dense than a typical outsole, even more so than the forefoot of this shoe; which is still very flexible as it’s made for agility tasks. Metaflex grooves enhance toe splay for running and their facia band helps provide energy through the midfoot while running. The forefoot stands at 7mm from the ground, making the heel to toe drop 8mm, which is much steeper than normal training shoes, but never feels uncomfortable or even out of the ordinary. If you’re one of those people that are constantly switching between lifting shoes and trainers, you will love the F-Lite 250. Even with the raised heel, I managed to pull 535 for a deadlift PR; albeit with a tad bit of forward lean at the top. That just goes to show you how dense the outsole is on the 250.
Another thing that is inherent with Oly shoes is the weight of them. That 250 in the name, refers to how many grams the shoes weigh, in ounces just under 9 oz.! They’re not even the lightest shoe you can get from Inov-8 and they still weigh less than most of the competition. Both weight and the outsole density translate into overall response time, basically meaning how fast the shoes react to your movements. Heavier shoe and squishier, cushioned outsole = slower movements and bad power delivery. I hope things are starting to come together yet about the F-Lite 250.
When sizing the 250’s, you should go with whatever you’d normally wear in Reebok’s or Nike’s. Half a size up from Chuck Taylors or Inov-8 195’s. I consider this shoe “true to size”. For reference, I wear size 9.5 in Reebok, Nike, F-Lite 250 and size 9 in Chucks and 195’s.
This shoe is EXCELLENT for all things functional fitness, it truly is well rounded, like the athletes it caters to. Imagine doing a workout like “Amanda” (ring muscle-ups/snatches), where you would want to be able to have nothing weighing you down, but would benefit from a raised heel. By adding the Powerheel and retaining the legendary lightweight/flexible qualities that Inov-8 shoes are known for, they took a step outside of the box and totally nailed it with the 250. The main issue that I have with the shoe is that there just aren’t any interesting colorways yet. Another thing I fear is that many will overlook this shoe just because it’s not one of the “big brands” and they haven’t sponsored any of the “popular” athletes. If you’re contemplating this shoe, don’t, just buy it and enjoy it. My only regret is not picking this one up earlier! While Inov-8 (a huge thank you to them!) provided this shoe to me for review, that does not affect my elation for the 250. You owe it to yourself to try this shoe out, they’re just that good.