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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.

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Nike Metcon DSX Repper Shoe Review

What if I told you that you could get the DSX Flyknit for only $100…?

Take the red pill.

It took a little bit, but the Nike Metcon DSX Reppers were finally launched sometime in mid February. Still, Nike’s product description about them left much to the imagination, not really giving you any kind of clue as to what they’re meant for. Based off of looks alone, they resemble a cross between the Metcon 2 and the DSX Flyknit; but they’re the lowest priced Metcon yet, retailing for a mere $100. Compared to the more expensive Metcon’s, the omission of the drop-in  midsole sounded alarming, but at the end of the day doesn’t make much of a difference. Which begs the question of even having the need for the drop-in midsole in the first place.

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Looks/Construction:

The best way to describe the DSX Reppers looks is to say that they’re a hodgepodge of all the Metcon’s before them. There’s a little bit of Metcon 1/2 and DSX Flyknit, with little to no design cues at all from the Metcon 3. The upper material is a knit material that’s not as elastic as Flyknit, but it’s beefier than the mesh on the Metcon 1’s and 2’s. On top of that are TPU overlays that seem more decorative than functional, and around the toe box gets beefier almost like a toe cap. Premium features like Flywire lacing are still present in the Reppers and if you opt for a college colorway, get premium laces to match; otherwise you’ll get the same flimsy style laces currently found on the Metcon and DSX Flyknit.

Though the outsole has no mention of “Sticky-Rubber”, the compound feels the same as it does on the more expensive models and in my experience, grips the same as well. Undoubtedly, the biggest difference between the Reppers and the more expensive models is the omission of the drop-in midsole. Instead you get a more standard Phylon midsole, densely compressed EVA foam, which is also found on other Nike running and lifestyle shoes. Obviously, the Reppers include a more standard Ortholite insole that is removable.

Though these might be budget priced, they don’t feel like budget shoes. The materials used rival any of the more expensive Metcon’s and matches the quality you’d come to expect from a Nike product. Personally, I actually think in some ways these feel more sturdy than the other Metcon’s. The woven mesh upper really feels like it could take a beating and since there is no drop-in midsole, there are no squeaking noises!

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Fit:

Typically, Metcon’s fit my feet the best out of any shoes out there.  The overall shape of the Reppers is the same, but I feel like they run closer in size to the DSX Flyknits, being a tad on the small side. A 9.5 Repper fit me a little bit on the tight side, as did the DSX Flyknits. I could use it and it wasn’t terrible, but I sized up to a 10 and now they’re much more comfortable, especially for running. If you’re in between sizes, go for the half size up from where you were.

Here are my sizes:

  • Metcon 3 – 9.5
  • DSX Flyknit – 9.5 but it’s tight, I would get a 10 next time.
  • Nano 6/7 – 10
  • Romaleos 3 – 9.5
  • CrazyPower – 9.5
  • Ultraboost – 9.5
  • NMD – 10

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Performance:

So what exactly are the DSX Repper’s good for? Everything! I know that’s a little vague and all, but they really are the answer for everything you’d come across in a WOD. Where the Metcon 3’s come short in the flexibility/comfort department, the Reppers are awesome. While the DSX Flyknits fall short in stability, the Reppers shine. It really is hard to believe that these are the “budget” models!

I was worried that since Nike cut the drop-in midsole out of the Reppers, they would be inferior for lifting. No, they’re not as stable as the Metcon 3’s for Olympic Weightlifting, mainly due to the much more flexible forefoot, but the Phylon midsole is extremely dense and does not have much give, if any at all. Responsiveness and power delivery is spot on; you’d feel like you’re lifting in any other Metcon unless you put them on back to back. For me, the DSX Flyknit midsole compressed a little more than I’d like, which ended up causing my feet to ache after repeated bounding. In the Reppers, the Phylon midsole creates a nice stable base that isn’t too soft or too hard.

Laterally, the stability of the Reppers is excellent and the foot bed cradles your foot without much roll over. Forward stability is where the Reppers struggle at a little bit, once again mainly due to the flexibility of the forefoot. Dynamic lifts are what I think the Metcon 3’s are better for, but the Reppers easily match up with the Flyknit’s, and in my opinion are better because of the slightly more flat and stable platform. For static lifts, the Reppers are excellent, there isn’t a ton of midsole compression like there is with the Flyknits, so they match up more closely to the Metcon 3; though I’d still rule in favor of the standard model.

Where the Reppers really shine, is the fact that they’re an all around metcon shoe. The forefoot flex grooves really do an amazing job providing flex at to toe for running and bounding exercises. Never have I felt like my feet were straining after multiple wall balls, double-unders or runs. The drop is 6mm like the Flyknits, but compared to the 4mm drop in the Metcon 3’s, you really won’t notice a huge difference.  The overall platform is still minimalist and the outsole shape is virtually identical to what you’d find on the original Metcon shoes. Dare I say that these might be the overall best WOD Metcon?!

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Value/Conclusion:

Like I said, it’s hard to believe that these are “budget” shoes; even performing better in some ways than the standard Metcons, yet only retailing for $100! Other than the Conviction-X, the DSX Reppers might be the most surprising shoe of the year. I feel just like with any other Metcon, you don’t have to worry about what you’re doing when you have them on. The DSX Reppers go to show that you don’t need all these new technologies to have an excellent performing training shoe. They’re a no frills, training shoe that successfully captures exactly what makes Metcons so good, but tweaks the formula making them a great all around shoe. These are what the DSX Flyknits should have been.

As of right now, I think these are my favorite Metcon’s right now because I can do ANYTHING in them and not have to worry. If it came down to having to compete or serious lifting, I would choose the standard Metcon 3’s, but day to day training, the Reppers are easier to live in. These are the best deal in training shoes.

Get your DSX Reppers here!

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LALO Tactical Maximus Grinder & Bloodbird Shoe Review

After TONs of requests, I finally got around to doing a review on some LALO Tactical shoes. I heard about these shoes a LONG time ago, but just never felt like they would fit my training purposes, so I never tried them. At the end of the day, I think they’re decent shoes, but just not optimal for my type of training. The Bloodbirds are great running/all terrain shoes, but the Maximus’ more closely fit a CrossFit WOD where you need stability, but also the ability to move. I’m actually surprised that the Maximus’ work as well as they do!