The Inov-8 F-LITE 235 is a performance training shoe designed with the versatile athlete in mind. This is not your typical gym shoe, where one concept is used throughout to try to get something that is okay at everything. Inov-8 uses a completely different approach, using different materials for different parts of the upper, and a mid and outsole designed with specific movements and exercises in mind. The end result is a highly responsive cross-trainer that achieves a level of technical performance approaching perfection.
|A Quick Overview
|Sticky rubber outsole, providing traction on a variety of surfaces
An upper cleverly designed to wrap your foot like a glove, while still allowing for fluid movements
A zero-drop platform for increased stability and proper body mechanics while lifting
Each part of the shoe is designed specifically to excel at different cross-training workouts.
|Having a 40% denser heel unit helps while lifting, but hurts if used for longer runs
The exterior of the midsole looks a little worn after a while
The F-Lite 235 is without a doubt the most technically flawless shoe I have ever used. What initially looks like a duckbilled platypus setup, with a mostly mesh upper being interrupted by sections of neoprene and harder materials for the toe, I was confused. I couldn’t imagine the logic behind the setup; at least not until I hit the gym in them.
Once I started training in them, I began to realize the purpose of each odd thing they did. The section of neoprene that they installed over the first MP joint of the foot (the base of the big toe) is of particular genius to me. This allows added flexibility and durability to that key joint, while always keeping a nice wrap like feel to the shoe. The midsole is designed with an extremely dense heel for stability during heavy lifting, with a less dense forefoot to take off pressure for running, burpees, box jumps, and more. The outsole wraps up onto the upper to allow for maximum grip and minimum foot risk during rope climbing. The outsole is designed for maximum flexibility of movement, while still providing traction for cross-training activities. I could go on with the positives for this section for days.
The only reason that I took off 1.5 points for this section is because of a lack of adaptability to soft, wet ground; and that the midsole is a little tough for distance running. However, I have used them for runs up to 3.5 miles with no discomfort.
It’s a little hard to rate this section, as they are primarily designed for indoor use. If I was giving a rating for traction on indoor surfaces only, they’d be a 10. Wet or dry, wood floors, tile, or even outdoors on hardball, they’re not slipping. The sticky rubber outsole gives great traction for sprints and quick lateral movements. They performed perfectly on the slick basketball court, and even gave the traction needed for fast kicking drills for kickboxing.
The only problem with the traction on these shoes is that they are clearly not meant for activities like playing in the mud. I had no problems running around in the grass with them, until it was soft dirt underneath. As you can see from the pictures, the bottom is extremely flat, containing no lugs or tread. While this setup is perfect for the gym and blacktop, this isn’t the shoe you’ll want for your next mud run.
The upper of the F-LITE wraps the foot perfectly, so you don’t slide around inside the shoe. The midsole is a zero-drop compressed EVA, putting you at your body’s natural angle for all movements. The outsole is a flat, sticky rubber with a pattern designed for flexibility and 360 degree movements. To give the shoe anything less than a 10 in this department would just be a crime.
Comfort & Style: 9/10
If you’ve ever worn a wetsuit, or neoprene gloves, that is essentially what the fit of these shoes is like. They do feel snug, but not in an uncomfortable way. I have a very wide forefoot, so many shoes make my foot feel claustrophobic. That’s not the case with the F-LITE’s, because the material is so flexible that you don’t lose your freedom of movement.
As for style, I love the sleek, slick look of them. Also, I live in Wisconsin, so them coming in Packers colors has made me very popular whenever I wear them out in public. Somehow, they managed to mix half a dozen different types of materials for the upper, and it still looks smooth.
The F-Lite 235 is available on Amazon for prices ranging from $72 to $130.
And if you are in the military, Inov-8 offers a big discount on many of its products. They offer military personnel up to 50% off all of their products through www.promotive.com
Who should buy them? People who exercise. Truly, you’d be hard pressed to find a better pair of gym shoes. It doesn’t matter if you’re mostly into lifting, if you’re playing basketball, or if you’re doing crossfit; the F-LITE 235’s are going to be a great shoe choice for you. The versatility of the shoe is its strongest selling point.
I always make my reviews as unbiased as possible to give you guys the most accurate picture of what product will suit your needs best. Sometimes that’s easy, because I may not like a product too much. Other times I have to spend half of my time using a product trying to figure out any negatives I can write about. With this shoe, it’s the latter. If you workout, and you’re not looking for a distance running shoe or something to run around in the mud with, this shoe is a good bet.