The Inov8 brand has quickly become a favorite among the minimalist running shoe community. They also work great for CrossFit workouts that combine running and lifting movements.
The running community is finally coming to grips with the fact that the traditional, bulky, overly supportive, running shoes made by the major manufacturers are actually causing injuries rather than preventing them. The problems stem from the traditional shoes leading to altered form and weakening of the intrinsic muscles of the foot.
Inov8 does not make traditional running shoes, they have always focused on making shoes that do not alter people’s natural gait, but instead protect the feet from rocks and other hazards while allowing people to run with the natural gait that we all evolved to use. They also have a wide toe box which allows your foot to spread naturally to absorb much of the shock of each stride. Over time this will strengthen the muscles in the feet, lead to fewer injuries and a more powerful stride.
The Inov8 F-Lite 195 and F-Lite 230 are named for their weight. The 195’s weigh 195 grams and the 230’s weigh 230 grams. They were designed as mountain racing shoes, but have probably become the most popular shoe for CrossFit. The minimal heel-to-toe differential 6mm (1/4″)on the 230 and the 3 mm (1/8″) on the 195 and the lack of the extraneous “squishy” padding make the shoes excellent for movements that require stable footing, like squat cleans and thrusters, the light weight does not hinder exercises like pull-ups and muscle ups and flexibility of the shoes are fantastic for exercises like burpees and box jumps. Of course, the shoes also excel when being used for running whether it is part of a CrossFit workout or a dedicated run.
If you are of the opinion, like many, that the only thing a shoe needs is a piece of rubber on the sole to protect you from glass, you will love the Inov8 Bare-X 200. There is no heel-to-toe differential and no midsole. This is the closest you will get to running barefoot without exposing your feet to the elements.
Inov8’s were such an instant success when they were introduced that distributors have always had a hard time keeping them in stock. Try a pair. You will not go back.