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Review: Invo-8 F-LITE 195

Inov-8 F-Lite 195

The Inov-8 F-LITE 195

This week, we take a moment to review an old favourite: the Inov-8 F-LITE 195.

Item: Inov-8 F-LITE 195
Price: $149.00 USD (Price may vary if purchased through local retailers)
Manufacturer: Inov-8
Purchase: Inov-8/Barefoot.inc

I’ve been wearing the same pair of black and white Inov-8s for a year now. Sadly, I seem to be a member of a shrinking minority with a huge number of people swapping their Inov-8s for a pair of Reebok Nanos.

I seem to have that effect though. Once-trendy objects usually come to me to die (I was probably the last person to give up her Sidekick phone, even though I still think they’re cool).

But it’s different with my Inov-8s. I’m still wearing them because I think they’re excellent shoes.

The Inov-8s are durable, functional, and comfortable. They’re suitable for a wide range of functional fitness movements, and are good all-round shoes that deliver a solid level of performance in each movement. Over the past year, I’ve used my pair of Invo-8 F-LITE 195’s in countless CrossFit® WODs, and plenty of other sports including running, cycling and playing basketball.

Here are my thoughts on the Invo-8 F-LITE 195:

Inov-8 F-Lite 195 flexi-test

The Good

Lightweight and flexible: The Invo-8 F-LITE 195’s are just that: super light. You’ll appreciate their next-to-nothing fit during workouts that involve running, burpees, box jumps, double unders, or gymnastic movements. Patented Meta-Flex technology in the forefoot gives you more flexibility as well, allowing for free, natural foot movement and function.

Stable: Don’t let their light weight throw you off, the Inov-8 F-Lite 195’s offer you incredible stability. Patented Met-Cradle webbing along the medial and lateral arches gives you added forefoot security. The “grippy” bottom of the shoe provides you with maximum traction as well, which I’ve found especially helpful during Prowler and sled pushes.

Breathable: The top of the shoe is built of breathable mesh fabric that dries quickly. If you sweat a lot, or just spend a significant portion of your day in your functional fitness shoes, you’ll love this feature.

Inov-8 F-Lite 195 sole

Ropetec reinforced medial and lateral arches: I actually purchased the Inov-8 F-Lite’s because I destroyed an old pair of running shoes during a rope climb. The medial and lateral arches on the Inov-8 F-Lite 195’s are reinforced with Ropetec technology, which is basically an added layer of durable, flexible material that prevents the shoe from fraying or falling to pieces during rope climbs. With Ropetec, you can keep your shoes in tact for longer. (NOTE: The ‘Classic’ version of this shoe does not come with Ropetec rope protection).

Slightly raised heel: I was once hesitant to admit this, but the Invo-8 f-LITE 195s are great lifting shoes. They’re no replacement for proper olympic lifters, but they’re fantastic for workouts that involve both snatches or clean & jerks, as well as running, burpees, box jumps, double unders, gymnastic movements, overhead squats, or wall balls. The slightly raised heel provides you with the stability and added mobility that olympic lifting shoes do, but their light weight allows you to perform other movements in a WOD quickly and efficiently.

Inov-8 F-Lite 195 heal

The Bad

Wear and tear on the sides of the shoe: The same mesh fabric that allows for maximum breathability on the outside of the shoe is also vulnerable to considerable wear and tear after regular use. Granted, I’ve had mine for a year, but the sides of the shoes where the knuckles of my first and fifth toe are located, are worn thin. Most people I know who have owned and trained consistently in a pair of Inov-8s have had the same problem. Holes or tears in the mesh fabric will appear in different places depending on how you move and how your weight is distributed when you walk, run, jump, and lift. While this doesn’t necessarily affect the function of the shoe, it is a bit disappointing given their price.

Reinforced arches and forefoot: The Met-Cradle webbing and Ropetec technology along the medial and lateral arches are great for added support and durability, but they do have the effect of feeling like “too much” shoe. When my Inov-8s were still relatively new, I always felt as though I had too much support around my arches and heel, which was incredibly uncomfortable given that I was used to wearing barely-there running shoes. I even noticed soreness in my arches and calves following any WODs involving running, box jumps, or double unders. But now that I’ve worn them in, the reinforced arches have broken down enough to be comfortable.

Inov-8 F-Lite 195 mesh material

Inov-8 F-Lite 195 mesh material

Conclusion

The Invo-8 F-LITE 195s are wonderful for athletes in need of lightweight, flexible, functional shoes that allow them to move freely and naturally. They’re great replacements for olympic lifting shoes during a workout, but shouldn’t replace proper lifters for snatch or clean & jerk work.

The Invo-8 F-LITE 195’s features have been carefully thought out, and are well placed to ensure that you have a comfortable, durable shoe that will deliver the dynamic, functional performance that CrossFit workouts demand.

The f-LITE series can be a bit pricey, but they’re well worth the investment.

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  • http://www.inov8australia.com.au Dylan

    Dylan here from Inov-8 Australia, thanks for the review of one of our all time favourites.

    I wanted to update everyone on whats coming / is here now for 2014. All Inov-8’s are in a state of constant improvement with every new release. For 2014 we have two major updates for the F-Lite series, the first is the introduction of a new upper mesh, maintain it’s breathability but increasing it’s durability. It’s a new 3 dimensional mesh and is being rolled out with the first updated colour being the Black/Red 195 and the Blue/Lime 240 both offering the new material. Our testing has delivered great results without sacrificing the shoes signature light weight. The close up photos show the fabric difference Blue = 2014 / Green = 2013.

    The second new feature is a refined and updated fit, the current 195 is built on the Performance last which is slightly snugger to deliver a firm fit to ensure the shoe has no excess space. While this is great for many, those of use with a larger foot will be happy to know the 195 and 240 will both becoming in a Standard more relaxed fit a bit later in the year.

    We are very excited with the 2014 updates as they deliver the two most requested improvements for the classic functional fitness shoes.

    Again, thank you for the review.

    • http://therxreview.com/ Michael: The Rx Review.com

      No worries Dylan and thanks for the update.

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  • Anonymous

    Was holding on purchasing these till I saw this. Thank for the review Lisa!

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  • Michelle

    After a bit of research (and a read of your post!) I recently purchased a pair of these in standard fit to replace my old cross-trainers (I tend to do a mix of light running / weights / personal training sessions / occasional tennis). My feet and I are tough on shoes (I’m only 5ft 5 but a size 41, broad at the toe, and walk everywhere), and I was (I thought) not the best at balance. Until I got these shoes. They’re as comfortable as a pair of socks, whatever exercise I’m doing. They’re light but (and this was unexpected) made me feel very stable (this is mega for me, as last year I’d a bad hip tendon, it’s taken me a while to recoup, and while it’s now mended, left me feeling a tad nervous on the side-to-side balance front). My only vague concern with my new shoes is my (hate to say the word) bunions punching through the fabric at the sides (which happened to my previous shoes, which were New Balance). I see in the note from Dylan below that improvements are coming in the mesh, but I’m not sure if what I’ve just bought is old stock or not, and so maybe missed the cut to the upgrade (I’ve got a black pair with teal sole and inner, with purple detail in the laces and brand name on the outer). All up, though, so far so (very) good – well pleased.

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