So it’s been several months since the purchase of My Inov8 F-lite 230’s and nearly six months since I ordered my New Balance Minimus MT20 WinterRun editions, and so far the results are good. Both shoes have seen regular rotations through my workout routines which now include frequent Cross Training bouts, running, and rope climbing. Neither shoe has broken down ripped or come de-laminated which is more than I can say for newer models of NB Minimus shoes. In fact both pairs of Minimus my girlfriend Gwen has purchased in the last three months have torn along the mesh where the upper meets the lower. Doing some research of my own it seems this has become a pretty regular issue with these shoes, if used for anything other than light trail running.
Both shoes have minimal wear in the tread and under sole, though the softer material of the Inov8 has lost much of its stippling pattern on the forefoot. I attribute this mostly to my forefoot running style and rope climbs. On a side note the F-lite and rope definitely do not get along. After the first workout involving this cross training staple the inside arch of my right shoe looked like it had lost a fight to a hungry tiger. Inov8 has addressed this very issue with a line of “CrossFit” specific shoes in the Bare-X family featuring an integral rope guard. I will continue using my dependable F-lite’s for the foreseeable future though or until I win the lottery and have some spare cash. Other than this one issue my Inov8’s have soaked up all the abuse I can give them without complaint or much visible evidence that I’ve even took them out of the box they shipped in. Honestly these really are some of the best shoes I’ve ever worn.
It’s Ironic to me that my earlier review of the NB Minimus MT20 continues to be my most viewed article online. These shoes are now the third string contenders in NB’s rapidly growing shoe line but you just can’t beat a good value on a quality shoe I guess. For those unaware of the differences between the WinterRun edition and regular MT20’s it all comes down to the construction of the upper. Regular models feature an open mesh pattern with large holes, well-known for letting mud, dirt, dust, and debris into the interior. The Winterized shoes feature solid leather like material that is water-resistant and slightly insulated. I have used them on trail runs and Obstacle Races and they were phenomenal both in their ability to keep my feet reasonably dry and to maintain their grip even when covered in thick clay mud.
Compared to the Inov8’s the Minimus are slightly heavier and not nearly as flexible in the sole but in many ways this is a good thing for a trail shoe. The thick Vibram outsole does a very good job of protecting feet from pebbles, stones, and sharp rocks. On paper the two are identical in heel-to-toe drop and sole thickness but in feel the Minimus translate as barely there slippers despite their heavier weight. I appreciated that barely there feel this morning as I was dangling from a set of suspension rings.
In the time since purchasing these shoes both manufactures have introduced updates and alternative models but for the money you can’t go wrong with either. I will continue thrashing them thrice a week at my cross training gym and on the local roads and trails. If you’re in the market for a serious training shoe look these two up and compare both would be great options to any athletes stable but if I had to choose only one, I’d put my money on the Inov8. The Minimus are great shoes especially for trail running or Obstacle Racing but increasing durability issues and specialized focus are making them just impractical for active people. For $100 the Inov8 is a jack-of-all-trades that’s ready for any challenge.