Ever since the rumor of this shoe first landed I’ve been waiting to get my hands on a pair. In the meantime I scoured the internet for a good review and unfortunately still can’t find one. But the search is over I’ve been using a pair almost daily for a couple of weeks now and I have some good things to say.
First let me begin by saying I’ll probably never wear my old Reebok Lifters again after this. The Inov-8 is just such a better shoe all the way around. It has better fit, better stability, lighter weight, better tongue and lockdown strap design; it is all the way around just a better shoe. I feel like the designer actually spent some time doing Olympic Lifts and squats instead of just watching it play out on ESPN.
My favorite feature of this shoe is that its a one-piece unit. The few attachments such as the strap anchor and heel cup gussets are heat welded on or use flat stitching. My Reeboks constantly bit into my foot no matter how often I re-baked the u-form tongue or adjusted the strap. These shoes just feel right. In fact they feel just like all my other Inov-8 shoes; barely there at all.
There are no real gimmicks here other than the color options. Inov-8 studied some of the best shoes on the market adopted what worked and discarded everything else leaving a shoe that focuses on rock solid stability and comfort. Compared to the Reebok the toe portion of the sole is a bit stiffer but I had no trouble completing several rounds of double-unders and box jumps in them. Inov-8 says that short runs are possible but I feel like anyone who attempts any length of running in these shoes is an idiot and asking for injury. These shoes are made for heavy lifting and occasional multi-WOD use but not running WODs. The sooner we all accept that about our shoes and stop asking our lifters to do something they can’t the better off our feet will be.
I have used my shoes primarily for squatting, Cleans and Jerks, and two Snatch sessions. They do significantly increase my range of motion but also understand that I have excellent mobility in my knee and hip girdle to begin with. My numbers have indeed gone up; most noticeably in the back squat and clean. While my snatch total hasn’t PR’s I do feel much more comfortable pulling under the bar and in the bottom. I’ve even used these in a deadlift session just to see what happened and I still felt rock steady. Lifting shoes like this are about transferring power to the ground by giving you a solid slightly raised platform to push off of and that’s exactly what the Inov-8 does.
Time will tell how these stand up to repeated abuse but I’m optimistic about it. Of course I have no illusions about the bright yellow color staying pristine around black bumper plates and metal bars, but that’s okay. Finally these shoes run right around $150 on Amazon, Zappos, and Rogue Fitness. While it’s not cheap compared to a normal tennis shoe its a bargain set beside Reebok’s New Lifter plus, and Nike’s Romaleo 2. I would definitely recommend this shoe to anyone wanting to improve their lifts in CrossFit or in general. Dedicated Olympic Lifters might be better served by traditional wood heeled shoes or the Romaleo but I couldn’t tell you from experience. My shoes ran true to size and fit my wide feet snugly but not to tight.
Pros: great design, lightweight, great stability, good fit, nice laces, solid heel platform
Cons: a little expensive, limited color choice, uncertain wear over time