Inov-8 Fastlift 325
The Inov-8 Fastlift 325 is a minimalist shoe for weightlifting and light cross-training. The visible heel lift gives you an edge when pushing uploaded barbells, but is not as severe as a powerlifting or designated squat shoe. The 325 is also exceptionally light, which adds to the flexibility and lets you jump around for HIIT workouts or CrossFit WODs.
Inov-8 has a line of BOA shoes, for different applications, which lace up using a plastic handwheel and elastic wires. The 325 uses laces and a metatarsal strap instead of the BOA system. Laces tuck away during use, and the strap ensures a tight fit with moderate immobilization for your feet. The foundation of the shoe is a honeycomb plate heel, with pillars for balance and stability. Heel to toe drop is moderate, too, but will give you an edge during your standing Olympic routines.
The durable TPU heel and truss-backed outsole are comparable to what you’d find on a more expensive competitor product. Read on and find out if the Inov-8 Fastlift 325 can be your new best friend.
Some lifting shoe features, in a more flexible package with cross-training application
Lightweight reduces ankle fatigue during intense workouts
Laces and metatarsal strap ensures a snug fit
Can comfortably do plyometric, explosive, jumping and speed rope activities
Mesh uppers are breathable, flexible, durable, and easy to clean
Honeycomb style heel absorbs shock and keeps you stable
Good traction and shock absorption on outsole thanks to Powertruss components
Light weight may interfere with planting feet for powerlifters
Strap not thick or secure enough for those requiring a perfectly stable foot
The total weight of the shoe is 11.7 ounces. This is partly from the mesh construction, but also from the lack of extra cushion, thin rubber sole, and foam injection material for the shoe innards. You will be able to move rapidly around the gym, and the synthetic uppers let your skin both flex and breathe. There's not much marking or decoration on the shoe aside from the Inov-8 logo across the toe box.
We know a thing or two about heel lifted shoes, and we can attest that this is one of the lightest shoes with a lifted heel that you can find. The lift gives you a mechanical and range of motion advantage when you do squats, and may also improve deadlift efficiency. If you want to turn these into squat shoes, there are plenty of foam wedge heel inserts for less than the price of socks. These shoes won't let you down during a farmer carry, either, though you probably don't want to try World's Strongest Man/Woman weight loads for very long.
To clean the shoes, use a soft damp rag. Stubborn stains or scuffs will respond to mild detergent and a soft nylon brush, or virtually any sneaker shampoo on the market. You can find brushes or sneaker shampoo at shoe retailers as well as department stores and sporting goods stores. To protect the finish, spray the entire shoe except for the rubber with a waterproof sealant designed for shoes. Spraying the rubber can break it down, and may make the very bottom slick which will compromise your safety and cause you to lose traction. Don't wear the shoes without socks for extended periods. The shoe is snug, but there's always room for a low-profile ankle brace or some compression sleeves to reduce soreness.
Though Inov-8 discontinued the Fastlift 325 in favor of upgraded models with higher numbers, you can find the shoes at many online retailers. They will be discounted versus the original retail price.
When and why did Inov-8 discontinue the Fastlift 325? We'd love to tell you. All we know is it doesn't show up when we search the website. We Googled things like "Inov-8 Fastlift 325 Discontinued," and all we found were more product pages and reviews. We weren't able to contact Inov-8 in time for this review, either.
We did call a couple of outdoor gear retailers who carry Inov-8 products. They confirmed that, when a company stops making a shoe, they almost always stop supporting it as well. So, while you can still score a pair of Fastlift 325s new in the box, you won't be covered under any warranty in case of failure or damage. When we say the shoes are tough, we mean they are tough; still, accidents can happen to anyone. There are plenty of shoe repair shops, online and off, who will be able to deep clean or repair these shoes for you if the need arises.
Comfort/Ease Of Use
The metatarsal strap helps a lot, too. It is made of Velcro and won't come loose, though all Velcro is subject to debris collecting on it. Clean this off after every use. Otherwise, the debris will prevent complete closure after a while. The shoes are comfortable enough to wear on outings and errands outside the gym. If you are into outdoor cycling, you could do a lot worse than this for pedal-gripping road shoes. We're talking about BMX pedals, of course.
Though the tongue is soft and non-cutting, it won't give you the padded ankle support you get from high top lifters. Remember, though, you can stash most any ankle wrap or brace into the shoe along with your foot. It may get tight, and you may sweat a little more, but the overall design and mesh material will alleviate this issue. You have room to insert a third-party insole, for added cushioning and a bit of antimicrobial action. To speed up transitions, try a bungee-style lace-lock that will turn any eyeleted sneaker into a comfy slip-on.
Who Needs It
If you work at a desk and don't go barefoot (like your editors do), the shoe will support you during regular stretch and move breaks. It may even help keep your feet from falling asleep. There's nothing worse than that pins and needles feeling you get when you are caught up in a seated task and don't remember to dance at your desk. You don't dance at your desk? We suppose we can let it slide, this time.
Staying active is important, and there are as many ways to do it as there are people with bodies. The 325s will support you in all those pursuits, and you'll look great wearing them.
The Final Word
Since there's not a lot of cushioning, you may go with a sole insert if you will be on your feet a lot in the shoes. They are suited for cycling, short distance runs, outdoor walks, and fast-paced CrossFit or HIIT workouts as well. The shoe has been discontinued, but that means it will cost less. You can still find the Inov-8 Fastlift 325 at many online retailers. It gets consistently high reviews, with the most common gripe being the lack of heavy lifting support and the narrower strap size. Laces are secure and tuck away during wear. The shoe is stylish and easy to keep clean, so you will enjoy wearing them and they are free of excess decoration.
Our final editor score is 9 out of 10, based on about 500 aggregate reviews and Amazon sales ranking. At the time of this writing, the Fastlift 325 was available from up to a dozen Amazon sellers. The shoe comes in both men's and women's sizes, with women's coming in more colors. Fit and application are the same across genders.