Inov-8 F 235 V 2 Review
The F Lite 235 v 2 is an upgrade to the company's much-lauded F Lite 235, which released in 2014. That shoe won awards and recognition from Shape Magazine, Men's Journal, and other commercial outlets. The original F Lite stood out for its low weight, and the v 2 weighs even less while providing a stable lifting platform and excellent ground feel. The shoe weighs just 235 grams.
Other features include a protective rubber cap on the toe, thicker and more subtle than the shell toe that is popular on some casual sneakers. It will protect you from some dropped equipment. The lace cradle, too, is an update. It has separate stitched horizontal straps for each lace, attached to the exterior of the upper. The lace closure is snug, with no eyelets to wear out and no opportunity for the laces to come loose. The hard rubber outsole is thin, with grooves along the forefoot area to add flexibility and allow movement.
As you may have guessed from our description, this is a lifting/cross-training shoe. Inov-8 says it can stand up to your most grueling lifting sessions. Is it for you? Come with us and find out.
Comfortable and supportive
Breathable with mesh uppers
Lightweight and flexible
Build allows us for many types of workouts
The stiff heel provides allows standing Olympic lifts
Outsole treated with adhesive--keeps you connected to the ground
Not a zero drop shoe with a flat sole, but comes pretty close
Toebox is wide and spacious despite the tapered fit
Entire upper/outer is designed for grip and damage resistance during rope climbs (or indoor rock climbing)
Laces may be too short
Some say the shoe is not durable enough to match the price tag
Not suitable for runs over 5K distance because of the thin sole, lack of cushion
Specs and Overview
Speaking of urban adventures, the F 235 V 2 is not much good for all-day walks. It is essentially a gym shoe. If you wear it for longer hikes, it will wear down faster in spite of the toe cap and hard sole. You can probably get away with running short distances on a track. At many CrossFit boxes, trainees will run around the building for a brief warmup. A farmer carries, with dumbbells or kettlebells, are also common activities. The Inov-8 shoe will hold its own for brief periods like those. But it thrives and gives the best performance when worn indoors.
If you are a recreational lifter, who enjoys a side of cardio for heart health, you can go an entire session without having to stop and change shoes. The lace saddle and closure means you won't even have to bend down and re-tie the laces, either. But the thickness of the upper ensures that neither the laces or the tongue will cut into your feet and leave an indentation. This is a problem we have experienced, even with more expensive performance trainers.
The shoe approaches zero drop, meaning the sole is almost perfectly flat and the heel is level with the toe. Zero drop shoes are a preference, not a necessity. Some weightlifters swear by them because they are able to plant their toes and get a firm foundation for pushing uploaded barbells. If you have never worn zero drop shoes and want to try them out, we suggest looking for a less expensive pair. If you can't live without them, you may want to upgrade to the F 235 V 2 or a similar pair later.
A Word On Cross Trainers
Cross-training shoes will lack most of the padding and cushioning of runners. But there is an ongoing trend to make both running shoes and cross trainers more minimalist. At the extreme end, the result is a barefoot running shoe that is little more than a sock. Minimalist shoes are not for everyone, despite what some of their proponents say. Overpronators and under pronators, whose gait is heavier and lighter than average respectively, usually need to be fitted for running shoes at a specialty store.
Our lecture on foot health and safety ends here. Just remember that the Inov-8 F 235 V 2 is great for the gym, including almost anything you can do in a gym; they are not so great for outdoor running. That applies to veteran runners as well as beginners.
The Nitty Gritty
So even with its near-zero heel to toe drop, the Inov-8 F 235 V 2 curves upward at the toebox. When you put them on, of course, the raised part settles down to the ground under your body weight. The shoe is supportive but flexible. When you stand in them, you will notice that the heels and toes don't rock back and forth at all. That's a good thing. It is what you want, and need in a lifting shoe. And whether we do CrossFit or not, most of us don't stick to just one thing at the gym. Your editors like to make up our own HIIT workouts, where we do three sets of bench presses with a comfortable weight, followed by a brisk walk around the gym floor. Some of us will go from the weight pile to where the jump ropes are, too.
With a shoe like the Inov-8 235 V 2, you are supported and free to move during either activity. The lightweight means your feet and ankles won't feel heavy, which is something else we have all experienced. The Inov-8 F 235 V 2 brings you the solid platform and closeness to the ground of a lifting shoe, with the flexibility and freedom of a trainer. Powerlifting shoes immobilize your feet--they have to for safety reasons. They also give you a mechanical advantage during squats. The 235 V 2 does neither.
If you do a lot of squats, you can always place wedge-shaped inserts into the Inov-8s. The inserts look like tiny doorstops, made of foam instead of wood. They will extend the range of motion in your ankles, at the bottom of a squat. This instantly improves form and efficiency, and you may even be able to lift more weight the first time you try this. But if lifting is your main sport, and you attempt to regularly increase your working weight, the F 235 V 2 is not a good choice for your everyday training shoe. It will give you a stable base and can be hacked for squat upgrades, but it cannot immobilize your foot the way dedicated lifters are supposed to do. A locked-in foot means 100% of your effort goes into the lift, not into keeping your feet planted. The chance of slipping with a loaded barbell in hand is too risky to let happen, too.