Inov-8 BARE-XF 210 V2 - Women's Review
Cons: Less optimized for running, less breathable
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Our Analysis and Test Results
The Bare-XF 210 V2 shoe is an innovative design in minimalist gym shoes. This is a great shoe for cross-training and a fantastic asset when rope climbing.
The Bare-XF has a complicated and difficult-to-remember name for an otherwise simple and memorable minimalist shoe. This pair is designed for cross-training and gym use, and we agree. The toe is shaped into a narrower point, so we sized up a little bit to get the toe space we wanted. This provided adequate toe box room, but it meant that when running, we sometimes felt the toe bend and catch on the ground during push-off. However, for slower-paced activities on flat ground, such as gym workouts, this is an excellent shoe.
The stack height is very minimal at 3.5mm thick, allowing excellent ground feel. Sometimes, if we were inattentive, we could nail our heel on a rock or sharp gravel — but that confirms a level of barefoot accuracy!
The sole is scored in the forefoot to allow improved bending. At first, we thought this must be gimmicky. However, we noticed it meant we could lift our toes much easier than in otherwise similar shoes. During this review, we noticed that we enjoy the ability to not only spread our toes but also to lift them when standing or walking. These shoes felt more soft and supple in the forefoot as a result of that scored sole.
The Bare-XF shoes do not look like your classic barefoot or minimalist shoe, but they are well disguised. The zero-drop sole is very thin and supple at just 3mm thick, and if you size appropriately up, you'll find adequate space to spread your toes wide. The scored sole also lets you lift your toes easily, which we enjoy in our minimalist footwear.
The Bare-XF shoes score in the middle of the pack for weight in this review at 13.5 ounces for a size 10 women's (41.5 European). They are an excellent lightweight footwear option.
These shoes feature Inov-8's proprietary rubber sole, which is supple, sticky, and grooved enough to provide some traction on wet or dust-covered surfaces. The stand-out feature of these shoes, however, is the Rope-Tec rubberized ridges along the inner and outer surfaces of the sole which aid when climbing ropes.
These shoes are not designed for trail or inclement weather, but we managed to stay dry when splashed with water. They are very breathable in the toe box and along the upper foot, but the sides are rubberized with Rope-Tec for rope climbing, which impedes breathability. As such, this shoe is better suited to gym workouts and agility training and less so for aerobic activities.
This is a durable shoe if used for its intended purposes. The toe box is a relatively soft and light mesh material, and the toe rand does not extend far enough to protect the materials on rocky trails. However, this is a shoe for gym and rope climbing use, and it is well designed to hold up to those activities.
This shoe is a little more expensive than some of the barefoot shoes we tested, and it is less versatile. It is not the best value as such, but if you do a lot of gym workouts and cross-training, and you're looking for an excellent minimalist shoe for that, this pair will hold up for a long time and perform to a very high standard.
The women's Inov-8 Bare-XF 210 V2 cross-training shoes are at home in the gym and while scaling a rope. They breathe well enough for lower-end aerobic activities and are durable in all the right places for gym-related activities. These are also a very enjoyable pair of shoes to wear casually around town if you like an athletic look.
— Lyra Pierotti