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Inov-8 BARE-XF 210 V2 - Women's Review

This shoe is optimized for gym use and cross training while less ideal for running or outdoor use.
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Price:  $110 List | $88.98 at Amazon
Pros:  Supple forefoot, Rope-Tec side grips, optimized for gym use
Cons:  Less optimized for running, less breathable
Manufacturer:   Inov-8
By Lyra Pierotti ⋅ Review Editor  ⋅  Sep 17, 2018
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Our Verdict

The Inov-8 Bare-XF 210 V2 shoe is an excellent shoe for weightlifting, cross training, and especially rope climbing. It has extra durable and grippy Rope-Tec texture on the sides of the shoe for climbing ropes, and the profile is flat for an excellent weightlifting platform. On the flip side, this shoe is less ideal for running or speed drills because of the toe design. While the toe box is adequately wide, if you size them right, it does have a more pointed toe, which makes the shoe articulate less precisely while running. Inov-8 did score the sole at the forefoot to make the toes easier to articulate, and this allows for excellent range of toe movement. If you want a shoe tailored a little more to running, but still versatile enough for other athletic pursuits, you might like the Merrell Vapor Glove.


Compare to Similar Products

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 great asset when rope climbing.

Performance Comparison


The supple forefoot was our favorite feature on the Bare shoe from Inov-8. It allowed us to easily spread and raise our toes.
The supple forefoot was our favorite feature on the Bare shoe from Inov-8. It allowed us to easily spread and raise our toes.

Performance


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. For slower paced activities on flat ground, such as gym workouts, this is an excellent shoe.

Rope climbing is a strength of the Inov-8 Bare cross training shoe with the Rope-Tec reinforced sides.
Rope climbing is a strength of the Inov-8 Bare cross training shoe with the Rope-Tec reinforced sides.

The stack height is very minimal at 3.5 mm 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 Xero Shoes Prio feature a similar design, with two scored bands across the sole of the forefoot.

Barefoot Accuracy


The Inov-8 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 let us lift our toes easily, which we have come to enjoy in our minimalist footwear.

Footbed and forefoot flexibility test on the Inov-8 Bare shoes.
Performing the footbed test on the Inov-8 Bare shoe.

Weight


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.

Weather Adaptability


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.

Traction


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-Ted rubberized ridges along the inner and outer surfaces of the sole which aid when climbing ropes.

The tread on the Inov-8 Bare shoes is optimized for cross training and not meant for outdoor activities as much.
The tread on the Inov-8 Bare shoes is optimized for cross training and not meant for outdoor activities as much.

Durability


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.

Best Applications


The Inov-8 Bare-XF is best suited to gym workouts, cross training, and especially for rope climbing with its innovative Rope-Tec grip along the inside and outside of the shoe.

Value


At $110, 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.

We enjoyed the Bare from Inov-8 for a wide range of gym workouts.
We enjoyed the Bare from Inov-8 for a wide range of gym workouts.

Conclusion


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 were also a very enjoyable pair of shoes to wear casually around town if you like an athletic look.


Lyra Pierotti