Hands-on Gear Review

Inov-8 Bare-XF 210 - Women's Review

Price:  $130 List
Pros:  Lightweight.
Cons:  Little cushioniong, not durable for rope climbs.
Editors' Rating:   
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Upper:  Synthetic/TPU
Weight (oz/grams):  6.2oz / 177g
Heel to toe drop (mm):  0mm
Manufacturer:   Inov-8

Our Verdict

Inov-8 Discontinued The Bare-XF in January, 2017

Inov-8's F-Lite series of shoes are a common and popular choice in CrossFit gyms. The Inov-8 Bare-XF 210 is a lesser known model and we were interested to see how they compared to the Inov-8 F-Lite 195 - Women's. Although they are marketed as a functional fitness shoe, the light uppers, 0 mm heel to toe drop and lack of midsole makes it feel more like a minimalist running shoe. We didn't enjoy lifting heavy in these shoes, but for light lifts in the midst of a metcon workout they were just fine. During our side-by-side sprint tests we noticed a lack of arch support and cushioning in the sole. The rubber layer surrounding the shoe was surprisingly breathable and this model ranked high in that regard. Unfortunately, the rubber showed some wear and tear after our rope climb tests, but nothing structural. If you like the F-Lite series shoes but want something more minimal, than give these shoes a try. Overall, though, we preferred the F-lites over this shoe for CrossFit workouts.



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Our Analysis and Test Results

Review by:
Audrey Hammond

Last Updated:
Friday
September 18, 2015

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The Inov-8 Bare-XF 210 is a minimalist shoe marketed for functional fitness. It is lightweight, weighing 6.2 ounces (177 grams) and has a 0 mm heel to toe drop. Most commonly seen in neon green and blue, it is also available in pastel blue with pink highlights, as well as bright red.

Performance Comparison


These lightweight and flexible shoes lack a midsole  giving it a minimalist feel.
These lightweight and flexible shoes lack a midsole, giving it a minimalist feel.

Weightlifting


Inov-8 has taken a stripped down design approach for this shoe. It is marketed as a "functional fitness" shoe but has the feel of a minimalist running shoe. When it comes to weightlifting in these shoes, the 0 mm heel to toe drop has both benefits and drawbacks. When deadlifting it was easy to get in a good starting position without any heel rise. However, for Olympic lifts and squat work it's nice to have a little elevation in the heel. The lack of heel rise actually came in handy during yoke carries. Yoke carries are more of a strongman movement but are becoming increasingly common in CrossFit style competitions. With heavy carries for distance, the aim is to have a smooth heel to toe transition while taking quick steps. This was easy with the minimalist design of this shoe.

These shoes were actually nice for strongman type heavy carries due to the 0 mm heel to toe drop.
These shoes were actually nice for strongman type heavy carries due to the 0 mm heel to toe drop.

Running


We definitely felt as though we were in a minimalist running shoe during our side-by-side sprint tests while wearing the Inov-8 Bare-XF 210. This shoe does not have much arch support, nor does it have a cushioned feel during landing. Be sure you are running with good form in these shoes. The shoe that was the best for combining runs with weightlifting was our Top Pick for Running WODs, the Reebok Sprint 2.0 - Women's. The Sprint 2.0 has the arch support and softer landing that is lacking in this model.

We didn't like long runs in these shoes because of the lack of cushioniong and arch support.
We didn't like long runs in these shoes because of the lack of cushioniong and arch support.

Sensitivity


Due to its slight design, this shoe was actuality quite sensitive for us during Olympic lifting. Because it doesn't have a lot of cushion, we could feel subtle bodyweight shifts as we moved through our lifts.

Support


The Inov-8 Bare-XF 210 does not offer much support during lifts. For light loads in the midst of a metcon workout, these shoes are fine. However, if you are going to be lifting heavier, check out the supportive nature of the Nike Metcon 4 - Women's. The Metcon has the structure and supportive base we were looking for during our side-by-side heavy lifting tests.

This shoe is a good choice for high intensity workout with light lifts. Once the weights start getting heavier  such as these 1.5 pood (53 pounds) kettlebell swings  we wanted more support than this shoe gave us.
This shoe is a good choice for high intensity workout with light lifts. Once the weights start getting heavier, such as these 1.5 pood (53 pounds) kettlebell swings, we wanted more support than this shoe gave us.

Protection / Durability


There is a rubber layer surrounding the entire shoe for protection during rope climbs and those all too painful double under misses. However, the rope friction was hot enough that the rubber rolled up at the instep. The areas of damage to the rubber were not deep enough to impact the mesh underneath, but repeated rope climbs might be a problem for the shoe's long-term durability. The F-Lite series models use a different design for rope climbs; they have a rope guard at the instep that did not show any damage after multiple climbs and it also grips into the rope well.

The friction from the rope was enough to peel back small areas of protective rubber.
The friction from the rope was enough to peel back small areas of protective rubber.

Breathability


We really appreciated the high level of breathability in these shoes. The lightweight design and thin uppers let a lot of air in during hot, intense workouts.

Lisa Ray takes off for a sprint after kettlebell swings wearing the Bare XF shoes.
Lisa Ray takes off for a sprint after kettlebell swings wearing the Bare XF shoes.

Comfort


The slim build of the Inov-8 Bare-XF works fine for short durations. But after a long day in these shoes we really wanted more support to be comfortable. Specifically, the lack of arch support hurt our feet after a few hours of wearing them. If you prefer lighter shoes and want something to wear comfortably all day long, take a look at the Merrell Bare Access Arc 4 - Women's. The Merrells are the kind of shoes that are so comfortable you fall in love with them as soon as you put them on.

Best Applications


These shoes are a great choice for workouts with a combination of short distance runs and bodyweight gymnastics movements. Wearing a lightweight shoe like this one makes a long stretch of pull-ups just a tiny bit easier.

The thin  flexible nature of these shoes was not comfortable on our feet during rope climbs.
The thin, flexible nature of these shoes was not comfortable on our feet during rope climbs.

Value


At $130 dollars, these shoes are on the pricier end of the spectrum. We also wouldn't describe them as an all-purpose CrossFit shoe. Therefore, you'd probably want to purchase more than just this pair of shoes to tackle all of your CrossFit needs. If you are already a fan of Inov-8 shoes in general and looking for a general CrossFit shoe, you may like the versatility of the F-Lite shoes over the Bare XF. The F-Lite is a better value in the long run considering the fact you may need additional shoes to tackle your heavier lifting days.

Conclusion


Marketed as a functional fitness shoe, the Inov-8 Bare-XF 210 has more of a minimalist running shoe feel to it. These shoes are lightweight, which makes them great for bodyweight gymnastics movements. They don't have enough support or structure for our heavier lifts, but for lighter loads in the midst of a metcon workout these shoes worked fine. The rubber outer layer on the uppers did protect our feet during double unders, but after a few rope climbs there was a little damage to the instep from rope friction. Overall, these shoes just didn't quite cut it for our varied CrossFit workout needs.

Audrey Hammond

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