The Inov-8 F-Lite 195 is the lightest model in the F-Lite series. This minimalist shoe is good for running as well as any gymnastics or plyometric work. Lighter lifts go fine in these shoes, but with heavier lifts, we wanted more of a supportive sole like that of our Editors' Choice winner, the Reebok Nano 9 - Women's. These shoes hold up well to rope climbs, and they did help our feet grip onto the rope. We appreciated the breathability of these shoes, and they are comfortable enough for a few hours of wear.
Inov-8 F-Lite 195 - Women's Review
Cons: Lacks support for heavy lifts.
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Our Analysis and Test Results
The Inov-8 F-Lite 195 is the original training shoe when it comes to CrossFit. Rewind about seven years, and almost everyone had a pair of these on. The F-Lite 195 weighs 5.9 ounces (170 grams) and has a special "Rope-Tech" reinforcement at the instep of the sole. The heel to toe drop is 3 mm. You can purchase this shoe in a subtle brown or white, now deemed the F-Lite 195 Classic.
This shoe has no problem handling light to moderate lifts amid metcon workouts. Once we started pushing the weights heavier, though, we were left looking for more support. If you absolutely love going heavy on squat cleans, for instance, check out the Reebok Nano 9.
In our side-by-side running tests, the Inov-8 F-Lite 195 rose above many other shoes in our review, feeling light and fast. One tester noted that "They have just enough support but are not too stiff". Overall, we preferred more cushion from the NOBULL Knit Runner for running and gave it our Top Pick for Running WODs.
When we test for sensitivity in CrossFit shoes, we are searching for a shoe that is sensitive and responsive enough to let you know where your body weight is positioned on your foot. This shoe was one of the better shoes in our review in regards to helping us with body awareness. It edged out every shoe in our testing besides the Vivo Primus Lite, in regards to sensitivity. This should be no surprise as these two were our minimalist shoes.
When trying to design a shoe that can do everything from running to lifting, it is hard to have the right amount of support for all movements. The low-profile, minimalist design of this shoe makes it good for bodyweight movements, squats, and light lifting. We were sometimes pushed forward onto our toes in this model because they lack the more supportive sole we needed for heavier lifts. We did have an issue with the removable insoles shifting forward into the shoe during training sessions.
Protection / Durability
The F-Lite 195 has a protective piece of rubber at the instep of the shoe, where the upper attaches to the sole. This "Rope-Tec" rope guard does a good job protecting the shoe from damage during rope climbs, as well as helping your feet dig in and lock on to the rope. The 195's rubber outsole performed well indoor and outdoor on wet surfaces and even loose dirt. Our testers did feel that the shoe was lacking protection on the front toe box, which is put through a lot during CrossFit workouts.
The light mesh upper on this shoe makes it breathable and quick to dry; however, it is not the most durable material. One of our tester's pair has blown out on the pinky toes on each shoe where the forefoot area begins to crease. While we didn't notice this occurring during our two month testing period with a new pair, the design and material are largely unchanged on the "Classics" and this could likely happen again.
Although not as comfortable as the Vivo Primus Lite, there were no major complaints about the fit of this shoe. The width of this shoe is B - medium, but both the heel and the toe areas of the shoe felt narrow.
These shoes are on the upper range for prices in this review. However, our testers know firsthand from their own older versions of this shoe that they do last a long time (it took a couple of years for those pinky toes to start showing). For another versatile shoe that is lower in price, check our Best Buy winner, the Nike Air Zoom Elevate.
The Inov-8 F-Lite 195 used to be the preferred shoe by CrossFitters when it came to a good shoe for their intense workouts. These shoes have a light and breathable design, which is nice during intense metcon workouts. Similar to other lightweight and minimalist shoes, however, you may want an additional pair of heavier lifting shoes in your gym bag.
— Brittany Page