Inov-8 Fastlift 370 BOA Review
Cons: Uncomfortable for running, lacing system
Our Analysis and Test Results
The Inov-8 Fastlift 370 BOA scored top marks on the weightlifting and breathability metrics, though it was not a top contender overall. Low performance on the running metric kept it from contending with the overall Best-In-Class Nike Metcon 3. The innovative BOA lacing system provides speed but loses the ability to provide different tension across the instep.
The top contenders in the weightlifting category were the two lifters: the Fastlift and the Adidas Powerlift 3. Most of the testers preferred the Fastlift 370 for moderate-weight squats and explosive lifts, appreciating the heel height and stability. When the weights got very heavy, however, our testers wanted the extra support of a traditional lacing system. The BOA system has a low-friction cable which equalizes tension across the instep of the foot. Our testers preferred to be able to have different amounts of tension at the toes versus the ankle. Inov-8 offers a version of this model with traditional laces and a velcro strap, which may be better for many athletes.
The Powerlift 3 has a low heel, which makes them easier to walk in during loaded carries. The Nike Metcon 3 was almost as stable as the two weightlifting shoes, working well for squats and explosive lifts. It's also smoother on the loaded carries. It performed well under heavy squats and explosive Olympic lifts, and was slightly smoother on the loaded carries than the lifters. Reebok's Nano 7 provided about the same supportive heel for squatting and good stiffness for Oly lifts as the Metcon 3, but was not quite as smooth for the loaded carries.
The Fastlift is not designed for running workouts. Its rigid, elevated heel makes running difficult after the initial acceleration. The forefoot is flexible and sensitive enough for running, but as soon as cruising speed is reached the heel of the shoe became an issue for our testers. This model ranked lowest on the running metric among shoes in this review. The closest comparison was the other lifting shoe - Adidas Powerlift 3. The Powerlift 3, however, had a lower and more shock-absorbent heel than the Fastlift. This made the Powerlift 3 significantly better for runs. The low ranking on the running metric may not be an issue for you if you are seeking stable lifting shoes to use in non-running workouts, or if your gym uses stationary bikes or rowers more often than runs.
During weightlifting movements, the Fastlift 370 BOA provided excellent support. The only complaint was the lacing system. The equalizing BOA cable did not allow our testers to provide different amounts of tension at the toes versus the ankle. Inov-8 offers the Fastlift 325 with a traditional lacing system and velcro strap, which may offer better support. For non-weightlifting movements (including running, jumping, landing, and changing direction) the elevated heel of the Fastlift 370 BOA became a hindrance. For this reason, it scored below the Adidas Powerlift 3 on support. This model scored the same on support as the Nike Metcon 3, which offered slightly less stability under load, but kept the foot in a better position during gymnastics and running movements.
The Fastlift 370 BOA has a surprising amount of mesh in the upper for a supportive weightlifting shoe, which meant it was not as protective as other shoes, like the Adidas Powerlift 3. The Fastlift has significantly less material in the upper than the Powerlift, which results in less resistance to impacts, stubs, and jumprope strikes. The Fastlift was ranked about as protective as the New Balance Minimus 40, which also has a significant amount of mesh in its upper.
The forefoot flexibility and sensitivity of the Fastlift 370 BOA were excellent. For weightlifting movements and vertical jumping, the sole offers a very good feel for the ground, allowing rapid adjustments. This competitor did well during jump rope double-unders and our testers felt the sensitive forefoot let them rebound quickly. For movements requiring sensitivity primarily in the forefoot, this contender performed almost as well as the most-sensitive shoe in this review - the ASICS Conviction X.
Sensitivity during lateral movement, however, is hampered by the Fastlift's rigid, elevated heel. The heel elevation was noticeable even when landing from box jumps or hopping back into a burpee. This lack of sensitivity in the heel-end of the shoe kept the Fastlift from scoring higher. It was scored the same on sensitivity as the Reebok Nano 7 and NOBULL Trainer, even though its forefoot was noticeably more sensitive. Both the Reebok and NOBULL shoes had a an up-curl in the forefoot, resulting in one tester feeling less ground contact on squats than in the Fastlift.
This model tested here tied with the New Balance Minimus 40 as the most breathable shoes in this test. Both the Minimus and FastLift have a high proportion of mesh in their uppers, providing plenty of ventilation. This makes the Fastlift a good choice for athletes lifting in warm conditions. It is markedly more breathable than the other lifting shoe in our review, the Adidas Powerlift 3. The Fastlift even out-scored the Nike Metcon 3 and ASICS Conviction X in terms of breathability.
The Inov-8 Fastlift 370 BOA was very comfortable during weightlifting movements and vertical jumping. However, the elevated heel felt awkward to our testers during many other movements. The knobs of the BOA lacing system felt a little strange during squat warm-ups, but were not distracting to our testers during heavy attempts, or during squat-snatches in the rapid-paced CrossFit Open WOD 17.3.
The Fastlift was ranked less comfortable than other shoes in this review for two reasons: the high heel and the BOA "lacing" system. The high heel was less than ideal for many of the movements in CrossFit, making our testers feel just a bit off balance. All the other shoes in this review, including the Powerlift 3, had less heel height. The BOA system automatically equalizes tension across the top of the foot, but our testers found this was not something they wanted, They all preferred being able to introduce different amounts of tension at the toes and the ankles for a comfortable fit. Perhaps the traditional lacing system of Inov-8's 325 will provide more comfort.
The 370 is a great weightlifting shoe for CrossFit athletes. It provides plenty of stability and support during moderate to heavy squats and Olympic lifts. The heel height may provide the edge for a masters athlete, or anyone with flexibility issues on squatting movements. The excellent breathability would also make it a good choice of lifting shoe for athletes in warm climates.
This was the most expensive shoe we tested, with a retail price of $200. Given the performance limitations we found outside the realm of weightlifting, other shoes may provide better overall value for the CrossFit athlete on a budget.
The Inov-8 Fastlift 370 BOA is a very good weightlifting shoe for CrossFit athletes, but its rigid, elevated heel means you'll probably want a different pair of shoes for any workouts involving running or lateral movement.
— Scott Francis