The F-lite 230 is listed on the Inov-8 website under their Fitness range. Just as an aside, it’s pronounced “inov-eight”. At least that’s what I’ve heard! Back to the shoe! The F-Lite 230 is so named because a UK8 (US9) weighs…you guessed it…230g! I wear a US 8, so it comes in a little lighter.
The F-Lite 230 has a synthetic mesh upper that is very breathable. The upper around the toe box is almost completely seamless which is a boon to anyone looking to go sock-less. However, there are some seams and excess material around the midfoot under the lacing system, so keep an eye out for that. The TPU lacing system secures the midfoot area well and along with a nice fitting heel cup, I didn’t notice any heel slippage or movement in the shoe at all. Having said that, the cutting of the F-Lite 230 is Unisex, true to size and on the narrow side so guys, you’ll want to make sure you try these on with your regular running socks.
Inov-8 has championed the shift towards Natural Running and encourages athletes to move progressively through their Arrow-Shoc-Zone. This is a very useful indicator especially for athletes that usually use heavily cushioned or structured shoes. The F-Lite 230 has a 2 arrow-shoc-zone, meaning the heel-to-toe differential is 6mm. Not super aggressive, but it is still a change if your current pair of shoes is a daily trainer. It’s low profile design provides a great deal of stability and that close-to-ground feel. The flexible outsole with generous amounts of sticky rubber offers excellent traction over a variety of surfaces. It is easy to see why the F-Lite 230 is such a big hit in the world of CrossFit.
To be perfectly honest, I did not really know what I would use the F-Lite 230 for. Even with the EVA foam midsole and Dynamic Fascia Band (that runs from forefoot to heel, essentially helping to improve the responsiveness of the shoe), I did not feel completely comfortable in these shoes on runs above 5km. This is likely due to the fact that I’m not a huge user of minimalist shoes. I run in a wide variety of lightweight trainers with a similar amount of heel drop, but all have substantially more cushioning. The F-Lite 230 is a very neutral shoe, along with the lightweight upper, it is more for runners that experience only mild pronation while running. I found the performance last to be slightly narrow around the midfoot (I have low arches), but this was not a big issue.
According to their website, Inov-8 says that the F-Lite 230 is also great on hard packed trails. I haven’t taken them out to Macritchie yet, but I did run in them through a variety of terrains as I criss-crossed town centres, footpaths and grass patches while dodging bicycles/pedestrians/dogs/parked cars. On wet or dry surfaces, I thankfully didn’t fall on my face even once!
Although they are not my first choice as a pair of “running” shoes, the F-Lite 230 allows you to do almost everything in them. I think they truly shine as your shoe of choice for cross training, circuits, gym work and yes, crossfit. The F-Lite 230 is a fun pair of shoes that is very functional. Just make sure you take your time to ease into these shoes.
Thanks to the guys at Basecamp Venture for generously arranging for me to try these shoes out. The F-Lite 230 retails for $218 and is currently available at The Runner’s Gait.