As CrossFit continues to gain popularity, CrossFit gear gets more technical, and importantly, easily available. So why are CrossFit shoes so important, and what are the key attributes to look for?
CrossFit is a variable, high-intensity, high-impact workout which incorporates activities like running, rope-climbing, weights, gym exercises and rowing.
So clothes and, more than anything, shoes, need to be able to handle competing demands and perform under a range of circumstances.
So how does the Inov-8 232 compare?
In common with much of the Inov-8 range, the 232 is purpose designed for CrossFit. It’s not so much a shoe as a piece of technical design; features include a rope guard, a responsive mid-sole, the so-called ‘Meta-Flex’ groove and what Inov-8 have christened the ‘anatomic fit’.
So what does all this actually mean?
The rope guard is pretty self-explanatory, helping to protect the shoe from damage whilst climbing ropes.
The ‘Meta-Flex’ groove is found in a number of shoes. It’s a flexible band in the forefoot allowing the foot to bend easily and naturally.
A wide toe-box and more ‘organic’ shape gives the ‘anatomic fit’ and, finally, there’s that responsive mid-sole. This is where the Inov-8 232 review should start to make the reader prick up their ears. It’s designed to be zero-drop and high-performance but still retain some cushioning and good stability. Impressive stuff.
The wider forefoot makes these more comfortable for athletes who splay their toes, or who have wider feet.
It’s also great for runners who forefoot strike. These shoes come in gender-specific fits, offering a narrower heel for ladies. Their organic shape, based on the natural shape of the foot, means these are being consistently reviewed as having a really great fit.
For anyone used to highly cushioned road trainers, an intermediate shoe is most definitely recommended before moving on to these, since they’re zero-drop they will be a bit of a shock to the system initially.
However it’s clear that everyone who uses them, loves them. Sort of like training in bedroom slippers. Very lightweight bedroom slippers, in incredibly cool colours.
Now, in theory, the very technical and specific design of these shoes should make their performance extraordinary. . . and it’s fair to say that they’re not far off.
The responsive mid-sole is key to enhancing performance. The truly important part is the way the manufacturers have managed to retain cushioning without bulk.
They’ve also got some lateral stability into the sole, making sharp turns and quick movements easier. The Inov-8 232 gives a responsive, natural ride on off-road trails and supports the foot enough for whatever gym work is included in the CrossFit Workout of the Day.
The down side? Longer runs on tarmac or concrete can be a bit jarring.
In common with most CrossFit shoes, these probably won’t last as long as ‘traditional’ trainers, particularly if used for long runs on hard surfaces.
Light. 232g or 8.2oz. Not the lightest of the Inov-8 range but the difference is measured in a couple of ounces.
A little on the pricey side maybe, coming in at around $156. However, for the die-hard, this is a small price to pay for superbly designed technical shoes.
Summary of the Inov-8 232 review:
- A well-designed, purpose-built, comfortable CrossFit shoe
- Tons of technical features to help the athlete in all phases of CrossFit, and a great-looking shoe as a bonus
- A zero-drop performance shoe, with a relatively high price tag, so probably aimed at the dedicated CrossFit athlete rather than someone just starting out.
Find more at: crossfitshoescritic.com