Update 10/7/14: I have updated some information which can be found in red
Inov-8 came out with their first weightlifting shoe in the fall of 2013. Dubbed the “FastLift 335” (or 315 for women), it was an incredibly light pair of weightlifting shoes that had the stability for athletes to squat, clean, and snatch, but the flexible sole to run, jump, and maneuver. (In case you missed it, here is my review of Inov-8’s FastLift 335/315 weightlifting shoes from Nov. 2013.)
In October 2014, Inov-8 will be following up with a second generation weightlifting shoe known as the FastLift 370* BOA. I was lucky enough to get a testing pair of the 370’s and thought I would share my thoughts. (Note: Inov-8 sent me a white on white pair, but the production versions will be black/black and pink/pink.)
*The number indicates the grams each shoe weighs (women’s are 315g/11oz each, men’s are 335g/12oz each).
Here is the official description from Rogue Fitness:
Utilizing the industry-leading Boa® Closure System, the next generation fastlift™ delivers a precise fit as well as custom comfort with a smooth, even closure and no pressure points. Boasting unrivalled structural stability, the shoe features a stretch-free Boa® Closure System that allows functional fitness athletes a stable platform for absolute power transfer. Micro-adjustability is guaranteed with a quick, one-handed turn of the Boa® dial.
LACES – (or lack thereof?)
The first thing that stands out about these shoes is the lacing system. Using a Boa click system like that found on snowboard boots, this is more than just a gimmick. Tightening is done by twisting each dial, first the one on the tongue and then the one on the side. As you tighten the shoe, the wire lacing system disappears into the dial from each side. Each “click” tightens the shoe by 1mm so you know exactly which fit is best for you after a few uses. To release, you’ll need to turn the side dial in the opposite direction, but releasing the dial on the tongue is done simply by pull the dial up (“out”) which releases the tension. I’m not sure why the side dial is not designed this way, but I’m sure it’s intentional.
Much like the 335/315’s, these shoes are LIGHT. At 13 oz. per shoe for men’s size 9, the FastLifts are the lightest weightlifting shoes on the market. (for comparison, Adidas Adipower’s are 18oz’s each, Nike Romaleo II’s are 15.8oz each, Reebok’s original shoes are 13.4oz (I could not find the weight for their newest Lifter 2.0 Plus) Interestingly, both the men’s and women’s shoes are labeled with the same “370” grams unlike the first version.
Much like their predecessors, the FastLifts 370’s are made with a synthetic upper and a “Power Truss” heel cage made of cylindrical tubes which I’m sure saves on weight. And just like the 335/315’s, the upper is made from a combination of mesh-like fabric and what I’ll describe as laminate. The laminate is glued on and probably provides stiffer structure to the upper, although in no way does it feel restrictive. The pattern of the laminate is different for the 370s, with a distinct strip running diagonal across the top of the foot. The strap across the top of the foot is made from the same material and “RISE TO IT” is printed across the strap. In terms of the shape and footprint of the shoe, it’s very similar, if not exactly the same as the 335/315’s.
Much like the 335/315’s the fit is very similar to Inov-8’s running shoes. I have a few of their 195’s and I find the fit very similar. Sizing is also consistent and is true to size for me. The heel is actually listed as “0.65 inches” on Rogue’s website, but I could not tell the difference between the 370’s and 335’s. (the 335/315’s are listed as 0.75 inches high which is standard for a weightlifting shoe. Some powerlifting shoes are 0.5 inches high). Some people find Inov-8’s to be narrow, while I find them just right. I am a smaller guy (5’8″, 160lbs., size 9 shoe) and these are great.
I’ve had these shoes for about a month and overall, I like them. Since I received the white pair (not going into production), I’ve received pretty polarizing opinions on them, but it doesn’t matter since the production ones will be black on black (guys) or pink on pink (girls). This is a good decision since the white version got dirty very fast, even from my knee sleeves being pulled down at my ankles.
I primarily used them for back squats as I’m going through a Smolov squat cycle, but I did get some metcons in that involved running and box jumps. Much like the 335’s, these provide the stability I need in squats, cleans, and snatches, but also the flexibility to run and jump. I did notice that the tongue dug into my ankle more than the 335’s while running. I believe this is from the top dial having its base built into the tongue. It wasn’t painful, but it was noticeable. Also, if I tightened the side dial too much, it created a hotspot of pressure under the dial. This was easy to relieve by just loosening the dial a few clicks. Anecdotally, one day we were snatching and I easily felt the best I ever have while snatching. My first and second pulls felt great and my feet connected solidly with the ground. Could it have been more than just the shoes? Sure, but that’s just a story for those questioning the stability of the 370’s.
My major concern is also the major selling point of the shoe – the BOA system. If it breaks or fails, it is not an easy fix like grabbing another pair of shoelaces. I’m not sure how much the repair costs would be, but serious athletes will want a backup pair on hand at competitions. UPDATE: see below about Boa’s warranty and free replacement parts
$200 – While the 335/315’s were selling at $150, it will be interesting to see how these shoes fare. At this price point, Inov-8 is competing with the Adidas Adipowers and Nike Romaleos, both shoes that “serious” weightlifters typically wear. CrossFitters like myself would love this shoe for its versatility in both weightlifting and bodyweight movements, but you should not mistake the light weight for instability. The Adipowers and Romaleos may feel more stable, but it comes at the cost of weight. For the CrossFitter who needs to move, this weight will make a difference.
At time of publishing (9/30/14), Rogue Fitness’s website says these shoes will be available in mid October for $200. I am unaware of other retailers offering the shoes, although I imagine a few others will have them in stock (e.g. Again Faster)
-flexible for running and box jumps
-aesthetically pleasing (at least to me)
-easy and precise lacing system
-cost (for some)
-not easy or fast to replace BOA system if it fails or breaks
UPDATE from Inov-8: Boa provides replaceable parts at no charge for the life of the product in which we are integrated. In order to support the continuing improvement of Boa products and the products of the Brands we work with we need the following information in order to provide your parts at no charge. This will also be used as shipping information to get you the parts you need. For more information about the warranty, visit: https://www4.boatechnology.com/warranty
The Inov-8 FastLift 370 BOA’s are a great hybrid for the CrossFitter that needs a stable shoe for weightlifting, but a light and flexible shoe for running and box jumps. It is slightly heavier than its predecessor, but tightening the shoe is literally a cinch which can be precisely duplicated each time you lift. While the 370’s could also be a great option for athletes who only weightlift, it will be a hard sell with Nike and Adidas controlling much of that market. A concern might be repair time and cost for the unique lacing system, but considering Boa’s longevity and warranty, this should not be a major concern.
Update: The Fastlift 370 BOA is (or soon will be) available for online purchase through Zappos, Rogue Fitness, Again Faster, Amazon, Road Runner Sports, as well as many other local brick and mortar retailers.
Inov-8 provided me with a pair of FastLift 370 BOAs for testing purposes. They have encouraged me to give them feedback and provide this information to the public. I was not paid to do so, nor am I obligated to give favorable reviews.
What do you think of the Inov-8 FastLift 370 BOA weightlifting shoes? Post thoughts to comments!