This shoe can be a bit of everything and does it incredibly well.
That is my short summary of Inov-8 f-lite 195. A shoe I so far have enjoyed for runs on asphalt and on the trails, as a casual shoe and a shoe for hiking. Inov-8 even emphasize that the f-lite 195 can be used as a fitness-shoe (e.g. for Crossfit). All these possibilities amaze and confuse me, simultaneously. Because it is such a versatile and performing shoe, the Inov-8 f-lite gets my warmest recommendations and it is a good candidate for a gear of the year award.
The shoes only real limitation is technical trail running in sticky mud, but what more can you really ask from a shoe, than the f-lite already does?
The shoe’s outsole is characterized by small foot plates with a decent distance between them. The sole sticks fine on the wide forest roads and on the easy trails and a bit of mud is no challenge for the shoe.
The sole of the f-lite is equipped with INOV-8’s facia band that should result in a better and more natural starting point (link: http://www.inov-8.co.nz/facia-band.html). Personally, I can’t really feel a difference and I have my doubts if this really works.
The shoe performs well on asphalt as well, especially on wet roads, which makes it a good crossover shoe. Perfect for the runner looking for a shoe for trail running on dry days, and on asphalt when it is raining. The adventure-racer who meets a variety of challenges during a race, might also enjoy the f-lite for it’s vast areas of use.
Low drop from heel to toe
The drop on the Inov-8 is 3 mm. This makes the shoe suitable for the runner who lands midfoot/forefoot. Some fanatics debate that zero drop, is the only drop. For me the Inov-8 works perfect with its 3mm drop, and it is also available with a 6mm drop.
The midsole of this shoe deserves some praise along the way. When I run on asphalt the contact is decent, even though it can’t be compared to fivefingers, nonetheless I get a little shock absorption. On the trail and forest roads, I get some protection against the most striking elements such as large rocks and roots. When I run with the Inov-8 f-lite I always have a good flow in my phase. The reason is that there is enough space for my toes (I have a small foot) and I have a nice sense of the ground/terrain I’m running on because of the sole.
Although the shoe is not designed for hiking or for casual use, these fields of use also deserve a few words along the way. Again, the midsole impress me. I could walk all day on a hard surface without feeling any pain in my legs. Compared with other running shoes I have used as casual shoes for everyday use, the Inov-8 once again scores gold. It is also decent for walking, but it requires stable and strong ankles, because of the lack of support you get in more conventional walking shoes.
I’m not even half-done with this shoe as it is optimal for many of my workouts. To no surprise, the Inov-8 f-lite 195 gets the highest rating!