Inov8 Bare-Grip 200 – First Look

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Inov8 Bare-Grip 200

Now available at Running Warehouse

Inov8 was making minimalist trail shoes before it was hip to be minimal. A UK company, Inov8 (pronounced: innovate) was founded on the principle of providing trail shoes that would be engineered to work in extreme conditions. Unhappy with the unstable, high-off-the-ground trail shoes that were available in the market, Inov8 set out to provide trail shoes that were close to the ground and thus inherently stable. Furthermore, trail shoes needed to be able to provide excellent traction and shed mud. Think about the damp landscape of Great Britain seen in the movie Braveheart, and you get a good idea of the conditions that Inov8 sought to conquer with its first trail shoe.

The first shoe produced by Inov8, was the Mudroc 290. This award wining shoe is known as the original Fell Racer. Fell racing involves racing from here to there, without a course, and undoubtedly over some hills (fell is a word used to describe a hilly landscape in parts of England). As such, Inov8 trail shoes were originally designed to provide supreme traction on steep climbs and descents, while also being able to shed mud. Inov8 now has a full spectrum of trail shoes designed to tackle a variety of terrain, ranging from hard packed ground, to loose covered trail and soft, mushy fields.

Although Inov8 has added some shoes that are slightly more substantial than their original trail shoes (e.g. the Roclite 319), they have not lost their way and continue to be true to their minimalist roots with such offerings as the F-lite 195, F-lite 230, X-talon 190 and X-talon 212. With the new Bare-Grip 200, Inov8 introduces their most minimal trail shoe designed for loose and soft terrain. The Bare-Grip 200 is a zero drop shoe with no midsole. Thus, the runner’s foot sits directly atop the super flexible and gnarly outsole. The only way to get less, with this aggressive a tread pattern, would be to screw cleats directly into the sole of your feet. Since that seams a bit impractical, we’ll go with a pair of the Bare-Grip 200.

Inov8 has experienced huge growth over the last year and thus their US distribution has been inconsistent. We are hopeful that the Bare-Grip 200 will meet its initial launch date and be available at Running Warehouse in February 2011. If it is delayed, we still think it will be worth the weight wait. The Bare Grip 200 will have a list price of $110.00 and has a reported weight of just barely over 7.0 ounces for a men’s size 9.0.

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