New in Spring 2012 these shoes are designed predominantly with the Crossfit market in mind – a new phenomenon which I can best liken to competitive circuit training.
Although not a specific running shoe, the Bare-XFs are aimed at all varieties of cross training, be that Crossfit, circuit training, strength and conditioning, plyometrics, spinning, pilates or whatever you incorporate into your training regime. They caught my eye because they are Zero-rated on Inov-8’s Shoc-zone scale.
Their Zero rating means that there is practically nothing underfoot; no heel-toe drop, no midsole cushioning, just a 3mm rubber footbed. The idea is that being so low to the floor with no cushioning you have the same stability and proprioception as if you were in bare feet.
It’s true, and I find myself wearing these out and about because I like my feet being flat to the floor, feeling everything I stand on. Wearing a pair of black plimsols is more acceptable than walking down my street in bare feet. What’s more, the more time I spend in these Zero-rated shoes, the more my feet and legs adjust to minimalist running.
The sole is made from ‘sticky’ rubber imprinted with a quirky skeletal pattern. The ‘sticky’ sole really is; it adheres to almost every surface (unless you’ve picked up a load of dust and fluff from a carpet or dirty gym floor) which is essential for exercises like push-ups, squat thrusts, burpees, weight lifting, shuttle runs, etc. The shoe is quite wide fitting, allowing your toes to splay out fully. Usually I fit an inov-8 size 10 perfectly, but these seem a bit large, so I’d recommend going half a size down from your usual shoes.
If you’re looking for a minimalist training shoe that gives you great grip, barefoot stability, and with very little weight, these will do the trick; if you’re happy to pay up to £100 to have barely anything on your feet.