I’ve been very lucky to “test” a pair of Inov-8’s new Bare-Grip™ 200 and boy….they’re good!
Here’s my initial review….
This shoe, which is born for off trail and fell running, features deep, aggressive lugs (similar to the X-Talon 212). Inov-8’s Sticky Rubber compound gives the Bare-Grip outsole even more traction to optimize grip in wet conditions. The tradeoff of the soft rubber’s awesome traction is that it will wear down more quickly than Inov-8’s Endurance Rubber.
The entire outsole and shoe is extremely flexible, incredibly light and responsive. There’s nothing in the outsole to prevent or interfere with it flexing. You really get a good feel for the trail beneath your feet.
The Bare-Grip™ 200 has NO midsole, NO cushioning and NO differential! Inov-8 indicates the level of cushioning in its various models by the number of arrows on the heel of the midsoles. The more arrows, the more cushioning. The Bare-Grip™ 200 has 0, yes, ZERO out of 4 possible arrows and is intended for racing and those wanting to experience a minimalist shoe . All this means is that the Bare-Grip™ 200 is extremely low profile and flexible, allowing maximum proprioception feedback.
The upper is primarily a super-soft woven mesh (similar to F-Lite 230). This allows the shoe to be ultra-flexible, breathe very well, while allowing water to drain. It’s also extremely comfortable!
With the Bare-Grip™ 200 you also get a new tongue design! The tongue is an extremely soft, suede-like material, which again is very comfortable.
Unlike the some of Inov-8’s range, such as the X-Talon, this shoe has hardly any rand. You get a bit on the front, but that’s it. This means that the shoe is a lot more comfortable and allows a bit more room in the toe-box. The obvious trade-off of to this is that there is less protection and probably will mean that they will be less durable than the Mudroc 290 for example.
The fit is based on Inov-8’s performance last, which is narrow through the toe, but soft upper allows the toe box to provide your toes with ample space. The upper is very secure and I didn’t notice my foot sliding around at all when bombing steep descents.
The heel is also super-soft and is fully collapsible, but keeps the heel securely in place.
The Bare-Grip™ 200 comes with a 3mm removable insole. It is very thin and relatively flat, so it doesn’t provide a great deal of support. You can customize the volume of the shoe by using Inov-8’s 3mm and 6mm footbeds. If you find there is too much room, you just add an extra footbed, not enough room, take the insoles out.
The Bare-Grip™ 200 is very lightweight, extremely flexible and extremely grippy. If you’re looking for the ultimate off trail shoe, this is it! If you’re into barefoot/minimalist running, but need grip and a little protection for running in a harsh trail environment, this is the shoe for you!
This is the shoe that I’ve been searching for, for the last 2 years and I can’t wait to hit the trail again as soon as possible!
The real test!
I've got a 100 mile off trail race with over 6300m of ascent next weekend. More to come...
Run wild and free!