15 October 2013

inov-8 bare-x 180 - road review

once again i'm beginning to feel a little shoe-indulgent.  after spending several years working for nike canada, i amassed quite the locker of footwear.  then taking up with tennis canada, i also once again added to that collection ... so much so that the agreement with my wife was that for every pair in one pair had to exit.

that's worked well ... until i took up running and blogging.  and now my shoe collection is starting to bulge once again.

anyway, as i contemplate which pair of shoes is next in line for retirement, let me share my thoughts on the inov-8 bare-x 180s.

these shoes would never have hit my radar if not for my friend/advisor/inspiration stan.  he was wearing them the first time that we met on the roads of the mississauga marathon, and between his review of these shoes and recurring recommendations of them i definitely knew that i wanted to give them a shot.  as of right now, i'm definitely thankful that i finally followed through.

what's great about these shoes?
  • zero-drop - if you didn't already know by now, my preference is to try to run as naturally and minimally as possible while still retaining some protection on the bottom (and top) of my feet.  the bare-x 180s have no differential in height from heel to toe.
  • lightweight - listed at about 6.4 oz for the standard men's size 9, mine are not much more than that at 9.5 (US).  feels even lighter than that because of how comfy a fit they provide.
  • toebox - plenty of width for footsplay when mid-to-forefoot striking, and lengthwise these fit perfectly - even better than my reigning-and-defending champ of running shoes, the merrell road glove (first iteration).
  • groovy colours - chili/mint ... can you dig it, suckaaaaaaaa?!
  • hand - technically this is the term for how a fabric feels between your fingers and thumb, but i think it's applicable here.  these shoes just feel incredibly nice when you don them.  stan chose to use the term "luxurious", and i don't disagree.
  • low stack-height - this is looking like a rundown of all of my favourite qualities that you can find in a shoe.  these shoes measure in at 6mm sole height + 3mm insole for a grand total of 9mm.  running on crushed limestone trails, there was no problem with discomfort from the terrain while still maintaining suitable ground feel.  the odd large pebble here and there i did notice, but not enough to cause any bruising or lasting effects.
  • outsole - with a grand total of 42km (not all in one marathon or anything) put on these, durability is not something that i can yet comment on.  however, i'm happy to say something about traction - initially i was worried that since the outsole does not look particularly rugged that it might prove a bit slippy under certain conditions.  this past sunday i went out for a 29km run in the pouring rain and these shoes were tacky like you wouldn't believe.  never once did i have any concerns about grip, and there was pooling water all over the road pavement.  plus i just have to mention how awesome the wet sole print is:
    i may have to wear these under my hallowe'en costume ...
'nuff said about the good stuff.  as for the drawbacks/downsides to this shoe?   listen in and find out:

all told, i'm glad that stan's comparison of the bare-x 180s to the merrell road gloves has stood up.  as i've said, the RGs have been my favourite running shoes to date, and there are certain qualities to the road gloves that i still love beyond other shoes.  i will have to see after i wear the bare-x 180s for the hamilton marathon whether they are ultimately as comfortable for that distance as the RGs.  all indications are that these shoes are worthy of five (skeletal) footprints out of five.



  1. Hey Patrick, thanks for the review! I've been reading a ton of reviews lately to try and find some guidance about weather (punny) i should buy a gore-tex trail shoe for running this winter in Thunder Bay or is a standard trail shoe going to do the trick. Have you tried any? Any recommendations for running in snow?

    1. hey darryl - thanks for reading, and for the comment! i know that the temps in t-bay get pretty bone-chilling, but i think that Gore-Tex is really more about the protection from moisture infiltration than anything ... so while it'd be a nice-to-have, i'm not sure that it's a must-have for running. hiking/trekking would be a different matter.

      here are some the shoes that would top my list of trail runners, in any conditions:

      - new balance mt1010 v2 (http://www.believeintherun.com/index.php/2013/08/14/new-balance-mt-1010v2)
      - skechers gobionic trail (http://www.coachcaleb.com/training/tips/shoe-review-skechers-gobionic-trail-my-50k-winning-shoe-hat-run)
      - brooks pure grit 2 (http://www.runblogger.com/2013/02/dirty-runner-brooks-pure-grit-2-review.html)
      - merrell mix master 2 (http://www.bikernate.blogspot.ca/2012/08/merrell-mix-master-ii-review-and.html)
      - saucony peregrine 3 (http://www.runningshoesguru.com/2013/05/saucony-peregrine-3-review/)
      - salomon s-lab sense ultra (http://runbikerace.com/2013/05/29/salomon-s-lab-sense-ultra-shoe-review/)
      - scott t2 kinabalu (http://ultrarunnerpodcast.com/scott-t2-kinabalu-review/)

      ultimately it will depend on fit, as the features in these would be similar. the new balance and merrell shoes would be fairly easy to find at your local sport chek or similar sporting store, and are priced just right.

    2. Hey Patrick, that's brilliant. Thanks for the list and the reviews for each.

      I ended up going with the skechers gobionic trail mostly cause it's what i know. i've been running in goruns for the last 5 months and really like them.

      I almost bought some new balance 1010s that were on sale but got them home and found they were too small so i returned them. I bought the gobionics in a half size bigger than my goruns because the more i get used to having a wide toe box for splay the more I like it on runs.

      I've only been out in them once but they were super comfortable and the extra half size feels roomy but not clompy (that's the technical term right?) I'll let you know how they work in snow when it finally comes to Thunder Bay.

      Thanks again.

    3. great to hear darryl! i'm looking at potentially running a trail ultra next summer, and i think that i may give the gobionic trail a shot as well. i love my gobionic road shoes, and if the off-road version is at all like them then they should be fantastic!

      hope you have some happy feet!

  2. Great review Patrick! and thanks for the kind words.

    Re: reflectivity...wow I have never ever noticed that it was lacking in that department. I'm just glad that you like the shoe and will be using them for your upcoming race. This model helped me to my two fastest races to date and I hope they will help you too.

    1. thanks stan! i really do feel very good in them - and the fact that they fit just that eensy bit better than the RGs could be what tips the scales in their favour.

  3. Have you used bare x 180 in these months? What do you think?
    I had road glove and they were good shoes, but I loved vapor glove (but troubled with durability) and this INOV-8 seem so similar!

    1. thanks for reading, and for your comment ubaldo! i didn't wear the bare-x 180s through the winter months because the traction on ice and snow (and we have a lot of it around here!) was almost non-existent. i think that they are a bit more shoe than the vapor gloves (i have only tried those on in a retail store) with maybe a softer feel underneath but more structure to the upper. but if you enjoyed both the road glove and vapor glove then i'm pretty certain that you would really enjoy the bare-x 180s!

  4. thanks Patrick, interesting infos!