Monday, December 5, 2011

Inov-8 Bare-X Lite 150 Review: First-Run Impressions

The Bare-X Lite 150 is...

When I first ran in the Bare-X Lite 150...


Oh, let's just get it out of the way: These are bright white shoes!

Take a good look at them. Make your judgmental remarks. Get the disdain and contempt for white athletic footwear out of your system now. If you don't, your receptivity to what I'm about to impart in this review will be clouded by negativity.

Inov-8 Bare-X Lite 150 view 1
Yes, these shoes are even whiter in real life than they appear in these photos, which dilute the whiteness due to their sensitivity to the color temperature of the sun.

Are we ready to be grown ups now? Good.

chasing pavements

I've been eager to try one of Inov-8's road shoes since they started marketing the line earlier this year. Sure, I am happy to run in the f-lite 230 on pavement for miles. But, I've been really curious to see what my favorite trail shoe company (yes, there is a degree of bias in this review) could do with a road shoe.

Inov-8 released the Bare-X Lite 150 in September, shortly after making the Bare-X 200 available to the running public. Touted as a "radical zero diff racer", the Bare-X Lite 150 weighs just 6.1 oz (US men's size 9) and boasts that all-important zero differential between the 7mm-high heel and 7mm-high forefoot. Thus, the 150 is certainly a minimalist shoe to consider.

Inov-8 Bare-X Lite 150 view 3


Synthetic Mesh, TPU Lacing Support, 3mm [removable] Footbed, Anatomic Last*

Look closely at the upper in the photo and see that the lacing system is relatively unique. Well, not the lacing, rather the manner in which the laces are tied. That's right, you don't have to tie them at all!

What do you call that thing, though? A cincher, maybe? Whatever it is, it's pretty efficient once you figure out how it works. (Push the little pushy thing forward to move the laces through the cincher)

Granted, I might be concerned about the durability of this laces-cinching contraption. But, we'll just have to see about that. For now, I like it. Just slip on the shoes, tighten, and secure the loose laces under the front-most lace to avoid looking stupid. (I suppose a picture of them on my feet might have been helpful)

The absence of a true tongue is another special quality of the 150. I'm often annoyed by shoe tongues because of the way they slip to the side or insist on creasing unnecessarily between your foot and the rest of the shoe. Fortunately, that problem doesn't exist when the tongue is part of the upper like this. I imagine you'd like this feature if you were averse to seams in a shoe, someone who doesn't wear socks perhaps.

The upper mesh material is comfy and stretchy like the other Inov-8 shoes I've reviewed. I'd say, though, that's it's not quite as open as the mesh upper of my Bare Grips or f-lites. But, it's still very breathable, no worries about suffocating your foot, or anything.

sizing and the anatomic last

The Anatomic Last, a feature I was especially anxious to experience, is a real winner here. It's a comfortably wide last without making the shoe feel floppy and sloppy on my feet. This lack of floppiness is crucial to feeling fast, I've decided.

Moreover, the contours of the Anatomic Last are nicely suited to my foot shape. I've worn other shoes with wide toe boxes that have a peculiar slope to the front of the shoe, a curve that seems to exclude the existence of my littlest toes. The Bare-X Lite's toe curve is not so discriminating against my little toes.

I am wearing a US men's size 11.5 Bare-X Lite 150, because that's the size I like my f-lite 230s to be. And, if I'd call the f-lites snug in this size, then the equivalent size 150 is downright roomy. I wouldn't order a size smaller, though, because that would defeat the purpose of a wider shoe last. So, if you're wondering which size Bare-X Lite 150 to order, go with the size you like for your f-lites or half a size smaller than the NB MT10.

Of course, I'm just describing the fit of this new Anatomic Last on my feet. Your feet may fit into the shoes very differently.

Essentially, the Anatomic Last is wider than the performance last of some other Inov-8 shoes. So, if you've griped about narrowness before, you may not be inclined to complain this time.

Inov-8 Bare-X Lite 150 view 2


Fusion Sole™ technology combines Lite Rubber™ and EVA foam to make up a light, minimal midsole "for resilient cushioning with maximum memory retention."

Bare-X 200 is more barefoot than the Bare-X Lite 150
Be advised: The Bare-X 200 brings you millimeters closer to barefoot than the Bare-X Lite 150.

Apparently, this is not the most barefoot-like shoe in the Inov-8 road lineup. I thought it would be the most minimal due to the fact that it's their lightest shoe. But, in fact, the Bare-X Lite 150 has a smidgen more cushioning than the Bare-X 200, which has no midsole whatsoever and puts you 6mm above the ground instead of 7mm. Not only that, but the Bare-X 200 is billed as being more flexible. Go figure.

Despite the "extra" cushioning, the Bare-X Lite 150 scores highly in the proprioception department, allowing you to feel the firmness of the road (or whatever surface you happen to be traversing) and adjust your landing force as necessary. You'll definitely want to maintain good form in these shoes.

Inov-8 Bare-X Lite 150 view 4


Bare-X Lite outsole, an innovative, 3mm rubber layer designed to withstand the impact of training plus Injection molded Fusion Sole™; which is a synthetic rubber and EVA foam composite to create an ultra lightweight compound. "Its average lifespan is 300 miles."

The Bare-X Lite's outsole has more surface area than any running shoe in my current rotation. This makes sense to me, since this is a shoe designed for flat surfaces. The clever bone design is pretty neat, too.

The 150 is pretty much perfect for pavement, concrete, asphalt, and rubber. It is not something you want to wear in a XC race, though. I slipped easily when I crossed over some frosty grass this morning. I won't even pretend to consider its merit for trail running.

It's worth noting that online retailers do not list Sticky (S™) Rubber among the features of the Bare-X Lite 150 outsole. This is a helpful addition to many of Inov-8's other performance shoes, which aids in maintaining good traction on wet surfaces. It's a pity that the sticky rubber is absent here.

But, in spite of that omission, the shoe has excellent grip on wet pavement. So, don't let a non-sticky outsole deter you from trying the 150.

get it?

After a week of running, I definitely like the Bare-X Lite 150. It's an ideal shoe for an efficient runner with a concern for minimalist/natural/barefoot/innate (or whatever the term of the day happens to be) running. It also happens to be a great racing flat. I'll wear it in my next road race and let you know how it goes.

You can be sure that I'll post an update on how the shoe holds up after 100 miles or so. I may even want to compare this to one or two other road flats.

Unlike certain other shoes you may have read about this week, shoes you probably have zero chance of obtaining this month, the Bare-X Lite 150 is available to you now. Find it at numerous fine running shoe retailers. Although, If you haven't heard already, this marvelous shoe will appear in other colors this Spring, March-ish, I think. I'm just sayin'.

If you have any questions, feel free to post 'em in the comments section below. Thanks for reading!

Specifications and features obtained courtesy of RunningWarehouse and Zappos

*RunningWarehouse currently indicates that the last is the "Performance Last". But, I'm pretty sure that everything else I've read stated that the Bare-X Lite is built on the new "Anatomic Last". Besides, it's definitely wider than the performance last on which my other Inov-8 shoes are constructed.

Product provided by Inov-8.


  1. Sweet! I love the lacing system and integrated/nonexistent tongue. Brilliant.

    It's interesting that you mention the floppy-shoe issue. It seems like in designers' response to our constant request for a wider toebox, the shoe often ends up being too wide overall or just fits oddly in general. Sounds like this one avoids that while still being roomy.

    For a lightweight-flat-shoe freak like me, this one is definitely on my wish list. So glad you got to review it!

  2. Great review! Nice to see Inov-8 finally use the anatomic last for something other than the Recolites (which I have and love). Now, if they made a trail/xc shoe with that last, I would be in business...

    Oh, and white doesn't even begin to describe those shoes. Looks like they could light up your closet all by themselves.

  3. Iris: Yeah, I imagine it's a tough challenge for shoe designers, deciding how big to make the toe box. I really feel like these are the best I've worn so far in that regard.

    Scott: I know what you mean. If this anatomic last existed with a Roclite outsole and a Bare-Grip upper, we'd have the ultimate shoe. And, yes, these are the first shoes I see when I open my closet door.

  4. Hi! I found your blog when searching for info on the Mountains to Sea trails. I am thinking of maybe running the 50k this year. How do you think the MST compare to Umstead? Thanks.

  5. Hi Diana! I started to respond to your question here. But, then I just made it into another blog post. Thanks for the inspiration. And, thanks for reading!

  6. Ash thanks for the review, i know its a little old, but the clymb is having a sale right now for inov-8s, i just grabbed a pair of white and red 150s for 50$, mostly in part to this review. Thanks again-

    1. Thanks for reading, Anon! That deal on the 150s at the Clymb is an excellent one. Good job snagging a pair. Have fun running in them!

  7. Hey, I'm looking at getting either these or the "Road-X-Treme 138's". I am a big minimalist guy so I was wondering which was more minimalist (if any). Which do you like more?

    1. Hi Austin! I really like both shoes. But, as far as minimal feel and overall utility go, I'd say the 138 is the choice. However, it feels slightly tighter in the toes than the 150. And, it's lacing system is quite different from that of the 150. So, really, if you're able to try on both shoes, I'd highly recommend it.



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