Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Inov-8 Bare-X Lite 150 Update Review: Durability and Colors, Too

Now that the Inov-8 Bare-X Lite 150 is showing up in a variety of colorways across the shoe retailer webosphere, you may be curious about the shoe's level of awesomeness. Lucky for you, I'm in a position to provide a 100-plus-mile update review.

Bare-X Lite 150

In my initial review of the Bare-X Lite 150, I wrote pretty positively about the shoe. (And, why wouldn't I? I mean, it's not like I'm going to waste much time reviewing a shoe that I'm sure I won't like as soon as I see it.)

It turns out that the Bare-X Lite 150 remains fantastic for pavement running well after 100 miles. And, I'd even venture to say that it's more awesome after 100 miles than it was when brand new. I'll explain.

Smarter Than the Average Sole

Bare-X Lite 150 Outsole Durability The majority of shoe retail websites, as well as the Inov-8 site itself, describe the Bare-X Lite outsole and midsole in vague terms—rubber, compound, fusion—without betraying enough detail for us to really know how the shoe's going to endure several hundred miles on pavement.

And, as is often the case with many shoes touting lightweight awesomeness, durability comes into question.

The Natural Running Store's Patton Gleason does a really nice job of explaining just how durable the Bare-X Lite 150 is after a bunch of miles. And, I'll agree with him. The outsoles of my 150s could easily last a few hundred more miles.

'Course, it's important to note that we're not expecting these shoes to take us over special terrain. They're made for pavement. And, that doesn't require much in the way of tread. So, as long as these don't wear down to smooth, slippery plastic, the cleverly compounded outsole material should remain sufficient for pavement running.

A unique aspect of this EVA-rubber-fusion-compound midsole/outsole is that it's a bit more rigid at first than one might expect. I based my expectations for this shoe on the f-lite line, which has a great degree of flexibility right out of the box. But, the Bare-X Lite's rather uniformly compounded, flat sole makes the shoe a smidgen more resistant to folding in half than the f-lites.

Bare-X Lite 150 outsole brand new
Bare-X Lite 150 outsole
when it was brand new

This doesn't impede running form at all. It's still delightfully more flexible than some other minimal-ish shoes. It's just not the most flexible shoe out there. And, some people looking for a barefoot replacement shoe might be disappointed by this one's somewhat rigid platform. (see instead the Bare-X 200 or Bare-X 180 [review forthcoming])

However, I should add that the subtle rigidity goes away after 50-or-so miles of running. And, I find that I enjoy the "ride" in the Bare-X 150 more now than several miles ago, especially while running up hills.

I'll point out that my right heel feels some special sensitivity to the ground when I'm walking in these shoes. I don't know why that is the case. It's as if I feel the outline of the curved margin that you see in the photo, the line delineating the shape of the heel in the tread. I don't have this sensation when running. Although, I might if I landed squarely on my heels. And, that's not the way to run in zero-drop shoes, now is it?

Bare-X Lite 150 outsole after about 100 miles
Bare-X Lite 150 outsole after about 100 miles
of running on asphalt and concrete

The Things You Think You Will Like Will Be the Things You Like

That "quick lace system" I pointed out in the initial review is better than I expected. My concerns about the securing tab working itself loose during a long run have not come to fruition. And, there's something so satisfying about simply slipping on the shoes and not tying the laces. (Does that make me lazy?)

I imagine that this quick-pull-tab lacing system will be especially useful to triathletes who have to change from biking shoes to running shoes as efficiently as possible. (If I have the order of that shoe change wrong, it's because I know practically nothing about triathlons)

When you see a tying system that involves this sort of pull-tab-noose thing, the laces are usually elastic. But, that's not the case with the Bare-X Lite 150. These laces are made of the stuff that most laces are made of. So, you don't have to worry about elastic material becoming overly stretched and useless after a while.

Bare-X Lite 150 Features a Quick Lace System

Likewise, the tongueless, one-piece upper is a dream! Without a tongue shifting to the side during your run, you'll wonder why other shoes don't employ this sort of design.

Inov-8 Anatomic FitAnother Bare-X Lite 150 feature that exceeds my expectations is the Anatomic Fit (or last). This is Inov-8's answer to popular demand for wider toe boxes on minimalish shoes. And, they've responded in spades, I say. The last is not so wide as to be sloppy and loose, but not too narrow as to be just another toe-scrunching shoe.

Moreover, the TPU lacing support works especially well in conjunction with the Anatomic Fit, because your midfoot remains secure in the shoe without feeling especially compressed.

I can't wait to try a trail shoe with the Anatomic fit.

Colors for the Rest of You

Bare-X Lite 150 front and backI remember my first visit to a specialty running shoe retailer several years ago. A home-made sign on the wall of this store proclaimed that "You can't choose a running shoe based on color!" The notion, of course, was that running was about exercise and health in lieu of fashion and aesthetics. So, a sensible person would wear whatever the salesperson handed him.

In a way, we're still at the mercy of fit preferences over color options. And, that's why I was willing to try the Bare-X Lite 150 in spite of the fact that Inov-8 released it first in bright white (not just white, bright white).

There are two kinds of runners: Those who like white shoes and those who don't. If you're of the latter persuasion, be advised that it takes more than 100 miles to get used to the bright whiteness. You'll accept the fact that you're wearing super white shoes. But, you won't be a bright-white-shoe convert.

Fortunately, the Bare-X Lite 150 is now available in three other brilliant colorways. So, those of you who are adverse to white shoes have a reason to try out the 150 without having to worry about people staring at your shoes as you run by them on the greenway. (And, you'll swear they're staring at your shoes).

Bare-X Lite 150 in Orange Bare-X Lite 150 in Blue Bare-X Lite 150 in Lime

In Short

The Bare-X Lite 150 is a great road running shoe after more than 100 miles of use. It fits comfortably and with versatility. And, it serves its purpose very well as a zero-drop training and racing shoe for paved terrain.

I think the hardened barefoot runner, or someone who prefers an especially minimal shoe with the flexibility of a moccasin, will want to look at other options. (Again, I'll suggest the Bare-X 180 or 200). I say this because the outsole and midsole composite on the 150 is more rigid than ultra-flexible shoe lovers would prefer.

But, what the Bare-X sole lacks in flexibility is more than compensated for in durability. Inov-8 managed to create a very lightweight racing shoe that lasts for (at least) hundreds of miles. That's pretty significant. And, I wouldn't be surprised if the Bare-X Lite 150 becomes almost as cultishly popular as the f-lite 195s and 230s.

Bare-X Lite 150


  1. Love the new colors! Especially the green.

    I was wondering how that sole material would hold up. Looks like it's doing much better than the EVA portions of the Mizuno Wave Universe 3 that I own.

    1. Yep, the composite comprising the Bare-X lite sole is far more durable than the squishy foam on much of the Mizuno Universe outsole. 'Course, the Universe is definitely the lighter shoe, if that's what's important.

  2. Great review! What are your thoughts on the Bare-X Lite 150 as a marathon race day shoe? I've been completely zero-drop in my trainers since November training in Altra Instincts and some mileage in Vibrams. I need to pick out a shoe for Boston this spring and this looks like a good balance between lightweight and enough durability to keep my feet from getting too beaten up over the distance. Do you think these are a better choice than the 180/200?

    1. It's funny you should ask, because I was just considering the 150's merit as a marathon shoe this morning. I
      've done an 18-mile run in the 150s with no problems at all. So, I would definitely consider it for a marathon. I imagine it'll feel less cushioned than the Altras you've been using. But, if you're comfortable in Vibrams, this shoe shouldn't be too much of a shocker for your feet.
      As for the Bare-X 180 and 200: Unless you count the 3mm removable insole, the 180 and 200 have absolutely no cushioning. So, you'd need to feel confident in running a marathon barefoot if you wanted to run the distance in either of those shoes.
      I hope that's helpful. And, thanks for reading!

    2. I think you just sold me :)

      I was looking for a compromise between the Vibrams and Altras and the 150s look just about right. I've also got a couple of tune up races in March to try them out. Hopefully more retailers will stock the Inov-8s so we don't need to purchase online and guess about feel and fit.

    3. That's great, Rob! I hope they turn out to be exactly what you want! The folks over at NaturalRuningStore.com seem to be pretty accessible. You might ask them about the 150's sizing relative to your Altras. (I haven't tried the Altras yet. So, I'm not help there, unfortunately)

  3. I have these shoes and have put at least 100 miles on them. I got them a half size too big. And, the quick lacing system won't let me tighten the shoe enough to compensate the way a regular lacing system does. It's probably not a problem if you get the right size, though. Also, I have to say I've had problems with the slick sole. I travel a lot internationally and some countries will pave their recreational paths with slick stone. Anytime I come across road or path or sidewalk that's slippery running in the 150s has been a treacherous activity.

    As a result, I recently bought the 180s for the sticky sole. I know it's more flexible, but I was running in the 150s with the insoles removed since the beginning. I'm going to keep the insoles in the 180s for a while since that shoe is already more sensitive. Ease my way into it.

    So, in summary, I wanted to add:

    1. The quick lacing system doesn't seem to leave much wiggle room for shoe sizing errors.

    2. The slick foamy sole can be dangerous if your terrain is also slick.

    3. It's a great minimalist shoe that won't get people staring at you because you're wearing something freaky looking.

    1. Thanks for those observations! I hadn't thought about the limitations of the quick-lace system with regard to fit. But, I can definitely see how that would be the case if the size of the shoe is not ideal.

      Good choice going with the 180. I love that one's flexibility.

  4. Thanks for the review. I bought these because I got a very good price on them. I didn't really look in to them too much. I expected them to be very similar to my New Balance Road Shoes with Zero Drop. When they arrived in the mail, I had some durability concerns of the out sole. Thanks for relieving my concerns.

    1. I'm glad this review could help, Anon! Did you happen to get them on sale at the Clymb a couple weeks ago? If so, that was a very good price, one that was hard to pass up!
      Anyway, I'm up to about 270 miles on my pair of 150s. And, they're still serving me well with no durability-related issues. I think that having a relatively smooth outsole from the start decreases the expectation that there is a lot of wear to perceive after a couple hundred miles.
      Have fun and thanks for reading!

  5. HI there, I am thinking on gettint the BareX 150, but since I am ordering online, I´d like to know about the sizing. My first impulse was to compare them via running warehouse´s shoe size comparison tool, strange though today it seems to be unavailable. I am currently running in NB MT10 and Saucony Kinvara 2s both in 11US, the MT10 is roomier in the front (toe box) while the Kinvara seems a bit lenghtier.

    So I am not sure if I should go also for size 11 in the barex 150.

    Any advice is welcomed!

    1. It sounds to me like you should try the Bare-X Lite 150 in a US Men's size 10.5.

      I say this, because I wear the NB MT10 in a size 12. And, my Bare-X Lite 150 in size 11.5 fits marvelously. I think you'll find that the Bare-X Lite has the width of the MT10 and the length of the Kinvara.

      I hope that helps!

    2. When you went a half size smaller, did you still have enough room for longer distances? 10kms and longer?

    3. Definitely! The shoe is remarkably roomy without being too loose. The 150 in a size 10.5 will fit just a tiny bit larger than a size 11 MT10. Of course, that all depends on how your foot fills out the last.

    4. Hi Ashwyn, I ordered the 10.5 size in the 150s, but I cant stop the feeling I probably should have ordered the 11.

      I definitely dont find the Inov8 roomy at all, I finde them narrow in their anatomic last in comparison with the MT10s.
      I have also de the Trailrocs 245 in 11, and I also felt I should have ordered those in 11.5

      Maybe Inov8s are just not for my foot shape... sadly because I like their looks and the feel of them, just not their toe box.

      Going to give the Altra Instinct 1.5 a try.

  6. Great review - I'm glad to hear such good things about this shoe! I just ordered my first pair to try out and am looking forward to my first run in them.

    I run marathons, a mix of road races and some trail races, and I'm hoping this shoe will be a good fit for at least the road races. If not, I guess they would work for shorter races, too.

    1. Thanks for the friendly words, Amy! I hope the Bare X-Lite 150s are working out well for you!
      Thanks for reading!

  7. Thanks for the review. I'm new to running and been following Danny Dreyers Chi Marathon programme. Just ordered a pair at a knockdown price on Amazon UK albeit in white.

    1. I hope you enjoy the new shoes, LB! Having white ones just means you get to make them that much more dirty. And, welcome to running!

  8. I know this is an ancient post but my last pair of 150s is getting to the end of their life and I'm having a hard time replacing them. Inov-8 doesn't seem to make them anymore and no one has had them in stock for the year I've been looking. My progression has been Nike Free 3.0 to Inov-8 bare-x lite 150. I thought about going back to the Free 3.0 but I'm not in love with the new woven style (I slide on top of the sole too much, it's sweaty, not a nice strong heel like my Inov-8s, etc.). Is there a good replacement shoe for these that captures the amazing features, ie: super light, great fit, flexible? Thanks!

  9. I know this is an ancient post but my last pair of 150s is getting to the end of their life and I'm having a hard time replacing them. Inov-8 doesn't seem to make them anymore and no one has had them in stock for the year I've been looking. My progression has been Nike Free 3.0 to Inov-8 bare-x lite 150. I thought about going back to the Free 3.0 but I'm not in love with the new woven style (I slide on top of the sole too much, it's sweaty, not a nice strong heel like my Inov-8s, etc.). Is there a good replacement shoe for these that captures the amazing features, ie: super light, great fit, flexible? Thanks!

  10. I second Mike.. this was my favorite shoe and I'm sad to see Inov-8 stopped making it. Any suggestions for replacement?

  11. I can just add to this that I now have 520km in mine and they're still going strong! I bought another pair before they were discontinued and don't think I'll need them for a little while yet! Best road shoe I've ever had and wish Inov-8 would bring it back!



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