Inov8 Bare-Grip 200 Review: Total Trail Domination

The following review comes from Team NRS athlete and perpetual dreamer, Mr. Dave Carder.  Dave is dominating the Teton Valley this summer.  We are so proud and a little jealous.

My evolution as a runner over the last few years has come in many forms.  Evolution of my body, mind, and spirit.  At 41, ultrarunning and trail running have put me in the best shape of my life.  But, this is not a post about all the Zen and peace running has brought to my life.  This one is all about one badass trail shoe!

Back in April I was presented an opportunity to move to Idaho to work and play in the Teton Mountains with my friend and world-class ultrarunner and human condition warrior, Lisa Smith-Batchen.  The universe conspired to give me what I wanted yet again.  So within 4 days, I condensed everything I needed for the next 5 months plus into 2 duffel bags, a back pack, and shipped my bike to Idaho.

Lisa and Sister Mary Beth.  Talk about dominating dedication to a cause.
This is where my fellow anti-perimeter thinker Patton Gleason at NaturalRunningStore.com comes in.  I could extol on the greatness that is Patton for the next several thousand words.  If you have had the good fortune to meet Patton you know what I am talking about.  If not, check out all the joy and goodness about running and life he shares on his website and HERE as well.  Patton just gets it.

 

Allow me to introduce to you the Inov8 Bare-Grip 200.  This shoe had me at hello.  Everything about it screams trail and domination.  This shoe came into my consciousness at the most fortuitous moment as I was packing for this Grand Teton adventure.  I wanted, no desperately NEEDED, a trail shoe that was up to the test that I was going to take on in the mountains.

Let’s start with the lugging.  The pattern and depth remind me of a baseball shoe at first glance.  It may be 102 in Texas right now, but at 6,200 ft in the Teton Valley we had snow on the ground just a few days ago.  Most of the trails at 9,000-10,000 feet elevation are still packed with feet and feet of snow.  Lower sections are muddy and running streams of snow melt coming down the mountain.  Most trail shoes do not sport the aggressive lugging of this bad boy AND they tend to retain mud to the point that you feel as if you are running in moon boots minus the zero gravity(quite the opposite actually).

From my first steps on the snow-pack, I had complete confidence in every step going up the trail.  Who needs crampons with these strapped on?  Fast descents on packed snow were a blast in this shoe.  I could take all the speed the mountain would allow me.  The real fun began when I hit the muddy sections and mountain streams.  This shoe shreds and sheds mud almost simultaneously.  Not once did I end up with clumpy chunks of mushy mud mired in the crevices of this shoe.

This shoe is a complete and total ZERO.  As in zero-drop platform that is.  My inner-Sasquatch loves how in touch with the ground my feet feel in this shoe.  Rocky trail.  Muddy trail.  Snow-packed trail.  Rushing stream trail.  On all these surface conditions I always felt like the shoe was giving me just enough protection, but allowing me to take in all the sensory feedback of every nuance of the ground (and water!) below me.

This shoe makes you want to seek out water and mud!

Let’s talk uppers for a moment.  The overall fit and feel of this shoe is delicious.  Yes, I used the word delicious to describe how a trail shoe fits.  Try it and tell me I am wrong.  With very few inner seams, I have taken to running in this shoe completely naked.  Barefoot to be more specific, not bare-ass.  Although I have done that a time or two as well.  (Google “supernatural” running.  Try it you’ll like it.)  This shoe also evacuates water extremely well.  Within a step or so after a water crossing all the H2O is adios!

Bam!

As Inov8’s most minimal trail shoe to-date, this baby has no midsole whatsoever.  This puts your foot right on top of the outsole and gives you that gnarly, flexible feel.  This performs well in drier conditions as well.  Loose and/or soft terrain is its sweet spot.  This shoe would be bit of overkill in hard-packed, sun-baked dirt though.

9 out of 10 feet at Grumpy's Goat Shack approve this shoe

The final verdict:  If you are looking for a no-holds-barred trail shoe that will allow you to let it all hang out and take dominance to a new level, look no further.  Stay thirsty my friends.

About Dave:  Dave is an ultra runner, coach and a dominator of the highest order.  You can follow his adventures and insights on his terrific running blog “Words My Thing“.  You’ll find insight, inspiration and the occasional shoe review.  If you are in the Teton Valley, make sure to say hello.

About NaturalRunningStore.com:  We put a premium on running form and technique.  We carry shoes that promote what the body is designed to do.  We are trouble makers in the running industry.
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3 Responses to Inov8 Bare-Grip 200 Review: Total Trail Domination

  1. AprilBRuns says:

    Awesome review…makes me want a pair, and I don’t even trail run! Sounds like a great shoe!

  2. Naked Feets says:

    Hello,

    Show looks/sounds great; but what would you recommend for a similar feel on harder packed surfaces? I currently use the NB Minimus Trail, but am sorely dissapointed (heh, get it?) with the tread performance and sole. The groundfeel is great; but in south florida there is too much coral rocks on the trails (sharp as hell). Also, the vibram rubber compound seems WAY too soft, as the nubs have almost worn off after only 3 months of light trail and cinder track running. Any suggestions? 195’s or 230’s? I really want to be in zero drop shoes, but wonder if the lugs wont work for the limited (and hard packed) trails in my area…

    Thanks for your help!

    tom.

    • Hey Tom-Thanks for the post. I think you have a couple of great options with the only deciding factor is what kind of feel you want in your shoes. If you want the “next to barefoot” feeling in your shoes (like VFF) I would suggest the VIVOBAREFOOT Neo or Evo. The sole is superior to that of the VFF as it has a highly durable rubber and kevlar to make it puncture resistant. This shoe takes 3 to 4 times of wearing to break in, but once broken in you will love it.

      If you wanted something with a little bit more cushion to it (but not clunky, we do not carry clunky) I would suggest the Terra Momentus from Newton. I have used this on some very sharp Texas limestone and if performed flawlessly. It is also not so technical of a shoe that you can’t wear it on the roads.

      Please feel free to give me a shout if you have any questions at all. You can catch me via email at patton at naturalrunningstore.com

      Cheers to you Tom!

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