Shoe Review – Inov8 Road-X-Treme 220

Inov8 has been a regular in my shoe rack for several years now. In fact since switching from Saucony Kinvaras a couple of years ago I have hardly looked back. I  previously owned the Road-X-Treme 178 and the Road-X-Lite 155s (the numbers refer to the weight). Below is my review of the Inov8 Road-X-Treme 220.

Why I Chose the Inov8 Road-X-Treme 220

Having drifted away from Inov8 for a couple of months (out of interest for other brands more than anything) I had picked up an achilles injury. I don’t believe this was related to the non-Inov8s, but I had an injury nonetheless and was looking for a shoe to help get me back on track. A safe bet so to say. I went back to Inov8 with my tail between my legs. I was looking for a lightweight, low heel drop road shoe that was similar but slightly more forgiving than my former love the 155s. I was also looking for a bit of an all rounder.

The 155s and 178s, although amazing on road, had next to zero grip. I wanted a shoe that I could handle non-technical trails and not have to worry about the slightest moisture in the ground. The new shoes would have to hold their own on East African dirt paths and roads as I would be spending a substantial part of my year in Uganda helping to organise the Running the Rift Marathon (runningtheriftmarathon.com). I needed shoes with good grip but I wanted to take one pair only. The Inov8 Road-X-Treme 220 looked perfect: 4mm heel drop (a bit more forgiving than the 155s for my achilles), while remaining lightweight and low profile. The Inov8 Road-X-Treme 220’s importantly had a significant grip profile for a road shoe.

The Inov8 Road-X-Treme 220’s I purchased have now been used as my primary running shoes for about a month. They have been used at least 5 times a week for initially slow runs as I tentatively came out of injury. Faster runs and interval training have been gradually introduced.

 

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Inov8 Road-X-Treme 220

The Positives

  • They are incredibly lightweight and flexible as with all Inov8s I have tried.
  • A fantastic balance between being low profile and still having some cushioning and heel support. If you are looking for a ‘minimalist’ or lightweight shoe and are not looking for a fully ‘barefoot’ shoe, this could be the shoe for you.
  • Toe box! As always Inov8 never disappoint with the toe box. With fat feet like mine these shoes gave my toes incredible freedom to splay naturally.
  • Great grip for a road shoe. Especially from the forefoot to the tip of the toe, which was tested on a wet and muddy grass hill sprint session. My running buddies struggled in their Adidas Boosts and Saucony Kinvaras.
  • Durability is often a problem with more minimalist shoes. So far the Inov8 Road-X-Treme 220’s seem to be holding up well (see below).
  • The shoes are incredibly comfortable. The midsole down to the heel genuinely feels like a pair of comfortable slippers to wear!

The Negatives

  • The reinforcement at the front of the shoe does provide protection from toe stubbing on trails and steep downs. However, the reinforcement did irritate my big toe on the first few runs. This has since ceased.
  • The colour. I loved the colour when I first got the 220s. Unfortunately the elements are very unforgiving on white and I now have quite a dirty looking pair of shoes. Not a problem if this is for gym use or you clean your shoes regularly (I don’t).

Verdict – A Great All-Rounder

I am relatively unfussed by the grimy look. The big toe bruising caused by the reinforced front has disappeared. All in all the 220s are an incredibly comfortable and lightweight shoe. The forgiveness provided by the 4mm heel drop has been great and a real plus when compared to the 155s. With the African trails coming up this year, I will be buying myself another pair. The biggest selling point for me is the grip. The Inov8 Road-X-Treme 220 is a great all-rounder. A perfect shoes for the traveling road and trail junkie.