Thursday, 26 April 2012

Inov8 Baregrips (destroyed)?

See through shoes!
So I've had the Baregrips for about a year. I've worn them in 2 races, and a good number of training runs. (I just worked out that I've done about 200km in total in them) I'm not the kind of person that runs 100s of miles a week, and I certainly don't wear the Baregrips every week by any means. The soles still look brand new, literally, if I washed them, they look as if they haven't been worn. 100% total and utter aggressive outsole grip.

The uppers though, are nigh on dead.
This, has, quite frankly, shocked me.

I know that these are lightweight fellshoes. They are 200g per shoe and are made as a grippy barefoot shoe for offroad running. They are lightweight and they are minimalist. From the photo you can see that the wear pattern on them is through bendy bit just at the 1st metatarsal.

A Big Hole. (Medially)
I'm not averse to holey shoes. Let me make that very clear. Holes make excellent bailing devices, water just pours out as you run. (or shoots out if you have enough water in your shoes and there is a small enough hole... the resulting pressure can create quite a stream).

I think the reason I am flabbergasted and annoyed is that I've never actually had a shoe which the upper fails before the grip before.

Yes, there is an argument that the higher performance the item, the better it works in the short term, but long term longevity is sacrificed. Think about Formula 1 tyres. I dare not think how much each tyre costs, but it lasts all of a few laps, but with grip that you can't even begin to believe. If you had some of them on your car, at the right temperature, you'd stick to the road like glue. (an odd analogy, because you have to take aerodynamics, downforce etc into account, but I hope you get my point)
Expensive, high performance stuff lasts for less time than lower performance, low price stuff.

Its like the pair of 5:10 moccasyms I bought for climbing. They were my second pair of climbing shoes ever, and they stuck to the wall like my feet were covered in glue. I climbed in them twice a week and was SHOCKED when I went through the toe in 6 months. My footwork was sloppy, and I dragged my toe everywhere on the wall, ok, it was bound to happen. I was still very much a beginnner.

Still a ridiculous amount of grip
If I was running in these Baregrips twice a week, and tearing through heather, gorse, rough rock and goodness knows what else, then yes, I would fully anticipate that they would probably be trashed beyond recognition within 5 or 6 months. Its what they are made for, yet they are a high performance shoe that is likely to not last so long.

That being said, I feel like I've barely worn them. I looked forward to using them in the clag and mud of the winter, and yes, they were great until it just got too cold. I didn't expect them to stay in pristine condition forever, but I did expect them to not have holes in after less than 10 days of full use.
Am I being a little harsh on them?

Hole on the lateral side of the shoe
I don't know. You may have seen the review on the Roclite 268 that I wrote a while ago, and the destroyed blog as well. It took fully a year or more of constant fellracing and adventure racing, in pretty nasty conditions, to finally begin going through the uppers on them. Yes, they are 68grams heavier, and no they don't have the same kind of grip on them, but that's more like the kind of wear that I would expect.

Inov8. You have some excellent shoes. You have some excellent grips, but you also have some quite fragile shoes.
Is it possible for you to have a look at the Baregrip or the X-talon sole units and put on an upper that doesn't eat itself? Roclites are great, and it seems that when the grip starts going, it really goes, and then the upper begins to go as well. However, in this case, having a shoe with a fantastic sole but an upper that no longer holds your foot, might be a little limiting to running.

Just for the record, I'm still running in these things as the grip is fantastic, I don't think it's going to be long before they completely fall apart on me. Hopefully not somewhere a long way from home. A lot of the upper is still in very good condition, but the weak spots are almost making them un-runnable.

I wonder if there is a way to graft the sole onto another shoe upper? A phantom Frankenstein of a shoe with is indestructible. THAT would be a good shoe.


  1. Curse of inov8 mate. Same story every time I'm afraid...

  2. Same story with the new Trailroc 235:

  3. Had same issue with f-lite 195.

  4. Well observed! You're not the only one to have this problem. Mine did the exactly same thing in 4 months/<200 miles.

    There is a gap in the protective rand where the shoe flexes the most. Once grit gets into the fibres, the shear in the fabric causes a lot of abrasion in what is a very flimsy fabric. Result: what you see above.

    That said, I really like these shoes for their sheer grip, flexibility and stability; so I bought a second pair. This time I 'fixed' the problem by painting on the missing section of rand using a urethane shoe repair product (Freesole in my case). This has stopped the mud getting in to the fibres of the fabric and has eliminated the shearing of the fabric. Yes, they're ever so slightly less flexible, but they will last much longer. The urethane is clear - so doesn't look too obvious.

    To prove the point I took a pair of Innov8 Bare-X 180s which were also starting to fray at the same point. After applying the urethane repair the tearing stopped. About two hundred miles later the shoes look no worse.

    Hope this helps.

  5. Sorry if this is written somewhere but can I ask - do these hold onto mud? I have a pair of Vivobarefoot Breathos but they literally hold onto mud so few minutes into race I am carrying around mud for the rest of the race. Would like something minimal that doesn't do this. So just wondering if they do that or are good in that sense. Thank you for your patience.

  6. It depends on the mud. (silly answer, perhaps). Hacking through peat bog, they're pretty excellent at shedding mud.
    Clay, however, sticks to anything and everything. Blue Slipper on the Isle of Wight... well, Ive never found anything that sheds that stuff.

    So, yes, they shed mud, but it will depend on the type and quality of said mud.