Why inov-8?

We love inov-8 because of we think their approach is both singular in the industry and spot on. With a history of success at every level of the sport, inov-8 has the street cred to stand among the most successful brands in the industry. They have been proven in competition both on and off-road, across sports, and across the globe. They routinely end up on the feet of some of the most successful athletes in the world, and have carved out a solid niche in such fast-growing sports as crossfit and mountain running. Our goal at the Ultra Running Company is to make them a household name in the Queen City.

inov-8 is dedicated to building amazing shoes for every athlete, and they are doing things no other manufacturer dares to do (note the lack of capital letters in their name – THAT’S how hard core they are: No time for proper punctuation, just pushing the envelope!) Whether its offering the same shoe with varying levels of heel-to-toe drop, building sport and gender specific lasts for a better fit, or leveraging aggressive tread designs and rubber compound, inov-8 is dedicated to producing the most purpose built running footwear on the planet. And its working. Runners like San Franciscan Gary Gellin, Coloradan Alex Nichols and NC local Mark Lundblad are all scary fast, and all run in inov-8s.

One more thing: they’re British, and we kind of dig that. Not in a Prince-William-and-Princess-Kate way, but in a grab-a-pint-lace-up-your-boots-and-run-up-a-hill-for-the-heck-of-it manner. Yeah, we like that. Trust us, try on a pair of these shoes, and you will, too.

inov-8s at the Ultra Running Company

The f-LITE Line:

We were immediately impressed with the inov-8 F-Lites when we opened the store, and knew we had a winner on our hands. We feel this is one the the best "natural" running shoes in the Mixed-Use space, but the fact is we sell more of them to folks headed for the gym than to folks headed out to the trails. This is the line that signaled inov-8s immersion into the functional fitness world, and no one has done it better since. While other companies have entered the market in an attempt to pull people away from these true innovators (we can think of one specifically that felt the need to tie up a whole portion of the market with legalese, but think its too bad they didn't spend that kind of money on creating a better product...), the f-lite line just gets better and better.

From a technical standpoint, these shoes are just impressive: impressive materials, impressive design, impressive looks...just impressive. They go into ridiculous detail on their web site, which has as much detail as any manufacturer we can find (so much so that people tend to get MORE confused after visiting it...but don't worry - we'll be here to translate). We feature different men’s and women’s models in many inov-8 lines because they take the time to design them differently – women’s shoes are made to fit the unique characteristics of the female foot, while men get to run in shoes designed more specifically for them (this is called a gender specific “last”, and we’re stoked to show you how it feels when you come in).


f-LITE 192: A Natural Drop Mixed-Use shoe with Minimal cushioning - as close as you'll get to the ground while wearing shoes, with the design necessary to protect you from the elements. The f-Lite 192 is amazingly light, getting rid of all the stuff you don’t need and focusing on allowing you to run as quickly as you possibly can. They even feature “sticky” rubber on their soles, which means you can be sure when you plant your foot on the ground you can be sure its going to stay there. We think inov-8s approach to stripped-down running has reached its pinnacle in the F-Lite line, and look forward to getting a pair on your feet! Yeah, you might get stopped by strangers, but the ride is worth it! The f-Lite 192 is currently offered in two colors: black or black, and we stock both. We also have a few older models hanging around, but in general this is your Darth Vadar shoe. It's bad like that.

f-LITE 195: A Low Drop Mixed Use shoe with Minimal cushioning. What we said about the f-Lite 192? Same thing here, only this shoe has a slightly narrower footbed (they call it their "Precision Last") and 3mm more cushion in the heel. Everything else is the same, except for the color. There are a couple of options here, and we've proudly displayed the white ones. Because Storm Troopers.

f-LITE 240: A Low Drop Mixed Use shoe with Minimal cushioning. Yup, we know that's what we said about the f-Lite 195, but technically it applies to this shoe as well. We told you this was confusing. So what do you get here? Even more cushioning under the heel (a total of 6mm more than the f-Lite 192s) and a return to the wider toe box (both the 192s and the 240s feature inov-8's "Standard Last"). Also a different set of colors. Some folks like this shoe because it feels slightly more like their "traditional" shoes, but we recommend you come on in and try it for yourself.

Oh, and one other thing: Don’t even talk to us about how we're focusing on crossfit. We have some folks here who dabble in functional fitness (and a couple who do a lot more than that), and while we're a running store, we're not here to discriminate against others who want to pursue a healthy and happy lifestyle. That's not our gig. We learn bit more about functional fitness every day, and while we wish we had time to do it more we do tend to fall back on feedback from our friends who make it a lifestyle. They tell us they can’t get enough of this shoe, so tell your friends we’ve got ‘em, and we’ll play nice when they come in.

Oh, and one LAST thing: the F-Lite line comes in over 48 different fit and color schemes, and we can't possibly stock them all in your size. We totally apologize in advance. What we have attempted to do is bring in representative models so you can try them on. We are totally cool with special orders, and don't charge you a cent for that. We which we could carry every size/color/model in the mix, but instead we'll just make sure we know everything about them when you come in so you can make an informed choice!

The ROClite Line:

Sometimes a shoe works so well, the winning formula just has to spread its wings a bit. When inov-8 introduced the Roclite, its aggressive tread and solid protection proved to be a winning combination. Pretty soon, factory testers and competitive users let the designers know the shoe would work even better if it could cover a broader range of conditions and running styles. The result is the current Roclite line, which the Ultra Running Company is proud to represent in Charlotte.

Many of us never knew we were being pushed towards a specific shoe type, but in many cases, that’s what was happening. The Roclite line is a great example of the Ultra Running Company’s philosophy of finding the right shoe for everyone instead of forcing a compromise between important design aspects. By tweaking elements like the height of the heel vs. the forefoot, male vs. female foot shapes, and weight, the Roclite line ensures a better fit for more people – which is exactly what we’ve set out to do for the Charlotte running community!

The ROClite 295: What started out as the middle child of the ROClite line carries the Trail Running construction over from the original racing-specific 243 as well as the Transitional Cushioning, but caters to folks who admit they still heel-strike from time to time while working to move towards a midfoot landing. They do this offering a shoe with Less Drop in the form a 6mm heel-to-toe offset. To us, this means we can run on virtually every trail in Charlotte with a light forefoot strike and the confidence that if we get lost our feet won’t hurt after a bit of extra running. The technical underpinnings are just as impressive as the original members of the line (all of whom have been retired at this point). What do we like most about this shoe? Well, even if you ignore the amazing traction, the solid fit, and the unique approach, the fact is all but the most technically efficient runners in the world land on their heel from time to time, and this shoe allows us to practice our “light as a feather” form while protecting us when reality kicks in. Since it always does.

The TrailRoc Line:

To say the Trailroc is one shoe would be a bit of a stretch. It is actually a line of shoes, each with different weights, heel-to-toe offsets and ridiculous European color schemes. For an in-depth review of the line and a good technical summary (as well as liberal use of inov-8 marketing terms such as Metashank and Shoc-Zone), we recommend checking out this review from We also like how they got to their choice of the Trailroc 255 (despite an initial inclination to go with a more “minimal” model”), and look forward to helping our customers make the same educated choices based on their own running. Here’s the breakdown of the line as we see it:

The Trailroc 150: A foot saving, bare-bones alternative to going barefoot for both men and women. This Trail Running shoe has Natural Drop and Minimal Cushioning, and is one of the lightest shoes in the inov-8 lineup. It fits like a glove and allows you to plant and go with confidence. We just put it on for our shorter trail runs when we want to tear up the singletrack and work on building foot and leg muscles – which is really important no matter how far you run! Also, it’s hard to imagine there is a more unique color scheme out there in specialty running. Hit the image above for a link to see them for yourself, and come on in to see how they fit your feet!

The Trailroc 255/236: OK, folks. No one is going to confuse this shoe for a "cush" ride - its still a very bare-bones shoe that delivers immediate feedback from the trail and allows the runner to experience near-full proprioception (the act of the foot feeling and reacting to the surface below it). With that said, the fine folks at inov-8 have chosen to add a bit more cushioning throughout the shoe and have raised the heel ever-so-slightly to account for minor inconsistencies in form and late-run fatigue. This shoe remains a natural drop, minimally cushioned trail shoe, but rounds some of the sharp edges of the Trailroc 150 above. Its fun, fast and supremely responsive, and we think the shape of the tread allows you to incorporate the trail into your movement slightly more than a similarly weighted ROClite 243. SO that's the difference between these two shoes: if you want to power through the trail, choose the speedy Roclite. If you want to float with the trail, this may be your shoe!

And Now For Something Completely Different:

We’ve notice most (OK, all..) of the specialty running stores in Charlotte have pretty much steered away from the trail running scene. We get it. The Queen City has traditionally been a road running town, and supporting a small group of upstarts at the USNWC, Anne Springs Close Greenway, and Renaissance Park by bringing in extra inventory just wasn’t worth the investment. To be fair, there may have a token trail shoe in stock, but in most cases runners have been forced to visit an “outdoor store” to get their trail fix on, and then they miss out on the advice and information a specialty running store brings to the table.

Look, we’re not cool with that. We think people should be able to run wherever their heart takes them: on the road, sidewalks, greenway, trail – whatever – and our goal is to ensure we have the product in stock to support them. Want proof? Here it is: We stock the inov-8 Bare-Grip 200. BOOM. There it is.

The Bare-Grip 200: A Trail Running shoe with Natural Drop, Minimal Cushioning, and enough traction to reverse the Earth’s rotation. It’s a trail-eating machine. Rain? Mud? Snow? This shoe is a traction problem solver (just kidding on the snow thing…we really don’t get that here). Inov-8 says it is a capable shoe with traction (OK, they say more - click on the image above to read it all). We say this: The Bare-Grip 200 is unlike any other shoe on the market. It is the most “minimal” off-road running shoe we have ever seen, but is stable enough to win the Lakeland 100, one of Britain’s most difficult foot races.

Want to see a fun review of a shoe? Check this out. Then come on in and ask us to try it on. Because you want it. Because we have it.

A Note About inov-8's Naming Convention

All these different combinations of names and numbers may seem a bit confusing, but we think inov-8’s naming convention has made it as easy as possible. Here’s how it works:

1) Look at the inov-8 shoe, and find the Model Name. It’s usually right there on the toe. The heavily protected, scruff-free toe.

2) The Model Name is usually pretty descriptive: Road-X means it’s for the road. Trailroc means it’s good off road. Roclite means about the same thing, but it’s even more aggressive and ready for everything. F-Lite? Well, our guess is that means it’s not a heavy line…

3) The next thing you’ll see is a number – 150, 255, 305, etc. This is more than a model number – it’s the actual baseline weight of the shoe in grams (keep in mind one once is about 28 grams, so a 280g shoe would weigh about 10oz).

So a Bare-Grip 150 sound pretty aggressive and weighs about 150 grams, while a Road-X 255 sounds like it would be good for pavement and weighs over half again as much at 255 grams. And now you can walk into the Ultra Running Company and sound like a pro when we talk about our inov-8 line. Pretty cool, huh?


We work really hard to offer a full spectrum of inov-8 shoes to meet the needs of all our customers, and we stock full size runs of everything we carry. If there is an inov-8 shoe you don't see here, it doesn't mean its not a good product...just that we decided it wasn't part of our core offering. We spent a couple of hours reading the inov-8 catalogue, and counted over 87 different combinations of style and color. That's over 1,000 different shoes, just to have one in each size, and we simply can't stock them all. Please don't let that stop you from coming in - we'll work with you to identify the correct product and fit for your specific goals, and we'll even order it for you at no extra charge.