inov-8 BareGrip 200 Review by Ty Draney



There are minimal shoes, and there are barefoot shoes. describes the Inov-8 Bare-Grip 200 as; “a near-barefoot shoe for trail runners seeking unrelenting traction, with no cushioning and a firm ride.”

 Shoe review by respected ultra athlete TY DRANEY (Patagonia)


I have been wearing minimal shoes for years, eschewing trail shoes for flats because I enjoyed the lighter weight and most of the time here in the west I run on dry trails. I wasn’t completely unfamiliar with inov-8 having spent some time in their X-talon models when they first came out. The BareGrip 200 as it turns out is a completely different animal. They look a lot like a football boot. When I wore them they usually elicited two different responses-“What are you wearing?” and “Wow. Cool shoes.”


The first thing I noticed was how light and flexible they are. There is absolutely no support or structure, none of the traditional EVA for cushion. The thin rubber twists and stretches as far (or farther) than your foot can. Luckily the lugs supply a big of lift and some give to extend the range of this shoe. I found that I could run as far as 10k before my feet felt too fatigued or beat up. The added flexibility was great running uphill, but running rocky downhill caused me to slow down considerably to keep from hurting my feet.


The upper is also study and flexible. After nearly a hundred miles in the shoe, there is absolutely no wear or snags. The tight weave has a downside. I found that the shoe didn’t drain particularly well after being fully submerged. There are light overlays extending from the outsole to the laces that supply structure to the shoe. They are medium, to narrow in width and have a solid toe bumper for its weight. I found the heel cup particularly comfortable on my bony heels. It has “just enough” structure to keep the heel firmly planted in the shoe, even on steep uphill slopes.


The Bare-grip has outstanding traction. A wet fall has provided ample opportunity to take these shoes on a variety of muddy trails. I was pleasantly surprised how well they shed the mud and helped me keep my footing, and again, the lugs provided a little cushion to help extend their range. I am looking forward to using these as a winter shoe when the rocks are covered with snow and I need the extra traction.

This is not a shoe for everyone. The barefoot feel and zero mm drop automatically excludes many runners. It does however do what it was designed for very well, “give natural feel, maximum grip, and proprioception.” ( I see this shoe as a great vertical-k-type shoe in adverse conditions or for racing muddy fells where there are few rocks.



Check out inov-8 HERE

Check out Ty Draney HERE

Topo Athletic


I am not going spend too much time on this but news is news….

Tony Post, former boss of barefoot inspired ‘Five Fingers’ firm, Vibram, has moved from  five to two toes. As any minimalist runner should…?

Post says split shoes offer more than a design gimmick.

“The big toe is the most important mechanism in the foot. You want your big toe to move but retain stability from the rest of your toes. On landing, say, the big toe effectively curls upwards, pushing the ball of your foot into the ground and giving a stable pivot point from heel to forefoot. Barefoot shoes can improve strength and flexibility. It’s like having dumbbells for the feet.” taken from The Independent Richard Fenton at Profeet

The Technology?

  • Based on the Japanese Tabi shoe, the split toe creates a unique anchor point in the forefoot, offering more security and a stronger connection to your footwear.
Copyright Topo Athletic

Copyright Topo Athletic

  • The anatomically designed toe box allows the remaining toes to spread naturally, delivering comfort and control for optimal performance.
  • The shoe has lightweight material and welded seams because weight and chafing are not your friends.
  • We have a zero-drop heel-to-toe platform because we don’t think a shoe should “fix” the way you run or train.

So, a zero drop shoe that looks like a horses hoof.

Why barefoot?

In 2001, Nike sent guys to watch the Stanford University team train and were dismayed to see them doing so without shoes. “I believe when my runners train barefoot they run faster and suffer fewer injuries,” the coach said, as Christopher McDougall recounts in his book ‘Born to Run’. “We’ve shielded our feet from their natural position by providing more and more support.” The Independent

I can give no opinion at this stage as I have only researched the shoe and not physically looked at one or tried them on.

If the shoes has ‘cushioning’ and at this stage I can’t tell if that is the case but they do look more cushioned than Vibram Five Fingers. The Topo Athletic range may very well give runners of all shapes and sizes a zero drop shoe with protection.

I have to obtain a pair of shoes and feedback in due course.

You can read more at the companies website HERE