Another Post About Boots

I must have written more posts about boots than any other piece of walking equipment I’ve ever owned, and I don’t imagine this will be the last one either! It seems my search for the right pair of lightweight walking boots continues. I’ve long since given up looking for the ‘perfect boots’ and over the past two or three years, I’ve been working on finding a ‘good enough’, compromise boot.

For many years, until about 2015, I swore by Salomon boots. Their Missions and Comets were very comfortable and fairly waterproof, but build quality wasn’t great and the upper would fall apart quite badly and they stopped being waterproof after just a few short months. For about three years I then switched to trail shoes and used a mixture of Salomon and Inov-8, but I eventually got fed up with having wet feet all the time, and the amount of debris that gets into the shoe, resulting in stopping often to knock them out.

In 2019 I switched to Inov-8 Roclite 345 GTX Mid boots and I while I had a love-hate relationship with them, I had three pairs of these over a couple of years. I loved them for their comfort and fit, and hated them for their poor longevity. After the second pair fell apart over a spectacularly short period of time, I wrote this Twitter thread about them….

Unfortunately, I’d already bought the third pair, so I used them, knowing they weren’t the boots I was looking for. I wore them for the Speyside Way in early 2022 and the soles were so worn down that I felt almost every stone I walked on. In June 2022 I took a walk up Shutlingsloe with my old friend Matt and he expounded the virtues of his Salomon X-Ultra 4 shoes. I’d been using a pair of X-Ultra 2 shoes for local walks for a few years and they’d lasted really well, probably doing close to a thousand miles over their lifetime. I didn’t want to go back to trail shoes for hill walking though, but the XU4s also come in a Mid boot, so I tried them. An added bonus is that they come in a wide fit, so I didn’t have to add the extra half size, which I’ve always done with Salomon shoes.

I’ve been using the Salomon X-Ultra 4 Mid Wide GTX boots since July 2022 and I’ve just worn out my second pair! That’s two pairs of boots in under 12 months. Bear in mind that for most of the winter, I was using my Salomon Quest Element GTX boots, which are a full height boot and better suited to wet and slippery conditions. Two pairs of boots in 12 months is a new ‘low’ for me. If I could find them for £100, then maybe I could justify them (although I doubt it). However, Salomon have moved away from selling through retailers, who offer good discounts and special offers, and now only sell direct, at list price – so there’s no way I’m paying £170 for a pair of boots that are only going to last a few months.

In the case of both sets of X-Ultra 4s, it’s the soles of the boots that degrade, not the uppers. As you can see from the pictures below (of the second pair of boots), the uppers are fine, but the soles have been worn down to almost nothing. This second pair of boots have lasted me 10 weeks! I know I’m doing more walking, but I would guess they’ve probably done no more than 250 miles.

So it was, completely frustrated with both Inov-8 and Salomon, that I posted an appeal on Twitter, for people to recommend lightweight, waterproof boots, ideally with a wide fitting. I needed a new perspective, some new brands to investigate and the best way to do that I figured, was to ask like-minded people who have gone down the same path. The response was incredible and I received recommendations for boot brands I’d never considered, and in some cases, never even heard of.

I did a load of research and eventually decided to try a pair of La Sportiva Ultra Raptor II Mid Wide GTX – I got them for £135, which isn’t too bad (provided they last more than a couple of months) and they arrived a couple of days ago. They feel really comfortable, albeit I’ve only had them on in the house so far and they are certainly a higher cut Mid than I’m used to.

You can see from the pictures below, when I stand the Raptor next to one of my current X-Ultra 4 Mid, the Raptor has a much higher ankle, which should help reduce debris. There is only a very small weight penalty for this extra height, the Raptors weight 988g for a size 11, compared to 925g for the same size XU4s. I’ll get them wet later today or tomorrow and all being well, they’ll go with me on the Southern Upland Way in a couple of weeks. I can’t imagine the XU4s will manage the SUW, as my heel is already sliding all over the place when I encounter mud or wet grass.

One final word about Inov-8s before I close this post out. When I was looking for a replacement for the XU4s, I noticed that Inov-8 have released a new ‘V2’ range of both their Roclite 345 GTX and the Roclite 400 GTX and part of the marketing blurb says they should last longer than the earlier versions. I’m not wholly convinced, but I am tempted to give the 400s a try. The 345s provide very little sole protection from stoney tracks, but the heavier 400s may well do. At the moment these are fairly new, so there’s not many deals to be had, and I’m not prepared to pay £200 for a pair of Inov-8s that may only last a couple of months. If, over the coming months, they come down to the £150 area, then I may give the 400s a go. Watch this space I guess.

7 thoughts on “Another Post About Boots”

  1. My experience has been, (several long distance paths), fabric/suede/nubuck boots will leak quite quickly, even walking through wet grass.
    One-piece leather uppers boots are waterproof, if slightly heavier. They need regular waxing. The thicker the leather, the more waterproof they are. Although almost all boots are fitted with a ‘waterproof liner’, do not pay too much attention to this. Its the outer layer that prevents water ingress. Its also important your socks don’t carry down moisture into the boot, so wearing gaiters in wet weather is sensible. Otherwise, you’ll think your boots are leaking, whereas your feet are getting wet via your socks!

  2. Hi Stuart,

    We’ve all got our preferences I suppose – I myself use a more ‘traditional’ boot (Karrimor KSB) with brown leather uppers and vibram soles. I haven’t checked them on the scales but they must outweigh your various boots considerably. That to me is the only downside to them. Given their robustness across difficult terrain, I swear by them. By contrast your Inov 8 Rocclites – going by your photos anyway – look like a pair of glorified running shoes with ankle support. At least, to me that’s what the pictures show. But that’s the trade-off in virtually all outdoor equipment, I suppose – go lightweight, pay the high price, and they’ll last you a year. Or go for robustness and longevity, accept the weight, pay £150 – 200, look after them and they’ll last you 5 years of hard use.

    1. I would go as far as to say that the Roclite’s are actually glorified slippers – they are that comfortable on the feet! I did dabble with Brasher boots at one point, but never got on with them. I’m still looking for the right balance between cost/ comfort / longevity and happy to admit I may never find it!

  3. Frank Fitzgerald

    I can’t say that I have particularly followed your posts on Boots but I will try to locate and read them.
    I tend to wear leather boots (bacause they are easier to keep clean) and over the past few yesars have gone for Zamberlan 996 Vioz; I like them because they have a fairly stiff sole but are comfortable. Sadly they crack on the outside over the joint between the toes and the metatarsus and they are BLOODY expensive.

    Some time ago, wanting a lighter “Summer” walking boot I bought a pair of (what I believe were) Salomon X Ultra 3 GTX hiking shoes; they were a perfect fit, light and seemed ideal – they weren’t – the SpeedLaces are like cheesewire and in no time at all they cut through the fabric straps.

    Keep up the great posts!

    1. Totally agree re the speed laces – bloody hate them! They seem to come loose over long walks too and it took me probably 6 months before I discovered the little elastic flap you tuck the gripper into!

  4. Hey, less of the old!

    Those XU4’s I had that day on Shutlingsloe finally gave up the ghost after 879.2 km (546 miles). As per yours it was the soles that did for them – 20km on hard stony forest tracks on the SUW were the final straw – they “stayed” in Scotland when I came home. My previous XU3’s the soles are fine, but they’re losing structural integrity on the sides – they’re on 752km. Salomon are great for comfort (even with having to size up due to funny shaped feet), but not for longevity. To be fair though, I have put them through it – a lot of hard surface walking, and a lot of bogs.

    I haven’t dared try the wide Salomons as it means starting again with working out sizing – and I’ve just about sorted it with my Altras – amazingly my Altra Timp 4’s, for which I’ve had the replacement pair ready for several months now, are still going ok at 832km. Some small holes in the mesh at the sides, and losing tread but I reckon they’ll beat the XU’s, which I find astounding.

    I think I have a different approach to footwear than you do – I now sort of accept that 500 miles / 800km is about what I’ll get out of a pair and so look to get them as cheaply as possible – I constantly monitor the sales (esp at and when I can get a pair for under £80 I snap them up and save them. I wouldn’t dream of paying the £135-150 you do – I expect to get 2 pairs of shoes for that!

    1. I had a pair of XU2s that probably did about 1000 miles over three years, so something has changed in the formulation of their soles. A cynical man would say it’s built-in obsolescence, or maybe it’s the extra punishment my slowly increasing weight has placed upon the XU4s!

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