Review: Inov-8 Roclite 390GTX #2

This is a follow-up report of the Inov-8 boots I’ve been testing for Fitness Footwear. The Roclite 390GTX is a waterproof mid cut boot from the people who brought us the ultimate in lightweight footwear, Inov-8.

If last weeks walk over the gritstone of Kinder was no test at all of the grippiness of the Roclite boot, then this weekends walk over the limestone above Malham was surely the ultimate test – not having any ice available yet of course. If there’s anything more slippery than limestone mud then I haven’t found it and wet limestone pavement has to be one of worst stone surfaces to walk on in the UK.

On the whole I wasn’t impressed with the way the boot coped with the surfaces. I used to suffer from a lack of grip when I used the Roclite 315 shoes and the sole on the 390GTX seems to be almost identical.


The layout of the tread seems to be identical (315 on the left, 390 on the right) and the 390 still has its tiny little dimples on each lug – it still didn’t help traction on the limestone. I walked down a long track, a fairly shallow descent, but very rocky and my feet were constantly sliding off rocks I would have happily been firm on with my Salomon Mission boots. The lack of traction was noticeable.

However, having said that, once I got used to knowing the amount of traction I had, I adjusted to it – as you do – you just take more care in foot placement and don’t rely as much on the sole of the boot.

The first three or four miles of the walk was through fields and then pathless fellside. All through long wet grass. Within an hour my trousers were soaked almost to the knee and I could feel my socks slowly drawing the water into the boots. By the end of the walk my feet were sodden, but it’s impossible to tell how much water ingressed through the actual surface of the boot and how much was via the socks. In my experience no boots are waterproof – these proved to be more resilient to water than my recent Salomon Fastpackers (which I had to return) and my Salomon Missions (which I still use).

The laces in the 390GTX are the thinnest laces I’ve ever seen. Even the Roclite shoes have thicker laces. I’m sure it’s a weight saving measure, but this could be a step too far. Not only do they not stay laced tight they cut your hands when you have to keep re-tying them. I have to re-lace most boots once on a walk – I had to re-lace these three times in 12 miles. I will be replacing the laces with something more usable.

So it sounds like I don’t like these boots – but that’s not the case – I really have grown attached to them. I love their weight, their flexibility, the close proximity of shoe to earth, their comfort and the fact that they are cut high enough to avoid the worst of the grit and debris associated with fell running shoes.

Despite their poor grip I will continue to use them this summer. I have a weekend backpacking trip coming up this weekend (fingers crossed) and I’ll be using them for that – a proper test with a full pack, over the top of High Street.

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