I’ve been dying to try a pair of these, ever since they were released a year or two ago, but until the kind folk at FitnessFootwear offered to let me have a pair to test I’d not really had the opportunity. Boots aren’t normally something you can try on whim – they’re something you have to live with – something that can make the difference between a joyous walk and a nightmare of discomfort and pain. So when I got an email offering to swap a pair of the boots for a review of them on the blog – I jumped at the chance.
When you get them out of the box they look a bit space-age – something Jane Fonda may have worn in Barbarella, or James Caan in Rollerball (without the wheels obviously) – they have a shiny mesh coating over most of the upper and white flecks in the rubber sole bed. Very striking. They are shockingly light too. I’d requested a size 11 (UK) and these weighed in at an average of 448g each (15.8oz) – the lid of the box was all that was keeping them from floating away.
The only problem with ordering boots over the Internet is that you don’t get a chance to try them on. My Roclite 315 slippers are a size 11 and they fit fine – the boots are a half size (maybe even 3/4 of a size) bigger fit, so they are a bit loose for my liking. The ridiculous lacing system they use also doesn’t help in trying to get the boot snug on your foot – it’s incredibly difficult to draw in the slack – so I ditched that almost straight away and replaced it with the traditional cross-over method.
Using a thin liner sock and thick soled training shoe sock I managed to lace them to the point I was reasonably happy and then set out on a fourteen mile walk across Kinder with them. Bold or what?! But I thought if I’m going to test them, I’m going to do it properly 🙂
It’s difficult to test the grippiness of the boot when you’re walking on the gritstone of Kinder – my Roclite 315 shoes had always felt a bit lacking in the grip department, but the boots seemed fine, even on the grassy sections we encountered, I didn’t have any loss of traction. I did experience a rather annoying sound from them though. The mesh cover (and possibly the layer beneath it) on the front of the boot makes a soft popping sound each time you take step. When the shoe goes from bent to straight it seems to pop. Not a problem, just a bit odd – and possibly down to the shoes being a tad too large for me – I don’t know.
Anyway – that’s just about the only negative I have to report on the boot. Over the 14 miles of Kinder walking I hardly knew they were there – they were instantly comfortable, gloriously light and of course waterproof too. Many people, myself included, have tried Inov-8 shoes and lived with the lack of waterproofing as a way of reducing weight and relishing the responsiveness of the Inov-8 technology. We’ve lived with the gravel in the shoes and wet feet. But we don’t need to anymore. The Roclite 390GTX saves me over a kilogram of weight on my feet compared to my winter Scarpa boots. They keep the water out and they are cut high enough to discourage most of the debris you would normally accumulate with a shoe.
As an initial review summary I’m impressed. These will stay on my feet for the remainder of my summer walking and I’ll post another couple of updates to this over the coming weeks. The real problem with Inov-8, in my experience at least, is longevity. A single review, a single walk is not conclusive. My Roclite shoes and my Terrocs before that have died too quickly – lets just hope the Roclite boots will last a bit longer.