inov-8 Roclite 390 2008

inov-8 is best-known for its huge range of off-road running shoes, which can often be seen on the feet of the winners of the world’s toughest fell races. Not content with shaking up the off-road running market, inov-8 has added a superlight 3-season boot to its range with the Roclite 390. Clearly developed from its running shoes, it features a higher ankle cuff.

Design
The Roclite 390 weighs in at an incredible 1040g (pair, size 11), making it by far the lightest boot in our test. The upper is made from a very open mesh that is covered by a finer thin layer of mesh for protection. Inside the boot there is a Gore-Tex XCR waterproof liner to keep your feet dry. Lacing stops at the flex point to increase durability here, while a rubber rand around the toe and forefoot is provided to further increase durability. Underfoot you get a very aggressive studded sole unit. There is no heel breast and the shoe is generally very flexible, both from toe to heel and laterally across the forefoot. So designwise it looks great for wet mud and grass, but all that flex may not be ideal on the rockiest of terrain.

On the hill
These hug the foot far more closely than any other boots, thanks to the flexible nature of the upper and sole unit. My thin, narrow feet suited the fit, and the sole provided a springy ride on hard surfaces. But these boots come into their own when the ground softens to wet mud as then the lugs can claw their way across the terrain. On grassy fell-walks off-path these were superb and I found wandering across the moors that rise Back o’ Skiddaw a delight, while muddy meanderings across the lower fells and forests of the Lakes were equally satisfying. However, as soon as the ground becomes rocky, the lack support throughout this boot is evident, with my foot being forced to twist as the shoe was forced out of shape by rocks on the paths leading to the Langdale summits. This is my second pair of these boots in a year, which says a great deal about their durability. They may be exceptionally lightweight but they are not built for day after day hill use without frequent replacement.

The low-down
If weight is your number one priority then these are superb, but they do have a number of drawbacks compared to other boots. They grip well in the mud and they keep your feet dry, but on rocky terrain but their lack of support makes your feet work hard and I also found that they are not as durable as heavier options. Use them on muddy moors though
and they are great.  

Comfort 5   
Waterproofness 5    
Grip 5   
Durability 1   
Value for money 2

Upper synthetic, Gore-Tex XCR waterproof lining
Sole unit inov-8 Endurance rubber
Sizes 3-14
Weight 1028g (pair, size 11)
Made in China
Contact – tel. (01388) 744900; www.inov-8.com
Verdict
Pros extremely lightweight with an extremely grippy sole unit and an extremely breathable upper
Cons lacks durability and support for the foot, so these aren’t ideal on rocky ground and will need replacing before many others
Overall these boots simply cannot be beaten for weight and grip in mud, but the down side is that they are simply not as durable or as good on rock as others we’ve tested here.

Review by Graham Thompson
First published in Trail magazine December 2008