I’m all for carrying less kit, but I don’t want to have to replace gear every year because it has worn out. The Roclite 400 GTX – the latest offering from inov-8 – could be a step in the right direction, though, as it is a boot with a stitch-free leather upper, so it should be durable – and it’s also the lightest leather Gore-Tex boot in the world, so I end up carrying less weight.
inov-8 is best know for its lightweight running footwear, but the company has made boots too, including the revolutionary Roclite 390 GTX, a synthetic option originally designed for parapenting, but one that has become a popular choice for lightweight hill-walking. The new leather upper of the Roclite 400 GTX should mean it’s far more durable than its stablemate, however.
What you get with the Roclite 400 GTX is a nubuck leather upper with barely a stitch line to trap grit or fray during abrasion against rock. The lacing does not extend as far down the upper as on some boots either, so the flex area remains clean and less likely to break down.
Underfoot is the now classic inov-8 sole unit with its square studs, which are ideal for keeping a grip in mud.
On walks this feels very much like a typical inov-8 shoe, meaning it is very flexible and forces the foot to work a little harder. My foot also rolled a little more than I would have liked when traversing steep slopes, again something I experience in a lot of lighter, more flexible footwear.
Time will tell how long these last, but they have remained waterproof longer than a number of other lightweight boots including the Roclite 390 GTX. However, the uppers are soaking up water very fast and appear slow to dry, so the leather may need more treatment than some other, more water-resistant leathers.
Upper nubuck leather; Gore-Tex waterproof lining
Sole Roclite sticky rubber
Weight 1004g (pair, size 11)
Made in China
Stockist details – tel. (01388) 744900; www.inov-8.com
An excellent new lightweight boot, whose leather upper means it should outlast many of its fabric competitors; but heavier, stiffer boots provide more support.
Review by Graham Thompson
First published in Trail magazine November 2010