Ultralight Footwear With Superb Grip
Trail shoes are my preference for three-season walking unless it’s hot enough for sandals. For many years Inov8 Terrocs, now sadly discontinued, were my favourite shoes due to the comfort, grip and low weight. Many people prefer boots to shoes though but still want the light weight and freedom of shoes. This is where the new Roclite 325 boots shine. At 690 grams a pair of size 9s weighs less than many trail shoes. They’re very flexible too whilst providing some ankle stability and protection.
The Roclite 325s have reinforced mesh uppers and stiff X-shaped supports either side of the ankle to hold the heel in place. There’s also something called the Adapterweb met-cradle – webbing loops through which the laces run – that is meant to adapt to the ‘natural movement and swelling of the foot in motion’. The heel and toe are quite firm though not solid. The lightly padded tongue is sewn-in almost to the top. There’s thicker padding round the ankles and a very soft and comfortable lining. The flat laces run through webbing loops with no D rings or hooks.
The sole has a deep tread with multi-directional claw-shaped studs. It’s made from sticky rubber. The midsole is made from a material Inov8 calls Powerflow and which is said to deliver 10% better shock absorption and 15% better energy return than standard midsoles. An inner shank gives the sole lateral stiffness. Inside there’s a 6mm thick cushioning footbed.
Inov8 describes the fit as standard. The shoes are just wide enough for me with thin socks on. For multi-day walks with a heavy pack I’d need then to be slightly wider. Whilst it removes a little cushioning I found replacing the footbeds with thinner ones gave my feet more room. I do find the boots a little awkward to get on as the opening isn’t that big and the soft rear of the ankle tends to collapse when pressed. There isn’t a tab or loop on the ankle as there is on many trail shoes. I rarely use these but I missed them on these boots.
On day walks I’ve used the Roclite 325s on a wide variety of terrain and they’ve performed well on every one. The sole really does grip well on just about anything. The close fit feels secure and the boots are surprisingly supportive on steep rough terrain. Cushioning is good, especially under the heel and some ‘bounce’ can be felt when pushing off on the forefoot. The boots aren’t waterproof but they are very breathable. (There’s a version with a Gore-Tex bootie for £10 more). I found them comfortable on a hot day.
I think the Roclite 325s are excellent ultralight hillwalking and backpacking boots. I just wish they were a little wider.