Inov8 Roclite 325 Review
September 6, 2018 at 3:39 pm #107495JohnnyMacParticipant
I recently picked up a pair of these ultralight boots at a steep discount and after getting some miles in them, both on trails and hardball, I thought I’d share my experience.
Inov8 is an EU based company that specializes in ultralight trail running shoes (among other things). Direct from the company website:
Operating in over 60 countries, we pride ourselves in designing high quality, innovative products in both the running and performance training sectors.
Our origins and footprints remain firmly etched into the muddy British fells but over the years we have optimized our products to meet the needs of the many terrains we have travelled.
I tend to wear out footwear pretty quickly and have a bad habit of wearing footwear beyond their “useful life”. In an effort to do better with that bad habit, and a need for highly breathable boots, I picked these up.
They are based on the roklite 305 trail running shoe, and to be honest I was bit hesitant. Would they be capable of performing under light/moderate combat loads (fightlite concept)?
Out of the box I was floored by how lightweight they felt. They have the same weight as a running shoe at a listed 1lb 7oz for the pair. The second thing I noticed was the large lugs on the outsole, looking capable of providing good offroad traction.
Having done some research on sizing, I ordered a half size up, and upon slipping my feet into them for the first time, it was good decision. It’s hard to make generalizations when talking about footwear fit, as fit can vary widely from person to person. I would categorize myself as having normal to slightly narrow width feet with medium/low arches and normal/slight under pronation. My first impression was how comfortable they felt, no break in required, as you might expect for something based on a trail running shoe. For me, in light/midweight hiking socks, these were just wide enough for my feet in the toebox out of the box. If you have wide feet, these might not be for you. After a few miles in them, they’ve loosened up a bit and don’t feel narrow at all. Lacing gets “locked in” so there’s a bit of fiddling required to adjust tension to where it needs to be up and down the boot. The plus side is that when you have it just right, it stays like that.
I first took these for a spin on a thickly vegetated mountainous trail with a ~45# ruck. I first walked through lawn grass wet with dew, and despite not having a waterproof barrier, my feet stayed dry. Trail conditions were mostly dry, with occasional muddy areas with standing water. Temps were around 85F with 90% humidity.
On the trail, these boots provide great agility, I was able to skirt around the puddles with ease, despite my ruck. The trail at times is pretty rocky, and the agility really helped with precise foot placement. Also of note, these have a rock plate somewhere in the sole, so my feet never felt any pointy rocks. The grip was great on damp rocks I came across, including a tiny stream I had to cross via stepping stones. Breathability of the boots is average. They aren’t breezy like some running shoes, but they weren’t hot either. I’d consider it a happy medium, enabling comfortable use across a broad temperature range. Stability wise, I would say the low heel height makes for a lower center of gravity, but do not provide the stability of a true hiking shoe. I think the narrow toe box actually aids stability, particularly when moving along slanted ground. Support is higher than a running shoe, but again, not the support of a true hiking shoe. I felt, on trail, my 45# ruck was at the limit for what these boots can support (maybe a little over the limit?). I don’t think they could handle a 45# load all day without my feet getting tired, but they were fine for the roughly 4-5 fast miles I did in them. Despite that, I would feel comfortable using these during class at the VTC wearing my normal kit.
My subsequent rucks with these have all been on hardball, with the same loaded ruck, and I think this is where the boots really shine! I never found my feet getting tired, like I might on the rocky mountainous trail, and these allow you to move FAST, with comfort. I think the lighter weight has really allowed me to ruck faster/longer/more often without some of the aches that can come with that. These will be my go to footwear for any weighted movement on hardball (rucks/distance carries/conditioning workouts with armor/etc).
The last factor, that I will only be able to tell after a few months of hard use, is how well the outsole holds up. Sometimes trail shoes/hiking boots, designed for offroad grip, get worn away fast using them on the streets.
Overall, I would recommend this boot for those of you with average width/narrow feet looking for a light breathable boot to move fast in, and you do not require significant stability, support or under heavy loads (bodyweight gear).
September 7, 2018 at 9:30 am #107496wheelseeParticipant
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