I’ve just purchased a pair of the brand new Inov8 Roclite 345 GTX to walk from Land’s End to John O’Groats in. These are the first hiking boots to have a graphene sole, which means in theory the tread will be much more hard-wearing. As I’m going to try to walk 1,300 miles in them next month, maybe I will be the first person to wear a pair of these boots out!
In this blog post, I’m going to share my first impressions of the boots. I will compare them to the Inov8 Roclite 325 boots, which I also own.
I used the Roclite 325s for the TGO Challenge in 2018 (you can read more about this here). This walk was in warm weather, and the 325s performed very well. They were breathable and dried fast, meaning my feet didn’t suffer. However, my Land’s End to John O’Groats walk will be wetter and colder, so I’m concerned that the breathable 325s will result in cold feet and a miserable walk. I also fear that the softer soles and tread on the 325s will be worn out before I reach difficult terrain that needs grip.
So I need a boot that will keep my feet dry, has tread that will last, but remains lightweight – and I think the Roclite 345 GTX might do the trick. I will be testing them over 1,300 miles, starting in 3 weeks’ time (February 2019). I’ll post a full review of the boots’ performance on here after the walk, but here are my first impressions.
The Roclite 345s look well made and smart – very similar to the 325 in shape and design. The soles look identical to the 325 and have the same tread pattern. There is a very similar flex in the soles – although I only tested this with my hands and feet, hardly a technical test!
However, I have noticed that the front of the 345 is about 10mm higher than the 325. The curve of the ‘rocker’ is also more pronounced. I’m guessing this will mean they will flex less when in use.
The weight of my boots is really important to me. As the saying goes, a pound off your feet equals five pounds off your back. Both the Roclite 345s and the 325s are a similar weight – the 345s are just 12 grams heavier without the insoles. However, the insoles in the 345s are 6 grams lighter than the insoles in the 325s, so there’s really not much difference overall. Both qualify as lightweight boots. Ultralight Outdoor Gear will have a review of the Roclite 345s from this perspective soon.
The 345s have a high rand along the side which will help with wear and keep the water out. The 325s don’t have this as when they’re wet they pump the water out here, so it makes sense to me.
The laces and lace loops are round, which in my experience tend to come undone more easily, but we shall see. The laces certainly pull through smoothly, and the strengthener at the side is strong and well-stitched. This will spread the pressure from the laces back down and across the boot.
The Roclite 345s feel comfortable from the very first try and I would happily go out for a 20-mile walk without worrying about wearing them in. I usually wear a UK size 8 boot, but from experience I know that Inov8 boots are a snug fit on me. As I want these boots for winter, I need room for thick socks and liner socks – so I have gone for a whole size bigger. The size 9 fit me perfectly.
I initially thought the soles would feel identical to the 325, but they don’t. They feel more solid while walking in them, and the sole is rocking rather than flexing. This makes them feel very comfortable to walk in.
The top of the boots have an open, breathable mesh, which will be the only part of the boot that can breathe. With the waterproof lining, they instantly feel warmer than non-Goretex boots, which is exactly what I want for winter walking. I do not intend to use the 345s in the summer – I prefer a non-lined boot in warm weather so my feet can breathe.
So – the Roclite 345 boots look and feel perfect for my trip. I am looking forward to setting off in these without any worries. I don’t really expect them to last the full 1,300 mile distance – I don’t think any boot could that starts off this lightweight and this comfortable. But let’s see… I will post updates as I go. You can read more about the planning for my Land’s End to John O’Groats walk here.