I have recently walked approximately 1200 miles in the new Inov-8 Roclite 345 GTX boots, carrying a heavy pack from Land’s End to John O’Groats, via Snowdon, Scafell Pike and Ben Nevis. This walk was done in all weathers between 17th February and 19th April 2019. I gave my initial impression of the boots here, and this is my opinion of them post-LEJOG. Comparing them with my previous favourite walking boots, the Inov-8 Roclite 325.
I purchased a pair of brand new UK size 9 (I am a shoe size 8) Inov8 Roclite 345 GTX for my walk from Land’s End to John O’Groats because these are the first hiking ‘boots’ to have graphene in the sole. The boots are marketed to last 50% longer. I know from experience that the soles of my Inov8 Roclite 325s would have lasted around 400 or 500 miles, but these have done 1200 miles and still have tread on.
The Inov-8 Roclite 345s are very well made and smart – very similar to the 325 in shape and design. The tread depth and pattern look identical but the soles feel a little more supportive in the 345s than the 325s, which is better when walking with a heavy pack. The curve of the ‘rocker’ is also more pronounced on the 345s than on the 325s and does make walking in them more comfortable with a heavy pack on.
The only serious wear or damage has been on the mesh which has split quite badly, letting in grit. This damage was definitely exacerbated by not drying out for 2 weeks during some very wet weather, and rotting early on in the walk. I was camping rough every night and not able to dry them. I think in normal use this would not have been as bad, because they would have dried most evenings in accommodation. The damage never seemed to get much worse through the latter part of the walk when it was drier, so this led me to suspect that it was the damp conditions causing the mesh to fail.
The other weak point on the 345s was the Gore-tex lining. The lining did work well keeping my feet warm, and breathed well enough to keep my feet relatively dry from sweat. However, once the Gore-tex failed (at about 300 miles) I wished I had boots without the linings so they could dry faster. I wrote about this in my LEJOG blog post here.
I was surprised to received a full refund directly from Gore-tex for the boots (without asking for one).You can read more about this and my suggestions on buying Gore-tex lined boots here.
The lightweight insoles supplied with the boots are fairly thin, and I started to feel the rough ground after a while. This may have been caused by the high mileage I was doing each day and my feet getting more sensitive.
After a few hundred miles, I changed them for heavier Superfeet green insoles. I found that these supported my feet better as the Superfeet insoles are thicker. They did however raise my feet a little, making them tighter in my boots and this may have been the reason I had trouble with my toes rubbing until they settled in.
The manufacturing quality of the 345s is impressive. The mesh and the Gore-tex lining were the only issues. There’s no sign of the soles separating from the uppers. The interior of the boot is still near perfect, hence the reason my socks lasted so long and I suffered only minor blisters. The laces and lace loops worked perfectly and still show no serious signs of wear.
I am extremely impressed with the Inov-8 Roclite 345 GTX boots. I never expected them to last the distance and had another pair of boots ready to replace them during the walk (which I never needed). The fact I could take them straight out of the box and just put them on and start my LEJOG without even wearing them in shows how comfortable they are, and they didn’t cause any serious blisters.
Considering how lightweight they are, the boots are surprisingly tough. The tread definitely wears well but I don’t think they grip any better than Inov8s normal soles (without the graphene). They grip well on all surfaces and as well or better than any boots I’ve previously worn – and this was tested on an extremely icy Ben Nevis descent! (You can read about that in my blog here). I am happy to recommend these to anyone with reasonably narrow to medium width feet, looking for a light weight boot suitable for most types of terrain.
I think they are extremely good value for money, considering the mileage it’s possible to do in them and the quality of manufacture. Over the last few years I have become a complete convert to lightweight boots and the only time I might consider wearing big heavy boots again will be if I am out in full winter conditions requiring an ice axe and crampons.
If I did the walk again, would I choose these boots?
Probably not, and this is purely because of the failure of the Gore-tex lining. I am sad about this decision. How many people can say they walked the whole LEJOG/JOGLE and the 3 peaks in one £145 pair of boots? I walked it quickly, too (2 months) and without injury, which I think is mainly thanks to the boots.
Inov-8 have two other models that I’ve been testing. If I walked it in the winter again I would probably try the Inov-8 Roclite G 335 which are insulated but without the Gore-tex lining. In the summer I would definitely try the Inov-8 Roclite G 275 shoes and add a mini gaiter to stop the grit etc getting in. I would add water proof socks which would then make these good for the spring and autumn too.
There is another option which I am currently testing and would definitely suit someone with wider feet, or like me, knows their feet spread on a long walks with a heavy pack – that is the Altra Lone Peak (mid) 4.0. These boots are waterproof with eVent rather than Gore-tex and have a cushioned sole. They are now available with a mesh outer as a non waterproof, breathable boot.
I’m finding the zero drop of the boot (this means your heel is at the same height as the ball of your foot) a little odd to walk in and wonder how it would affect me with a heavy pack over a long distance. But they are extremely comfortable so far and my knee pain has also reduced while wearing these boots. Also I don’t think the tread would last as long as the graphene soled Inov-8 345 and 275 footwear either, so on a LEJOG attempt they would probably need replacing during the walk.
Note on Inov-8 sizing
I think they are under sized. My feet are a size 8, but with Inov8 I always size up to 8.5 for everyday use with thin socks or 9 to get the fit right with thin to medium walking socks (especially as my feet spread on long walks). I will even go up 1.5 sizes if I plan on using thicker or waterproof socks with them. The 345s have slightly more width for the toes than the 325s, but neither are suitable for wide feet.
Now I’ve done a few thousand miles in lighter weight boots and trainers I think my feet have spread a little for good, so I am needing wider boots and shoes than I used to.
If you’re going to be buying boots with a Gore-tex lining it may be worth reading this surprise refund.
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