After 1200 miles of mistreatment
I have walked 1200 miles in the Inov8 Roclite G 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 Inov8 Roclite 325.
I purchased a pair of UK size 9 (I am a shoe size 8) Inov8 Roclite G 345 GTX boots for my walk from Land’s End to John O’Groats. These are the first hiking ‘boots’ to have graphene in the sole and 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 I have done 1200 miles in these graphene soled boots and they still have tread on.
The Inov8 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. Also the curve of the ‘rocker’ is more pronounced on the 345s than on the 325s. This makes walking in them with a heavy pack on, more comfortable.
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 continuous damp conditions causing the mesh to fail.
The Gore-tex lining did work well keeping my feet dry and warm, it also 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.
As I’ve mentioned above, I think the premature Gore-tex lining failure could well have been my fault. By not allowing the boots to dry out meant the upper mesh on the boots got holes in. These holes allowed grit in which then rubbed and damaged the Gore-tex lining.
I don’t think this failure is any more common on these boots than any others. I’ve had the waterproof lining fail on other makes of boots as well. My advice would be to keep your receipt and if they fail, send them back for replacement or refund. I was surprised to received a full refund directly from Gore-tex for my boots (without asking for one).
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 Inov8 Roclite G 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 walking boots I’ve previously worn – and this was tested on an extremely icy Ben Nevis descent! I am happy to recommend these to anyone with reasonably narrow or medium width feet, looking for a light weight boots suitable for all 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?
Possibly 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. I have only made this decision because Inov-8 have brought out new boots, these are slightly better but they are more expensive. If I couldn’t afford them and money was an issue, I would happily use the Inov8 Roclite G 345 GTX boots if I was to walk it again. I will probably be buying some to use on my Striding Edge Narrow Boat because they are a good price and would be looked after better, so last longer.
If I did the walk again in winter
I would happily use the Inov8 Roclite G 345 GTX boots again and if money was not a consideration. I would possibly use the new Inov8 Roclite Pro G 400 GTX boots. the Inov8 Roclite G 335 boots, which are insulated but do not have Gore-tex linings.
If walking it in the summer
I would probably use the RocFly G 390 boots or the Roclite G 275 shoes. These do not have a waterproof lining in so they allow my feet to breathe really well in the hot weather. I add a mini gaiter to stop the grit and mud getting in and wear waterproof socks when it’s very wet under foot for long periods. I used the Roclite 275 shoes to walk from Dover to Scotland in 2020.
Note on Inov8 sizing
I think they are a little under sized. My feet are a size 8, but with Inov-8 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 them for long distance hikes wearing thicker or waterproof socks. The 345s and 400s 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. The Inov-8 Roclite Pro G 400 GTX boots feel wider in the toe box and would be worth trying if you have wide feet.
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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