5 Of The Best... Trail Shoes reviewed (2019)

A good alternative to boots when hillwalking and trekking on easier paths, trail shoes are also ideal for post-hike activities around the campsite and bar!

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What to look for

Upper

A leather upper made with minimal stitching will last for many years if cared for well, and will probably outlast the grip on the sole. Conversely, an upper that is made from lots of layers of synthetic fabric, mesh and thin strips of suede leather is unlikely to be as durable and can be slow-drying. But mesh and synthetic uppers are lighter and lower in price than leather and may be more comfortable straight from the box. Some newer synthetic uppers also allow bonding and welding techniques that improve durability and flexibility while reducing weight. Rubber rands may be used to increase durability at the toe or all around the upper.

Weight

Trail shoes are often chosen in preference to boots because they are lighter. However, the lighter the shoe the less support it may provide and the less durable it may be. Equally a lighter shoe may lack cushioning or support, making it more tiring to wear on more uneven ground.

Toe Box

To protect the foot from stray boulders a stiffened toe box is important. You can test this by pressing the top of the area where your toes will be in the boot with your thumb, and then judging if it is stiff enough to provide protection.

Heel counter

Pinch the heel of the shoe between thumb and fingers to test how supportive it will be for your foot. Support in this area is important for moving over uneven ground to help stabilise the foot.

Midsole Flex

Grab the shoe by the toe and heel, and bend them together to test longitudinal stiffness then twist the sole to test lateral stiffness. It is a matter of personal choice but generally a more flexible sole is better for comfort on level ground and for moving fast, while a stiffer sole is more comfortable on rockier ground and also allows a more precise use of small footholds when scrambling over rockier ground.

Outsole

Look for lugs that are well-spaced and deep so they can provide a good grip without easily clogging with mud and without wearing away too rapidly. A deep heel breast (the step between the heel and midfoot area of the sole unit) is vital for providing braking power in descents.


Oboz Firebrand II Low Waterproof £125

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  • Men’s 7-13

  • Women’s n/a

  • Weight 1150g (size 11 pair)

It’s good

Oboz has rapidly clawed a foothold into the trail shoe market and the Firebrand, like many of its other shoes, has a very aggressive outsole lug pattern for grip in soft terrain. But importantly it also has great stiffness to resist pressure from jagged rocks underfoot. There is a heel breast for more grip, and good toe-to-heel and lateral stiffness to make scrambling over rocks secure. The upper is a durable design with a stiffened toe box and stiffened heel cup, plus an additional rubber rand for more durability. A BDry waterproof lining keeps feet dry, while the nubuck leather and synthetic textile upper keeps grit at bay. This shoe has a precise and neat fit.

However

There is no direct equivalent of this shoe for women but the Sawtooth (£100) and Bridger Low (£130) both offer ideal female-fit alternatives. The Bridger Low also has less synthetic material on the upper and even deeper sole lugs for better grip. The Firebrand is quite a robust and supportive shoe, so if you want something more flexible then others are better. Also for dedicated scrambling a shoe with a more precise toe design and stiffer sole at the toe would be better. You can get lighter shoes too, of course, and pay less if needed. But this is a great choice for general moorland, fell and hill path walking, and it’s hard to find drawbacks for that type of use.

Verdict

A robust, supportive shoe with a great sole for a wide variety of general path, hill and mountain terrain, but others are still better for specific needs.

  • Features 5/5

  • Fit 4/5

  • Comfort 5/5

  • In use 4/5

  • Value for money 4/5

  • OVERALL SCORE 88%

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Inov-8 Roclite 275 £130

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  • Men’s 6-14

  • Women’s 3-10

  • Weight 672g (size 11)

It’s good

Yes, the weight is correct! These are around half the weight of some other shoes, which means less effort to lift them with every step. They also have a unique sole unit for grip, with not only a set of well-spaced, deep lugs but also the rubber is impregnated with graphene, a superbly hard and therefore durable material that should mean these maintain better grip than other rubbers for longer. The upper has mesh for more breathability, and as bonding techniques are used rather than stitched overlays of materials in many areas there is more durability here than some mesh shoes offer. The toe box and heel are also reinforced. The sole and upper are both very flexible, making them ideal for fast movement and very comfortable on grass or level terrain.

However

While there is lots of flexibility your foot has to work harder when crossing more uneven terrain. Some people will like this flexible design, while others will want a more supportive shoe to limit foot stress. Also this won’t be as durable as other shoes if you do take it onto really rough ground, as the mesh won’t withstand abrasion as well as a non-mesh synthetic or leather material. There is no waterproof lining either, although that does mean once water enters it can quickly be squeezed out and the shoe is faster to dry. The similar Roclite 315 GTX (£145) is a good waterproof version.

Verdict

Lightweight shoe with a studded sole that’s ideal for those wanting to travel super-light, but heavier shoes have benefits.

  • Features 4/5

  • Fit 5/5

  • Comfort 4/5

  • In use 4/5

  • Value for money 4/5

  • OVERALL SCORE 84%


Salomon X Ultra 3 GTX £130

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  • Men’s 6.5-13.5

  • Women’s 3.5-10.5

  • Weight 882g (size 11)

It’s good

This is a well-proven, relatively lightweight all-rounder for general use on the hills. It has a sole unit with deep, well-spaced lugs for grip on mud and grass. There is some good toe-to-heel and lateral stiffness in the sole, so walking on paths of jagged rocks is not too uncomfortable but you also get a good toe flex to allow easier walking. The upper has a stiffened heel cup and stiffened toe box to protect the feet and a rubber toe cap for durability. The main part of the upper is a synthetic ‘Anti Debris’ tight mesh with synthetic textile overlays for durability. Gore-Tex keeps the water out. This shoe offers a good general fit, and feels great for paths and easier rough terrain.

However

As you would expect with any good all-rounder, a more dedicated shoe for some activities will be better in some areas. And yes, this is lightweight, but there are lighter shoes. Also, the sole unit does have great lugs and great stiffness but for lots of rocky ground use others are better still, as they have even stiffer soles and the feel of the rock under the foot is more precise to allow easier scrambling on smaller holds. Then there is the upper, as while it is great for general use on mountain terrain, something with a rubber rand would add even more durability. You can also, of course, spend less money.

Verdict

A great all-round trail shoe for hillgoers with a little bit of everything but without being overly dedicated to rock or fast action.

  • Features 5/5

  • Fit 5/5

  • Comfort 4/5

  • In use 4/5

  • Value for money 4/5

  • OVERALL SCORE 88%


Salewa Mountain Trainer GTX £160

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  • Men’s  6-13

  • Women’s 5-11

  • Weight 1270g (size 11)

It’s good

This is an extremely robust shoe for the roughest of terrain for those who really crave performance on rockier ground. It is built around an exceptionally stiff Vibram Alpine Approach sole unit with a very deep set of lugs and a deep heel breast, so grip on soft or loose ground is great. But also the toe is well-profiled, so you get a very precise feel to make finding and using small footholds easy when scrambling over rock. Use this on rocky paths, scree or via ferrata-style scrambles and it feels great, while its sole lugs are also ideal for mud and grass. The upper is a durable 1.6mm suede leather with a rubber rand and minimal stitching for durability, lots of support and a Gore-Tex waterproof lining.

However

All that support comes at a cost. Firstly this is quite a heavy shoe and all that stiffness means it is just not as comfortable when walking over easy, level paths as a bendy, lighter shoe. Also if you want to move fast, it feels too ‘clumpy’. The fit is quite neat and precise, which is ideal for those with narrow feet and those who need such a fit for scrambling; but you may want a baggier, broader fit for more comfort when walking or backpacking over level paths. Then there is the price tag, as you could buy a pair of boots for this sort of cash and here you are getting a shoe without an ankle cuff – albeit a superb shoe for rockier ground.

Verdict

If you want footwear with the performance of a mountain boot but in a shoe style, then this is it. But for easier terrain, others are better.

  • Features 5/5

  • Fit 5/5

  • Comfort 4/5

  • In use 4/5

  • Value for money 3/5

  • OVERALL SCORE 84%


AKU Tengu Low GTX £170

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  • Men’s 3-13

  • Women’s 3-9

  • Weight 1266g (size 11)

It’s good

This is a superb all-round walking shoe that manages to provide a range of benefits for a range of terrain. Firstly the outsole has deep, widely spaced lugs and a proper heel breast, so grip on mud or loose paths is assured. There is also lots of stiffness toe-to-heel and laterally in the sole, which makes this great for rockier ground. The upper is made from synthetic Air8000 and suede without too much stitching. The upper is stiff to provide foot support on uneven ground and also it’s well-protected with a rubber rand for more durability. On the foot the fit is close but not restrictive at the toe, as there is a little more space in this area to allow for a natural walking action. On most terrain this feels ideal.

However

It is slightly more ‘clumpy’ on the foot than lighter, more flexible shoes, so on a level, smooth forest path it may feel more than you need. And if you want to move fast, it is just not flexible or springy enough underfoot. The toe is not quite as precise as more dedicated climbing or via ferrata shoes, so using this for smaller footholds is not quite the best. The weight is relatively high and the price is more than many shoes. You really need to decide if you need all that performance from the sole on rocky ground, as that is what you are paying for here, and while it’s ideal for rough terrain that may be more than you need for paths.

Verdict

Ideal for muddy paths, rocky walks and easy scrambles, but for fast and light action, easier terrain or technical scrambles, others have benefits.

  • Features 5/5

  • Fit 5/5

  • Comfort 4/5

  • In use 5/5

  • Value for money 3/5

  • OVERALL SCORE 98%

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inov-8 Roclite 400 GTX 2011

inov-8 is a specialist off-road running brand whose shoes are worn by elite international runners, as well as weekend warriors who just enjoy light and fast travel. So it may be no surprise that the inov-8 Roclite 400 has running shoe characteristics combined with features hill-walkers are looking for. The result is the world’s lightest leather Gore-Tex boot.

Design
At first sight it is perhaps not obvious what is so special about the inov-8 Roclite 400 GTX. In fact it would not have been long ago that it would have been brushed aside as not being substantial or robust enough for hill-walkers (by me too, no doubt). It has a leather upper that is virtually stitch-free, so it should be pretty durable. There is some reinforcement at the toe in terms of internal stiffness as well as an external abrasion-resistant layer. The ankle cuff is lower than some others here and more flexible too, which makes this far less restrictive on the foot. You get an off-road-running-style sole with 5mm deep studs that are widely spaced. To give it more shelf appeal and hill credibility the styling is a little more modern than other leather options.

On the hill
I was fairly cynical about the abilities of the inov-8 Roclite 400 GTX to perform on the hill, but it is better than I expected. I wore a pair for much of last year. They are less supportive than most others here, and so your feet and ankles have to work harder. But assuming you don’t mind that, they are great on grassy terrain in particular as the grip from the sole is superb. On rockier ground you can feel pretty much everything you are doing, and not always in a good way – and I’d certainly prefer something stiffer. But my main issue with these is that the upper tends to soak up water very fast, which makes them slow-drying; and also my pair developed holes in the Gore-Tex liner in four places, which – after an examination by the fabric’s maker WL Gore – was found to be due to grit. Other boots have not suffered from this problem, and according to Gore they don’t hear of this problem regularly, but it means that I am not personally convinced of the Roclite’s suitability for hill-walkers looking for a more durable boot.

Upper nubuck leather, Gore-Tex waterproof lining
Sole Roclite sticky rubber
Sizes 5½-15
Weight 912g (pair, size 11)
Made in Vietnam
Stores in the UK 30
Stockist details (01388) 744 900; www.inov-8.com

The inov-8 Roclite 400 GTX is incredibly lightweight; virtually stitch-free leather upper; reasonable stiffness in toe box; deep and widely spaced outsole lugs. However
durability may be an issue, from our experience; less foot support than other lightweight boots tested here; upper tends to soak up water and be slow to dry. All in all, perfect for those who consider weight the number one priority, but the drawbacks are less foot support and less durability.

Review by Graham Thompson
First published in Trail magazine July 2011


inov-8 Roclite 400 GTX 2011

The inov-8 Roclite 400 GTX weighs 912g (pair, size 11), meaning it’s extremely light; leather upper with synthetic overlays for durability; Gore-Tex waterproof lining; stiffened toe box protects foot; deeply studded sole offers excellent grip in mud. But a test pair of these leaked relatively quickly with valley walk use due to grit cutting through waterproof lining; offers less support than other stiffer boots.

Trail tests have indicated that durability may be an issue, but if low weight is a priority the Inov-8 Roclite 400 GTX is a superb option.

First published in Trail magazine May 2011


inov-8 Terroc 345 GTX 2011

inov-8 has come to dominate the lightweight running and fast-moving footwear sector. Its a massive range of shoes are all subtly different, and the Terroc 345 GTX is arguably best suited to multi-activity use. The shoe has a Gore-Tex lining, so dry feet are guaranteed. Like most other inov-8 shoes the Terroc is extremely lightweight, which in part comes from the mesh upper. But there are synthetic overlays to improve durability, particularly around the forefoot and toe box. Underfoot you get an extremely aggressive outsole with deep, well-spaced lugs that are ideal for providing good grip in mud, while resisting clogging. The flex is particularly good, as it allows an easy running action, while preventing the painful sensation of stepping on jagged rocks. The inov-8 Terroc 345 GTX is great for running, travel and biking or just hanging around outdoors. But the mesh upper may not be the most durable option, compared to shoes with leather uppers for example. While this model is relatively stiff, other shoes are far stiffer and far better for lots of action on rock or for scrambling. The soft upper won’t protect the foot as well as stiffer uppers either, so again not the best for use on scree.

Upper 3D Air Mesh, synthetic overlays; Gore-Tex waterproof lining
Sole Terroc sticky rubber
Sizes 3½-13
Weight 884g (pair, size 11)
Made in China
Stores in the UK 72

The inov-8 Terroc 345 GTX is an excellent shoe if you want lightweight footwear, but it has drawbacks if you try to use it on really tough terrain for long periods.

Review by Graham Thompson
First published in Trail magazine May 2011


inov-8 Roclite 400 GTX 2010

I’m all for carrying less kit, but I don’t want to have to replace gear every year because it has worn out. The Roclite 400 GTX – the latest offering from inov-8 – could be a step in the right direction, though, as it is a boot with a stitch-free leather upper, so it should be durable – and it’s also the lightest leather Gore-Tex boot in the world, so I end up carrying less weight.
inov-8 is best know for its lightweight running footwear, but the company has made boots too, including the revolutionary Roclite 390 GTX, a synthetic option originally designed for parapenting, but one that has become a popular choice for lightweight hill-walking. The new leather upper of the Roclite 400 GTX should mean it’s far more durable than its stablemate, however.
What you get with the Roclite 400 GTX is a nubuck leather upper with barely a stitch line to trap grit or fray during abrasion against rock. The lacing does not extend as far down the upper as on some boots either, so the flex area remains clean and less likely to break down.
Underfoot is the now classic inov-8 sole unit with its square studs, which are ideal for keeping a grip in mud.
On walks this feels very much like a typical inov-8 shoe, meaning it is very flexible and forces the foot to work a little harder. My foot also rolled a little more than I would have liked when traversing steep slopes, again something I experience in a lot of lighter, more flexible footwear.
Time will tell how long these last, but they have remained waterproof longer than a number of other lightweight boots including the Roclite 390 GTX. However, the uppers are soaking up water very fast and appear slow to dry, so the leather may need more treatment than some other, more water-resistant leathers.

Price £125
Upper nubuck leather; Gore-Tex waterproof lining
Sole Roclite sticky rubber
Sizes 4-12
Weight 1004g (pair, size 11)
Made in China
Stockist details – tel. (01388) 744900; www.inov-8.com

An excellent new lightweight boot, whose leather upper means it should outlast many of its fabric competitors; but heavier, stiffer boots provide more support.

Review by Graham Thompson
First published in Trail magazine November 2010

 






inov-8 Recolite 190 2010

The inov-8 Recolite 190 is an extremely lightweight sandal hybrid design that is designed to allow the foot to operate in a more natural dimension than many highly cushioned, supportive and controlling designs. The sandal is made from synthetic materials, so it is fast-drying. As much of the foot is enclosed by the mesh and fibre upper, the foot is quite well-protected. There is a rubber toe bumper too. The footbed is removable and is made more breathable by the inclusion of a series of holes across its surface. The outsole has a good grip too on grass and there is a reasonable degree of cushioning. Slip them on and the drawcord lacing system coupled with stretch in the upper provides a close fit. This shoe feels light and comfy if you prefer a more natural feel underfoot. It’s ideal for use in B&Bs, huts and hostels. But this sandal offers very little support for the foot, which can be seen as a benefit or a drawback depending on what your foot needs and where you are going to walk. The top is open but the sides are not fully open so grit can get trapped at the forefoot end.

Upper synthetic microfibre
Sole Recolite Endurance Rubber
Sizes 4-12 (men’s)
Weight 456g (pair, size 11)
Made in China
Stores in the UK 20

The inov-8 Recolite 190 is ideal for use in huts, hostels and B&Bs, good for camping and you’ll like it for travel if you prefer less support.

Review by Graham Thompson
First published in Trail magazine May 2010


inov-8 Roclite 390 GTX 2010

The inov-8 Roclite 390 GTX weighs 912g (pair, size 11); up to size 14; Gore-Tex XCR waterproof lining; durable rubber rand; well-cushioned; ultra- grippy sole; more supportive heel and ankle design than previously; a perfect super-light boot for the fells. But still not as supportive as other boots, so best restricted to grass and easier terrain; not as durable as heavier leather boots.

The inov-8 Roclite 390 GTX is superb if weight is your top priority, but heavier boots have a lot of advantages for hill-walkers.

First published in Trail magazine May 2010


inov-8 Terroc 330 2010

inov-8 is best-known for top-quality lightweight trail and fell running shoes, but they have been widely adopted for less strenuous use too. The Terroc 330 is a less running-specific shoe than many others in inov-8’s range and so it is ideal for day-to-day use as well as fast and light travel. It does not have a waterproof lining, but you can wear it with a waterproof Sealskinz sock for example to keep your feet dry. The toe and heel areas are reasonably supportive to make this better than other inov-8 shoes for more general use. The outsole has a very aggressive pattern of lugs that makes this ideal for mud and grass but also surprisingly good on rock too. The soft flex is ideal for running or walking fast, while the weight just makes this far less tiring to wear than most other footwear. But the inov-8 Terroc 330 is not waterproof so expect wet feet (unless you wear a waterproof sock of course). Also the upper is very soft, so again not as protective as leather shoes when say a rock lands on the foot. Some shoes are likely to be more durable around the uppers too, while others just offer more support for the foot.

Upper Endurance 3D air mesh
Sole Terroc multi-grip rubber
Sizes 3-14 (men’s); 3-12 (women’s
Terroc 308)
Weight 840g (pair, size 11)
Made in China
Stores in England 90

The inov-8 Terroc 330 is ideal if you want to travel fast and light or want a shoe for casual dry use, but be prepared for less protection and support.

Review by Graham Thompson
First published in Trail magazine May 2010


inov-8 Roclite 295 2009

The lightest shoe here at 520g, the inov-8 Roclite 295  is the least obviously supportive and least cushioned choice. Its impressive weight and simplicity combined with a robust rubber rand and sticky sole grip make this shoe great for experienced trail runners and lightweight walkers on long, rugged, rocky adventures.

Design
inov-8 designs footwear so that it doesn’t interfere with the natural function of the foot. They describe their shoes as having a ‘secure, intimate fit that’s almost like running barefoot’. So it comes as no surprise to find that the Roclite 295 has the least cushioning in the test and a snug, light fit with breezy mesh panels, made more robust where necessary with a substantial rubber rand. The lacing at the top can be slightly tricky to work out at first, but do persevere, as the way it loops round means that they are locked into place while you do up the bow, which makes it easier to get a secure fit.

In action
I could immediately feel most of the lumps and bumps of the path beneath my feet in these lightweight shoes. They are less cushioned than the Vasque Aether Tech and the La Sportiva Crosslight, which is great for more experienced mountain goats used to less foot support, but a long run or walk on tarmac would be much less fun. They will benefit from the increased level of responsiveness as they pound along rough tracks and trails or take lightweight walking to the next level. The sole unit is not as aggressive as the aforementioned shoes either, but although the lugs are not so deep or pointed, the stickiness of the rubber and flexible sole makes this shoe grip very well as it moulds around uneven terrain.

 

Upper 3D airmesh and synthetic leather
Liner synthetic mesh
Sole Roclite sticky rubber compound
Sizes unisex 3-13 including half sizes
Weight 520g (pair, size 5.5)
Made in China
Stores in the UK 43
Stockist details (01388) 744900; www.inov-8.com

Verdict: Buy the inov-8 Roclite 295  if… you’re quite an experienced hill-runner and lightweight walker who wants a very light shoe for running on steep, rocky, grassy, muddy paths without the cushioning or support interfering with the natural movement of your foot.

 

Review by Claire Maxted
First published in Trail magazine May 2009





inov-8 Roclite 295 2009

The inov-8 Roclite 295 multi-activity shoe weighs 680g (pair, size 11); very breathable upper; extremely aggressive sole stud pattern; heel area is fairly supportive; abrasion-resistant layers improve durability at toe; soft flex is ideal for running. But toe box softer than most; upper very soft; others more supportive of the foot; others are more versatile for multi-activity.

Verdict: The inov-8 Roclite 295 is ideal for travelling fast and light on rough and muddy terrain, but not as useful as others in a wide variety of activities.

 

First published in Trail magazine May 2009


inov-8 Roclite 390 GTX 2009

The inov-8 Roclite 390 GTX is superlight at 912g (pair, size 11); Gore-Tex XCR waterproof lining; durability boosted around toe by rubber rand; well-cushioned; extremely grippy studded sole. But not as supportive as others, and best restricted to grass and easier terrain; not as durable as heavier leather boots; Trail’s test boot leaked after a short period of use.

Verdict: The inov-8 Roclite 390 GTX is superb in terms of weight, but others will offer more support and durability in the long term.

 

First published in Trail magazine May 2009


inov-8 Roclite 390 2008

inov-8 is best-known for its huge range of off-road running shoes, which can often be seen on the feet of the winners of the world’s toughest fell races. Not content with shaking up the off-road running market, inov-8 has added a superlight 3-season boot to its range with the Roclite 390. Clearly developed from its running shoes, it features a higher ankle cuff.

Design
The Roclite 390 weighs in at an incredible 1040g (pair, size 11), making it by far the lightest boot in our test. The upper is made from a very open mesh that is covered by a finer thin layer of mesh for protection. Inside the boot there is a Gore-Tex XCR waterproof liner to keep your feet dry. Lacing stops at the flex point to increase durability here, while a rubber rand around the toe and forefoot is provided to further increase durability. Underfoot you get a very aggressive studded sole unit. There is no heel breast and the shoe is generally very flexible, both from toe to heel and laterally across the forefoot. So designwise it looks great for wet mud and grass, but all that flex may not be ideal on the rockiest of terrain.

On the hill
These hug the foot far more closely than any other boots, thanks to the flexible nature of the upper and sole unit. My thin, narrow feet suited the fit, and the sole provided a springy ride on hard surfaces. But these boots come into their own when the ground softens to wet mud as then the lugs can claw their way across the terrain. On grassy fell-walks off-path these were superb and I found wandering across the moors that rise Back o’ Skiddaw a delight, while muddy meanderings across the lower fells and forests of the Lakes were equally satisfying. However, as soon as the ground becomes rocky, the lack support throughout this boot is evident, with my foot being forced to twist as the shoe was forced out of shape by rocks on the paths leading to the Langdale summits. This is my second pair of these boots in a year, which says a great deal about their durability. They may be exceptionally lightweight but they are not built for day after day hill use without frequent replacement.

The low-down
If weight is your number one priority then these are superb, but they do have a number of drawbacks compared to other boots. They grip well in the mud and they keep your feet dry, but on rocky terrain but their lack of support makes your feet work hard and I also found that they are not as durable as heavier options. Use them on muddy moors though
and they are great.  

Comfort 5   
Waterproofness 5    
Grip 5   
Durability 1   
Value for money 2

Upper synthetic, Gore-Tex XCR waterproof lining
Sole unit inov-8 Endurance rubber
Sizes 3-14
Weight 1028g (pair, size 11)
Made in China
Contact – tel. (01388) 744900; www.inov-8.com
Verdict
Pros extremely lightweight with an extremely grippy sole unit and an extremely breathable upper
Cons lacks durability and support for the foot, so these aren’t ideal on rocky ground and will need replacing before many others
Overall these boots simply cannot be beaten for weight and grip in mud, but the down side is that they are simply not as durable or as good on rock as others we’ve tested here.

Review by Graham Thompson
First published in Trail magazine December 2008

Inov-8 Roclite 390 GTX

A lightweight 3-season boot weighing 912g (pair, size 11). Gore-Tex XCR waterproof lining. The boot’s durability is boosted around the toe by a rubber rand. Well-cushioned and extremely grippy studded sole. It’s perfect if you want a super-light boot for the fells. However, it’s not as supportive as others on the market; best kept to grass and easier terrain; not as durable as heavier leather boots.

 

 

Verdict: If you rank minimal weight above all this is the boot for you, but it has its drawbacks.

 

First published in Trail magazine, April 2008


Inov8 Roclite 318 XCR

Inov8 multi-activity shoes were originally designed for trail- and fell-running, but they have been widely adopted for less strenuous use, with many people wearing them all day. Travellers and ‘fast and light’ hill-walkers will love them too. This is a Gore-Tex XCR-lined waterproof version, so it will keep your feet drier than most. The upper is made from mesh too, so breathability should be as good as it can be considering there’s a waterproof lining. The toe and heel areas are reasonably supportive, while abrasion-resistant layers improve durability. The outsole has a very aggressive pattern of lugs that make this ideal for mud and grass but also surprisingly good on rock too. The soft flex is ideal for running or walking fast, while the light weight makes the shoe far less tiring to wear than most other footwear.
The toe box is softer than most, which limits the protection it can provide. Also the upper is very soft, so again not as protective as leather shoes. Some shoes use more durable uppers, while others simply offer more support for the foot.

 

Upper: mesh upper; Gore-Tex XCR waterproof lining
Sole: Flyroc with dual density midsole
Sizes: 3 1/2-13
Weight: 840g (pair, size 11)
Made in: China
Stores in England: 70

 

Verdict: Ideal if you want to travel fast and light and keep feet reasonably dry, but be prepared for less support, less foot protection and durability compared to some others.

 

First published in Trail magazine, April 2008


Inov-8 RocLite 315

This trail-running shoe has won our tests for the past three years, and to our mind it’s still the best shoe for regular off-road running when surfaces are muddy and loose. This is one of the lightest shoes we’ve seen making it ideal for moving fast. You get an exceptionally breathable upper, which is reinforced around the toe, heel and sides. The toe box is stiff enough to prevent toe bruising when running downhill, and there’s enough support in the heel, arch and sole to protect the feet on uneven ground. The sole flex is ideal for running, being supportive at the heel and arch with a flex point at the toe. What sets this shoe apart from most is that you get a very aggressive studded sole and good resistance to pressure from stones under the forefoot.
The shoe does not offer as much support or as much cushioning as some others, so it’s not ideal for harder surfaces or rocky paths. It’s not waterproof, but for trail-running a waterproof shoe is seldom required.

 

Upper: breathable mesh and synthetic reinforcement
Sole: rubber Fascia-band Inov8 sole
Sizes: 3-13
Weight: 732g (pair, size 11)
Made in: China
Stores in the UK: 120

Verdict: Ideal for trail-running on mud and grass when you want a lightweight shoe for lightness of foot and grip rather than maximum cushioning and support.

 

First published in Trail magazine, April 2008


Inov-8 Roclite 318 XCR

This multi-activity shoe features a Gore-Tex XCR waterproof lining; exceptionally lightweight at 780g (size 11); mesh upper improve breathability; supportive heel cup; durable lower sides of upper; studded outsole for maximum grip in the mud or grass; excellent sole flex and stiffness for running. But soft toe box limits use of the shoe to non-rocky ground; generally not as durable or supportive as some other shoes.

Verdict: Buy it if you want a show for moving fast across the hills.


Inov-8 RocLite 315

Inov-8 shoes are winning some of the world’s toughest trail races and they have arrived and dominated the serious end of the trail-running market in just a couple of years. The Roclite 315 won Trail’s trail-running shoe test in 2006 and to my mind it is still the best shoe for regular off-road running. This is one of the lightest shoes available at only 732g (size 11), with the result that it is very responsive. You get an exceptionally breathable upper, and this is ideal for trail-running. The upper is reinforced around the toe, heel and sides to provide abrasion resistance when rubbing up against undergrowth or rocks. The toe box is not solid, but it is stiff enough to prevent toe bruising when running downhill. This is quite a low-cut shoe but there is still enough support in the heel, arch and sole to support and protect the feet on uneven ground. The sole flex is ideal for running, being supportive at the heel and arch with a flex point at the toe. Cushioning is great too, but what really sets this shoe apart from most is that you get a very aggressive studded sole. There is also good resistance to pressure from stones under the forefoot. The shoe is ideal for fast long distance trail-running on any terrain if weight and ease of running are your priorities.  But the shoe does not offer as much support or as much cushioning as some others and so if you are heading for long, plodding jogs on firm ground, then this it not ideal. Like most shoes here it is not waterproof, but for trail-running I don’t think a waterproof shoe is required. There is not a women’s-specific model of this shoe, so other shoes may be better for women (although plenty of women are wearing these in the Lakes, so they may just fit women well anyway).

 

Upper: breathable mesh and synthetic reinforcement
Sole: rubber Fascia-band Inov-8 sole
Sizes: 3-13
Trail fit profile: forefoot 2; heel 2; volume 2; length 2
Weight: 732g (pair, size11)
Made in China
Stores: England140; Wales 10; Scotland15; Ireland 4

Verdict: Buy it if you do regular trail-running on mixed terrain, particularly muddy and grassy surfaces and want a lightweight shoe for lightness of foot, rather than maximum support.