Looking for some lightweight Gore-Tex hiking boots? Then check out this Inov-8 Roclite Pro G 400 review, as these boots offer exceptional traction, durability and performance in bucket loads.
Starting out in 2003, Inov-8 originally specialised in trail running trainers. Their high quality super grippy shoes took the sport by storm. They have since branched out into all types of running footwear, trainers for the gym and hiking shoes.
True to their origins, there is still an emphasis on keeping the weight low, the quality high and innovating to lead the footwear industry. Inov-8 don’t make anything ordinary, their gear come littered with patents, awards and they have hundreds of pro race podium finishes.
Inov-8 is a British Company based in the Lake District – the perfect place to test their latest gear! The owner Wayne Edy has recently repurchased the brand from Descente with the goal of driving it onto even bigger and better things.
Usually to review some hiking boots I would take them on a hiking press trip to some stunning mountains and put plenty of miles in. But with the covid pandemic there have been no trips abroad for a year. Even my trip to the Lake District has now been postponed four times.
Throughout the ups and downs of the pandemic here in the UK we have mostly had to stay local. Fortunately, I have the South Downs National Park on my door step to conduct this Inov-8 Roclite Pro G 400 review and put these lightweight Gore-Tex hiking boots through their paces.
However, the South Downs doesn’t test every aspect of the boots. For example, it is chalky grassland without any rocky sections and nothing steep enough to need to scramble. There are very few streams to test waterproofness and you are far more likely to have sticky mud as your main obstacle than anything more challenging.
However, when the local River Ouse flooded its banks I took the opportunity to get ankle deep in the Roclite Pro G 400s. Furthermore, there are some natural(ish) boulders on the dockside in my home town of Newhaven – kids love clambering all over them – on which I tested the Graphene grip.
Inov-8 describe the Roclite Pro G hiking boots as ‘lightweight, flexible hiking boot for serious outdoor adventures’. While my plans to scramble across Sharp Edge in the Lake District, hike in the Dolomites and trek in the Atlas Mountains have been put on hold, I have put plenty of miles in throughout a very wet British winter.
For me the most important aspect of any hiking boots is whether they are comfortable. In the past I have had lightweight footwear that has proved to be uncomfortable due to lack of support or adequate padding.
When I first unboxed the Roclite’s their ultra lightweight – seriously they are just 400g for the pair! – had me concerned about how something so light could also be comfortable. But slipping them on for the first time they just felt right, I would almost go as far as saying it felt like putting on my favourite slippers.
So far I have walked at least 250km in the Inov-8 hiking boots and not had any discomfort at all. There has not even been a hot spot, any pinching, or breaking them in pain. Very simply out of the box they have been exceptionally comfortable.
Now I have to qualify this, due to covid restrictions I have not walked more than 10k – even this was stretching the rules slightly. But I have walked consecutive days, worn them with everything from thin every day socks to thick hiking socks – with and without liners – and had zero discomfort.
I am happy to say they are the most comfortable hiking boots I have ever owned. I have even tried slow jogging for short distances and found the Roclite’s feel good, and while not a replacement for my trail running shoes it makes speed hiking very possible.
My other worry was that as these boots are marketed as flexible that they would not provide the kind of support you need for hiking. Now while the upper parts of the boots are pretty flexible this doesn’t equate to non-supportive.
The trails I have been on have not been difficult in terms of rocks and treacherous footing. But I have been on plenty of steep muddy sections where boots without adequate support would not perform. At no point have I felt they are going to give too much so I lose my footing or cause injury.
The Meta-Plate Pro in the sole of the Roclites is key to the support. It has just enough give to provide some underfoot flexibility which improves comfort, particularly when lightly jogging, without compromising support. Combined with the external heel cup I have not had any lateral ankle movement or twisting that would concern me.
During this Inov-8 Roclite Pro G 400 review I have found the grip to be exceptionally good. This is where Inov-8’s most recent innovation comes in. In 2018 they became the first – and still the only – brand to incorporate Graphene into footwear.
What’s Graphene I here you ask! According to Wikipedia, Graphene is an ‘allotrope of carbon consisting of a single layer of atoms arranged in a two-dimensional honeycomb lattice’. Glad we cleared that up! What you need to know is that Graphene is the world’s strongest material – even tougher than diamonds, just not quite as expensive!
It is used on the sole of these lightweight Gore-Tex hiking boots by Inov-8 to create Graphene-Grip. It is purported to provide unrivalled traction on any terrain, so I have tested it out everywhere I can.
The majority of my testing has been on muddy footpaths and wet grass up and down the slippery slopes of the South Downs. My wife, in her Helly Hansen Loke Rambler hiking boots which she really likes, has been less sure of foot than I am when walking in slippery sections.
The downside of all this is the grip, is that it’s so good the mud sticks to the bottom of your boots and I found it far tougher to clean mud off my boots than my wife’s. But even when caked with mud the Roclite’s still provide very good grip.
I also tested the grip of these lightweight Gore-Tex hiking boots on some rocks. I found that even in the wet at around 45 degrees the grip was as solid. At around 50 to 60 degrees, it varied on the rock type and conditions. But I felt I could trust the Roclites to grip the surface as a stepping stone to climb up the rock. Going downhill the grip was good at 60 to 70 degrees.
In addition to this I wore these lightweight Gore-Tex hiking boots in the snow. We didn’t get much here on the South Coast, but there was enough for people to be slipping and sliding. But not me in the Inov-8 Roclite Pro G 400.
Of course comfortable, supportive and great grip is all well and good but if hiking boots do not keep your feel dry and warm then it’s all a bit pointless! Fortunately, the Roclite Pro G 400 have a waterproof Gore-Tex lining.
To test this I spent a few minutes standing in ankle deep water when our local river flooded. While my feet got cold, it was winter after all, they did not get wet. I was so impressed with this I walked through quite a lot of big puddles to further test their waterproof credentials and I have never got wet feet.
When walking in the snow, it reached minus seven centigrade but my feet did not get chilly. I go on a lot of snowboarding press trips and I would be more than happy to take these to ski resorts as my snow boots.
Of course any material is only going to keep the elements at bay if the outer surface remains intact. So for added protection the Roclite upper uses Schoeller® ceramic-coated material. This provides exceptional durability in the harshest of environments, so far it has performed very well with the boots looking at good as new.
In several pairs of boots I have owned in the past I have had the annoying issue of laces regularly coming undone. But this has never happened in the Inov-8 boots. It’s a small thing but it makes a big difference if you have to retie laces every couple of hours.
Furthermore these lightweight Gore-Tex hiking boots are super easy to do up to your desired tightness. This is because the two pairs of upper eyelets grip the laces. You can pull the laces through but when you let go they do not slip back. However, they are not so grippy that it will damage the laces.
Being able to get the tightness right probably helps to keep them done up, as that little bit of slippage when tying boots leads to them loosening. Funny enough at first I found the boots difficult to do up quite right. I kept getting them too tight – I think this was because I am used to having some slippage so I always do boots up overly tight.
The only slight negative about these excellent boots is that while the lacing on the upper is the best I have had in any boots, tightening the lower part it is not as easy. You can’t just pull at the laces and they tighten all the way down, you have to tighten each section individually and without gripping eyelets they slip back. It is a little annoying, but once you get the knack of it you can still do them up exactly how you like.
To conclude this Inov-8 Roclite Pro G 400 review I think you can tell that I love them. They are super comfy and offer flexibility with the right amount of support. The boots are so light they are like wearing slippers and I have often worn them for every day activities rather than solely for hiking.
Plus the grip is spectacular. I would trust these not to slip more than any other footwear I have ever owned. They are also completely waterproof and far warmer than they look. Finally, once done up they don’t come undone.
As Henry Ford said you can have any colour as long as it is black… That suits me fine with hiking boots but I imagine some people would prefer something more colourful. They also come in a women’s model which is also mostly black.
The Inov-8 Roclite Pro G 400 hiking boots are without doubt the best boots I have owned. But they are also the most expensive. With an RRP of £200 it is a hefty outlay, but you get what you pay for. I am convinced these boots will provide me with many years and many miles of comfortable trails plus warm and dry feet.