Thursday, March 18, 2010
Innov8 Roclite 370 Boot Review
I've now had these for a couple of months and have now clocked up a few miles in them on terrain a little more testing than the stairs at home.
I said previously that the fit was excellent, the cushioning satisfactory and the weight astounding. None of those opinions have changed, in fact so much so I feel they are changing the way I walk in the hills.
The fit was superb, I knew that from day one, my feet were snug straight out of the box. On the hills of the Mournes I wore some Bridgedale Precision Fit Ski socks with a pair of Sealskinz mid length socks as protection from moisture ingress. I have had the Sealskinz for over a year now without really testing them out and as I have had trouble obtaining a pair of Rocky Oversocks I decided to give them a fair trial. I've heard bad reports about them, with some people stating that they have as much waterproofness as a colander.
As I headed out towards Hares Gap, the thaw had left icy puddles all over the lower slopes which simply couldn't be avoided. At one point before the climb, the Trassey River had to be crossed, the shoes were immersed right up over the laces and I felt the cold water rush in immediately through the mesh upper. Initially, I thought the socks had completely failed and soaked my feet through, thankfully that wasn't the case. It was the temperature of the water deceiving me. I did think that the 2 layer sock combo I was using would have provided a bit better insulation against such a thing.
Before long my feet had readjusted and were warm once more as I moved onto hardened snow and icy terrain. Here, I felt I could have done with a stiffer boot to allow my feet to sink further into the ice and provide some better traction. At times, especially on the steeper slopes leading up to the summit of Commedagh I found that I had to really force my feet into the ground to gain enough of a secure footing. The deep tread did not aid the climb in these conditions. A pair of Kathoola Microspikes would have been ideal here but I wanted to test these shoes to their limits. At the end of the day when I took the boots and Sealskinz off, my feet were warm and dry.
In the Comeraghs the next day, the 370s' really came into their own. The grip provided by those deep lugs was exceptional which gave me the confidence to hop skip and jump through the boulder field at the beginning of the walk. Taking on the sharp end of the ridge was no problem whatsoever in these boots, I felt more secure than ever and I see no problem using these for more challenging ridges like the Big Gun on the MacGillycuddys' Reeks in similar conditions.
Again, I was wearing the same sock combo as in the Mournes but as I reached the ridge, it became apparent that I would be encountering very little water on this walk. So the Sealskinz were jettisoned, allowing more air to get to my now hot feet. I was thankful for a little airflow through the boots, on a hot summers day though, when my feet usually melt in my normal walking boots, its going to be a revelation.
The higher cuff on these boots does offer a little protection from twisted ankles but obviously, nothing compared to regular 3 season boots which I'm used to but with a little more care taken with each step, I don't see this becoming a real issue.
The real area where these boots reign supreme over 3 season boots in my opinion is the weight. I noticed as soon as I began my walk on both days that I was somehow lighter despite normal pack weights and clothing. I've heard it said before that a hundred grammes off the weight of your shoes is the equivalent of shaving a kilo off your pack weight.
Now I'm not sure if that is strictly true but I certainly noticed a huge difference while walking. My legs didn't feel tired at all at the end of either walk, in fact I felt I could motor on for a good while. So in this respect alone, I can see these boots changing my walking in future, especially on longer trips.
The only area of weakness I can see in the 370s' is their durability. I can see these maybe lasting me until the autumn or this time next year at the most. It's obvious that with their weight and build, they simply are not as robust as the sturdier 3 season alternatives. For me though, its not an issue. The pros far outweigh the cons and they are worth the money to replace them once a year.
In two weeks I'll be completing a traverse of the the Maamturk range in Connemara, I intend on using these boots, this will be a real test for them, the mountains there are tough, rugged, steep and boggy in parts. At least now, I'll be heading there with my footwear no longer an unknown quantity.