Inov-8 RocLite 390 GTX para extreme
Kit selection for the Rock and Ice Diamond Ultra will be crucial and none more so than shoes. Good grip, lightweight, high cut (to use in conjunction with gaiters to stop snow getting in) and ideally waterproof. Also, as I’m doing a lot of my longer training runs carrying a fairly heavy pack, I wanted a bit more ankle support than afforded by a typical trail/fell shoe. All of the mid-cut hiking boots I looked at were absolute “diving boots” in terms of weight and with way too inflexible soles for running. Whilst browsing on the Inov-8 website, I came across the Roclite 390 GTX para extreme. Although branded as a specialist paragliding boot it seemed to tick all of my boxes. I’d been using the Roclite 315’s as my dry conditions/long distance shoe for a couple of years and really like them. They offer a perfect compromise between off-road performance and a bit more comfort/cushioning than you’d get from an out and out fell shoe. I hoped therefore that the 390 GTX would turn out to be pretty much the same shoe with added ankle support and Gore-tex lining. I wasn’t disappointed. First run out of the box was 20 miles around the Kinder Plateau carrying 10kgs on my back. It’d rained the night before but the grip was excellent, even on wet rock, and the feel was definitely more like a running shoe rather than a boot. The waterproofing worked well and, despite a few encounters with the Kinder Bog Monster, my feet remained dry. Ankle support was excellent and allowed me to confidently tackle even steep rocky terrain at full speed. Finally, there wasn’t even the slightest hint of any rubbing, hotspots or blisters.
I think Inov-8 are making a bit of a mistake pigeon-holing this brilliant product for paragliding as it’s actually a great all-round off-road boot. It’d be perfect for any fast ‘n’ light hiker, trail/fell runners who want a bit of ankle support/protection and hopefully for Rock and Ice Diamond Ultra competitors!