Review: Roclite 288 GTX

By STEPHEN REGENOLD

With its new high-top trail shoe, Inov-8 stakes a simple claim: The Roclite 288 GTX is touted as being “the world’s lightest waterproof boot.” Its GORE-TEX membrane provides a waterproof barrier. It weighs about 10 ounces per foot in a men’s size 9 — half the weight of some traditional leather hiking boots.

I am a big fan of this shoe-boot. With a flexible sole and sticky-rubber tread, it can tackle a wide range of wilderness terrain. It can do dirt, grass, mud, dry trail, and snow.

Inov-8 Roclite GTX.jpg

Inov-8 Roclite 288 GTX

A major distinguisher with this ankle-high boot, which cost $130, is its fast feel. Like other Inov-8 shoes, the 288 boots have minimal midsole cushioning and a low-profile heel. This design lets you comfortably — and speedily! — not only hike but run down the trail.

They are not made for everyone. The boot’s support is good enough for me. But the flexible sole and soft exterior material will strike many hikers as too minimal.

Protection from stubbing your toe — or doing more dangerous things like contacting a sharp edge in talus — is only mediocre. The toe guard is minimal on the front of the boot. The outer fabric is thin and soft.

inov-8 sole.jpg

GTX 288 sole

One issue: The boot’s sizing seems to run large. Compared to other Inov-8 shoes I have in the same size, the 288 boot has about a half-inch of extra space past my big toe. Try them on before buying if you can.

Overall, the 288 boots have been a solid performer. I will wear these high-tops on long backpacking trips and wilderness race events. Because they are waterproof, mountaineering comes to mind, too. Add a pair of lightweight crampons to the Inov-8 boots and you could sprint up some mountains.

The price, at $130, is in line with other boots on the market. Quality is solid so far. If you’re looking for a fast and light boot, the Roclite 288 is hard to beat.

—Stephen Regenold writes about outdoors gear at www.gearjunkie.com.

Posted by Aleya - 12/28/2009 09:49 AM

They are actually waterproof? Cause I own a pair with GoreTex vents and they leak like Niagara Falls…

Posted by Stephen Regenold - 12/28/2009 10:47 AM

I can stand in a stream, water up to the laces, and they don’t leak. Hope this lasts. I have had other GORE-TEX shoes (like the Montrail Susitnas) that are waterproof for a season, and then they start to leak after a lot of use.

Posted by Stefan Toft - 12/28/2009 11:14 AM

That sounds like a great boot but will it be enough support for heavy backpack use – like the Meindl Island Pro ?

P.s Great article, thank you.

Posted by gordon wright - 12/28/2009 01:03 PM

I feel like I “discovered” Inov-8 about the same time as the GJ, and have been a huge fan for the last three or four years. I own three pair and seldom race in anything else. I’d love to try these, and in general tend to believe in the claims the company puts forward; no one makes lighter or grippier shoes than Inov-8, and I can say that with total objectivity, as we don’t represent them!

Posted by Stephen Regenold - 12/28/2009 01:17 PM

Stefan — Depends what you’re used to and what you need for “support.” Regular hiking boots now feel overly clunky to me. I have not used them in years. Even for mountaineering, I try and go pretty light on the footwear. The Inov-8s will not have near the support of something like the Meindl Island Pro. But they weigh so much less that, for me, the more minimal protection and less ankle support is worth the trade off.

Posted by Stefan Toft - 12/28/2009 01:40 PM

Stephen – Thank you for the information on this and the backpack! I will have to find both products in a real-world-shop and test them.
Thumbs up.

Posted by Spyros - 12/30/2009 11:18 AM

I will agree with Stephen that sizing seems to run large. This boot feels like endurance last and not performance last.

Posted by Richard Bulkholm - 01/08/2010 04:24 PM

I bought these and I love them! I use them with my Spiky Ice Cleats for a lot of my trail running. If your on the fence, take my advice and just spend the extra couple bucks on something thats high quality.

Posted by Bernice - 01/19/2010 01:55 PM

What happens when you walk through a river higher than your shoe laces? Do you have a gator that will prevent water from getting inside the shoe? But what if that doesn’t work? Do you have to empty the shoe of the water because it won’t drain?

Posted by Stephen Regenold - 01/20/2010 01:24 PM

Bernice — A gaiter won’t help there much (in a river), and yes, you would have to dump the water out as they do not drain well.

Posted by David - 11/01/2010 09:58 PM

I bought a pair of these a year ago but was not able to make my first backpacking trip in them until last week. I love them. They are light, comfortable, and reasonably water resistant—there were dozens of stream crossings on the thirty mile hike I just took. When day hiking in Big Bend last year, I noticed the soles can be penetrated easily by thorns. I cut some inner soles of Titanium foil to protect against thorns and also to spread the shock of sharp rocks. My inner soles seem to work well. I also added some memory foam inserts on top of the factory inner sole.

Posted by Caleb Cross - 11/09/2010 04:46 PM

Would this type of shoe be good for backpacking with a heavier pack? My pack usually weighs around 40lbs. I was concerned that my feet might get too much of a workout with this more flexible natural type shoe and wear out too quickly, however I have been wanting to try something like this or a Flyroc 310. I have only read reviews on Inov-8 shoes for lightweight backpacking.

Posted by Stephen - 12/21/2010 02:10 PM

I have wider feet. I measure to a 10E Any thoughts?

Posted by Bob - 02/12/2011 12:22 PM

Caleb – I doubt these would be comfortable unless you have really strong feet, til your pack weight is under 30. I got a pair of even lighter inov8 boots a couple yrs ago; they have so much flex that my feet hurt after 5 miles carrying 24 lb, even with green superfeet. I’ll try these and the older ones again this year, with a bit more foot strength and a pack weight of 14 lbs.

Posted by Karl - 11/21/2013 12:35 PM

I wouldn’t worry about wearing a pair of Inov8 286s while carrying a 40lb load. I did hundreds of kilometres in New Zealand in a pair of Merrell Trail Gloves without any issues; you get used to the extra load on your calf muscles very quickly, and end up building a lot of strength. But as always, people differ.

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