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.
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.
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.