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Ultralight Shoe Company Inov-8 Takes the Right Approach to Building Boots (Outdoor Retailer Summer Market 2007)

A 13-oz/370-gram (per boot, US9/UK8) ultralight backpacking boot with the right mix of hybridized shoe-boot features for ultralight backpacking.

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by Ryan Jordan | 2007-08-11 23:34:00-06

Ultralight Shoe Company Inov-8 Takes the Right Approach to Building Boots (Outdoor Retailer Summer Market 2007)

The Boot for Ultralight Backpacking?

"Highly breathable ultralight paragliding boot." - 2008 Inov-8 Spring/Summer Workbook

Who would have thought that backpackers could capitalize on gear made for paragliders?

I know, the analogy here is pretty stupid. To their credit, Inov-8 follows up with "...also ideal for lightweight hill walking..."

There we go. Grounded again in reality.

Now, back to the keyword that caught your eye: boot.

La Sportiva Makalus and the Backpacker Editor's Choice Award logo notwithstanding (sic), the very word 'boot' conjures up images that make the best of us ultralighters cringe. And when 'boot' and 'Inov-8' are used in the same sentence, we're pretty much ready to check into the asylum.

But wait.

These "boots" are 370 grams. For you statesiders that don't care whether we go metric or not, that's 13 oz apiece.

Nope, not a typo. I'll spell it out: thirteen.

What weighs thirteen ounces and can still be worn on one foot?

About four pair of midweight wool socks. Enough duct tape to blister feet that have been festering in leather boots. Vintage 80s Cordura gaiters. The weight of unnecessary pant leg length on jeans worn by today's youth.

Or the Montrail Vitesse II that I wore into the Arctic last summer - when I sprained my ankle in the tundra carrying a 50 lb pack...which led to an 85 mile walk off route to reach a gravel bar for a bush plane pickup...which led to physical therapy...surgery...and more physical therapy...and a very long story (see Backpacking Light Magazine, Issue No. 8, and http://www.arctic1000.com/).

OK, "so what" you say. Inov-8, after all, offers a variety of other shoes with smaller numbers, like the 330 (terroc), the 315 (roclite), the 310 (flyroc), the 280 (mudclaw) and even a 230 (f-lite). Yes, those numbers indicate the gram weight of the shoe. So, back to the question: "so what?" I mean, you've read the likes of Jardine, Dixon, and heck, even me, in enough other places to have been sold on the benefits of low-top shoes.

Now, enter the ankle, stage left.

The ankle has the ability to allow for the flexion of the foot in four directions: inward (inversion), outward (eversion), upward (dorsiflexion), and downward (plantar flexion). Muscles, tendons, and ligaments in the ankle stabilize the ankle when the foot is out of a neutral position (as in inversion, eversion, dorsiflexion, or plantar flexion), preventing damage to the soft tissue structure. Damage to the soft tissues results from weak ankles, extreme stress, or both. It has been hypothesized by myself and others that wearing traditional backpacking boots, which limit the range of motion in these four directions, inhibits the ability of the ankle to strengthen, and thus, provides an environment that creates an inherently weak ankle.

Another disadvantage of traditional backpacking boots is that they limit range of motion to the extent that if extreme stress is created on the ankle joint, stabilizing tissues are not allowed to do their job - absorb that stress - so the stress is transferred upward, resulting in damage to muscles in the shin or calf, or the dreaded "boot-top fracture".

While hiking, motion depends primarily upon the very efficient transfer of energy during dorsiflexion and plantar flexion, while fatigue during long distance days depends primarily upon weakening of the ligaments and tendons that stabilize the foot during inversion and eversion. So, it follows that while backpacking boots tend to limit efficiency of the range of motion by inhibiting dorsiflexion and plantar flexion, low-cut trail shoes tend to result in the fatigue of ligaments and tendons that stabilize the foot during inversion and eversion.

So, shouldn't the perfect backpacking shoe stabilize the foot during inversion and eversion while allowing for complete freedom of motion during plantar flexion and dorsiflexion?

Now, enter the Inov-8 Roclite 370 - yes, the boot.

Built upon the same last as the lighterweight Roclite 315 shoe, the Roclite 370 boot differs only slightly in the configuration of materials in the upper. The more dramatic difference, of course, is the height of the ankle cuff, and the material used to build the rear of the cuff: it's stiffer and more robust, thus providing the exact type of resistance to inversion and eversion that will be appreciated by off-trail trekkers, trekkers with weak ankles, trekkers who've bit the big one before in the Arctic, etc.

Remarkable about this design is that the forefoot construction remains nearly identical to Inov-8's lighter trail running shoes, and thus, dorsiflexion and plantar flexion remain uninhibited.

Finally, we've seen the merging of the best features of a boot with the best features of a shoe. It took a company that builds ultralight shoes and worked up to a boot to do it. Boot companies have been striving for years to make a lightweight trail shoe that offers the best properties of their boots, but have utterly failed, because all they've been doing to date is chopping off the tops of their boots and leaving the rest the same.

The Roclite 370, and it's waterproof-breathable cousin, the Roclite 390 GTX, will be available Spring 2008.

Now these boots were made for walkin'.

Specifications

Roclite 370 Weight: 370 g (13 oz) US Size 9 / UK Size 8 (Color Grey / Orange)

Roclite 390 GTX Weight: 390 g (13.7 oz) US Size 9 / UK Size 8 (Color Grey / Navy)


Citation

"Ultralight Shoe Company Inov-8 Takes the Right Approach to Building Boots (Outdoor Retailer Summer Market 2007)," by Ryan Jordan. BackpackingLight.com (ISSN 1537-0364).
http://backpackinglight.com/cgi-bin/backpackinglight/inov_8_roclite_370_390_boot_orsm07.html, 2007-08-11 23:34:00-06.

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Ultralight Shoe Company Inov-8 Takes the Right Approach to Building Boots (Outdoor Retailer Summer Market 2007)
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Ryan Jordan
(ryan) - BPL Staff - MLife

Locale: Greater Yellowstone
Ultralight Shoe Company Inov-8 Takes the Right Approach to Building Boots (Outdoor Retailer Summer Market 2007) on 08/11/2007 23:38:24 MDT Print View

Companion forum thread to:

Ultralight Shoe Company Inov-8 Takes the Right Approach to Building Boots (Outdoor Retailer Summer Market 2007)

Barnett Childress
(Barnett_Childress) - F - M

Locale: New England
Inov-8 370 Boots on 08/12/2007 10:31:02 MDT Print View

I've been hiking on & off trail with the Inov-8 330 Terroc's and more recently using the Roclite 315's, with a total 3 day weight of around 13-14lbs. I do love the freedom of movement these light weight trail runners offer, but in rough rocky terrain I'm always concerned about lack of ankle support and have had my share of turned ankles.

If I know I'm going into that type of terrain I've been reluctantly going back to a heavier boot. The new 370's look like a good all around solution for a fast drying, breathable, off trail/rough trail ankle support boot, without the weight penalty or freedom of motion.

I can't wait to try them!

George Matthews
(gmatthews) - MLife
sounds interesting on 08/12/2007 11:32:53 MDT Print View

I've also become a convert to the Inov-8 330 Terroc. They are working well for me. Using sticks has helped me avoid a few close calls in rough terrain.

The new light boot looks like a winner. That was a good ankle explanation.

Ryan - do you think the new boot would have prevented your Artic injury?

Depending on the price - I will try them sooner or later.

Ryan Jordan
(ryan) - BPL Staff - MLife

Locale: Greater Yellowstone
Re: sounds interesting on 08/12/2007 16:04:51 MDT Print View

George - no - I don't think that boot would have prevented my injury. In the article, I mentioned that ankle injuries occur as a result of weak ankles and/or extreme stress. It was definitely the latter that occurred with me. Plus, my injury was somewhat unique in that it occurred as a result of extreme dorsiflexion, it was not an inversion/eversion injury.

I spent more time with the boots today and they are a little stiffer in the dorsi/plantar flexion direction than the Roclite 315's. I think that's a good thing for preventing fatigue on long days. I'm really eager to try these boots.

Carlos Elordi
(CarlosElordi) - F
Re: Re: sounds interesting on 08/17/2007 22:35:31 MDT Print View

It looks like these boots (at least the waterproof version), are already available at REI.
They are listed as Inov-8 Roclite 390 XCR ($150).

Woubeir (from Europe)
(Woubeir) - F - MLife
Inov-8 370 Boots on 08/30/2007 07:29:59 MDT Print View

I wonder how usefull these boots could be in trying to persuade people to try lighter footwear. Choice of footwear for a particular trip or area is a regular question on a (dutch speaking) forum in which I take part, and up to now it is extremely difficult to persuade people that lighter footwear can make a huge difference. The fear for ankle sprains always makes people choose for heavier graded footwear than based on my experience. Well I guess you all know what I mean. I just wonder if there is any scientific study which looks at the frequency of footinjuries based on the type of footwear? Some scientific evidence that boots not necesarily offer more protection than shoes could be helpfull. Anyone an idea?

robert long
(oblong) - F
red only on 10/12/2007 09:15:09 MDT Print View

Ive been hiking recently in 312GTX. Very good. But red only.

Eric Blumensaadt
(Danepacker) - MLife

Locale: Mojave Desert
Rocklite 390 on 10/12/2007 12:10:41 MDT Print View

AHA! Finally a true boot that is as light as many light trail running shoes.
Now THIS is a boot I'd buy. As a lightweight backpacker (32 lbs W/food for 7 days & 2 L. of water) I will use UL products anytime I can reasonably assure my comfort. i.e. my TT Contrail tent and WM Megalite bag.

These boots prove "it can be done" - making a true lightweight AND supportive boot. I too need boots, having twice badly sprained my right ankle. Plus rock protection for ankle bones is important as well for those of us hiking in rocky areas, like most of the west, "Rocksylvania" in the east, etc.

Now, where do I get these boots?

UPDATE: Found the 390 (GTX) boots at REI online. I should have looked at Carlos' entry more closely.
Eric

Edited by Danepacker on 10/12/2007 13:20:36 MDT.

Rod Guajardo
(Rod_G) - F

Locale: Central Texas
Inov-8 Roclite 390's online availability? (US) on 01/14/2008 10:16:15 MST Print View

Has anyone found another supplier of the Inov-8 Roclite 390 XCR's (GTX) in the states besides Zombierunner.com? After doing a seach on REI.com, it appears they are no longer available there.

Thanks

Edited by Rod_G on 01/14/2008 10:21:38 MST.

Roger B
(rogerb) - MLife

Locale: Here and there
Inov-8 390 GTX availability on 01/14/2008 14:28:04 MST Print View

I assume you have contacted Inov-8 via their USA email address to determine who may sell them. If not their US address is listed as sales@inov-8.us

Mark Verber
(verber) - MLife

Locale: San Francisco Bay Area
Re: Inov-8 Roclite 390's online availability? (US) on 01/14/2008 15:54:31 MST Print View

According to the inov-8 US distributor web page no one else is carrying them. Of course the web page could be out of date.

I will say I have had good experience with zombierunner... but part of that might be that they are around 1 mile from my home so I don't pay shipping and I try things on before buying.

--Mark

Tom Kirchner
(ouzel) - MLife

Locale: Pacific Northwest/Sierra
Re: Inov-8 Roclite 390's online availability? (US) on 01/14/2008 18:13:17 MST Print View

Hi Rod,
Keep an eye on REI, if you don't find them elsewhere in the meantime. I talked to their shoe dept staff a couple of weeks ago and they said they would be carrying some Inov8 models come spring. I lucked out and scored a pair of 390's on closeout at their online store for $100, but that was pure luck. They're a great snowshoeing boot, BTW. I'll be real interested in the 370 as a potential competitor to the Montrail Namche when it comes time to replace mine, based on my experience with the 390's so far.

Brett .
(Brett1234) - F

Locale: CA
deleted on 01/14/2008 18:46:59 MST Print View

deleted, sorry.

Edited by Brett1234 on 01/14/2008 18:55:24 MST.

Rod Guajardo
(Rod_G) - F

Locale: Central Texas
Re: Re: Inov-8 Roclite 390's online availability? (US) on 01/15/2008 09:06:55 MST Print View

Wow Tom you got a great deal! Thanks for the info and I will continue to check the REI website.

Inov-8 list ZombieRunner.com as their only US reseller. So I was just curious if anyone picked theirs up from another vendor and had a good experience.

Thanks again for the responses,
Rod

Mark Verber
(verber) - MLife

Locale: San Francisco Bay Area
Re: Re: Re: Inov-8 Roclite 390's online availability? (US) on 01/15/2008 09:33:59 MST Print View

Yesterday I was talking with the folks at zombierunners when I stopped by to restocking my 310s and picking up a pair of 390. BTW: The roclite run smaller than the flyroc/terraroc. I found that I needed to go up a full size over the flyroc to compensate for the smaller toe box and a more bulky sock.

Zombieerunners suggested that REI hasn't figured out that Inov-8 doesn't do the seasonable models like most manufacturers. So REI orders a batch of shoes for a season... but doesn't automatically re-order because they don't want a large stock of "last seasons" shoes. Zombierunner knows that inov-8 keeps models without change until the shoe can't support itself and has been told that inov-8 will warn them in advance of a shoe being discontinued. So zombierunner expects that a shoe line to continue and immediately re-orders when stock is shipped. All I can say is "Yeah!". It's now been two years and I can still get the same Flyroc 310... the best shoe I have found for my feet... ever.

--Mark

Edited by verber on 01/15/2008 09:37:10 MST.

Peter Fogel
(pgfogel) - F

Locale: Western Slope, Colorado
Inov8 on 01/16/2008 09:35:24 MST Print View

If you can still find a pair, check out the Roclite 318 GTX. These are great winter shoes!

Monty Montana
(TarasBulba) - MLife

Locale: Rocky Mountains
Inov8 390 GTX on 01/27/2008 21:16:58 MST Print View

After having bad luck last winter with my gaiters pulling over the low tops of my Keen Targhees, I realized that I would have to either redesign the gaiters or try a different boot. So this past Fall when I spoted the 390s at REI I knew they were the ones! The Seattle store was out of my size, so I had to special order the last pair from a New Hampshire store. Talk about the best boot I've ever had! They've seen lots of winter hiking and I've not one complaint. When the 370s arrive this Spring I'm getting a pair for Summer use, as my weak right ankle seems to appreciate the high top.

Jason Luttmer
(crimsonshadow7) - F

Locale: North East
New ultralight guy looking for advice on 03/12/2008 12:11:19 MDT Print View

I've done some backpacking with a relatively heavy load (40lbs.), and I would like some advice on what gear people would suggest. I am looking for about 15 to 20 lb.s of gear, or if it is suggested o go the whole way, 1 lbs. or less.

Joe Westing
(pedro87) - F
Re: New ultralight guy looking for advice on 03/12/2008 14:02:17 MDT Print View

You should start a new post (probably in G Spot) asking this question (considering your post is unrelated to the rest of the thread). Anyways, welcome to BPL and lightweight backpacking. People will be glad to help you as long as you post in the appropriate forum. Also, you probably shouldn't decide a base weight beforehand, but instead try to pick the lightest pieces of individual gear that fit your needs.

Jaiden .
(jaiden) - F
new guy -- look around first on 03/12/2008 14:11:28 MDT Print View

While we're happy to help (in the right thread, as mentioned above) your best bet is to do some reading first. Generally people are going to recommend what they use themselves, so until you figure out what works for you, you can start here:

http://www.backpackinglight.com/cgi-bin/backpackinglight/forums/user_gear_list_index.html