When I backpack, I usually wear a pair of leather Asolo TPS 520 boots. Even though they have Gore-tex liners and I waterproof them using sno-seal, they can get wet. When that happens, they can take several days to dry and increase my risk of blisters.
One strategy for dealing with wet boots on a backpacking trip is to use boots or trail running shoes that dry out quickly. I thought I’d give this a try using a pair of Inov-8 Men’s roclite 370s which I bought in mid-February. I’ve been using them on day hikes with a pack since then to figure out if I like them and whether this moisture management strategy could work for me. Inov-8 also makes a Roclite 390, which comes with a Gore-text liner.
The Roclite 370s weigh significantly less than my leather boots at 13.4 oz each in a size US 9.5, men’s. The weight reduction is attributable to mesh uppers which you can just barely see through and which are very effective in helping water to escape from the boot. I fell into a creek during a stream crossing a few weeks ago while wearing my Asolos, so this is fresh in my mind.
When I first bought these boots, I immediately noticed that the Roclite insole is kind-of lame, so I replaced it with a Superfeet Green Insole. I am absolutely paranoid about contracting plantar fasciitis again, so my initial testing focused on ensuring that the Roclites provided my foot with the support I need to avoid a recurrence of this condition. The Roclite 370 doesn’t have a rigid last like you find in a heavier boot but there is some reinforcement in the mid-sole using a polymer shank.
After walking in these boots now for a few months, I have decided that the Roclites are just not for me. The truth is that I have a style of hiking, backpacking, and rock scrambling that relies on a rigid boot. Hiking in these Roclites feels almost like I’m walking in bare feet or rock gym climbing shoes. Plus, when I do a moderate amount of scrambling, I get shin splints when I wear them. That’s never happened to me in my Asolos and I attribute it to the vertical flex inherent in the softer Roclite.
This was a good experiment and I’m glad I stuck with it. I’m still looking for a lighter weight boot with better drying characteristics than my Asolo leathers (I just bought a 3rd pair), and I am planning on trying Keen Targhee II Mids next. They’re lined with eVent, and I’m interested to see how they perform compared to Gore-tex lined boots. My wife has a pair of them and raves about them.
Disclosure: The author owns this product and purchased it using their own funds.