Inov-8 Roclite 315 Trail Runners

It is only natural that since the weight on my back has decreased, the weight on my feet should too! Even though I love my Lowa Renegade II boots, and even considering that they are only mids, they still weigh in at a whopping 51.2 oz  (yeah, that’s 3 pounds 3.2 oz!). You know, they say that a pound on the foot is 5 pounds on the back. If this is true, then when wearing these boots I am adding an additional 15 pounds to my weight! So, I did the unthinkable and decided to make a run at some (much lighter, yet effective) trail runners.

Now, before I go on, I would like to say that I only plan to use the trail runners for warm and cool weather hikes. However, once it is cold, I plan to swap back into my warm boots. As well, there were a few things that I did require in the trail runners, especially since this is a new transition…

The first thing that I was looking for in a trail runner was a shoe without a waterproof liner. Since I plan to wear these during the warmer months and not the cold, I am quite alright if my feet get a little wet from time to time. And I know that they will. Whether it be from walking in the dew covered grass in the mornings, sloshing through puddles and streams that follow along the center of the path (cause they always do 🙂 ) or even boldly crossing a stream…they will get wet. And lets face it, a shoe that hardly reaches the bottom of my ankles will have a hard time keeping water out anyway.

As well, I was looking for something with a lot of mesh. For 2 reasons really. The first one I alluded to in the above paragraph, which is that I want a shoe that will dry out as fast as possible. So, obviously, the more mesh in the shoe, the faster the water will simply spill out. But, that’s not all! The other (obvious) reason for a lot of mesh is that my feet will breathe better in a shoe covered in mesh. I did mention that I plan to use these shoes in warmer weather, right? So, in my eyes, a liner will only make my foot sweat more, and keep the water in longer.

Another thing that I wanted in this shoe is a shoe with at least a partial shank underfoot. In my past experiences of walking down trails in my simple everyday “tennis” shoes, I noticed that I felt everything that happened to fall under foot. So, I could easily imagine how this would leave my tender little feet bruised and sore after hiking with a pack on all day. So, I did want a little something extra to smooth out the bumps along the trail. However, (in my limited knowledge) I felt that in a trail runner, a full shank may be harder to find, and even if I did, it would add in more weight overall. Here I am trying to cut weight in my hiking shoes, so I was open to “partial length” shanks… At least give them a try.

The last truly important feature I wanted in the shoe was good traction. Simply put, I wanted a sole that would allow a solid hold, obviously not necessarily for simply walking along a nicely worn, packed trail (any shoe can do this). Nope, like most, I am interested at staying in an upright position while walking across wet rocks, or roots. And even more importantly while I am (carelessly) bounding across those oddly shaped and ill positioned rocks that barely jut up across a wide bodied stream…

As far as I was concerned the rest of the details were of little importance, or at least if they are of any importance, I simply did not understand it yet… But don’t get me wrong, the better they “looked” is always much appreciated… I mean, I am not particularly fond of sporting hot pink shoes…  🙂

So, now that I knew what I wanted in my trail runners, I started hitting up the forums. I came across a few different names, but immediately, the Inov-8 brand stood out like a sore thumb (better a thumb than a foot). It seemed that a lot of hikers both wore them and liked them. So, I checked them out and found that Inov-8 has quite a few different models to choose from. However, the 2 versions that I seemed to come across in most reviews were the Roclite 320’s and the Roclite 315’s. However, it seemed that the 320’s were not being made anymore.

So, I set my sights on the Roclite 315’s. Here are a few of the features of this shoe:

  • Meta Flex: All our footwear incorporates a meta-flex groove which is anatomically aligned in front of the metatarsal heads to provide a natural fore foot flex.
  • Meta Shank: New 5 finger meta-shank aligns with each individual metatarsal for greater flexibility when contouring while retaining underfoot impact. protection. A softer compound is used on performance product while a firmer compound is used on the endurance product.
  • Met Cradle: The upper webbing support in our footwear is anatomically positioned to cradle the forefoot behind the metatarsal heads and provide a secure foot hold.
  • Fascia Band: A replication of the plantar fascia ligament to increase propulsion efficiency and reduce fatigue.
  • Three Arrow Midsole: Mid level cushioning generally used for training.
  • Waterproof/Breathability: Waterproof level (none 0/5) breathability (high 4/5).
  • Webbing Upper Support: Lacing attached to nylon webbing, cradles and secures the upper behind the metatarsal heads.
  • Comfort Last: Generous fitting and offering a more comfortable style. Ideal for training and long distances particularly on trails.
  • Endurance Rubber Compound: Our endurance rubber compound has been formulated for an optimal balance on wear and mixed terrain grip.

So, while much of this is just technical jargon to sell a shoe (IMO), there is actually some that I understand enough to feel like this shoe may just fit my needs. Here is what I got out of that in comparison to my initial requirements:

  1. This shoe does not have a waterproof liner! For the most part, the entire upper is composed of mesh. Due to this, the shoe will not hold any water, as well as allow my feet to breathe.
  2. This shoe incorporates what Inov-8 calls a Meta Shank, or in my terms, a “partial” shank. Essentially, this is a bare bones shank that just covers key places under foot. This should provide needed protection with as little weight as possible.
  3. The sole of the shoe is a compromise between grip (traction) and it’s durability. (From what I can tell…) This means that the rubbery sole is soft enough to be sticky, but not to soft so that it will last longer than a day… As well, the lugs on this shoe are rather deep which aids in providing good traction.

Another important thing that I would like to discuss that I have not yet mentioned, is fit. I say this last because fit is the most personal part of deciding on which show will really work for anyone. It is always a great idea to try on the shoes before purchase to be sure that it is the correct size, or fit. Saying this, I did not have the luxury of trying these on. So, my next best choice was to order from Zappos.com, and internet store that offers free shipping both ways. As well, some like to order 2 different sizes of the same shoe so that they can compare them at the same time. Again, due to $$$, this was not a real option for me either. I only ordered one pair (and crossed my fingers).

When I did decide that these were the trail runners that I wanted to try out, then I had to guess the size. Typically, I wear a size 12 (US Men’s) in both my shoes as well as my boots. However, many people report that these shoes run small and recommends that these shoes be ordered anywhere form 1/2 to 1 full size larger than what one typically wears. I was leery of ordering a full size larger, so I bit the bullet and went with a size 12.5 (US) men’s.When they came in I wore them around the house for about 4 hours before I dared step outside with them on (in case I needed to return them…)

So, a few things that I noticed…

  1. Fit. This was the biggest thing I was concerned about, considering I ordered a larger than normal size. What I found is that they fit me pretty good. However, now I do wonder if a size 12 would have fit me fine too. Length wise, they fit fine. My heel seats nicely and my toes do not hit the end of the toe box. However, the toe box is a little wide. With my wool hiking socks, this is not too noticeable, however, with my everyday cotton socks (ankle height) I can tell that there is a little extra room in the toe box. Because of this, I wonder how a size 12 would fit me. But, the rest of the fit was good enough that I felt they were good enough to keep.
  2. Immediately I noticed that where the forefoot flexed, the material along the outside-side dimpled in and pressed in on the side of my foot. This dimple was very noticeable, and especially with each step I took. Because of this, I almost sent them back, but I decided that it was due to the shoes being new, and with some use, the material would soften up and the dimple would be less noticeable. So, still, I decided to keep them.
  3. The sole was the next area that really drew my attention. The lugs on the bottom of this shoe are deep, real deep. I actually thought that they were baseball cleats…not really, but they were that deep. As well, they are quite soft, which would allow for nice traction on wet rocks/roots. I understand though why they say that the sole is a balance between wear and grip. The lugs seem like with a lot of hiking on rocky ground they may begin to wear off quickly, or simply tear off. I do feel like this will be the first thing that will fail on these shoes. (Don’t get me wrong though, I think that they will last for a while, just not forever.)
  4. And of course, what gear freak could get a new item and not weigh it! Let me just say that (after some time I learned that) the number of the shoe (ie: Roclite 315) represents the weight one of the shoes in grams. Therefore, the Roclite 315’s weigh 315 grams (or 11.1 oz) for one, or 630 grams (22.2 oz) for a pair. However, in my size 12.5 (US Men’s) one of these shoes weighs 346 grams (11.7 oz) or 692 grams (23.4 oz) for the pair. So, in the end I shaved off 27.8 oz from my boot weight, or around 8.5 pounds from my back…  🙂

Once I realized that I was for sure going to keep them, I decided to try the heel customization that Inov-8 recommends for a more personal fit. Here are the instructions, straight from the Inov-8 site:

Since our footwear is based on the average runners’ foot, it is impossible to guarantee everyone a 100% fit. Prominent heel spurs can cause hot spots and in turn premature wear of the heel lining or blistering.

In the construction of our footwear, we use a soft thermosetting heel counter which means it is possible to alter the shape to the exact contours of the heel where necessary.

To do this apply heat to the inner heel area of the shoe with steam from a kettle (Please exercise caution when doing this) for approximately 30-60 seconds or until the heel counter softens. Put the shoes on immediately after when the temperature allows, and go for a short walk or run. The polymer thermosetting heel counter will reform to the new heel shape for a custom fit.

Disclaimer:
Extreme caution should be exercised when using steam and handling the heated product. This information is provided for guidance and does not constitute an agreement between you and inov-8. Neither inov-8 nor it’s affiliates can or will accept any liability for injuries caused.

After doing this, I can honestly say that I did not necessarily “feel” a difference, but I can now say that I have done it, and maybe there is a difference…

So, once I finished steaming them up, I wore them outside and ran a few laps around my yard. Considering that my yard is not much of a mountain, and is relatively flat I didn’t get to see how they would really perform, but that did not stop me from wearing them. I wore them for the next week and a half, right up until I took them on my first hike…

For my first hike, I left to hike a portion of the Appalachian Trail in Georgia. I left with a 20.8 pound backpack, a great weight for trail runners! The first day I hiked 20.2 miles along the uneven trail which was made up of hard, packed dirt and protruding rocks and roots. The second day I road (asphalt) hiked 9 miles.On this hike I was very happy with them. Not only was this my first hike in trail runners, but it was also my first 20 mile day-hike. There was a couple of times that I stepped wrong however I was easily able to regain control very quickly.  The soles did in fact grip pretty well to rocks (both wet and dry) and roots, and I also found that the lugs dug into the ground pretty well too. And the entire time my feet never felt hot. However, the road hike was a different story! Hiking 9 miles on the asphalt just about killed my feet, although, walking on asphalt with any shoes seems to kill my feet…

The only bad thing is that after the hike I found a tiny blister on the back of my right heel, almost on the bottom. Good thing is that had I not have seen it, I would have never noticed it was there. It was not painful at all, and I never felt a hot spot. So, I am wondering if this blister was actually from walking such a long distance in a short time, rather than from the shoes.

So, at this point, I am very happy with these shoes. Of course I don’t have much use on them so far, so the real test will come in time. But, at this point, I can say that I am happy that I moved to trail runners for these hikes. They seemed to perform well and I like to think that I could feel the difference in weight, but that may also be due to my light pack too!

So, I look forward to wearing these shoes on many other hikes, and will be sure to update if there is anything substantial that happens, or if my feelings simply change. Until then, thanks for reading. If you have any comments, please post them below, or even share your thoughts about your own Roclite 315’s!

~Stick~

13 Responses to Inov-8 Roclite 315 Trail Runners

  1. Pingback: Quick Look @ the MLD Light Snow Gaiters | Stick's Blog

  2. Tim says:

    Stick,

    If you liked your insurance plan and were still able to keep it, the best thing you can do is see a podiatrist and get fitted for arch support. Real arch inserts don’t go all the way to the toe, and if you do end up getting one from an outfitter on the trail, the full length ones subtract volume from the toe box, such that in a few hundred miles, you may just find some of your toenails blackened and primed to fall off, like I did. I had to wrap cloth tape around my big toe and use a little chap stick on the nail to keep that thing mercifully in place for a month before it finally, *gently*, fell off. Best advice I can tell you is don’t experiment with this concept on a thru-hike! Your feet are priority #1. I have seen the battle wounds of many a fallen brave hiker…who have choked the registers of outfitters along the AT with the sales of moleskin, insoles and trail shoes.

    I read on Whiteblaze the Merrell Moab Ventilators, (12 oz each having a 5mm Vibram tread) could last 1000 miles, but I’d almost bet the tops would fall apart just as fast if not faster than your 315s. Maybe the Vibram rubber is a little harder? I had a pair Merrell GoreTex boots with full Nubuck leather and about 6mm I think of Vibram rubber that only went 545 miles when the boots started to open in the front. That was after 100 miles of the worst rocks in PA. I walked another 100 miles, left toe box gaping open now but GoreTex still intact, to NY and picked up a pair I had mailed there 5 days earlier. I got a total of 645 miles, and the tread might have been good for another 200-300 miles if not for the holes where the outsoles were separating. If I were using them in GA/NC/TN/VA, I could see getting 1000 miles out of them. I think maybe the rocks took their toll. But get 1000 miles out of the tops of the Moabs? haha Not without a lot of Gorilla tape or thread!

    Thanks for the update!

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  3. Tim says:

    Hi Stick,

    It’s been almost a year since I last asked for an update. Have you had a chance to put a few more hundred miles on these, and how much more life do you think the treads have? How’s the toe protection? Any rocks through the uprights yet? Have any lugs broken off yet like you predicted?

    Have you done enough hiking in these, say for a week of high mileage days, where you can tell if your arch tendon became sore, e.g. how is the arch support? Having an average arch, I need an insole insert with a raised arch otherwise I get plantar fasciitis which is inflammation of the arch tendon. I hiked half of the AT with it, but until I went home, and stayed off my feet for a while, I wasn’t aware of the condition. Then it was a real chore to walk any short distance without noticing substantial discomfort.

    Since I wear a 12, medium width, I’d probably need a 12.5 like you. When I buy a shoe online, I ask for the measurement of the two longest dimensions of the insole because despite the use of standardized sizes, the ‘last’ used to form the shoe can cause variances in actual size. My foot is 11.8″ (toe to heel) by 4.25″ (max side to side, perpendicular to length) How do you think I’d fair with a 12.5?

    How flexible is the shoe? My understanding is a really stiff shoe that hinders the natural movement of the foot can lead to the body compensating in other areas and causing a lot of pain in knees and substantially increase energy expenditure.

    Another thing that concerns me is how absorbent the fabrics are to water, and if they are, how much water could the fabric of the shoe hold when saturated? That would add a lot of weight to the swing of the foot and represent a substantial expenditure of energy. A shoe that could stay drier while shedding water could be lighter on the foot. Looking at the base of the shoe, the fabric looks different from the more breathable mesh on top. Does this difference inhibit the draining of the shoe when it is raining and water runs down your leg into the shoe?

    Finally, any opinions or experience yet with minimalist shoes like you said you might be looking into? I wouldn’t wear those in PA/NJ because of the pointy rocks, but I think they *might* be comfortable enough in the first 1000 miles of the AT. If you have an article about minimalist shoes, you can just link me.

    Thanks in advance for any help you can provide.

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    • Stick says:

      Tim,

      Since our last interaction, I have only put another 100 miles on them. I used them on my Olympic Hike last September, and a few other smaller day hikes. Since then, the finer mesh on the top has started forming a hole, and I can tell that there is some wear on the shoe in general. Due to this, I decided to pick up some of the RocLite 243’s, and I have been wearing them since. So far, I have about 100 miles on them, and they are quite a different fit, although, the traction and grip is the same as on the 315’s.

      Saying that, I have not gotten rid of the 315’s, and feel like I could still get at least another 100 miles out of them, however, after that, I figure the uppers would start to be pretty trashed. Also, one of the shoe strings are wearing through, not that that matters, but I would need to change them pretty soon. But, I am keeping them around and will still wear them on some shorter day hikes. IMO, I feel like these are worth 500 miles, at least in the conditions I have used them in. I think the soles will still last a little longer, but the uppers wouldn’t.

      The longest that I hiked in them was for 7 days in the Olympics, and I had zero blisters, nor any pain in my arches, toes, or any where else. As for the arch support, that has also been fine for me. I haven’t done much studying into how a shoe fits, bit as I remember it, I also have normal arches. I did not replace the soles, or use any sort of inserts in them the entire time I hiked in them.

      As far as sizing, I feel like a 12 would have fit me fine. I ordered the 12.5’s because I heard that I should order up with these, and I bought them online. Being that the toe box was wide (for me), they did feel a bit roomy. However, Inov-8 has changed up their last’s at the beginning of 2013, so I am not sure if they would fit me the exact same if I bought another pair now. Because of this, I would likely just stick to the 12.5’s.

      The shoe seems flexible to me. I had no issues with any sort of knee pain, or felt like my gait was unnatural in any way. Of course though, this is my personal experience, and it is highly likely that others are more sensitive to these sorts of things…

      The shoes did a great job at draining water, and any water that did not immediately drain was forced out with each step I took. It never seemed to take that long for them to dry out, if the conditions allowed it.

      Of course I have not thru hiked, but with my experience with the 315’s and the 243’s, I would be happy wearing the 243’s for most of it, except for the rockier area’s, and then I think I would be fine using the 315’s.

      I hope this helps some!

      ~Stick~

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  4. Tim says:

    It seems you have had enough mileage to advise on my following question. How does it feel to “put one through the uprights” in these runners? You know…inadvertently kick a loose rock with extreme prejudice? We’ve all had that blessed experience at least once I’m sure, lol. Had one yet in these? How was it?

    And how about a summer update on the change in odometer and wear of this shoe, Stick!

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    • Stick says:

      Tim,

      I have got nothing to say but good things about my 315’s. They have held up great, and while I figure I only have round-about 300 miles on them, I feel like they have another 300 in them.

      As far as kicking rocks, I try not to do that even with boots… unless they are steel toe! 🙂 Anyway, I have not really laid into a rock, but I have smashed them against both rocks and roots. They absorb a bit of the shock, but there is only so much… On my last hike with them (to the Foothills Trail) I ended up loosing 2 toenails. I assume that this was because I didn’t cut them back short enough before the hike… either way, neither never gave me any issues. I just happened to notice that they were bruised under the nails when I got back from the hike.

      However, it seems that Inov-8 has changed some things up with many of their shoes lately… not sure if these were changed, but when I order another pair, it will be from somewhere that I can send them back if they do not fit the same…

      Hope this helps!

      ~Stick~

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  5. Tim says:

    I was fooling around with oxygen metabolism calorie equations a few months back trying to quantify and understand the cardiovascular reward of packing light. How does this reduce my demand for effort in a measurable way? Then I remembered the saying you mentioned, Stick, about the “one pound on the foot equaling five on the back”. I now had the means to test that expression.

    So I considered the caloric expenditure between a 186 lb and 191 lb variant of me hiking with an UL pack. I found that the caloric difference amounted very closely to the energy expended in having to accelerate the addition mass of 1 lb on my feet. You can rest assured there is sound science behind the saying.

    Now this doesn’t mean it “feels” like I have an extra 5 lbs IN my pack, unpleasantly torquing my shoulders. The equations assume your body is a “point mass” with all your weight concentrated in one tiny singularity. The expression relates only to the difference in cardiovascular demand and caloric expenditure, not any discomfort you might be feeling that makes your hike seem more exhausting.

    Then I got to thinking there are other movements that involve accelerating mass in the same way, like hiking poles in the hand. You would substantially reduced effort by simply not having to accelerate forward and rotate this mass in hand with each step in the same way lighter shoes would. I can’t remember exactly what my calculations resulted in for the hands, but the accelerations move over approximately the same distance as the feet, with the same frequency and in the same interval of time, leading me to recall I had a near similar result–1 for 5. Leaving those poles at home and hanging my hands in rests has a quantifiable reward–and less caloric expenditure means less food weight needed to compensate with. Reducing 1 lb from the feet and 1 lb from the hands means you can chuck about 10 peanut butter crackers per day = 270 calories/5000 calorie day= 2oz per day = about a 5.4% reduction in physical/cardiovascular effort.

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    • Stick says:

      Tim,

      I (think I) agree, the extra weight in my boots did not make me feel heavier… sorta… I do notice that when I am wearing my boots and climbing a large climb, the boots get awfully heavier feeling, which makes my whole body feel it. In lighter trail runners, I can tell I don’t get near as tired when on the trail as when I am wearing my boots. As well, at the end of a day, I can tell a huge difference between wearing boots vs trail runners (given the same amount of miles and terrain).

      As for the trekking poles… I understand that picking up a trekking pole with each step does indeed increase the amount of energy one needs, however, while more energy is being sent to the arms, there should be less being sent to the legs, which should even out…. right?

      Either way, this is my argument over the weight of the poles. My 4 oz LT4’s are hardly noticeable, especially when compared to my 16 oz BD poles, or my 18 oz Leki’s… By using my LT4’s, I am requiring half the amount of energy that I would need for the others… So, in theory, with lighter weight poles, the chance of equaling out the amount of energy between legs and arms is much more likely than when using heavier trekking poles…

      Anyway… now my head is hurting! Thanks…

      Really though, thanks for the feedback. I appreciate the comment. Well thought out, and full of great info. Thanks for sharing.

      ~Stick~

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    • Tim says:

      Stick, sorry, I should have done a better job explaining the physics of how shoes and trekking poles consume energy.

      When you put your foot on the ground, it stays still (remains fixed in place) during the other’s step. But at the end of that step, that still foot has to catch up to the other, so it has to accelerate forward, then decelerate to become planted on the ground again. This is where most of the energy (calories) are exhausted–in the lateral (side to side) accelerations (not up and down).

      It’s like the pistons in a car. Even when the car is still, it has to consume gas while the engine idles. The pistons are accelerating to the full range of their motion, where they become momentarily still and change direction. Your feet and hands are accelerating back and forth like those pistons. When you add more weight to those, it takes more energy to move them. That’s one reason why a V8 engine tends to be less economical than a 4 cylinder (in idle particularly)–the V8 engine has to accelerate/decelerate a greater amount of piston weight back and forth.

      You do have to carry that extra weight up and down hills too, but when you are walking on flat terrain, you will still see an increase in caloric expenditure of about 5% for each extra pound. That amounts to adding an extra 5 lbs to your body weight and walking the same course (flat or otherwise) for each extra pound on your feet (or your hands).

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  6. Chris says:

    Did you find that the lugs on the sole did indeed wear down quickly or rip off, or did they last longer than you expected?

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    • Stick says:

      Chris,

      So far I have about 300 miles on my 315’s, and I gotta say, I am impressed with them. I will say that this has not been 300 consecutive miles, but instead, spaced out on about 7 or 8 trips. The terrain has consisted of rocks (both smooth & jagged), sand and dirt, through water, ice, snow & mud and of course rooty.

      All of the lugs are all surprisingly still in tact, and I feel like they still have a lot of life left in them. They are still fairly sticky, but I can tell on wet rocks that they are not as sticky as the were when the were less used, although I still trust them.

      All in all, I really like the 315’s & feel comfortable recommending them to anyone else that would like to try trail runners. These were my first pair, and they have treated me right. Once they do wear out I will very likely go with another pair, however, I will admit, I have been eyeballing the 190 X-Talons… 🙂 Either way, I am an Inov-8 fan for sure.

      Hope this helps some!

      ~Stick~

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  7. Trek Guy says:

    Are you still loving these shoes? Enough firm support for rocky terrain?

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    • Stick says:

      Yes I am! I leave out in the morning for a sub 3 day, 75 mile hike of the AT through the Smokies. I will be wearing my Roclites happily!

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