Wonderfully versatile, I found myself reaching for the ROCLITE V2s for all manner of winter activities regardless of what the weather was doing. Admittedly, they’re a bit of a jack of all trades – there are obviously lighter trail shoes for race day and more protective hiking shoes for technical outings. Nevertheless, I found them to be comfortable and high performing in a range of scenarios.
Durable graphene outsole
Heavier than none GTX options
Waterproof runners are not for everyone
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inov-8 ROCLITE G 315 V2: first impressions
With the ROCLITE G 315 GTX V2, inov-8 says that it is ‘bringing the worlds of hiking and trail running together’ with a waterproof shoe that’s designed with winter in mind. As someone who loves going fast and light and, for many years, did all his hiking in trail running shoes anyway, this sounded exactly like my kind of shoe.
Let’s get into the features. The ROCLITE V2s weighs in at 315g (10.67oz), which is ultralight in terms of hiking but slightly heavy for trail running. It features an 8mm drop that will suit heel strikers and they're armed with 6mm lugs for gripping muddy terrain. The rubber outsole's enhanced with graphene for durability and sticky traction on rock. There’s GORE-TEX waterproofing, yet they’re cut low like any other trail shoe, so there’s always the chance water will seep in from above.
So, it’s clear there are a couple of compromises, which is always going to happen with hybrid footwear. The question is, does the ROCLITE hold its own as both a trail running shoe and as a hiking shoe? I put it to the test, running on muddy trails and snowy fells, as well as taking it on long walks in a variety of settings.
One of inov-8’s biggest selling points is their use of graphene in their rubber outsoles. Graphene is the world’s strongest material, delivering not only superb durability and strength but also ironclad traction on rock and trail surfaces.
List price: $175.00 (US) / £155.00 (UK)
Weight (per shoe): 315g / 10.67oz
Materials: Graphene enhanced rubber outsole / POWERFLOW MAX foam midsole
Colors: Grey, black, red, and more
Best for: winter trail runs and hiking in summer and the shoulder seasons
The outsole also features textured 6mm lugs, designed to be deep enough to grip mud, while giving enough surface area to give the wearer confidence when moving on flat, rocky slabs. The lugs are larger and there’s less space between them than on inov-8’s X-Talon 255, so they don’t shed gloopy dirt quite as effectively, but this is the compromise you expect for such a multi-purpose sole.
The midsole has a drop of 8mm, which places the ROCLITE V2s in the heel-striking camp, so they won’t attract fans of a barefoot style. The POWERFLOW MAX foam provides a nice amount of cushioning without sacrificing too much trail feel and gives the wearer a little extra propulsion.
There’s also a rock plate and a front-end bumper, providing a good degree of protection against abrasion. While this is great for most day hikes in summer and the shoulder seasons, technical winter hiking calls for something more robust than this, such as a more protective hiking boot or even a winter hiking boot for adventures above the snow line.
The upper boasts a GORE-TEX membrane to keep the drink out. Some runners prefer their winter shoes not to have waterproofing, as water can still get in over the top, in which case the GORE-TEX holds it in. However, I found that my feet were generally kept much drier and therefore more comfortable in the ROCLITE V2s than if I had been wearing a standard pair of runners.
On the trails
During the test period, I saw all sides of the British winter. Arctic air from the north brought around a sustained cold snap and then south westerlies took control again, subjecting the trails to warm, wet and windy conditions for a couple of weeks. This meant I was able to test the ROCLITE V2s on saturated, muddy ground, as well as on crisp, snowy fellsides.
In terms of fit, the ROCLITE V2s are medium width and fitted my foot quite snuggly, giving me a confidence-enhancing, locked-in feel. On speedy descents, I found that there was very little in the way of slippage.
As a mud gripper, the 6mm lugs perform well on all but the most horrendously gloopy surfaces. On forest trails after substantial rainfall, they did slip around. However, I took two pairs of dedicated mud conquerors, the Salomon Speedcross 6s and the X-Talon 255 V2s, on similar runs over the same week and they weren’t coping that much better. So, it’d be unfair to criticise the ROCLITE V2s too much on this, they’re only slightly behind the best in the business.
On rock, they’re very good indeed. The graphene enhanced rubber grips strongly, giving you the green light to approach scrambling ground with confidence. I was even able to test them on a snowy run or two, albeit in above freezing temperatures, so I can’t vouch for any kind of grip on icy surfaces. Nevertheless, on descents over fairly compacted snow, they gripped admirably and I was able to let the handbrake off completely and enjoy bounding downwards at speed.
As already mentioned, my feet remained mostly dry throughout my various runs and hikes. The penalty for waterproof and winter-ready qualities is weight – the ROCLITE V2s are heavier than most standard trail running shoes. So, when the daffodils begin to flower and the last snow has melted, I’ll turn to lighter pairs for a run.
However, for me, this is when the ROCLITE V2s will come into their own for day hikes. They’ll keep my feet dry from showers, drizzle and the occasional puddle, while being lightweight and comfortable for mile after mile. It's this versatility that really makes these great shoes stand out.
Alex is a freelance adventure writer and mountain leader with an insatiable passion for the mountains. A Cumbrian born and bred, his native English Lake District has a special place in his heart, though he is at least equally happy in North Wales, the Scottish Highlands or the European Alps. Through his hiking, mountaineering, climbing and trail running adventures, Alex aims to inspire others to get outdoors. He is currently President of the London Mountaineering Club, training to become a winter mountain leader, looking to finally finish bagging all the Wainwright fells of the Lake District and hoping to scale more Alpine 4000ers when circumstances allow. Find out more at www.alexfoxfield.com