I wanted to find a new set of trail running shoes for the Kevo canyon hike, so I drove up to a larger store a few weeks before the hike. In several stores, I’ve tried all the trail running shoes available and come away with not one that would match my wide last. So I was overjoyed when I found what seemed to be the perfect match: a trail running shoe with excellent grip, good toe protection, good feel for the terrain and enough cushioning to support my weight. When it was 40% off, it was an easy sale.

That shoes’s name? Albert Einst… no, wait, The Inov-8 Roclite 275.

How are the Inov-8 Roclite 275 for hiking?

Before the Kevo hike I did several exercises in the local ski center to break in the shoes, mainly going after vertical ascent in meters. On both wooden stairs and gravel, the shoes felt grippy, comfortable and acceptably cushioned.

Now, by body-mass index, I am over 20kg overweight. And when hiking with a 10+kg backpack, the shoes have to carry around 105kg of weight. So whether running or hiking, I need cushioning. Preferably a lot. Compared to the Hoka One One ATR Wide, these shoes have almost no cushioning. But when hiking, too much cushioning will ruin your feel for the terrain, possibly inducing slips and falls. So I was looking at a good compromise. With the Roclite 275 I felt like I probably found it.

Several hundred vertical meters of ascent each day, slippery stairs and duckboard, razor sharp rocks, fields of nothing but rocks jutting out from the fellside and hard packed dirt were just some of the surfaces the shoes needed to carry me through during the hike. So I’m not going to lie: when setting out, I had a nagging doubt in my mind about whether my feet would kill me after the first day of hiking the canyon. And during the first hours, it felt like my fears might not be unfounded. The soles of my feet hurt with a dull ache. It was familiar, but during break in exercises, it had always gone away quickly. But then, I hadn’t carried so much weight.

However, after about two hours of walking, the dull ache went away and stayed away pretty much the rest of the trip. Over the next four days, and 63km, the shoes were perfect to hike in. Grippy, lightweight, quick to dry. I was able to balance on sharp rocks every bit as well as my friend with traditional hiking shoes. I had a good feel for the rock, but enough protection that it didn’t hurt.

After the initial period of uncomforted, I found them exceedingly comfortable on the feet. I had Crocs as camp shoes, but only after the heaviest day did I bother to switch to using the Crocs at the camp. Of course my feet hurt a little after a day of hiking, but that’s the good kind: the day’s work is done type of ache.

About my only complaint is with the round shoe laces. I had to double knot them to keep them from coming open. So in grand scheme of things, very minor.

What about running?

I said to my hiking pal that I can understand how the underweight ultra runners can run ultra marathons on these shoes, but I could never use them for running. For this review, I had to break my word. I went on a 9km run/jog/speed hike over asphalt, gravel and narrow needle paths. I could do it, and my feet hurt less than anticipated. But they still hurt far worse than with the same run using the Hoka One One ATR shoes. So if you’re overweight, look for a different pair of shoes for running. I would say that running with the Roclites on needle track feels about the same as running on asphalt with the Hokas.

I’m not taken aback by this. In my view, shoes are a commodity more than almost any other piece of equipment we use. Good ones last 1000km. Bad ones less than 500km. If you split the wear over multiple pairs, each can focus on the duty it does best, and each pair lasts longer than only using a single pair for everything. Also you can let the shoes dry properly by alternating between the shoes, prolonging their usable life.

Conclusions

If I find a good pair of shoes that does it’s job, I often keep buying it until the design or fit changes. I am sure I will be buying new pairs of the Inov-8 Roclite 275 for hiking and outdoorsy stuff until they ruin the shoe for me by changing the fit, or stop making it.

What I liked:

+ Toe protection

+ Light weight

+ Excellent Grip

+ Dries quick enough

+ Terrain feel

Dislikes:

– Shoelaces sometimes come open

– Cushion for running (but this is the downside for having a good feel for the terrain)

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