Lightweight footwear specialist inov-8 has launched a new version of its super-lightweight hiking ROCLITE mid featuring the innovative Graphene-enhanced rubber compound.
The Graphene-enhanced rubber – it’s extracted from graphite mined in the Lake District and closely related to pencil lead – developed in partnership with Manchester University, was launched last year with the TerraUltra G 260 trail-running shoe and allows the use of a grippy, rubber compound without the high wear rates you’d normally expect from a softer sole material.
The stats are 50% stronger, 50% more elastic and 50% harder wearing than comparable conventional rubber, and based on our experience with the TerraUltra G it really does work. The rest of the shoe is effectively a mid-height version of the ROCLITE trail-running shoe – also now available with the Graphene-enhanced rubber – and is one of the lightest hiking mids or boots available. It comes in two versions, the ROCLITE 335 – without a waterproof liner – and the Gore-Tex-lined 345GTX. The numbers in the name relate to the weight of an individual shoe, so you can expect size eight examples of each to weigh 335g and 345g respectively.
‘Fast, grippy and very comfortable’
We’ve been using an earlier version of the mid-height ROCLITE for around six months now and it’s an excellent, super-light, fast, grippy and very comfortable hiking shoe. You don’t get a huge amount of rock protection underfoot, but there’s enough cushioning for day-long use and it’s superbly nimble and precise – like a running shoe in fact, but with more ankle protection and less time spent emptying shrapnel out of your socks. The one weakness of the shoe so far, has been that the sole unit, though grippy, has also worn relatively quickly with tread blocks wearing down and losing their sharp edges quite fast. All of which means the Graphene-enhanced version should make an already good shoe even better.
More Graphene Soon
The bigger picture is that inov-8 is looking to incorporate graphene in around 50% of its range and will be looking to use it to reduce weight in areas other than the outsole. It will, says inov-8 CEO Ian Bailey, ‘give us the potential to halve the weight of shoes without compromising on performance or durability.’ All of which is impressive stuff and underlines the brand’s determination to expand emphatically into the hiking and outdoor world alongside its trail-running range.
Both versions of the ROCLITE mid are available in men’s and women’s versions and can be purchased direct from https://www.inov-8.com/g-grip
The Gore-Tex version retails for £155 while the non-Gore model is just a fiver less at £150. Also available from inov-8 retailers. See https://www.inov-8.com