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    Inov-8 Roclite 315 GTX - Roc’ solid in all terrains, all weather

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    The Inov-8 Roclite 315 GTX is an excellent choice for an exceptionally durable, super grippy, lightweight, slightly minimalist, waterproof trail shoe that can handle just about any running conditions you could come across.

     

    Who the Roclite 315 GTX is perfect for?

    The Roclite 315 GTX is the waterproofed big brother of the Inov-8 Roclite G 275. I also reviewed both the graphene G 275 and the non-graphene version, the plain old Roclite275.

    I found all of these shoes were terrific for just about any situation you could find yourself running in, but not perfect in any of them. The 315 GTX is almost exactly the same as the G 275.

    They share the same outsole, same midsole, and same upper design. The only modification being the addition of a Gore-Tex upper lining that comes with its pros and cons.

    In the pros list, Gore-Tex water-seals the upper. On the cons list, Gore-Tex slightly decreases breathability, makes the shoe a smidgen stiffer, adds 40 grams (1.4 oz) to the shoe’s weight, and chalks up $15 on the price tag.

    Given this similarity, a lot of this review is going to sound similar to what I said about the G 275. However, I’ve made notes wherever the Gore-Tex (abbreviated GTX in the shoe’s label) upper makes a noticeable difference.

    I’ve also added some discussion in the “Look at the Competition” section about my thoughts on who might go with the waterproof 315 GTX over the non-waterproof G 275, and get into the nitty-gritty details on tradeoffs (spoiler alert: I don’t think the Gore-Tex is worth it for 95% of runners).

     

     

    All in all, the 315 GTX has three main assets: its versatility, its durability, and its accommodating fit.

    To the first point, the 315 GTX is a versatile shoe for running in an extreme range of conditions from icy mountain summits to muddy valleys to public parks on a drizzly day.

    It isn’t as specialized for a particular type of run or terrain as say, the Inov-8 X-Talon 200 (built specifically for speed on wet, muddy ground), but it is impressive just how well the 315 GTX works on such a wide range of different types of runs, surfaces, and weather conditions.

    Second, the shoe is also a standout in terms of durability and dependability. After around 50 miles of wear, the shoe looks and feels almost identical from the outsole all the way to the upper as it did fresh out of the box, plus a few dirt smudges.

    For a serious example of this durability, ultra-runner Jasmin Paris won a 268-mile rugged trail race wearing a single pair of the 315 GTX’s non-waterproof little brother, the G 275s for the entire course, while other runners were swapping out shoes multiple times.

    Third, the 315 GTX has a relatively accommodating upper that will work for a wide range of different foot shapes. The moderate/low stack height with an 8mm heel-toe drop will feel comfortable for everyone from the minimalist crowd to light heel strikers.

    For an in-depth review of the upper, midsole, and outsole, continue reading each section below.

    For a comparison of how the 315 GTX stacks up against competing trail shoes (including the non-waterproof version, the G 275), continue to the “Look at the Competition” section at the bottom.

    In-depth review, from top to bottom

    Upper

    The highlight of the Roclite 315 GTX’s upper is the addition of Gore-Tex that makes the shoe impermeably waterproof. You can wade around in ankle-deep puddles all day long, and no water is going to get in.

    That said, the Gore-Tex addition comes with some significant drawbacks. First, it makes the upper subtly, yet noticeably stiffer than the none-GTX version of the G 315.

    It’s not a major problem but is perceptibly less flexible, pinching a bit in some areas like the toe box.

     

     

    Second, for a fully waterproof shoe, the Roclite G 315 GTX is relatively breathable. It definitely isn’t as airtight as waterproofed leather boots that leave your feet feeling like they’re steaming in mini saunas.

    However, it is much less breathable than the non-GTX version and noticeably traps in heat. This is not an optimal shoe for hot days or runs when the rain isn’t pouring down.

    In contrast, the non-GTX 275 version breathes really well, letting heat and moisture escape efficiently.

    Third, because the 315 GTX is fully waterproof in both directions, when water does make its way in through the opening around the ankle, it doesn’t drain out easily.

    The non-GTX 275 version lets water in faster, but also drains it. That way, the shoe never gets totally waterlogged.

    In the 315 GTX, if you submerge your feet in a puddle that’s more than ankle depth or you’re out in heavy rain for a while, then the shoe fills up like a bucket.

    A fourth drawback is that the Gore-Tex lining adds a noticeable amount of weight: 40 grams (1.4 oz), to be exact. That doesn’t seem like much, but it’s almost 15% of the non-GTX shoe’s total weight and is clearly felt when alternating between the GTX and non-GTX versions.

    The extra ounce is especially noticeable over long distance runs or speed workouts where every ounce really matters. It’s up to you to decide if those tradeoffs are worth the waterproof benefits (for more thoughts, continue to the “Look at the Competition” section below).

    Other than the Gore-Tex addition, the upper on the 315 GTX is identical to the G 275. To summarize, the upper is made of a relatively seamless mesh that covers the Gore-Tex lining.

    It has a rubber toe cap and a series of overlays for added protection and a secure fit. The heel has another set of overlays to lock in the hindfoot.

    It is not as secure a heel fit as trail shoes with a truly rigid heel counter like the Salomon Sense Pro 4, but still has plenty of support and snugness even for those with mildly excessive calcaneus/subtalar movement.

     

     

    Inov-8 takes pride in designing their shoes from the ground up, starting with a purpose-built outsole, then designing the midsole on top of that, then crafting the upper last.

    This has advantages in delivering the best, grippiest outsoles on the market, but comes at the cost of uppers that feel, by comparison, like afterthoughts. The upper on the 315 GTX isn’t bad (in fact, I like it a lot), but it is underwhelming compared to the near-perfection of the midsole and outsole.

    While it has a generally accommodating fit, it is awkwardly a little loose in the heel and midfoot, weirdly pointy in the toe box, and has a smidge too much padding in the tongue, which causes it to crimp up a bit around the ankle.

    The upper isn’t dramatically off in any way. To be clear, I like the fit of the upper and feel secured and protected running in it. But, it just isn’t as finely crafted as the rest of the shoe.

    This fit will work well for a wide range of different foot shapes, unless you really need a snug heel or spacious toe box. For those who like to be generous to their toes, you may want to stick with Altra trail shoes or Inov-8s with a wider last like the Trailtalon 235.

    Despite that, the Roclite 315 GTX is still wider than most Salomons, which have a reputation for running a bit narrow.

    Last point on the upper: there are a lot of complaints in other reviews about the laces on the Rocliteseries, with reviewers saying they’re too long and too narrow.

    I don’t understand these complaints. In my opinion, the laces are fine. First, the thinness comes from the laces being made of a paracord-type material that feels extremely durable.

    Second, I never found the lace thinness to be an issue adjusting them even when they’re caked in mud or ice. They’re a little long, but not so long that they create a problem and can easily be tucked in or trimmed if they’re flopping around.

    Further, I’d much rather have slightly long laces than too short laces, which you can’t really work with and would need to be completely replaced. All that is to say, I think the lace complaints are just people finding something to nitpick about.

    Midsole

    The midsole of the Roclite 315 GTX is identical to the non-waterproofed G 275. It is unique among trail running shoes in that it has both a low stack height, low heel-toe-drop (8mm) minimalist feel, and a well-protected, moderate level of cushioning.

    Most trail shoes swing wildly in one of those two directions. I love the middle ground of the Roclite 315 GTX’s midsole.

    It gives exceptional ground feel, has plenty of pliability to allow the foot to flex naturally through the gait cycle. It has enough cushioning to keep feet and joints happy over long distance runs on any surface that is softer than solid concrete.

    It’s a happy medium that avoids being so minimalist that feet are constantly stabbed by rocks on the one hand (like the New Balance Minimus is guilty of), but also avoids being too dense so that there’s no ground feel and the ride feels ungainly (like the Altra Lone Peak might be accused of).

     

     

    The 8mm drop was a good choice. It’s low enough that all but the complete radical extremists in the minimalist crowd will be satiated, but not a full 0mm drop so that the majority of non-minimalist runners will still be able to wear the 315 GTX comfortably without fear of tearing their Achilles tendons.

    The stack height is high enough that forefoot, midfoot, and heel strikers should all feel pretty comfortable, even when jumping down on to rock. Also, the foam’s density is relatively plush.

    Even with its low stack height and excellent ground feel, the 315 GTX still feels softer underfoot than some higher stack height competitors with a denser foam, like the Salomon Sense Pro 4.

    My one word of caution about the midsole is that because it has a relatively low stack height, those with heavier impacting, longer gaits, or hard heel strikers might need something a bit more substantial in terms of cushioning (check out the Trailroc G 280, for example).

    The 315 GTX is also completely neutral, and although it feels remarkably stable for a neutral shoe (perhaps owing to its secure midfoot that supports the lateral arch while heel overlays lock down the hindfoot), those who need added stability features like a medial post should look elsewhere.

    I should, however, note that the 315 GTX has a removable sock liner and can accommodate inserts nicely for those who run with orthotics.

    None of this is a complaint about the 315 GTX, just a comment for readers who are trying to decide whether low, flexible arches or sensitive knees will be happy in these shoes or not.

    Outsole

    The outsole of the 315 GTX is the shoe’s most impressive feature. In my opinion, Inov-8 has had the best outsoles on the market since they entered the arena in 2003, and they’ve raised the bar even higher with the introduction of graphene rubber.

    It's a superlight carbon-infused in the rubber that improves durability while saving weight. There are two impressive features of the 315 GTX’s outsole: its grip over a wide range of surfaces, and its durability.

    In terms of grip, I found the 315 GTX’s outsole gripped perfectly well on everything from linoleum flooring, to wet logs, dry rocks, sand to snow. I tried hard, but I couldn’t find a place the shoe didn’t grip.

    This is impressive since there’s usually a tradeoff between trail shoes gripping well on hard smooth surfaces like solid rock or soft squishy surfaces like mud, but not both.

    Shoes like the Salomon Speedcross 5 and Inov-8 X-Talon series do the latter but not the former. Inversely, the Salomon Sense Pro 4 and Inov-8 Trailtalon series do the former but are not great at the latter.

    The 315 GTX does both very well. I found the Roclite 315 GTX’s outsole dramatically outperformed industry-leading outsoles from Salomon, Altra, and Vibram (like the one on the Hoka One One Evo Speedgoat).

     

     

    In terms of durability, I found the 315 GTX’s outsole held up amazingly well. After around 50 miles of wear, it looks and feels almost identical to how it was fresh out of the box.

    The outsole also wore down noticeably slower than the non-graphene version of the Roclite 315 GTX (see comparison photos below), and I have little doubt they’ll hold up to the hype in terms of long-term durability out to 500+ miles of wear.

    This exceptional durability has some members of the outdoors community jumping ship from brands like Salomon and headed toward longer lasting Inov-8 shoes.

     

    The non-graphene Roclite outsole (black and blue) compared to the graphene Roclite outsole (black and tan) after about the same amount of mileage.

     

    All this to say, yes, Inov-8’s graphene outsoles are impressive. Not to deflate this accomplishment, but to temper the marketing hype a little, consumers should know two things.

    First, the use of carbon in an outsole rubber is nothing new. Continental (used in some Adidas running shoes), among others, has been experimenting with carbon-infused rubbers for at least a decade. However, the use of this particular form of carbon, graphene, in running shoes is new.

    Second, in my experience, the durability limitations of the outsole of Inov-8 shoes have never been the weakest link. I’ve always needed to put my Inov-8s in the discard pile because they lost their cushioning, and/or their uppers stretched to the point where my feet started slipping around.

    In other words, the breaking point of my Inov-8 shoes hasn’t ever been the durability of the outsole. It has been the durability of the midsole and/or upper.

    Because most Inov-8s are fairly minimalist in terms of stack height when the midsole cushioning loses its spring, it really loses its cushioning, and the shoe basically becomes unwearable.

    There have been some efforts by Inov-8 to improve their midsoles’ cushioning with the introduction of new foams like “Powerflow,” but I still find the cushioning is consistently gone before the outsole loses its grip.

    The uppers on Inov-8s are also usually fairly minimalist and tend to start to stretch out and lose their snug fit long before the outsole grip is gone.

    That said, in this specific case, I think the copious use of midsole overlays on the 315 GTX (Inov-8 calls it their “Adapterweb”) will greatly improve the upper’s durability in this particular model,

    At around 50 miles, the midsole on the 315 GTX still feels just as snug as it did fresh out of the box. However, the midsole foam hasn’t been upgraded, and will probably be the first component to fail. Next innovation Inov-8 (if you’re listening) more durable midsole foam, please.

    In sum, I’m thoroughly impressed with Inov-8’s outsoles, and graphene rubber is a noticeable, welcome improvement.

    The competition

    The Roclite 315 GTX satisfies a tiny niche in the running shoe market for those who like a minimalist fit and feel, but still, need a substantial amount of cushioning and protection for rough conditions over long distances in wet weather.

    That cuts out a lot of the competition already, and I struggle to think of other shoes that fit in a similar category with the Roclite 315 GTX. Most trail shoes are either  the following:

    • Significantly more cushioned (e.g., the La Sportiva Bushido II)
    • Less cushioned (e.g., the Merrell Trailglove)
    • Do not come with Gore-Tex (e.g., the Salomon Sense Pro 4)

    So, given the lack of real competitors, I’d argue the Roclite 315 GTX’s biggest competition comes from within Inov-8’s own trail shoe line up.

     

     

    The most obvious competitor is the non-Gore-Tex version of the shoe, the Roclite G 275.

    As overviewed in the “Upper” section above, there are a lot of significant cons to choosing the Gore-Tex waterproofing. The shoe is heavier, stiffer, less breathable, more expensive (by $15), and does not drain water if it seeps in through the ankle opening.

    The non-Gore-Tex G 275 was also relatively water-resistant already since the upper was made of all synthetic materials, and drained moisture pretty effectively. Running in the G 275, I found my feet got damp in the rain but didn’t ever feel wildly uncomfortable.

    Further, that 40 grams (1.4 oz) of weight gain is significant since the whole selling point of the G 275 was that it was the lightest shoe in Inov-8’s Roclite line. So, in my opinion, the importance of being fully waterproof is a bit negligible in this case.

    The only circumstance I can see the 315 GTX being an optimal choice is for a fast packer or long-distance trail runner out on a rainy day who is trying to avoid the ankle abrasion endemic in mid-height trail shoes.

    If that very specific set of variables doesn’t describe your needs, maybe look elsewhere.

    The non-waterproof Roclite G 275 is an excellent choice. Your feet will get damp, but won’t slosh around, and you’ll be much more comfortable in a host of other non-rainy situations.

    Other water-resistant soft-ground oriented trail shoes that drain water effectively might also fit the bill, like the Inov-8 X-Talon 200, which is much lighter than the 315 GTX with lugs designed more specifically for wet, muddy ground.

    There's also the Salomon S/Lab Speed 2. A lighter option with more specialized soft-ground lugs and better water resistance.

    For fast packers needing all day protection from the rain and want added ankle protection, going with a mid-cut waterproof shoe will let you charge through puddles and stream crossings without worry. Check out the mid-height version of the 315 GTX, the Roclite 345 GTX, or the Altra Lone Peak Mid RSM.

    Both are marginally heavier than the Roclite 315 GTX. The Lone Peak is 12.9 oz, and the 345 GTX is 12.2 oz; versus the 315 GTX’s 11.1 oz, but has added ankle protection a mid-height cut.

    Conclusion

    I found the Inov-8 Roclite 315 GTX was an excellent shoe for everything from a distance run in the snow, to a light recovery run in the rain, to a tempo run across muddy fields.

    It will fit a wide range of different foot shapes, is exceptionally grippy and durable, and has remarkable ground feel coupled with excellent cushioning.

    However, there’s only a very narrow set of circumstances where I’d prefer this waterproofed Gore-Tex version of the shoe to its non-waterproof little brother, the Roclite G 275.

    In almost every case, I’d rather have the G 275 which is lighter, more breathable, more flexible, less expensive, version of the shoe that drains water effectively.

    The only situation I would recommend the 315 GTX over the G 275 is for trail runners or fast packers who are going out for all day adventures in the rain and prefer to use waterproof gaiters over mid-height boots to improve ankle mobility and reduce friction around the lower leg.

    If you’re checking that specific list of boxes, then the 315 GTX is a terrific choice.

  • 100 / 100 | Active Gear Review | | Level 3 expert

    The Inov-8 Roclite 315 GTX trail running shoe is ready for any adventure and will without question stand up to any challenge put in it's path.

  • 100 / 100 | Outdoor Gear Navigator | | Level 1 expert

    In summary, the shoes feel like they could be put through anything and they’d survive. The build quality and features mean that they are not the cheapest shoes on the market, but they will protect your feet, help you to stay upright in the toughest terrain and they might even improve your running.

  • 84 / 100 | Runner's World UK | | Level 1 expert

    ...if you’re looking for a waterproof shoe in which you can walk as well as race – and you can get the sizing just right – the Roclite 315 GTX ticks many of the right boxes.

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  • The X-Protec Fabric is found on the forefoot of the upper. The textile is Kevlar Technology that delivers significant protection as the runner is on the trail. Kevlar fabric is also tough, so it doesn’t just bring protection to the runner but also durability to the shoe.
  • The upper of the Inov-8 Roclite 315 GTX is windproof and waterproof thanks to the Invisible Fit Gore-Tex Technology. This membrane is fused directly with the uppe so runners won’t even notice that it is there. It also eliminates wrinkles and folds, minimizing the occurrence of pressure points and skin irritation.
  • On the shoe’s platform is the Meta-Shank plate. This component extends from the midfoot to the forefoot. It has a five-finger design which aligns with each metatarsal. This design allows flexibility while still delivering enough protection underfoot.
  • To increase the grip and decrease the possible wear garnered during trail runs, the outsole was designed with the Tri-C Compound, where the bottom of the shoe is made up of three kinds of rubber with varying levels of stickiness.
  • To indicate the level of cushioning on Inov-8 shoes, the Arrow System was created. On this particular one, the heel part on the midsole is marked with two arrows, which indicates a 2 Arrow Shock Zone. Typically, this means that the drop of the shoe, as well as cushioning, is in the medium range.

The GTX version of the Inov-8 Roclite 315 comes in standard running shoe sizes. Those who would want to get their pair can make use of their usual measurements. As for the width, it is determined using Inov-8’s fit scale. Grade 1 represents the industry B-fit, while Grade 5, the widest on the scale, represents 2E. This shoe ranks three on Invo-8’s Fit Scale, meaning that the width measurement is in the moderate range.

The bottom of this waterproof shoe is made with a Tri-C Compound. Specific areas are covered with three different kinds of rubber, differentiated by varying colors. On the forefoot is a black-colored medium sticky rubber, giving medium grip and durability. The grey area is made up of a soft rubber that gives way to flexibility. Lastly, the red hard, sticky rubber which was placed on a high-wear area, the heel, to deliver the most grip and protection against wear and tear.

This shoe was equipped with a Roclite trail outsole which was manufactured with a moderately aggressive lug pattern. The lugs are 6mm in depth. Each one has good spacing in between so debris are not easily trapped. The lug pattern was intended for hard packed trails and mixed terrain. The arrow-like lugs on the forefoot and back foot face the opposite direction for better grip on the terrains mentioned.

There’s a groove on the forefoot that runs from the side of the shoe to, almost, through the other side. The line can be recognized because it is marked with Meta-Flex. The main purpose of this line is to allow the forefoot to spring forward for more speed and power.

The PowerFlow midsole is incorporated as the shoe’s platform. It is a unique compound by Inov-8 that, compared to standard midsoles, delivers 10% better shock absorption when the runner’s foot lands, and 15% more energy return when the runner toes off or is in motion. The dynamic results in a protected yet energized ride.

From the midfoot to the forefoot, an extra plate of protection was added. The plate is called the Meta-Shank. It was formed with a five-finger design. Each extension aligns with each metatarsal on the foot for enhanced underfoot protection without sacrificing the flexibility.

On the back of the midsole platform, there are two arrows marked on the base of the heel. This indicates that the midsole has a 2 Arrow Shock Zone – moderate underfoot cushioning. Plus, with a heel-to-toe measurement of 8mm, this type of Shock Zone encourages more natural running movement and body alignment.

The upper has the X-Protec technology which is composed of Kevlar fibers. Kevlar is a heat-resistant and sturdy synthetic fiber which has plenty of applications in the market because of its high tensile strength-to-weight ratio, meaning it’s pretty strong for something light. On this shoe, it was intended to elevate durability and protection, while still maintaining breathability and lightness.

Bonded directly to the upper is the Invisible Fit Gore-Tex membrane. Because of this incorporation technique, runners won’t be able to notice that there’s another layer added to make the shoe waterproof and windproof. The upper is smoother too, minimizing wrinkles, folds, and pressure points, and minimizing the likelihood of skin irritation.

The lacing system comes with durable flat laces, connected to the AdapterWeb Cradle. This design is a synthetic webbing that is concentrated on the midfoot area, slightly locking this part of the foot down as the laces are tightened. Doing this also secures the fit of the shoe. However, the AdapterWeb has elastic characteristics, and it adapts to the natural swelling of the foot while in motion.

The tongue has been gusseted, so it integrates to the upper comfortably, preventing debris from entering while providing that additional comfort on the instep.

To support the heel, the EHC or the External Heel Cage was introduced. This cage wraps around the rear of the foot, providing that moderate hold to the heel while the runner is over the trail. On top of this, the EHC also enhances the fit of the upper, making the runner feel more secure during runs.

There is a Toe Cap that contributes to the durability of the upper. Also, its main purpose is to shield the toes from objects that runners can potentially stub their toes on while trail running. It prevents bruising and injury.

There are Gaiter Hooks on the upper to make way for the secure attachment of the All-Terrain Gaiter. The hooks are a convenient auxiliary component for those who wish to attach a Gaiter for extra protection.

Author
Jens Jakob Andersen
Jens Jakob Andersen

Jens Jakob is a fan of short distances with a 5K PR at 15:58 minutes. Based on 35 million race results, he's among the fastest 0.2% runners. Jens Jakob previously owned a running store, when he was also a competitive runner. His work is regularly featured in The New York Times, Washington Post, BBC and the likes as well as peer-reviewed journals. Finally, he has been a guest on +30 podcasts on running.

jens@runrepeat.com