If you live in England, Wales or Scotland, take a weekend walking in the Peak District. Whilst you’re there pop in to Outside in Hathersage and get Mike Pickwell (head of their footwear dept.) to fit you with a pair of Inov8 Terrocs.
They are the most amazingly comfortable, functional footwear. Always assuming they fit your shape of foot of course – but they are very soft and flexible so I expect they fit more than most.
You’ve probably heard of their lightness, their comfort, their ability to dry even after stream crossings. Well, from what I can tell from the last eight days we’ve had them on the hill everything you’ve heard is true.
Three of the Iceland crew have been wearing them; myself, LB and Kev. They also come in women’s specific fit which does actually seem to be a differently designed shoe. We tried them with Smartwool socks, up a clough scramble to get our feet nicely wet with the air temperature at only about 6C (43F) and water a couple of degrees less. Afterwards, everyone’s feet became warm, and eventually dry, as the day progressed and were never uncomfortable.
On a colder, wetter day we found that our feet didn’t dry. But reversing the route the next day with us all wearing Sealskinz socks instead of Smartwools we found it perfectly comfortable.
To me, they’re far preferable to an eVent or Gore Tex lined shoe since when a lined shoe leaks (and they will, one way or another) you are stuck with a plastic bag full of water on your foot, which generally refuses to dry.
Since we’re going to be crossing many small waterways in Iceland, their ability to dry is invaluable. I’ve tried crossing (very shallow!) glacial-melt barefoot and it’s not something I want to repeat. I’ve also looked at carrying sandals but I’d rather avoid the weight. These look to be a good solution. Combined with some waterproof Sealskinz if our feet get too cold, I think they’ll do everything we need.
Of course it’s early days so I can’t comment on their durability which I know Lighthiker had a slight problem with. I’m not expecting them to be as durable as a leather boot though and fortunately I think the price reflects that fairly well. They’re about two thirds of the price of a really sturdy pair of three season clumpers.
What was also interesting was that in the first day’s walking, I got a single, very sore quadriceps muscle. It was the one quad that’s weaker than the others and that I’ve been doing physio-advised exercises to strengthen (thanks Rachel!). The fact that just that one muscle was sore, and the rest weren’t suggests to me that my leg is working in a far more natural way whilst wearing them. With all the muscles doing their share of the work. Making less strain on the knees and more energy transmission into actually propelling me along. Since then we’ve all noticed that our feet seem to be tired in an “unusual” way. As if muscles in them have been working more than usual.
Whether it’s the weight, the improved bio-mechanics or both, we’ve found that we really fly along wearing these. We did a route recently that we’d done last year, whilst at a relatively similar level of fitness and we found it was far too short. We could have done it in half the time easily.
I’d been thinking of getting them last year but hadn’t found a shop where I could try them on. It was an interview with Mat Hazley that convinced me (not sure which one – one of Bob’s perhaps?). Initially he rejected them as too odd-feeling. But then he was sent a trial pair, free, by the owner of Inov8. Once he’d tried them on the trail rather than the shop floor he was convinced. He now says he wouldn’t wear anything else. I already know how he feels.
Are they the ultimate walking shoe? No. Such things only exist in the breathless, sticky dreams of marketing folk. But for the summer they’re certainly the best we’ve found.
The only question I have now is; why didn’t I get them last year?