THE BIG TEST: WALKING SHOES VS. WALKING BOOTS (2018)

Trail shoes are popular in summer but do they have their limits when heading into the mountains? To find out, Trail headed into the heart of the Lake District with three pairs of trail shoes and three pairs of 3-season boots from across the price ranges.

DSC_0523.jpg

THE RUNNERS UP


Hi-Tec Wild-Fire Low i WP £70

Tester: Graham Thompson

DSC_0576.jpg
  • Material Upper suede and synthetic mesh, Dri-Tec waterproof lining

  • Sole M-D Traction sole

  • Men’s 6-13 n Women’s 3-8

  • Weight 1202g (size 11) 

On paper, this lower-priced shoe has all the basic features needed for walking outdoors: a waterproof lining, some reinforcement in the toe box and heel cup, and an external synthetic toe cap and heel cup to protect these areas from abrasion. Underfoot there are some quite aggressive sole lugs, but you don’t get a substantial heel breast for added traction. Once on, this did not provide the closeness of fit of other shoes either. On rocky paths it was noticeable how little stiffness there was in the forefoot of the sole, as jagged rocks easily pressed through, leading to discomfort. So while the cushioning works well on level paths, as soon as the terrain becomes rocky, the drawbacks of this shoe are very noticeable.

Pros

Price, weight, comfort on level paths without rocks, waterproof

Cons

Even level rocky paths caused the sole to flex too much to maintain comfort, lack of heel breast limits grip on muddy slopes, upper is unlikely to be as durable as those with less stitching and less mesh

Buy it if

You want a shoe just for forest tracks or moorland paths rather than anything too rough
and rocky


Keen Targhee II £100

Tester: Anna Humphries

DSC_0354.jpg
  • Material Upper suede leather and synthetic mesh, Keen.Dry waterproof lining

  • Sole 4mm deep lugs

  • Men’s 6-16 n Women’s 2.5-8.5

  • Weight 824g (size 7)

A well-established shoe that carries the Keen trademark design of a broad toe box with the sole rubber extending over the toe for more durability. The upper is leather and synthetic mesh, and there’s a waterproof lining to keep feet dry. You also get Cleansport NXT treatment to control odour. This shoe was noticeably wider than others, and they felt a little too wide once I got onto the rockier ground, as the edges tended to roll off smaller holds and my foot moved side to side within the shoe. The foot space was great on level paths though. The outsoles performed well on paths and there was enough stiffness to prevent rocks poking into my foot. Like others, a deep heel breast would give better grip.

Pros

Good lugs for grip, reasonable stiffness to make rocky paths comfortable, good toe protection

Cons

Wider forefoot is a drawback on rockier ground, needs a deeper heel breast for slopes and more stiffness for rocky terrain, upper unlikely to be as durable as those with less stitching and less mesh

Buy it if

You have a wider foot, or are walking on level paths and want better protection against stones


Meindl Meran GTX £214

Tester: Tim Butcher

DSC_0905.jpg
  • Material Nubuck leather, Gore-Tex waterproof lining

  • Sole Vibram Meindl Multigrip 3

  • Men’s 6-15 n Women’s 4-8

  • Weight 1642g (size 12) 

On the shelf these look like stunning boots, with a wider fit as standard, a full leather upper, a Gore-Tex lining and a Meindl Multigrip sole. First impressions are of great comfort, with a soft footbed and higher than average ankle cuff which together provide cushioning underfoot and gentle support and protection for the ankle on well-maintained paths and grassy fells. The sole unit was a surprise when we hit rockier ground though, as it flexed and twisted far more than other 3-season boots I’ve come to trust, and the softness meant I felt every rock through the flexible sole. The lugs were not as deep as I’d have liked, so grip was not ideal, especially on rock and scree. The Meran GTX would be ideal for moorland paths, forest tracks and boggier ground where its overall comfort and waterproof lining would excel – but on rockier ground I’d prefer more stiffness and deeper lugs.

Pros

Comfort, soft ankle support, wider fit than standard Meindl boots

Cons

Outsole did not offer the same depth of lugs or stiffness as others

Buy it if

You want a very comfy boot for use on easier paths, moorland and boggy ground


DSC_0617.jpg

The Top Three


Anatom Q2 Classic/Q2 Ultralight £140

Tester: Graham Thompson

Is this low-priced leather boot the best alternative to shoes in the mountains – or is it worth paying more?

DSC_0318.jpg
  • Material Full grain leather, waterproof tri.aria lining

  • Sole Vibram Grivola

  • Men’s 41-47 (Q2 Classic)

  • Women’s 37-42 (Q2 Ultralight)

  • Weight 1546g (size 46)

It’s good

For the price the Anatom Q2 has become a benchmark product, as it offers most of what hillwalkers need. This prized package includes a relatively stitch-free leather upper, with no mesh, which means durability is great. The toe box is well stiffened, and the ankle cuff provides enough support to protect the foot when stepping through rivers, crossing moorland bogs or rubbing your feet against rocks during scrambles or scree crossings. 

Underfoot there’s a nice deep set of well-spaced lugs, as well as a substantial heel breast, so this sole really does bite into softer ground better than shoes or boots with more shallow lugs. 

Importantly the sole is also well stiffened, so you can securely stand on jagged rocks without the boot flexing too much. But the sole still has enough flex to make walking on easier paths comfortable. 

In terms of fit, these fitted well. Overall it was a relief to get these on in place of the bendier shoes I was wearing.

However

At this price you can’t expect perfection, and some higher-priced boots do offer better performance. While the Q2 fitted me and performed well on rocky scrambles, other boots have a closer and neater fit that allows far more precise placement. 

Some pricier boots also have a more controlled flex from toe to heel, so you get comfort for level paths but with a little more stiffness and support when scrambling. The boot tended to buckle and bend more than is ideal for scrambling, so while scrambles were still possible they would be easier in some pricier boots. The upper seems very durable, but the rands on higher priced boots would be more so.

Verdict

Superb performance for the price when used on a wide range of terrain – but spend more and you’ll get a lighter, more precise feel and fit.

  • Features 4/5

  • Fit 4/5

  • Comfort 4/5

  • In use 4/5

  • Value for money 5/5

  • OVERALL SCORE 84%


Asolo Finder GV £178 

Tester: Anna Humphries

Does the extra precision of fit and increased performance on rock make this the best choice for hillwalkers for an all-round do-anything boot? 

DSC_0796.jpg
  • Material Suede leather, Cordura synthetic materials, Gore-Tex waterproof lining

  • Sole Asolo/Vibram Duo Radiant

  • Men’s 6-13.5

  • Women’s 3.5-9

  • Weight 1034g (size 7)

It’s good

Designed as an entry-level model, but one that offers a welcome step forward in performance compared to lower priced products, the Finder GV is built around a suede leather upper with Cordura synthetic materials and a Gore-Tex waterproof lining. This made it a great boot to step straight into as the material slowly loosened to fit my foot shape. 

Underfoot there is a very good sole unit with deep lugs and a substantial heel breast to provide grip. On the foot this felt quite neat and precise, with a solid heel grip and a great feel at the toe that was ideal for scrambling. The sole flexed enough to make walking on easier ground comfortable, but also provided all the support I needed over rockier ground. 

It was also nice to see a boot designed for women without the requisite pink flashes to prove it!

However

The upper is a mix of suede leather and Cordura with minimal stitching, but paying more would get an upper with a bonded rather than stitched construction for no seams, while a one-piece leather upper would be even more durable. Also the rubber rands on higher priced boots would be even more durable. The precision of fit was great, but you can get boots that offer even more precise foot placement when scrambling. 

The sole stiffness was superb, but pricier boots might have stiffer soles that offer an even smoother role for the optimum in toe to heel comfort when walking. These are all minor niggles and only come into play if you are going to be out on the rockier hills regularly as for most hillwalkers it is hard to justify paying more. This is a great boot for sure, but pay more and you could get even more comfort and precision.

Verdict

This all-rounder is ideal for most walkers, but if you can afford to pay more then even better performance can be found.

  • Features 4/5

  • Fit 5/5

  • Comfort 5/5

  • In use 4/5

  • Value for money 4/5

  • OVERALL SCORE 88%

Best-in-test.gif
 

DSC_0035.jpg

Scarpa Mescalito £160 

Tester: Tim Butcher

Can the best shoes compare to a boot for a wide range of terrain... or should they stick to what they do best?

  • Material Suede leather

  • Sole Vibram Dynamis LBT

  • Men’s 40-47

  • Women’s n/a

  • Weight 1062g (size 47)

It’s good

I can see why this is a popular shoe with outdoor instructors and climbers, as it’s designed for technical approach routes to crags, such as scrambles and rockier paths – and it was certainly comfortable enough to be worn all day. 

The good-looking upper is suede leather, but without a Gore-Tex waterproof lining I had to be careful where I stepped. The fit is neat and precise, with lacing that extends right to the toe keeping my foot secure, and there’s good cushioning underfoot, so my feet remained comfy, even during the long descent at the end of the day. 

Even without huge lugs or a defined heel breast, grip was assured as we descended in the rain down a man-made stone pitched path. But this shoe really stood out from the crowd when scrambling, with great sole stiffness in the forefoot and toe area. I’d certainly choose these, rather than any boot I own, for scrambling up reasonably difficult rock routes. 

However

Although my feet were dry on Great Gable, for sustained walking on wet days in the hills boots with a high ankle cuff and a Gore-Tex lining will keep feet drier and more comfortable for longer. And when crossing steep scree, I needed far more support than a shoe can offer, and I was pleased to have the option of a pair of boots to swap into at such times. 

While the sole was great for scrambling over rock, the shallow lugs and absence of a heel breast would make descending wet grass and boggier paths quite dicey. 

These are great shoes for what they are intended for, but are an expensive luxury for footwear that’s not ideal on all mountain conditions. Boots will always have their place for big mountain days where you’ll meet a wider range of terrain. 

Verdict

 Ideal for scrambling over rock and very comfortable on rocky paths, but for a wider range of terrain other shoes and boots have real benefits.

  • Features 3/5

  • Fit 4/5

  • Comfort 4/5

  • In use 4/5

  • Value for money 3/5

  • OVERALL SCORE 72%


For the latest reviews - including extra photos and products that won't appear online - 
pick up a copy of the current issue of Trail magazine!


Best for budget: Trail shoes review (2018)

Best Kit across the price bands

Trail shoes are lighter and more comfortable than boots, and most are a lower price too, which makes them ideal for walking and backpacking along good paths. But some can be taken on more challenging terrain while those described as ‘approach shoes’ are particularly good on rockier ground.

How-to-buy.jpg

What to Expect: Up to £100

At this price, you are getting the basics needed to walk comfortably along footpaths that are not too rough underfoot. The shoes are generally well-cushioned and quite flexible in the sole when flexed from toe to heel, as well as when twisted between the forefoot and heel. This makes them great for walking on level surfaces, but less suited to rougher terrain. The lugs on the sole will be relatively shallow, which again is fine for easier paths, but for more rugged ground deep lugs will offer more grip and longer-term wear. The upper may have more mesh for low weight and improved comfort, but it’s less likely to have any additional reinforcement – such as rubber rands, for example – to increase durability.

What to Expect: From £101 to £125

Shoes in this price band offer more durability on rougher terrain and may use less mesh or have additional rubber rands. These shoes may also benefit from stiffening in the heel cup and toe box to make them more suitable for uneven or rockier ground. The sole unit will have a deeper set of well-spaced lugs and, hopefully, a heel breast to ensure better grip on softer ground. There may also be more stiffness in the sole to ensure that jagged rocks do not place too much pressure on the foot when traversing rockier ground. These shoes are ideal for those who want a little more performance and durability than is offered in the lowest price band.

What to Expect: From £126

Optimum levels of performance and durability are available in this price band, making it a better bet for regular use. You’re likely to see more durable upper materials, along with rubber reinforcements, in this price bracket. The sole may be stiffened to improve performance on rockier ground and you may see even more pronounced lugs on the sole for better grip. More specialised products may include stiffer soles and sticky rubber for climbing over rocks. Some very lightweight products, using the latest tech, may also be available.


Hi-Tec Wildfire Low 1 WP £70

  • Men’s 6-13
  • Women’s 3-8
  • Weight 1066g (size 11 pair) 

It's good

The low price tag is instantly appealing, and you also get some good features. The shoe has a suede leather and mesh upper with a Dri-Tec waterproof lining. But you also get an i-shield treatment on the outside to repel water. The toe box and heel cup are reasonably stiffened, to support and protect the foot, which is good for uneven paths. Underfoot the sole lugs are reasonably deep and well-spaced for good grip, and there is some stiffness in the forefoot area of the sole to help resist pressure from jagged stones. There’s also a good wedge of cushioning under the heel to make walks on firm paths comfy. 

However

This shoe provides a slightly clumpy walking experience compared to higher-priced shoes that tend to contour to the foot and move more naturally as you walk. A deeper heel breast would be nice and, while the lugs are good, we’ve tried better. The sole is not as stiff as it could be and other shoes have less mesh on the upper and stiffer rubber reinforcement at the toe for more durability. 

Verdict

For those on tight budgets, this shoe is great for walks on valley and moorland paths.

  • Features 3/5
  • Fit 4/5
  • Comfort 4/5
  • In use 3/5
  • Value for money 5/5
  • OVERALL SCORE 76%

Berghaus Expeditor ACT AQ Tech £95

  • Men’s 7-12
  • Women’s 4-8
  • Weight 944g (size 11 pair) 

It's good

This is a low weight shoe at a relatively low price. The Pittards suede leather upper has perforations on the sides to increase breathability with some mesh around the tongue. An AQ waterproof breathable lining keeps your feet dry. There is some good stiffness in the heel cup and toe box to provide support and protection. The outsole uses well spaced lugs and there is a slight heel breast, so this all adds up to reasonable grip on muddy paths. Importantly, there is also enough stiffness in the sole to resist pressure from rocks. A good all-rounder.

However

While the features are generally good for easier paths, other shoes offer even more benefits. Some shoes have deeper lugs on the sole for even better grip in mud and a more pronounced heel breast for improved breaking when descending. A dedicated approach shoe style is also better for scrambling. Others are more durable if they have a rubber rand or if they have less stitching. Of course all those benefits would add weight and cost though.

Verdict

A very good shoe for walking on general paths, but if the going gets too muddy or too rocky then others are better and more durable.

  • Features 3/5
  • Fit 5/5
  • Comfort 4/5
  • In use 3/5
  • Value for money 5/5
  • OVERALL SCORE 80%

Keen Targhee III WP £100

  • Men’s 6.5-16
  • Women’s 2.5-8.5
  • Weight 1088g (size 11 pair) 

It's good

This shoe is available in an exceptionally broad range of sizes. Plus, on the foot, the forefoot area is slightly more spacious than others, with a good fit at the heel. You also get a more durable shoe than most – a very robust upper, made from full-grain leather, with far less stitching than other shoes at this price and no open mesh. The sole rubber extends around the toe box for even more durability. Underfoot the lugs are reasonably deep and well-spaced to provide grip in softer ground. Inside there is a Keen Dry waterproof lining. In use this provides a comfortable walk.

However

The sole is quite flexible, so on rockier ground it may not be as comfortable as a higher-priced shoe. Also while the lugs are quite good, you might want something more aggressive. A more pronounced heel breast to improve grip during descents would be ideal too. The sole is not the best at resisting pressure, so may not be ideal if you plan on walking over rockier ground. But on earth or grass paths it performs well.

Verdict

The spacious forefoot, durable design and decent sole lugs make this a good shoe for easier path walks.

  • Features 4/5
  • Fit 5/5
  • Comfort 4/5
  • In use 3/5
  • Value for money 5/5
  • OVERALL SCORE 84%

Lowa Taurus GTX Lo £110

  • Men’s 7-13
  • Women’s 4-8
  • Weight 1028g (size 11 pair) 

It's good

This well-priced shoe offers a good weight, as well as decent performance for walking on easier paths. It is built around a synthetic fabric upper, with suede overlays and a fairly spacious fit, to suit general walkers. Gore-Tex is used inside to keep the feet dry and the outsole is a Loren unit with a good heel breast and lugs that are fine for paths. You also get some stiffness in the forefoot to prevent pressure through to the foot on rocky paths. To provide more support and protection to the upper, the sole unit employs a Lowa Monowrap skeleton design that encloses the upper around the midfoot area. 

However

While this shoe is fine on level paths, that’s potentially its limit. The sole lugs are not as deep or as aggressive as they could be, so grip on grass slopes or mud is not top-notch. The upper is also quite soft at the toe box and heel, so performs better on more level paths, where its support is not challenged. There is also no rubber toe rand here – not great for rough terrain.  

Verdict

A lower-priced, lightweight shoe that is great on level paths, but step onto slightly challenging terrain and its limitations become clear.

  • Features 3/5
  • Fit 5/5
  • Comfort 4/5
  • In use 3/5
  • Value for money 4/5
  • OVERALL SCORE 76%

Berghaus FT18 GTX £120

  • Men’s 7-12
  • Women’s none
  • Weight 804g (size 11 pair) 

It's good

The remarkable weight of this shoe sets it apart and, as it is designed for fast hiking, it has some other nice features too. Firstly, you get a Gore-Tex waterproof lining to keep your feet dry and this is protected by a ripstop synthetic fabric upper, with thermoplastic polyurethane (TPU) overlays and minimal stitching for durability. The heel cup and toe bumper are also slightly stiffened for use on uneven ground. And the sole is a Vibram Opti-stud design with well-spaced stud-like lugs. Finally, there is also some stiffness in the forefoot to prevent rocks pressing through the sole. 

However

The sole lugs are not as deep, nor as aggressive as in some other shoes, so it’s not the best for muddy ground. Also, while there is some stiffness in the sole, heel cup and toe box it could be even stiffer. There is also a little less cushioning underfoot than we’d like. But the absence of these little details is what helps reduce the weight of course. Annoyingly, there is no women’s version of this shoe, which is a real pity as it boasts some unique features.

Verdict

A great shoe if fast-hiking and lightness are your priorities.

  • Features 4/5
  • Fit 4/5
  • Comfort 4/5
  • In use 3/5
  • Value for money 4/5
  • OVERALL SCORE 76%

Oboz Firebrand II Low Waterproof £125

  • Men’s 7-13
  • Women’s none
  • Weight 1168g (size 11 pair) 

It's good

This tough shoe is great for rougher tracks where scrub and scree claw at your footwear, thanks to its suede leather and dense synthetic upper. But, importantly, you also get a very stiff rubber toe rand so you can kick through loose scree with comfort. You also get a B-Dry waterproof lining and the magic continues underfoot with great cushioning and a stiff sole that resists pressure. A very aggressive set of lugs, for biting into softer earth and mud, complete the package. The fit is precise and neat, to allow accurate foot placement on rockier ground, which means that, while it’s not the lightest shoe, it feels nimble. 

However

Sadly, there is no women’s option – the nearest equivalent is the £130 Bridger. Of course, you can get lighter shoes than the Firebrand and lower-priced options too, if you don’t need this level of performance. But it’s a great shoe for general walking and hard to find fault with, apart from personal preferences.

Verdict

A great shoe for backpacking over a range of paths and tracks, with reasonably heavy loads, where support and durability are key.

  • Features 4/5
  • Fit 4/5
  • Comfort 4/5
  • In use 4/5
  • Value for money 4/5
  • OVERALL SCORE 80%
Trail-approved.jpg

Mammut Alnasca Low GTX £129

  • Men’s 6.5-13
  • Women’s 4.5-8
  • Weight 1002g (size 11 pair) 

It's good

This shoe is designed as an approach shoe, but has a few more general usage features in the mix too. You get a neat precise fit at the toe and a smooth climbing zone on the rubber sole. The sole itself is a Michelin Rock Tech unit with sticky OCX rubber for better grip on rock and a series of stud-like lugs for traction in softer earth. There is good cushioning at the heel and this extends under the toe, making it a good shoe for walking. The leather and synthetic upper has a Gore-Tex waterproof lining on the inside and a rubber rand for durability at the toe and heel.

However

This is a good shoe for use on rock approaches and via ferrata routes, but its broader appeal, to general walkers, means that those in need of a dedicated approach shoe may prefer the neater performance at the toe of other shoes. General walking users may feel the toe is too restrictive and may want more wiggle room. The sole is great for rockier ground and via feratta, but if you are predominantly walking on softer ground, shoes with deeper lugs might be better. 

Verdict

Great shoe for a mix of approach, via feratta use and walking.

  • Features 3/5
  • Fit 4/5
  • Comfort 4/5
  • In use 3/5
  • Value for money 5/5
  • OVERALL SCORE 76%

Oboz Bridger Low B-Dry £130

  • Men’s 7-13
  • Women’s 3.5-8.5
  • Weight 1176g (size 11 pair) 

It's good

When this shoe was released last year it was our instant favourite for trail walking and it remains hard to beat. It's built around a great sole unit, with deep, well-spaced lugs that claw their way across the ground like tractor tyres. But you also get plenty of cushioning and enough stiffness to resist pressure and not to strain the foot too much over uneven ground. The upper is made from suede leather, with minimal stitching, and a firm rubber rand at the toe box and heel cup, for support and durability. Inside you get a B-Dry waterproof lining. It's neat and precise on the foot and superb on the trail.

However

There is very little to fault here from the perspective of walking with a rucksack over valley, moor, hill and mountain terrain. It's not the lightest or the most flexible shoe, and not the best shoe you could find for scrambling up rocks or via ferrata, but then it's not supposed to be.

Verdict

An outstanding shoe for regular trekking over varied and uneven terrain with a rucksack

  • Features 5/5
  • Fit 5/5
  • Comfort 5/5
  • In use 5/5
  • Value for money 4/5
  • OVERALL SCORE 96%
Trail-approved.jpg

Aku Montera Low GTX £135

  • Men’s 3-13
  • Women’s 3-8
  • Weight 1090g (size 11 pair) 

It's good

The Montera Low GTX is a versatile design that is good for general walking on valley paths and easier hill terrain. It has a Michelin Pulsar outsole, with a reasonably deep and aggressive set of lugs, and a good heel breast. The sole is reasonably stiff and fine for general walking on paths. The upper is a mix of suede, leather, synthetic fabric in the tongue and PU rand at the toe for durability. A Gore-Tex waterproof lining keeps the rain out and the fit is quite precise, so good enough for scrambling over rocks easily, if you need.

However

The sole could do with a little more stiffness in the forefoot, as you can feel rocks through it. The upper also does not enjoy the full rubber rand or durability features other shoes offer, as there is lots of stitching - not great for rocky terrain. It's not ideal for scrambling or via ferrata as the toe is not particularly neat, so this is best kept as a general-purpose walking shoe. It could also do with more cushioning for long distance walks on hard surfaces.

Verdict

A general-purpose shoe that benefits from a deep and aggressive lug pattern and good durability.

  • Features 4/5
  • Fit 5/5
  • Comfort 4/5
  • In use 4/5
  • Value for money 3/5
  • OVERALL SCORE 80%

Hi-Tec V Lite Helvellyn WP (2015)

Features

The Hi-Tec V Lite Helvellyn WP is a very lightweight boot at just 1246g (pair, size 11). But you still do get a leather upper with minimal stitching for durability, while a waterproof Dri-Tec membrane keeps your feet dry. The outsole is a Vibram unit with very deep and well-placed lugs. But the ankle cuff is lower than some, the sole is very bendy and the toe box isn’t as protective as higher-priced models. 4/5

Fit

This comes in men’s sizes 7-13 and women’s 4-9, and it fits like the proverbial glove, being close and precise. The softer upper and softer sole materials enable this fit to some extent too, but either way it feels nice and nimble on the foot. However wider-footed people may feel the fit is a bit too close. 5/5

Comfort

The Hi-Tec V Lite Helvellyn WP is a lightweight boot that is also quite soft in terms of its upper and flex, so naturally it feels very comfortable. But as the upper and sole are soft that comfort drops away on rocky and rugged ground, and your feet really have to work pretty hard. It’s great on level paths and grassy moors, however. 3/5

In use

Due to the softness of the upper and the flex, performance depends greatly on the terrain. Use the Hi-Tec V Lite Helvellyn WP on soft grass and level, muddy paths and its Vibram sole with its deep, well-spaced lugs work really well. But get this on rocky ground and scree or off the path, and the lack of stiffness of the boot forces your feet to work really hard. 3/5

Value

The price is superb for what you are getting and on easier ground this is superb value. 5/5

Verdict

The Hi-Tec V Lite Helvellyn WP very lightweight boot that is also comfortable and performs well on softer level ground, but it is not the best for rugged terrain. It wins Trail’s ‘approved’ accolade. 4.0/5

Review by Graham Thompson

First published in Trail magazine December 2015

HiTec-V-Lite-Helvellyn.jpg

Hi-Tec Altitude V200 i WP (2015)

Features

The Hi-Tec Altitude V200 i WP is a good boot for walking in colder weather below the snow, as it has Thinsulate insulation (men’s model only) for warmer feet. The upper is full leather with minimal stitching so it is very durable, and the sole and upper are also very stiff so it is a great choice for rocky or uneven ground. The sole has reasonably deep lugs but they are less aggressive than some. 5/5

Fit

The men’s sizes are 7-16 and the women’s 4-8. The Hi-Tec Altitude V200 i WP feels a little short so you might want to try a half size up from normal. The ankle cuff on the men’s is higher than most, although the women’s is lower. The fit is not as close as the other boots featured here, which is a drawback; but the size range is very good. 3/5

Comfort

The men’s ankle cuff tends to dig in a little, which is far from ideal. The women’s model may be better as it has a lower ankle cuff. The men’s version is insulated with Thinsulate, but this would make it too warm for me except when high in the mountains; yet the women’s version lacks this insulation, a feature that women may want! 3/5

In use

The Hi-Tec Altitude V200 i WP is very stiff, but as the fit is not close and the ankle cuff not particularly comfortable it feels quite ‘clumpy’ and does not roll nicely when walking. Neither does it have the finesse of other higher-priced stiff boots. It does provide lots of support though and protects the foot well on uneven ground. The outsole lugs are not quite as aggressive as others, for use on softer ground. 3/5

Value

This boot is very well-priced for what you are getting, but you need to make sure it is really what you want. 5/5

Verdict

The Hi-Tec Altitude V200 i WP is good for walking in colder conditions on a budget, plus very durable and supportive but higher-priced boots offer advantages. 3.8/5

Review by Graham Thompson

First published in Trail magazine December 2015

HiTec-Altitude-V200.jpg

Hi-Tec V-Lite Altitude Pro Lite RGS (2015)

Features

Few shoes under £100 provide a waterproof lining, which makes the Hi-Tec V-Lite Altitude Pro Lite RGS very appealing. The waterproof Dri-Tec lining is protected by a synthetic and suede leather upper that feels more protective than some but not quite as good as higher-priced models. You also get an exclusive Vibram sole unit, which is designed to support the natural roll of the foot. 4/5

Fit

Available for men in size 7-12 and women 5-8, the Hi-Tec V-Lite Altitude Pro Lite RGS feels spacious. Lacing extends to a bit closer to the toe than some, which helps provide a closer fit. The heel cup fits closely and there is good stability underfoot. This fits well without being too baggy or too tight. 5/5

Comfort

Straight away the Hi-Tec V-Lite Altitude Pro Lite RGS felt comfortable, with a good rolling action on the sole that allowed a good stable movement on every step. As there is a waterproof lining this comfort will remain in the wet. Also the upper is slightly more protective than lighter shoes, although a stiffer toe box would be better for rocky ground. 4/5

In use

The Hi-Tec V-Lite Altitude Pro Lite RGS is great on level paths but for rockier ground stiffer shoes offer even better support and protection as well as better climbing ability and comfort. The outsole lugs are very deep and well-spaced, though, so on soft ground it works well. It feels less ‘clumpy’ than it looks but is less good for fast action than some. 4/5

Value

A waterproof shoe is what most hillwalkers in the UK really need, and one that comes in under £100 has to be good value. 5/5

Verdict

Not the absolute best shoe, but the Hi-Tec V-Lite Altitude Pro Lite RGS is water-proof, and has good comfort and grip, so on easier terrain it is a good option if your budget is less than £100. It wins Trail’s ‘approved’ accolade. 4.4/5

Review by Graham Thompson

First published in Trail magazine May 2015

hitec.jpg

Hi-Tec Harmony Lace WP (2013)

New for 2013 and very lightweight, but surprisingly small and narrow for their size – they’re very well-suited to women with lower-volume feet. The uppers are soft, comfortable and supportive, though, and plenty of mesh in the uppers helps your feet breathe and makes them feel great in warm weather. The lacing system is a little fiddly across the toes, but it will hold your feet securely when properly adjusted. There’s a waterproof lining to keep your feet dry, and there’s some nice-looking waterproof leather in the uppers. Aggressive lugs at the toe and heel provide great grip on steep ground, although a lack of midsole stiffness will leave them wanting on tough terrain. They’ve got a good quality Vibram sole, though.

 

Sizes: 4-8, 37-42
Upper: Leather/textile
Sole: Vibram
Waterproof/breathable lining: Waterproof
Weight: 600g
Men’s version: No
Contact: 01702 541741; www.hi-tec.com 


Hi-Tec V-Lite Altitude Ultra Luxe WPi (2012)

Lightweight boots with soft leather uppers that feel comfortable straight from the box. The fit is very forgiving and will probably suit a variety of foot shapes and they have a decent lacing system for fine tuning. Noticeably, though, there isn’t much arch support and they have a tendency to make your feet want to over-pronate, or roll inwards, as you walk. They’ve got a mid-height ankle cuff which provides enough support for low to mid-level terrain, and a decent amount of midsole stiffness to cope well in these conditions. The Vibram sole has decent lugs that cope well with both hard and soft ground, and they do a great job of keeping feet dry.

Sizes: UK 4-8 inc. half-sizes
Upper: Full-grain leather
Waterproof/breathable lining: Yes
Sole: Vibram 
Weight: 950g
Men’s version: Yes
Contact: www.hi-tec.com


Hi-Tec V-Lite Buxton Mid WP (2012)

This is a sub-£100 boot built for paths and trails, and best-suited to lower-level walking away from rocky mountain tops. The medium-soft sole provides reasonable amounts of support and cushioning, giving good padding on harder terrain such as roads and stone paths. The uppers are very soft, making breaking-in easy. Grip-wise, their reasonably wide-spaced lugs give some traction, although they can become clogged with mud fairly easily. The fit is fairly relaxed and it will suit those with wider, bulkier feet. There is also a ‘flat’ feel to the inside of the boot, with little rocker in the sole to help push wearers on to the next step. There is a waterproof treatment inside, but no membrane. The result is dry feet in most situations, without the sweatiness you sometimes associate with membrane waterproofing, but regular cleaning and waterproofing will be needed to keep the boots functioning properly.

Sizes: 7-13

Upper: Suede/nubuck/mesh

Lining: Dri-Tec treatment

Sole: MDT V-Lite rubber

Weight: 1,362g

Women’s version: No

Contact: 01702 561321; www.hi-tec.com

*Published in Country Walking magazine, April 2012


Hi-Tec Altitude Ultra Luxe WPi 2011

Forgoing a waterproof liner, with the Altitude Ultra Luxe WPi, Hi-Tec instead use an Ion-Mask plasma treatment that makes the fabric repel water. This is a good addition to a leather boot especially as this version features more stitching (potential leak points) than it did when Trail tested it in 2010. The ankle cuff is a good height, being not too high to feel restrictive; but again the extra stitching near the tongue made it a tad uncomfortable after prolonged use. The lace eyelets are very oversized for purpose, though, and I was very conscious of them on the upper part of my foot, especially after a few hours’ walking. A wedge of cushioning between the outsole and the foot adds some padding, though at the front of the boot it felt less effective when compared to others. The toe box is quite soft, offering less protection from stray boulders. The sole is reasonably flexible with extra support at the midsole but you can still feel stones through them on rough terrain, which some will find uncomfortable. The lug pattern is aggressive and well-spaced but a deeper heel breast would make the Hi-Tec Altitude Ultra Luxe WPi grip better.

Weight 1037g (pair, size 6)
Upper materials full-grain leather
Waterproof lining none
Sole unit Vibram
Women’s sizes 4-8
Men’s sizes 7-13
Website www.hi-tec.com

The Hi-Tec Altitude Ultra Luxe WPi is a more modern take on a leather boot, though some features such as the flexible sole and soft toe box may make it less appealing than others on test.

Review by Phoebe Smith
First published in Trail magazine December 2011


Hi-Tec Altitude Glide WP

Very lightweight walking boots made from full-grain leather. Because they’ve got a low ankle cuff and very forgiving fit, they will especially suit walkers with wide or problem feet. These boots don’t have a waterproof lining – instead the fabric has been treated with ion-mask waterproof technology. This helps keep them lightweight, and also does a great job of keeping your feet dry. They’ve got a very flexible midsole which restricts them to use on easy ground, but it provides adequate shock absorption and the sole grips well, especially on rock. There’s no rubber bumper at the toe or heel, but there’s enough reinforcement to protect your feet from knocks. A great price for a lightweight boot.

VITAL STATS

Sizes: 4-9
Upper: Full-grain leather
Membrane: ion mask
Sole: MDT outsole
Weight: 850g
Men’s version: No
Contact: 01702 541 771; www.hi-tec.com
*Review from Country Walking magazine, October 2011


Hi-Tec Tauranga

Although heavy and a bit clompy when first on, and not exactly top of the style stakes, the Tauranga is a capable walking shoe. They have a solid sole that gives good protection over rough ground and provides decent levels of support on stony terrain. The tread leaves a bit to be desired, though, with a very shallow pattern, although this wasn’t a huge problem in most conditions. There is no waterproof membrane, but they do have a waterproof treatment and manage to keep feet dry in some wetter conditions. Finally, the fit was less-voluminous than on some Hi-Tec products, creating a more secure feel.

VITAL STATS
Sizes:
7-13
Materials: Waterproof suede/mesh
Sole: V-Lite MDT carbon rubber
Weight: 1,001g
Women’s version: No
Contact: 01702 541 741; www.hi-tec.com
• Review from Country Walking magazine, June ’11


Hi-Tec V-Lite Sonoma WPi

The Sonoma were a little stiffer than anticipated when first on, with an oddly rigid tongue, but after a short distance they softened up. The front of the sole is particularly flexible, allowing a natural foot flex and a pleasant gait, and the midsole still provides enough support. Good levels of shock absorption do make a difference on road sections and hard paths and the padding around the ankle is good. The sole grip is decent too and they coped well on some decidedly sludgy hillside tracks, where although the tread lugs aren’t exactly cavernous, grip was happily not an issue. The bigger last means they are boots that will suit walkers with broader feet.

VITAL STATS
Sizes
: 7-13 (inc ½ sizes)
Upper: Suede/mesh
Waterproof/breathable lining: Tec-proof
Sole: V-Lite
Weight: 1,300g
Women’s version: No
Contact: 01702 541 771; www.hi-tec.com


Hi-Tec Altitude NT Enviro Sandal 2011

The Hi-Tec Altitude NT Enviro Sandal has been developed with the National Trust. According to the manufacturers its environmental impact has been considered in its production, which results in the sole using recycled rubber content. The sole offers a good degree of stiffness and cushioning, which makes these comfy to wear on a variety of terrain. There’s also a pronounced curve in the sole, allowing a very natural walking action. The leather straps are lined with neoprene and provide the traditional three-point adjustment. This is a generally comfy sandal and it is well-priced too. But  it is perhaps not as ‘enviro-friendly’ as the name suggests, which is a pity as recycled straps would be better than leather for example. Equally, leather is slow-drying, so it’s not ideal for more adventurous walkers. The main problem with the Hi-Tec Altitude NT Enviro Sandal though is the outsole lug pattern, as it is very shallow, so firstly it is going to wear smooth rapidly (which is not good for long-term durability and environmental impact) and secondly it is not so good for keeping a grip on softer, slippery surfaces.

Upper full-grain leather with neoprene padding
Sole recycled rubber
Sizes 7-13 (men’s); 4-9 (women’s)
Weight 572g (pair, size 7)
Made in Indonesia
Stores in the UK 50

The Hi-Tec Altitude NT Enviro Sandal is an okay sandal, but it’s not as good for the planet or as good for walking on more slippery terrain as it could be.

Review by Graham Thompson
First published in Trail magazine May 2011


Hi-Tec Altitude Ultra Lux WP 2010

Hi-Tec’s Ion-Mask technology, which was introduced in 2008, is a unique way of waterproofing boots. It uses a plasma treatment that makes the outside of the boot waterproof at a molecular level. Trail tests on early models found leaks developed quite early but Hi-Tec says it has now improved the process of proofing leather.

Design
The Altitude Ultra Lux WPi combines the Ion-Mask treatment with a relatively stitch-free leather upper. On its own the leather upper would be reasonably waterproof and durable as it is free from lines of stitching or seams that could split with hard use and poor care. But with the addition of the Ion-Mask treatment the outside of the boot is also waterproof. The upper is quite soft and flexible but there is a good stiff toe box so your feet get some protection from stray boulders. The ankle cuff is quite low-cut, as are most of the boots in this test, for more comfort when walking. Underfoot you get a Vibram sole unit that is exclusive to Hi-Tec and this has a well-spaced set of lugs that are also a good depth for keeping a grip in the mud. There is a big wedge of cushioning between the outsole and the foot for extra comfort.

On the hill
The Hi-Tec Altitude Ultra Lux WP is a relatively lightweight and flexible boot with a low ankle cuff. This means it is comfortable and not too restrictive to the foot, which some people like. When used outdoors I find this means they are great for valley walks and crossing grass or moorland, when the foot is not being stressed too much, but on rocky terrain my feet were being twisted or strained to a point where I felt I’d prefer to be in a stiffer boot. The upper is a little soft too, so again your feet have to do a lot of work as they don’t get much support. The outsole does not resist the pressure of stones too well either, so even on rocky bridleways these are not the most comfortable option. So far the boots are waterproof although time will tell how well the Ion-Mask treatment performs. The grip is generally good, but I’d prefer a deeper heel breast for a better grip on damp grass slopes, particularly when those lugs wear down a little.

Upper full-grain leather boot with Ion-Mask waterproof treatment
Sole Vibram Hi-Tec
Sizes 7-13 (men’s); 4-8 (women’s)
Weight 1512g (pair, size 11)
Made in Indonesia
Stores in the UK +250
Stockist details tel. (01702) 541771; www.hi-tec.com

External Ion-Mask treatment prevents the Hi-Tec Altitude Ultra Lux WP’s upper from soaking up water which results in fast drying and increased breathability; aggressive outsole lug pattern; well cushioned; stiff toe box. But the very bendy sole forces your feet to work harder; sole does not have a pronounced heel breast so downhill breaking is not ideal; the uppers are more supportive on some boots. Overall, the Hi-Tec Altitude Ultra Lux WP is a very good boot for general walking on easier terrain but sole and upper could be slightly better for rough and rocky terrain.

Review by Graham Thompson
First published in Trail magazine December 2010


Hi-Tec V-Lite Altitude Ultra Luxe Wpi

The V-Lite Altitude came as a bit of a surprise, with its great comfort levels, and not needing much breaking in. There is a good amount of flex in the toe section and a good roll at the toes to help propel you forward. The midsole is stiffer and more supportive, with decent shock absorbing under the heel. They are very roomy with a cavernous toe box and mid-section, so try them carefully before buying or risk never achieving a snug fit. The ion-mask proofing kept the wet at bay very well.

VITAL STATS
Sizes
: 7-13 (inc half-sizes)
Upper: Full-grain leather
Lining: ion-mask
Sole: Vibram
Weight (tested pair): 1,442g
Women’s available: Yes
Contact: 01702 541 771; www.hi-tec.om


Hi-Tec V-Lite Thunder Ultra HPi

With a totally synthetic upper and no waterproof lining, these are very light shoes, and whilst that means wet feet when wading through puddles or crossing wet grass, it also means a lot less effort on longer walks. Any water that does get in is quickly expelled, and the Ion-Mask treatment means they never feel soggy and do dry out quickly. They have a reasonably stiff midsole, so don’t feel too out of place high up the mountain, and grip is good on a variety of surfaces. 

VITAL STATS:
Sizes:
UK 7-12
Upper: Mesh/synthetic
Waterproof lining: No
Weight (pair): 760g
Women’s version: No
Contact: 01702 541 771; www.hi-tec.com


Hi-Tec V-Lite Diablo 2010

The Hi-Tec V-Lite Diablo was a superb price last year and it has not had a price increase, so now it is even more remarkable value. It offers more protection than some thanks to a rubber toe box and stretch material over the top of the foot. This makes this a much better option for walking in the countryside than more open sandals. The Diablo has a lacing system across the top with a removable and adjustable Velcro heel panel. Once adjusted this allows the sandal to fit the foot securely. But there is still space around the base of the upper for ventilation and to allow grit and water to drain out, so this enclosed design has advantages over normal shoes. The sole unit is sportingly designed with good flex and lugs to keep a grip when moving over wet grass while offering enough stiffness to protect the foot on rocky paths. But as this is very enclosed it is not as cooling as a more open sandal, although it has practical advantages. You can get lighter sandals and also some that offer a little more cushioning underfoot. You can save money, although a lower-priced product probably won’t match this performance.

Upper compression fit synthetic/stretch textile
Sole MDT carbon rubber
Sizes 7-12
Weight 724g (pair, size 11)
Made in China
Stores in the UK 100+

The Hi-Tec V-Lite Diablo was superb value in 2009 and it remains the same price so it is now stunningly good value! But pay more and you will get an even better sandal.

Review by Graham Thompson
First published in Trail magazine May 2010


Hi-Tec Rainier eVent 2010

The Hi-Tec Rainier eVent weighs 1712g (pair, size 11); full leather upper with minimal stitching; rubber rand at the toe adds durability; eVent waterproof lining; extremely aggressive Vibram sole with deep, well-spaced lugs; good cushioning. But the upper is a little softer than some; outsole flex is a little soft and not quite as well-graduated as similar boots.

The Hi-Tec Rainier eVent is a good general hill-walking boot that will suit those who prefer a slighter softer upper and softer flex.

First published in Trail magazine May 2010


Hi-Tec Altitude IV JR WP 2010

The Hi-Tec Altitude IV JR WP is a great little boot that mirrors a traditional walking boot. A leather upper with a waterproof lining is built onto an excellent sole unit that has plenty of support and deep lugs. The toe box is stiff too. This feels ideal for a wide variety of hill terrain. The price is superb too. But the ankle cuff is relatively low so it offers less protection than some. As it is a leather upper it will need a little more aftercare than a synthetic upper.

Upper nubuck leather, Tecproof waterproof lining
Sole MDT carbon rubber
Sizes 10-6 junior
Weight 658g (pair, size 10)
Made in China
Stores in the UK 250

The Hi-Tec Altitude IV JR WP is a superb child’s boot at a superb price and ideal for any youngster heading to the hills. It won ‘Best Value’ in our review.

Review by Graham Thompson
First published in Trail magazine May 2010