Hi-Tec are not up at the top of my list when it comes to thinking about walking shoes. In my wee brain, Hi-Tec are filed under ‘trainers’ – this is probably due in part to the fact that owned a pair of Hi-Tec high-tops in the 1980s, and man did I think I was the coolest kid with a paper round!
So it was with healthy curiosity that I opened the box with these lil’ beauties in and I have not been disappointed since the moment I slipped them on my feet.
I have a wide-fitting foot and I’ve noticed that the past few pairs of walking shoes & boots I’ve worn have tended towards the narrower/tighter fit which, whilst not painful, isn’t as comfortable as I like to be when out for a few hours with the hound.
These shoes felt like a pair of faithful old slippers as soon as I popped them on, wide enough that my toes and foot could move and wiggle but not sloppy or loose that I got blisters or sore spots on any of my outings.
I should probably mention that we are renovating our house at the moment and due to some over-diligent packing my footwear choices have been very limited the past 10 days or so, so these shoes have been well and truly worn-in.
The reason that I mention this is that I’ve painted in them, walked the dog, been to the supermarket, gone out to dinner and everything else, and so they should be looking a bit tatty and whiff a bit. Happilly they don’t – sticking my nose into them (The things I do for GWA!) I still get the aroma of new shoes – that slightly unique smell of new leather and waterproofing.
The packaging blurb informs me that they are made with Ortholite insoles/footbeds which is an open-cell foam that allows air to circulate around the shoe keeping your foot cool whilst walking. This sounds great for walking as the weather warms up but I also suspect it’s this that also helps reduce pong.
The other buzz-word I noticed on the label is that they are made with Vibram soles which I seem to see a lot these days and I can’t say I’ve noticed that the soles on these are better or worse than any others I’ve worn recently. My dog walking routes take me over muddy paths and rubbly/loose stone trails and I’ve not been particularly aware of either so I’m going to assume that the Vibram technology is doing it’s thing and soaking up the bumps and gripping.
The pattern on the soles looks a bit like little arrows and whilst they don’t pick up great clumps of mud I have noticed that they do pick-up little pockets which I have been diligently spreading round the house as it dries so probably best to leave them at the door post-walk if you are not too keen on hoovering!
Styling wise, they pass my overt logo placement test and I like the brown nubuck leather/webbing combination – they look the part whilst out on trail but also
smart and tidy enough when worn with jeans out for a burger with friends.
I’ve also been impressed with the laces – it might seem to be an odd thing to point out but I find it really annoying having to stop every 10 minutes to re-tie laces, especially if they come loose as you’ve walked through a particularly muddy section which seems to be Sod’s law! Some boots seem to do this regardless of how I double knot etc. These just stayed put – even when I haven’t undone them from the previous walk and just wedged my foot back in – and this makes me happy. (I know my mother will read this and tell me off for not looking after them properly!)
As they are shoes they obviously don’t offer as much ankle support as a boot, but due to the fact the lacing system is part of the mesh bit (not separate eyelets) I’ve found that I can adjust the lacing well enough that my foot feels supported and my ankle hasn’t noticeably rolled round when tackling some of the local hills.
However, if a boot is more your thing then Hi-Tec do also offer a mid-boot style on their site and I will also be testing it in due course.
SUMMARY: At £74.99 they seem keenly priced for this type of thing and judging by how good (like new!) they look after my excessive wear I’d say well-made and thus good value for money. They are very comfortable and forgiving, grippy and supportive. They’re also styled in a low-key enough fashion to be useful off trail, as well as on.
Oh and the hi-tec site has 10% off your first order making them and even better deal!