This is the Low version of the boots we reviewed earlier this week – here.
Taking new shoes out of a box is always a ‘kid a Christmas’ moment for me. I was surprised at how light the Hi-Tec Sierra Lite Lows were despite their chunky looks, and instantly assumed that they were just a trainer with a facelift looking to be outdoorsy. Not that that wouldn’t appeal to a previous owner of a VW Polo Dune, but after testing I was proven wrong – they’re more than just a trainer with a fancy bumper.
The next thing I spotted made my girlfriend give me a funny look; “Ohhh…” I exclaimed “they give you spare yellow laces”. She just stared. As my testosterone returned from wherever it had taken a vacation, I decided to keep the black laces in place and went out for a walk to break the Sierras in.
As I suffer from flat feet – which isn’t always fun in new boots – when I returned an hour later without sore feet, I was quite impressed. I decided to wear them the next day for a Search Dog assessment day in Surrey. Over the course of the day I covered about 15 miles on foot and returned home pain free thanks in part to the Sierra’s great thick insole.
The insole is made by OrthoLite and is over 1cm thick in places, giving great cushion comfort despite the actual shoe having a fairly thin midsole. There’s a huge impact zone in the heel, and enough shape to snug up to anyone with low or medium arches.
The bespoke Vibram outer sole is nice and grippy and comes right round to the heel for us naughty people who step on the heel to help take your shoes off. The toe bumper is just about stiff enough that you can kick pebbles without feeling them, but we’re not talking mountain boot here.
The seriously impressive technology on this shoe is the ion-mask, keeping water & dirt out but keeping the shoes breathable. Apparently the technology was developed by the military to repel chemicals off clothing and it works by coating the fabrics in a water-hating nano technology which leaves the gaps between each strand of fabric, but doesn’t allow water through. It’s like an alternative waterproofing method to membranes like Gore Tex or Sympatex which we’ve all heard of. I managed to walk through a few deep-ish puddles and lots of wet grass without getting wet feet.
The lacing is strung through a combination of closed metal lugs which seem well bolted on and hold the lace securely.
The styling on the Sierra looks great and is subtle enough to use daily despite the flash of orange. The odd thing to me is that Hi-Tec seem to be marketing this as a boot, which for me it isn’t. [Ed – I suspect this is a limitation of Hi-Tec’s website design. They file all their walking shoes under ‘boots’.]
The two loops which are used to pull the shoe on – placed on the tongue and heel – seem like the weakest point on the Sierra and I imagine they will detach at some-point if you use them regularly and with determination.
The price, at £105 rrp brings the Sierra Low in at the same level as a premium membraned shoe, but with the advantage that the lack of membrane means they won’t be as sweaty in warm weather.
Summary: I’ve used the Sierra almost daily for the last month and they show no signs of major abuse – with a clean they would probably pass for new. The sole has good grip on wet grass. The ion-masking kept my feet dry and the shoes are lightweight.
Price: £105 rrp