I started trail running recently, which amuses the dog enough that he continually attempts to run in front of me and bark, but it has meant trading in my usual walking boots for a much lighter pair of trail running shoes, and Hi-Tec offered up their V-Lite Infinity HPI which I’ve been putting through their paces.
Straight out of the box you notice how light they are. I’m not obsessed with ultralight gear, but I can appreciate that shedding a few hundred grammes off your feet makes it easier to run. They’re noticeably lighter than all my other trail-running shoes.
Styling wise they’re fairly unique. The uppers are made almost entirely from a spacer foam material that is stretchy and more air than fabric. In order to give the uppers some rigidity, Hi-Tec have welded on a very thin, but stiff layer of clear TPU (very tough plastic) in bands going up to each lace eyelet. These work remarkably well at keeping the Infinity HPIs snug on your foot as you move, but allow a little flex to keep things comfy.
The outer sole of the shoes is a Vibram design, and it seems very grippy indeed on gravel, mud and grass. It hasn’t rained since I’ve had them, but on dewy mornings I’ve suffered no problems with grip.
One thing that perplexes me about the Infinity HPIs is the use of Ion Masking, which is a British technology using a nano-tech coating to waterproof fabrics. The shoes are made from a very wide celled foam, which even in long, wet grass lets water through easily. So, why use Ion-Masking? I don’t get it.
That aside, I liked the breathability a great deal. I’ve worn them in a warm gym a few times and not suffered overly sweaty or uncomfy feet.
The midsoles are thin, and you can feel a lot of the ground as you walk or run. I’m not a big fan of the whole barefoot movement – I don’t want to feel sharp stones through my shoes, but I realise that’s a subjective thing. I found the Infinity HPIs offered a moderate degree of stability from a sole which flexes easily. I’d say that this is a shoe which should be worn by people who have a gait that matches them. A good sports retailer will be able to analyse your gait for you.
I like the look of the shoes. At first I thought they were a bit gaudy, but they’ve grown on me. I like the matt look of the spacer foam, and love the way that there are no internal seams to rub and chafe. Unfortunately though my test pair have suffered a small failure in this foam. I’d say that the surface fabric, where bonded to the TPU, isn’t strong enough and mine are developing a rip towards the toes.
The lacing system looks a bit gimmicky at first, with moulded plastic eyelets and round laces. But I’m pleased to report that it worked really well indeed.
The front of the Infinity HPIs have a nice big rubberised toe-bumper for protection from sharp stuff, and the rear has a little bit of reflective material for protection from, presumably, bears with headtorches.
SUMMARY: The Hi-Tec Infinity HPI is a very lightweight, extremely breathable running shoe with a fairly thin sole that allows you to feel the terrain under foot. They’re comfortable and secure in use, and offer a little (but not too much) in the way of support. The spacer-foam construction feels great, but my test pair have started to rip after what is probably less than 80 miles, which is a shame.
Price: £85 (plus free T-shirt if you buy online)