The V-Lite Altitude Ultra WPi boot from Hi -Tec is positioned as a, sturdy, comfortable, lightweight hiking boot, using ion mask technology to give the ultimate protection from the elements. Sounds impressive, but how will it do in the hills?
Where and how tested
We tested these boots out in a number of situations, including walks through the woodlands in boggy terrain and across grassy hills. The biggest test was in Snowdonia where we decided we would test them out on a classic scramble which involved all weather imaginable. From snow and rain to wind and finally warm sunny conditions – it was all thrown at us that weekend!
The boot is built well with a one-piece waterproof full grain leather upper, a one-piece embossed stitched leather on vamp and sidewall, an ‘endure’ leather tongue with raised gusset, a leather collar and tongue lining, ‘endure’ leather on inside of heel collar, and also uses ion-mask™ technology, a breakthrough in water management and surface enhancement. This works at a molecular level, binding invisibly to the surface of the boots, giving them an extraordinary ability to repel most liquids, rendering them hydrophobic, without affecting the look or feel of the walking shoe.
Inside the boot there is a compression moulded EVA midsole for cushioning and shock absorption, as well as the exclusively designed Vibram rubber outsole which they say guarantees un-compromised stability, rigidity and protection. The boot also features Comfort-Tec, which is a removable and ergonomically contoured sock liner. Specifically designed hardware around the lacing area replaces the traditional heavy brass components, which further reduces the overall weight.
The boots are available in men’s size 7-13 including halves, and women’s 4-8 including halves.
The first thing I noticed when putting these boots on was how light they felt, contrary to how I expected a pair of leather boots to feel. The next thing I noticed was the comfort and support around the ankle, which as the weekend went on and as my feet moulded in to the insole, seemed to get better and better. I found that even after scrambling over some fairly rough terrain for most of the test weekend, my feet felt fine and were in really good condition. The lacing system is good and the non rust, lightweight buckles look and feel sturdy. The one thing I did notice is there is no locking device on the buckles which is a shame. The Vibram sole feels grippy on all surfaces, even on the wet and icy welsh rock, and in the snow. Whilst walking in the snow the boots kept my feet lovely and warm.
Even though the boots are lightweight, it felt like they absorbed some of the shock whilst walking down hill and also offered a comfortable cushioning on rocky, uneven ground. They feel very breathable too and although we put these boots through their paces, still no sweaty feet. It will be interesting to see whether this is still the case in the height of the summer, but i’m pretty optimistic about their performance based on what I’ve experienced so far!
By the time the heavens opened on day one, we had climbed to the hilltop and were walking along the ridge and pretty unprotected from the elements. Straight away I noticed the water running off these boots as if it was being actively repelled by something. It certainly gives you confidence when you see this happening and I soon found myself walking through deeper and deeper puddles to try to test their limits. I even noticed that when I got mud on the boots, just dipping them in a puddle would clean them off really well.
The ion mask technology is a great enhancement to this boot as you can not only feel it working (dry feet), but you can see it actively repelling the water. It will be interesting to test the longevity of this finish as the boots start to scuff and wear over time, watch this space!
Value for money
The RRP for these boots is £100 which to me seems a reasonable price for a boot with such promising credentials. They are a step up from the general walking boot and I would feel confident walking abroad in them up to around 4000 metres or just below the snow line, or in the more testing UK weather conditions. They look smart compared to other boots because of their leather finish, and you might not feel so out of place nipping in an unfamiliar pub for that after-walk tipple!
I have been very impressed with the water repellency and comfort of these boots and would recommend them to anyone who is looking for a pair of boots that are lightweight, waterproof and comfortable. Hi-Tec are making big leaps forward with the technology used to make footwear for the outdoors and the ion-mask™ technology is brilliant. You can see the water and mud literally beading off! Having confidence that your boots will protect your feet against the elements and give you a secure footing is so important, and I think these boots give you just that!
More product information and retailers can be found at www.hi-tec.com
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