Monday, 13 May 2013

Gear Review - Hi-Tec Sierra Mid walking boots

Being the editor of Walks Around Britain often means I’m surprised.

Surprised when walk I've started out on suddenly changes into another one – like the one through Coombs Dale;  or when a famous person is revealed to be a dedicated walker; or the Hi-Tec Sierra Mid boot.

From first glance, you struggle to see how this this boots are going to be suitable for anything other than walking from the car to work in the middle of town.

But therein lies the surprise… and I’ll come to that side later.

Let’s have a look at the boots.  They feature a leather high-top married to a Vibram sole.  The ones we had are a black upper – which Hi Tec say is Dark Chocolate - with a cream sole, and this provides an attractive contrast between the two.

There’s the option of single and double eyelet lacing combinations, as well as a moisture-wicking lining to keep feet dry.  Inside, there’s an ortholite sock liner will aims to provide long-lasting cushioning, plus anti-odour and anti-microbial properties. The Vibram rubber out sole provides extra flexibility, although don’t expect anything more than a more conventional foot bed here.

So, how are they?

Well, I've been wearing these boots intermittently for the past 4 months, including several low-level walks and one – the Ladybower one from our website – in conditions which were best described as “extremely soggy underfoot”.  And my verdict?  Well, I like them.  Firstly, they are very comfortable.  I've been wearing them all day and I've found them to be really quite suitable both on a walk in the countryside and in the town afterwards.

The extended mountain boot-style ankle support does help provide much needed stability whilst out on the
paths, and the soles, whilst not having the bouncy nature of some other boots do provide good cushioning.

Onto the sole, and the tread is more substantial than a trainer or conventional shoe, but less so than a dedicated mountain boot.  As I said, I wore them out on the Labybower walk in quite soggy conditions and I felt safe and supported throughout – although I did feel slightly nervous as to how long my feet would remain dry for with the endless amount of unavoidable puddles along the way.

 And that’s why I feel that kind of walk is probably the limit to which you should attempt with these.  Silver Howe, Wansfell Pike and the like with rocky outcrops and difficult paths should really be done with more substantial boots.  That said, for what these are designed for, they are super.  Keep them to town and country walking with woodland and low fell treks and you’ll be fine.

The other point to note is because of the fashion styling, you don’t necessarily feel like you've just climbed another Wainwright when you wear them to go to Sainsburys.  The build quality has provide durable after the in-depth wearing I've been doing with them.  The one thing I’m not sure about it whether the side mounted mesh eyelets which are meant to help with breath-ability, actually do much.  One of these has actually fallen off..

Perhaps they should be the first in a new category of boot – a travel boot.  Equally at home on the low-fells, woodland walks and treading around our towns and cities, the other benefit of them is the weight – 800 gram isn't going to break any weight restrictions on travelling to places like the Isle of Man or Jersey.  In fact, I could have done with them when I went to Jersey to walk… but that’s another story.

What's Good

Comfortable, easy-to-wear boots
Low maintenance
Extended ankle support

What's Bad

Mesh eyelets may fall off over time
There's a danger of being too bold with them and getting caught out.

Hi-Tec Sierra Mid walking boots - Rough Price £50

Walks Around Britain rating 8/10

For more information, visit the Hi-Tec website here.

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