Sue and Martin above Zermatt - 2018

Sue and Martin above Zermatt - 2018
Showing posts with label Boots. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Boots. Show all posts

Wednesday, 12 March 2014

Scarpa Mustang GTX Boots

1201boot

It’s a while since I bought my Scarpa Infinity GTX boots, one pair of which is still going after over 2,400 kilometres. Since buying those I’ve gone through a pair of Hi-Tec’s top of the range offering.

With the TGO Challenge coming up, and my usual plan to keep my feet dry during that 220 mile walk across Scotland, a new pair of boots was in order. Scarpa have moved on from the Infinity, but Jose and Hugh at Alpenstock in Stockport assured me that the Mustang was their current successor. That was a few months ago, so the Scarpa product range may well have moved on again since then! But at the time of writing this link provides some technical data.

The boots stayed in their box until our recent weekend in Wales, during which they enjoyed 33 km under my new MEC gaiters. I can now put the boots away until that big walk in May (or a Lakes backpack over Easter) as they already fit like slippers, and the old Infinities remain fine for day walks.

I do hope these Mustangs will be as durable as the Infinities. I’ll be using Sidas insoles with them and will report back in due course.

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The boots weigh in at 1480 gm including insoles, marginally lighter than the Infinities. Retail price is about £160, on which at least a 10% discount should be achievable.

Saturday, 24 August 2013

Hi-Tec Walking Boots – A Review

11031701hitec1

I’d reviewed a couple of items of Hi-Tec footwear:

Some three season boots – here;

and some trail shoes – here.

Both were extremely comfy, but they only lasted for about 500-600 kilometres hard use.

So after trashing these items I thought it unlikely that Hi-Tec would be prepared to send me anything else.  I was wrong.  I suggested some running shoes, but James Campbell at Hi-Tec was determined to prove a point.

“I’m happy to send you some of our Rainier Event backpacking boots, which really are our top of the range boots and will have no issue with durability.”

They looked pretty impressive when they arrived.

11031704hitec4

The Rainiers have now been replaced as Hi-Tec’s top of the range offering by the very similar Bernina boots, with HI-TEC’s website proudly proclaiming the following:

Features

    • Full Grain leather upper for durability
    • Locking hook for adjustability
    • Full leather tongue for added protection and durability
    • Sympatex membrane technology for protection from the elements whilst offering breathability
    • Dual density midsole for all day comfort, stability and durability
    • Rugged Vibram outsole for durable traction
    • B1 Classification - compatible with flexible C1 crampons
    • Italian made and lasted for superior yet versatile fit

The RRP is about £150, but they are currently available for £120 or less.

Here’s what I thought about the Rainiers.

Fit and Finish:

  • the EU size 43 were good for my average sort of feet.  Unlike with the previous offerings from Hi-Tec, I found a need to break these boots in gently as the stiffer leather rubbed my ankles.  This gave me encouragement that James’s ‘durability’ claim wasn’t just hot air 
  • the construction was fine, though not quite up to the standard of the Scarpa boots I usually wear.  The main problem at the end of the day was that the thin leather fabric inside the heels eventually gave way, resulting in a shoehorn being necessary to put the boots on.  Perhaps this problem has been addressed in the Berninas.  They were good, solid boots though
Features:
  • HI-TEC’s stated features for the successor Bernina, with an emphasis on their durability, are listed above
  • the boots were completely waterproof, given the leather finish and their Event membrane.  As waterproof as my Scarpa Infinities
  • forgetting all the technical jargon, the boots were extremely comfortable for serious backpacking trips
Weight:
  • at 1600gm, they are slightly heavier than similarly priced fabric boots, but that’s quite acceptable for a serious pair of mountain boots
Practical Use:
  • between March 2011 and September 2012 I wore these boots for the equivalent of a total of about four months’ continuous hard use, including a TGO Challenge, a five week trip to the Alps, and a further two week trip to the Ecrins in France.  Only when the heel fabric wore through in the Ecrins did they cause me any trouble, but the need for a shoehorn (an improvised insole) was a minor inconvenience, though they were retired after that trip, having covered about 1900 kilometres by then
  • in contrast to the other Hi-Tec products I’ve tested, the waterproofing qualities were excellent and the durability quite acceptable  
  • the excellent ankle support made these boots very suitable for walking for long periods on steep ground with a heavy backpack

Here’s what the boots looked like on 16 September 2012, after about 1900km (1190 miles) of use, as referred to above.

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As you can see, apart from the damage inside the heel that is evident in the top picture, and the poor condition of the leather that is partly attributable to limited maintenance on long trips, the boots are essentially intact and would have continued in use but for that heel problem.

Alternatives:
  • there are lots of alternatives to these three-season boots.  My own favourites are the Scarpa Infinity boots, but these have now been discontinued, as have the Rainiers.  Hopefully the Hi-Tec Berninas are at least as good and they should therefore be suitable for serious hillwalking and backpacking.  As with previous Hi-Tec products, I was fortunate in that the boots posted to me fitted perfectly, but I would always commend users to try on boots and shoes before buying them – different products suit different feet
Conclusion:
  • once they had been broken in by way of a couple of weeks’ worth of mountain days out, these boots provided me with comfortable mountain footwear for a good 18 months.  They remained waterproof more or less to the end, and were only let down by insufficiently durable fabric inside the heel
  • whilst the heel problem slightly diminished my enthusiasm, I can agree with James that he has finally provided me with a ‘durable’ product.  Well done!  I wonder what the Berninas are really like, James?

Tuesday, 15 March 2011

HI-TEC V-Lite Thunder HPi ‘Adventure Sports’ Shoes – A Review

HI-TEC V-Lite Altitude Ultra WPi boots HI-TEC V-Lite Altitude Ultra WPi boots

The above images were taken on 8 March 2010.  These trail shoes were kindly provided by HI-TEC, following the premature failure of some HI-TEC V-Lite Altitude Ultra WPi boots that had kindly been provided by HI-TEC for review.  That review is here, and my ‘New Shoes’ posting about the trail shoes is here.

The trail shoes have been worn a lot over the past year, but sadly didn’t quite make it to their first birthday.

They are currently still in production, with HI-TEC’s website proudly proclaiming the following:

Features

  • ion-mask hydrophobic technology
  • Breathable mesh and Synthetic Upper
  • TPU welding for midfoot support
  • Toe and heel abrasion for added protection
  • V-Lite strobel construction
  • V-Lite design and build technology
  • Comfort-Tec contoured sockliner
  • V-Lite compression-moulded EVA midsole for cushioning
  • External ESS Shank for added support
  • V-Lite MDT carbon rubber outsole

The RRP is about £80, but they are currently available for £50 or less.

Here’s what my shoes looked like on 25 February 2011, after about 600km (375 miles) of use, a third of which comprised three weeks in the Alps.

HI-TEC V-Lite Altitude Ultra WPi bootsHI-TEC V-Lite Altitude Ultra WPi boots

As you can see, the sole of one shoe had parted company with the upper and was flapping in a terminal manner.  Luckily the final straw occurred on a walk to the shops, so gaffer tape repairs weren’t needed.

It’s not all bad news though.  Here are my detailed observations.

Fit and Finish:
  • the EU size 43 were perfect for my average sort of feet.  As with the earlier V-lite boots, no breaking in was necessary and the shoes were a delight to wear for their entire life
  • the construction – they were made in China – was good, with none of the problems I encountered with their Innov8 Roclite predecessors.  BUT after nearly 12 months and only 600 km of use (plus about the same distance mountain biking), one of the soles parted with its upper.  Had this not happened I’d still be using the shoes, albeit with rather worn soles
  • visually, I like the finish – these were respectably tidy casual shoes.  I shall miss them
Features:
  • HI-TEC’s stated features are listed above
  • the shoes may be vaguely waterproof, but not noticeably more so than my fairly ordinary Nike trainers.  I’m not convinced by the ‘ion-mask hydrophobic technology’
  • forgetting all the technical jargon, the shoes were extremely comfortable for anything from walking to the shops to mid grade Via Ferrata in the Dolomites
Weight:
  • at 800gm, they are not the lightest in their class, but they certainly don’t feel heavy, so for me they are about right
Practical Use:
  • I’ve worn these shoes in preference to most other footwear over the past year.  They sat in the porch and were my first choice for anything from an evening out in casual wear, to a serious mountain day walk in dry conditions
  • the soles were satisfactorily grippy in the dry, even on steep ground
  • whilst I didn’t wear the shoes much in wet weather, I did notice seepage when walking on boggy ground, so those wanting to retain dry feet in wet conditions should consider using Sealskinz socks or similar
  • with limited ankle support, many users may be reluctant to use the shoes on certain steep ground such as some of the scree slope crossings in the Dolomites, where the additional ankle support provided by lightweight boots may enhance both comfort and safety
Alternatives:
  • there are lots of alternatives to these mid-range trail shoes.  I was lucky in that the shoes posted to me fitted perfectly, but I would always commend users to try on shoes before buying them – different products suit different feet
Conclusion:
  • these shoes provided me with comfortable day to day use for nearly a year.  They were good all round performers, from pub to mountain top.  In wet weather I would choose to wear waterproof socks with the shoes, or (preferably) waterproof boots instead, but with relatively grippy soles they were perfect for three hot dry weeks in the Alps last summer.  They were also excellent for a 400 kilometre TransAlp mountain bike ride, and for mountain biking generally
  • my only real criticism of these shoes is their durability.  I would normally expect to get more wear out of such a product.  Maybe I was unlucky, but the soles of my shoes normally wear out rather than fall off!  The laces, however, are excellent – they will live on as spares

So, it’s out with the old… I wonder what will be next? (‘G’ knows that secret!)

Friday, 26 March 2010

New Scarpa Infinity GTX Boots take a Mud Bath

Scarpa Infinity GTX Boots

My old Asolo Fugitives* having seen better days, I took a trip on Wednesday to the Alpenstock emporium in Stockport.  Their boot selection isn’t as extensive as that at Outside in Hathersage, my usual source of footwear, but the Infinity seemed to fit, so I bought the pair and saved myself a wet drive to Hathersage.  They are very similar to the Fugitives, and at 1475 gm (size 43) are virtually the same weight.  Thanks to Hugh and Jose at Alpenstock for their patience during my lengthy visit.

The boot quest had become a little urgent, as I could do with these boots for some upcoming trips.  Whether I can break them in in time remains to be seen, but tonight (Thursday) they got their first outing – a 6 km jaunt around Alderley Edge with Andrew.  We were the only ones daft enough to turn out for this scheduled evening walk.  It was dry and comfy in the Drum and Monkey; not so outside.  The boots were ‘well muddied’ so there’s no chance of them going back.  They were ‘reasonably’ comfy, and should be ok so long as the ankles don’t rub my tendons, a problem that I’ve encountered in the past (but not with the Asolos).  So a few short walks with these new boots will be needed to break them in.  This is a slight problem, as some longer walks are on the cards for next week; it looks as if I’ll be carrying a spare pair in the bag!

The walk started just as the overhead tap was turned on, but the rain did ease from time to time, with the moon even coming out for a while.  Despite the rain and the canopy of trees, the ambient light (Andrew theorised that it all emanated from the local footballers’ security systems) meant there was no need for torches.  This didn’t prevent my esteemed companion from taking a bum slide down a boggy path, causing him to reject any idea of re-entering the pub after the walk; and my muddied new boots – the only footwear I had – probably wouldn’t have been appreciated either. So it was home to an early bath!

Hopefully our forthcoming evening jaunts will be better attended.  All are welcome, of course.

Scarpa Infinity report as at March 2014:

A second pair of boots was soon acquired as Alpenstock offered a very good deal on them (£99). They were comfortable from the start and hardly needed any breaking in.

The first pair is still keeping the water out and has covered over 2,400 km (1,500 miles), including two TGO Challenges, the Dales High Way, a trip to Turkey, backpacking in the Maritime Alps, and a week along Markus Petter’s Caledonian Trail route. They have been superb.

The second pair was used, as was the first, for numerous day walks, and for one TGO Challenge and a couple of weeks in the Apennines. Their biggest trip was 2013’s 950 km GR10 trek, at the end of which they were showing serious signs of wear. So, knowing that the other pair was in better condition, I abandoned this fine pair of boots after just 2,200 km, on the outskirts of Banyuls-sur-Mer.

Excellent boots. I hope that the Mustangs that succeed them will be as good.

*The Fugitives bought in October 2008 have now (March 2010) done about 1000 km and are in good condition but leaked after only a few (albeit very wet) km.  The ones bought in 2007 leaked after less than 500 km, and are now starting to disintegrate after over 2000 km of use.  Both pairs have been extremely comfortable.
 

Monday, 8 March 2010

New Shoes! HI-TEC V-Lite Thunder HPi ‘Adventure Sports’ Shoes

HI-TEC V-Lite Thunder HPi Adventure Shoes

Regular readers may ask:

“Why go for HI-TEC footwear again – the last lot failed?”

The answer can be found in the footnote to this recent posting.

So, I’m the proud owner of these ‘Adventure Sports’ shoes, and will be recording their every move over the coming months. A full review will follow in due course.

Initially the 800gm V-Lite Thunder HPi shoes feel fairly comfy, and rather more substantial than the 650gm Roclites that they are replacing.

They have sole, as well.

The sole of the V-Lite Thunder HPi

Saturday, 27 February 2010

Hi-Tec V-Lite Altitude Ultra WPi Boots – A Review

New Hi Tec boots

Back on 29 November 2008 I was given these boots, originally intended for Alan Sloman (luckily they didn’t fit him, but they did fit me), on the understanding that I would review them in due course.

Today they were binned, so perhaps it’s time for that review.

First impressions were that the boots were comfy and very light.  In fact the first time I wore them, for 22km, they were so comfy that I didn’t bother to change out of them for the two hour drive home from mid Wales.

At this point I agreed with most of the comments in Outdoors Magic’s ‘First Look’.

After 50km I wore them on a damp day in Torridon.  This was their first real exposure to wetness.  They immediately leaked, so they weren’t worn for the rest of the trip.  They leaked in wet weather thereafter.  They were not waterproof.

In June 2009, with the prospect of dry weather, I used them to backpack a variation on the Dales Way.  They did around 185km on this trip, but whilst initially being extremely comfy, by half way one of the boots had rubbed my ankle sufficiently to cause a painful tendon problem.  This resulted in my walking in Crocs for 10km or so to try to minimise damage to the ankle.  It rained on the last two days of this trip, so I finished with SealSkinz socks deployed.

After a few months’ break to avoid further tendon problems (luckily my feet were fine in my other footwear), I donned the boots again for some dry October days in the hills.  After a further 60km the stitching on top of the toe boxes split.

Hi Tec V-Lite boots after 500 km

Split stitching

The boots can’t really be worn in this state as the toe box flops around loosely and the boots really do feel as if they are falling apart.  Which indeed they are.

The soles were virtually as new, but that’s of little comfort.

My records indicate that the boots lasted for 487km of walking, over a period of a year, mainly in dry weather.

During the same period I covered around 1000km in a pair of Asolo Fugitives.  These also leak, but not as soon or as badly as the Hi-Tecs.  Nor do they show serious signs of wear, despite having been used in much rougher conditions than the Hi-Tecs.  I have an older pair of Fugitives (see here) that are now on their last legs after over 2000km.  Incidentally, the Inov8 Roclites purchased at the same time as the Fugitives lasted for only 290km before being binned – the uppers of those shoes being less than robust; but that’s another story.

Postscript
On 3 March I received the following email from Hi-Tec’s marketing department:

Hi Martin,
I recently came across your blog and was extremely disappointed to see you weren't happy with your Altitude Ultra.
Firstly, on behalf of HI-TEC I sincerely apologise for your terribly (sic) experience with our footwear.
Please be assured your experience is truly disappointing not only to your good self but to everyone who is involved with the HI-TEC brand.
As a company we are proud to have a faulty returns record of under 1% (industry standards of 4%) and we pride ourselves on the quality, comfort and performance of our product. On this occasion we have failed and I am going to try my very best to rectify this fault and improve your experience.
I would appreciate the opportunity to send to you another pair of boots free of charge. I would like the opportunity to change your perception of the Altitude Ultra boot. It looks as if you had the first model and since then we have released a new model under the Altitude Ultra luxe, which rectifies a number of issues we had with the first model. If you would rather receive something different then please let me know, however I would love to turn your opinion round on the Altitudes Ultras.
Please can you confirm you are happy to receive the Altitude Ultra Luxe including your boot size and delivery address and I will organise delivery to you asap.

So I contacted Hi-Tec, stating that whilst it would be nice to have another pair of the Ultras, what I really needed was a trail shoe that would be more robust than my failed Inov8 Roclites.

On 5 March I received the pair of Hi-Tec V-Lite Thunder HPi shoes that I’d suggested may be appropriate (perhaps I should have requested Hornets, but hey).  I’ll be posting about them separately.  They are ‘Adventure Sport’ shoes and retail for about half the price of the failed boots, so you could say I’ve lost out, but given that the original boots cost me nothing, I think Hi-Tec should be praised for their alertness and generosity.

I should add that other reviewers don’t all seem to have had the same problems with their Altitude Ultras, but if they have lots of kit to review they may not have ‘worn them to death’ like I did.  A Google search (which probably brought you to this page) will no doubt reveal more.

I would of course be happy to give the ‘luxe’ model a try (to turn my opinion), should Hi-Tec be brave enough to risk that by sending me a pair!

Thursday, 18 October 2007

Wednesday 3 October 2007 - Fugitives and Roclites



Back in June, after the TGO Challenge had finally finished off my old Karrimor KSB3 boots, and the soles of my even older and comfier Trezetas had parted company from the uppers in the Dolomites, I was forced into going shopping for replacement boots, and also for ‘trail shoes’, given that my newish Salomon shoes had disintegrated.

I went into Manchester and toured the usual shops – Cotswold, Blacks, Brighams, Milletts…. In each one I strolled up to the poorly stocked boot section, browsed and left after a couple of minutes. Nobody in any of those shops perceived me to be a potential customer. So I got in the car and went to Hathersage, arriving at Outside at lunch time. As I strolled into the boot section I was asked whether I would like any help. What a break through! Would the trip be worthwhile? Of course! After much careful measuring, and serious apologies for the fact that of the four different boots they insisted on me trying on, one was not in stock in my size, the Asolo Fugitives felt ideal. And on to the trail shoes….the same story, and Innov8 Roclites were added to my ‘basket’. All this took at least an hour, and given the standard of attention and service I decided not to ask for a discount. These purchases were important, especially the Fugitives which were to be taken immediately to the Dolomites and then on to the Berlinerweg (Mayrhofen). They performed so well on those trips that a thank you card was sent to Outside. Perfect for the job, especially for the steep scree slopes of the Dolomites, where I find ankle support is helpful. They have certainly performed well over their first demanding 400 km of use. And the Roclites. They were half a size smaller and are deliberately on the ‘snug’ side and have rubbed my heel. In fact their first longish walk was earlier this week on the 31 km ‘Altrincham Circular’. Albeit I had protected my heels, they were extremely comfy. The only time I noticed them was on marshy ground, where the water ingress was as if I was wearing sandals. But they dried out very quickly, a huge contrast to the KSBs, whose uppers had turned to the consistency of blotting paper on the TGO Challenge.

So if you need new walking boots or shoes, and live within range of Hathersage, here’s my recommendation: ignore the ‘boot guides’ in the well meaning mags and visit the experts at Outside.

They will find something of acceptable quality to suit the shape of your feet.
Good luck!

Postscript - 18 January 2008
The Asolo Fugitive boots remain supremely comfy after 600 km of use, but once they were subjected to very wet conditions (after about 500 km) they started to seep water. They only leak in very wet conditions, but we've had a lot of those recently. The soles are also showing signs of wear. So it's Sealskinz socks to the rescue. These keep my feet beautifully dry, despite any boot leakage.


Postscript - 14 March 2011Believe it or not, the Asolo Fugitives have now done nearly 2250 km, and despite being pretty battered they've outlasted their replacements.  They still 'seep' a little, but one of the GORE-TEX® liners remains more or less intact.

On the other hand, the Roclites proved to be less robust and lasted only 300 km.  See here for more comments.
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