Back in the day – before I found my trail running feet – I used to own one pair of hiking boots at a time, generally the basic Hi-Tec model. Comfortable and suitable for basic day-hiking – no waterproofing to speak of. They would last me
maybe five years and then get replaced by a similar pair.
Trail running means I spend much of my mountain time in trail shoes. Comfortable and light, they are also more than suitable for day hiking, without the ankle protection that high-top boots provide.
Last year I got to try out the Hi-Tec Para Boots, and in the snow and serious wet conditions, they were awesome. The new neoprene material is pretty hardy, soft and immune to snow and water. The boot is heavy though and not particularly suitable for summer hiking.
So I was pretty chuffed to get hold of a pair of Hi-Tec Altitude V I Wp
earlier this year. They are similar to the comfortable Hi-Tecs of old, just waterproof and sturdier. Having waterproof boots that don’t cost the earth is a big win and something not around in my early days of hiking. This is particularly useful for winter hiking in the Western Cape, where the mountains sometimes resemble a sponge that’s being soaked in water and squeezed. A rather beautiful sponge, but water oozing out of every nook and cranny is only great when your feet don’t get wet. With these boots they don’t.
A hike in Orange Kloof, a particularly wet, beautiful and protected part of Table Mountain was a great opportunity to test my boots, they passed with flying colours, leaving my non-webbed footed friends with…well wet feet, while I walked comfortably though water with no need to rock hop, keeping my feet dry at all times. Made even better when it started to rain. You can’t put a price on dry feet.
Having enjoyed these boots for the better part of this year, I was already suitably impressed but they needed a real test. This test presented itself when we took on the mighty Hex River Traverse, which consisted of a 13-hour day of walking on rough, uneven terrain, mostly with no path to speak of. With most of our party in trail shoes, I was more than happy to have the boots on, both for protection for my feet and support, as we had heavier than usual backpacks.
It wasn’t all comfort though, with the sloped uneven terrain taking its toll on my feet, and a few blisters popping up. Nothing a plaster here and there couldn’t fix up. The boots ultimately passed with flying colours and my hiking companions in their trail shoes passed more than one envious look at my boots.
These boots are definitely the new simple, comfortable and hardy pair of boots, that I got used to use all those years ago. They are light, hardy, have a a good grip and they’re waterproof. Now if they can last me five years, that would really be something.
Here’s to a good few more years.