Sue and Martin in Mallorca 2019

Sue and Martin in Mallorca 2019
On the Archduke's Path in Mallorca

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:


  • 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
  • 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
  • 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
  • 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
  • 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!)


AlanR said...

If you have had 375 comfy miles for £50 there can be no complaints in my book.
Good post Martin..

Word ... binno
Must of known where the boots were heading.

Phreerunner said...

Yes, the shoes have now been 'binno'd', Alan, but the laces live on in some battered trainers.
There are no complaints, especially as the shoes were given to me by HI-TEC after their Altitude boots, given to me by accident (they were too small for Alan Sloman) for testing, failed after only just over 300 miles.

Mac E said...

I had a pair of HiTec V-Lite Fast Hike boots, as far as comfort goes they were excellent. They were Advertised as waterproof (liner sock) but in my experience they weren't even remotely waterproof. That said they were usually my first choice while they lasted. Therein lies the 2nd problem, durability was poor to say the least, like yours the sole simply came away from the upper. The insoles on mine live on in my safety boots for work.

If they could do something to improve durability and either make them with a waterproof lining that works or forget the waterproof completely they'd be very good indeed.

JohnH said...

I did the HRP this year, including all the hard bits ( you know where they are!). I wore some Brooks Cascadia 9, and they stood up very well. Here is one shoe compared to a new one. Sorry, the photo won't upload. I even had front point crampons on them for a while : maybe I should send that photo to the BMC!

Phreerunner said...

I think Mick used Brooks shoes on GR10. I'm sure they are much more durable than the Hi-Tec equivalent.
I wore Keen Targhee II shoes for GR11 this summer and they were fine (apart from pressure sores that I think I may have got regardless of footwear) and I have an old pair of Keens that have walked 1900 km and also been much used as cycling shoes.