This last few weeks I have been testing out these Hi-Tec Altitude IV boots. Hi-Tec teamed up with The National Trust to create a boot inspired by nature and developed with their environmental impact in mind. These are about getting out into the countryside wearing something that won’t harm that countryside.
Since they arrived we’ve had heavy frosts, beautiful (cold) sunshine, torrential rain and even snow drifts, and I’ve given them a good wearing on walks around my local Lincolnshire. We’ve been on tarmac and on footpath, on bridleway and on gravel – I may not have been able to do an all-day hike in them just yet, but they’re well broken in now and so it is time to tell you what I think.
It seems to make sense for Hi-Tec to team up with The National Trust to make a special family of boots – I mean, The National Trust are all about protecting the country’s heritage and open spaces, and Hi-Tec are all about making products that help us get out and about in those places. But these are more than that – these are a significant step forward in Hi-Tec becoming a greener company.
Every part of the boots has been designed to make as little an impact on our world as possible. The use of recycled materials has been key. This is great news – I wonder if other companies will follow suit (and if Hi-Tec will start to use these materials and methods in their other items from now on)?
Packaging was important too. The boots come in a shoe box made from 80% recycled cardboard and 100% of which can be recycled, using soy inks to brand. It also has an integral handle, eliminating the need for a carrier bag – a nice and appreciated touch in this carrier-bag-hating world.
Thankfully in the development of these boots Hi-Tec were keen to create something that could actually be worn by keen walkers and hikers – a practical boot – rather than just an environmentally friendly show-piece. As such, what we have here is a lightweight and waterproof walking boot that is comfortable to wear (more on those points shortly).
The website explains that the uppers are constructed using water-based cements, manufactured from naturally dyed reduced chrome leather which don’t require the heavy chemical processes used in tanning. Recycled metal steel shanks and a durable recycled rubber make up the outsole, and the injection moulded EVA is a greener way to work with the cushioning material inside the boot.
These also feature ion-mask hydro management technology – this is what is supposed to keep your feet dry, stopping the boots from getting heavy when the uppers get wet, and also helping to keep the boots clean.
Hi-Tec haven’t gone all out on the looks have they? They’re just brown with grey bits and green bits, just very traditional. They are even that usual (boring) dark tan leather colour that most traditional hiking boots are. But they’re not ugly or anything! They are just a very ordinary looking boot where function has come before style – but I guess there is nothing wrong with that, they won’t date or (or are they already dated, I’m not sure). These boots will appeal to many, I’m sure, and the styling fits with the heritage of the National Trust perfectly, but they’re not what I would look at first if I was stood in an outdoorsy type shop surveying the wall of hiking boots. They’re not going to offend anyone and you can wear them with just about anything suitable for walking in. Not stylish or fashionable but practical and useful, and that’s probably the best way to view them. These are boots made for walking, not looking at, after all.
Fit and Comfort
The first thing to say is that every time I’ve worn these it’s been cold. Very cold. And with my hiking socks I’ve had no issues with warmth. Even last Sunday when I did five miles or so in the snow (it was an absolutely glorious walk, I enjoyed every step and really must share the snowy photos on my blog), my feet were kept comfortably warm in these. Not a drop of water got through either – even when the uppers went dark brown and looked damp, the inside was bone dry, an absolute must for walking boots. So the first two vital specifications get ticks – warm and dry. I might update this later in the year once we’ve had some warmer weather (we might be waiting some time), to say how they fair keeping the feet cool when walking distances in the heat, but for now I am confident wearing them in whatever the British winter chucks at them.
Lacing these up is easy and secure, although maybe the laces are a little short to tie in a double bow (or are my ankles really wide?!) – just a centimetre or two more would have made this much easier. The insole is shaped with arch support which made these very comfortable, and while there is cushioning inside the boot it is not thick or cumbersome once the laces are tied.
They are light on the feet, much lighter than I thought they looked, and even when covered in mud I didn’t find these boots too heavy or hard work. Being leather and rubber etc they were so easy to wash off under the outside tap and have come up clean and looking fine again each time. They are a bit creased around the top of the toes and the ankle already, but that is totally acceptable on a broken in leather boot – they show no signs of cracking. I have one or two scratches on mine now but again that is not unusual and has not affected either the look or the practicality.
Splodz Blogz Verdict
I wouldn’t choose this style of boot if I was stood in a shop looking for a pair, but I am impressed with the fit and comfort and like the green credentials of these. I will happily continue to wear them in this my Get Outdoors year and look forward to many more miles to come. Maybe I should swap the laces for some lime green ones though?!