HI-TEC is very well known for a complete line of high quality hiking boots. The company recently created a very nice line up of trail running/ liquid mountaineering shoes. Here is what our tester had to say about it:
The first impression the Hi-Tec V-Lite Infinity HPI gives is: Standard Military Issue. The performance matches the image.
Having been in the military and gained an affinity for olive finishes, I liked the appearance immediately. The camouflage inspired patterns, parachute cord laces, and combat-boot-esque tread not only create an image of durability and ruggedness but perform likewise. Other features include a water resistant upper, protective toe reinforcement and a heal support which is sandal soft. To continue the military analogy, this shoe, performs extremely well in the element for which it is designed. It is a shoe built for rugged, steep, technical, mountain terrain and for wet, snowy, sloppy, or frozen trails.
My maiden voyage with the V-Lite was an abnormally dark pre-dawn run. I was particularly impressed by the water repellent nature of the shoes upper. The temperature had remained in the upper 30’s for multiple days but had dropped into the 20’s overnight and dumped a fresh 1” – 2” layer of snow over the single track leaving the puddles underneath treacherously undetectable. I punched through a soft layer of ice multiple times and instead of dealing with a soggy, frozen foot as I expected, my shoe came out bone dry. I nearly shouted Hallelujah and felt an unexpected nearness to St Peter.
The tread is another high point for the V-Lite. This sole is no half measure hybrid. No compromise for some undefined middle ground between asphalt and loose dirt. The few miles of asphalt I have run in these shoes (enroute to the real running grounds) have felt like wearing a rubber waffle iron. A few times I felt I needed mud-flaps, mirrors and working blinkers to make myself street legal. When the steeps and dirt of the trails begins, the monster tread takes over and makes for a very controlled, solid footing.
Aside from the overall militaristic first impression, the heel appeared to me to be abnormally large. I am hyper-conscious of this perhaps due in part to pair of hiking boots which I own (and can’t get myself to throw away because they’re practically new) which sport an aggravating heel support. The opposite turned out to be the case for this shoe. The heel is actually made of what would best be described as something akin to a chunk of a threadbare microfiber couch or a corner of memory foam mattress.
The toe of this shoe is narrow. I have a somewhat narrow foot and still my foot feels slightly pinched when I first lace up. But, as I get onto the steep, rocky and uneven terrain I was impressed with the support. The toe did loosen up some as time went on but the support remained solid. The open toe feel of flatland shoes feels sloppy to me on the trails but the narrower, pointed toe gave me added control and support. The plastic toe reinforcement is also an appreciated feature for the loose down hills.
If you are looking for anything but an aggressive trail running shoe, look elsewhere. This shoe was built to look, feel and perform like the military; Mission accomplished.