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V-Lite Altitude explains waterproofing
01
Jun '09
IT'S NOT OFTEN YOU associate “revolutionary” and “military technology” with a pair of hiking boots, but thanks to Hi-Tec, this is no longer the case. Punted as a “quantum leap” (sounds like something from Star Trek but is not far off), the new P2i's ion-mask footwear range is set to change the way we think about waterproofing.

Hi-Tec makes serious claims about the V-Lite Altitude Ultra, the hero ion-mask hiking boot. But are these claims justified? Sprinkling a few drops of water on the Altitude Ultra will, depending on the age of your audience, demonstrate either the waterproofing capabilities of the boot, or your skill as an amateur magician. But could this very same hiking boot survive a multi-day trek in weather so foul that you find yourself constantly referring to Mother Nature as “that nasty old b***ch”?

The proof is in the hiking
A Cape Union Mart staff trip to the legendary Otter Trail, one of South Africa's most beautiful hiking hotspots, provided the perfect opportunity to test the Hi-Tec Altitude Ultra WPi Boots. The Otter is a five day, 42 km trail that crosses more than a dozen streams and rivers of varying depth and difficulty.

Add bad weather (there's always a chance), steep inclines, loose-rock pathways and a 70 litre backpack into the mix, and you quickly realise the importance of a good quality, waterproof hiking boot. The Big Question - would the Altitude Ultra deliver on Hi-Tec's promises?

Wear From Day One?
“Wear Them In” remains the first rule of hiking boot lore - embark on any hike with a pair of new, previously unworn boots and you're asking for trouble. Hi-Tec claims that the Altitude Ultras can be worn from day one. Going against everything Cape Union Mart had ever taught, eight of us put this claim to the test.

On Monday morning, 45 minutes before we descended into the indigenous forest that heralds the start of the Otter Trail, sixteen glistening pairs of Hi-Tec Altitude Ultra WPi Boots were released from their boxes. As I pulled on these spanking new boots, the words “Don't try this at home” seemed ominously appropriate. This could potentially have been the worst decision of the entire trip. To Hi-Tec's credit, I'm happy to report it wasn't.

Five days later, with over 42 km of zigzag, up-and-down, multi-terrain trail behind us, three of the four “guinea-pigs” had no serious issues apart from a very occasional (and very slight) discomfort that could be attributed to a variety of factors. The fourth complained that the boots were too constrictive (not due to sizing), and he had experienced mild discomfort as a result.

The lesson? Although it is ALWAYS advisable to wear in your hiking boots first, most of us were suitably impressed by the Hi-Tec Altitude Ultra's ability to provide comfortable walking when worn brand new on a trail such as the Otter. This, however, is a worst-case scenario – hiking with fresh boots remains a classic “rookie mistake” and should be avoided at all costs.

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