Hi-Tec Shoes is relatively unknown brand in India. Launched by a Dutch entrepreneur in 1970’s, It’s a popular name in UK but in rest of the World, it’s a different story. Despite this, it does have a good line up of hiking shoes in India though availability of models is not regular. Hi-Tec brand manufactures wide variety of shoes apart from hiking shoes.
It’s always good to have more choice. Availability of hiking shoes in India is fairly limited. Following are common brands that one usually comes across- Columbia, Quechua (Decathlon) and Wildcraft. Few standalone stores do offer popular international hiking and trekking brands but the prices are steep and choice is limited. It works well for those who want serious trekking stuff like North Face or Marmot. Then there are other brands which offer “trekking look” essentially a non technical shoes like Weinbrenner, Fila, Woodland etc. One can call them “faux’ hiking shoes. While it might be perfectly okay to wear them during your holiday to hill stations in Uttarakhand or Himachal Pradesh, using these during a serious multi-day trek might not be desirable.
Few months ago, I came across Hi-Tec hiking shoes on Amazon while searching for replacement of my old worn out hiking shoe. This replacement was only for shoe that I use extensively during treks in Aravali hills. It wasn’t meant for multi-day treks in the Himalayas.
Among all listed Hi-Tec hiking shoe models on the site there were only 2 models which were available in my shoe size. I didn’t have a problem in selecting one. I chose Hi-Tec Pioneer WP shoe. WP stands for water proof.
Here is a small video posted by Hi-Tec brand on Youtube.
Finish & Quality. The shoe is good for its price – Rs 2750. One cannot compare this model with other expensive hiking brands or models; comparison should be done with similar products only. At this price, there isn’t much to choose except one by Decathlon. Hi-Tec Pioneer WP is at par with similar models from Decathlon like Quechua Arpenaz 100 Men’s waterproof shoes. The finish is marginally better than decathlon product. The shoe doesn’t feel heavy. It feels quite light in comparison to the Quechua Arpenaz 100.
In use: I’ll rate this shoe 3 out of 5 on a scale of 5. The shoe worked just fine walking through the river stream; waterproofing is great.
The real problem that I faced with this shoe is not the quality of shoe or material; it’s great for the price specially since there aren’t many models to choose from in this price bracket (among technical products). There were two areas where this shoe didn’t work well for me. One, the sole of this shoe didn’t perform well while walking on gravel and loose stones ; my feet started aching after walking for 300 meters!! None of my earlier shoes had this issue. Two, it didn’t inspire enough confidence on a wet rocky surface. I experienced lack of good grip on wet rocks resulting in slippage. This problem was reported even in Quechua Forclaz 500 by some people though I never met any during my usage. Out of above two issues, I will probably overlook the second one since we don’t trek much on wet surface here in Aravalis. The first issue is something that bothers me though. I suspect that treads of this shoe aren’t deep enough & therefore causing this issue. Toe support is excellent in this model. Breath-ability is always a concern with waterproof shoes; Hi-Tec Pioneer WP is no exception on this front.
I will not recommend this shoe for multi day Himalayan trek as it doesn’t inspire enough confidence for those conditions. If you trek occasionally for few hours may be in jungles and woods, it’s a good buy for this price. But I haven’t found any special reason why you should choose Hi-Tec Pioneer WP over it’s alternative Decathlon’s Quechua Aprenaz 100. With Decathlon’s warranty in place, you need not think so much. I’m not sure if that’s the case with Hi-Tec brand, at least in India.
This review is based on my personal usage during 2-3 months in Aravali hill range. I’ll add more details after using it for 6 months.