Review by Arnie P
Hi-Tec Sierra Lite I WP boots
I received the Sierra Lite I WP boots from Hi-Tec for review purposes. This boot is essentially a redesign of an older model called the Sierra Lite Hiker, but with newer materials and technologies. These boots are not on their website yet and from what I read they will be introduced this spring. The I WP probably stands for improved waterproof.
When I first looked at the Sierra, I was reminded of my first pair of sneakers which were above the ankle. The outline is the only similarity. The sole is Vibram. The outside of the boot says water proof and Ion-Mask. The lacing is strung through a combination of closed metal lugs, open metal lugs, a single wide loop, and a pair of nylon loops. The single wide fabric loop is at the base of the laces, this is followed by 4 closed pairs of metal loops, then the nylon loop pair, and lastly near the top two pairs of open metal loops. The insert-able innersole has a few things printed on the insole. One is “OrthoLite comfort from the inside out”. The other is “3D counter balance”. Lastly “Sierra Lite inspired by life”. The toe and heel of the Sierra have rubber like material which have 3 slight indentations on the toe end and 7 small ridges on the heel. The heel of the boot has a fabric loop that is about ½ inch wide and large enough for my thumb. Under the heel loop, the word V-Lite is stamped into the material. There is also a similarly sized loop with the logo “HI-TEC” at the top of the tongue. I have not seen this on any other boots I have had. There was also an extra pair of shoelaces. The ones on the boots are Black? and the extra laces are Orange.
Size: US 9
Left boot: 19.9 oz
Right boot: 20.1 oz
Looking further on the Hi-Tec web site I was able to find more information about Ion-Mask and waterproof. Ion-Mask is a surface enhancement technology that works at the molecular level binding invisibly to product surfaces allowing them to repel most liquids. Ion-Mask was originally developed for the Military to repel chemicals off clothing. Hi-Tec is using this technology in their footwear products.
Trying them on
One of the first things I did was to try them on using the loop on the tongue and the loop on the heel. This is noticeably easier way to put on a pair of boots. When I tried lacing the boots with all the loops engaged there was barely enough lace to tie the boots. I am pretty sure if I had snugged down on the laces there would have been more lace available to make the knot easily. My preference for above the ankle boots is to have them on the loose side. I find this prevents any restriction of blood flow and this helps keep my feet warm especially in the winter. I also found that as I get older I am more comfortable if I don’t use the set of lugs closest to the top of the boot on above the ankle boots. I liked the way my foot slid easily into the boot. Being able to use both hands put me very much in control. I did seem to have a slight sensitivity on the top of my right foot near the toes. This sensation has not been consistent or predictable. I have had a similar problem with metal lugs with a different manufacturer. I was able to eliminate the problem by a change in the way the laces were tied. This may require a few trials. Since the boots are not marked insulated and I will be wearing them in winter I will be using medium to heavy wool socks. I drove my standard transmission car wearing these boots and my feet felt no different than driving with a pair of below the ankle hiking shoes.
With the proliferation of new materials and improved methods on manufacturing there are a lot of boots called light. New classifications are used and consequentially one has to look at the actual weight of the boot to make a fair comparison. There is more to a boot than weight only, one also has to consider the temperature range of the boot, being waterproof, the height, comfort level, isolation from the ground, and balance. If I was still running I think I would be doing some running in these boots. The fit is good, getting them on is quick and easy. The inner sole adds to the comfort level. The only downside is the random sensitivity. Please check back in about a month when I will have more to say about the Hi-Tec Sierra Lite I WP boots.
The weather has been more varied than usual for this time of year. On the moisture side it rained to having fine snow. Temperatures varied from the 50’s (F) down to near 0 F. I am using the boots about 3-4 times a week for most hikes in the 1-2 hour range.
A slight problem
For me my boots are the most important piece of gear I use on the trail. I learned a long time ago that ignoring a pain in my foot has almost always resulted in not being able to hike for a few days. For this reason, I pay a lot of attention to small discomforts in my feet. I had some minor discomfort on the top of my foot near my toes. The discomfort was not consistent, this made finding out what to do a lot harder. This was not the first time I have had this problem. It could be the kind of foot I have. My solution is to relace the boots and not use the single loop at the toe end of the boot. My preference is to have the boots loose at the top of the boot. I usually don’t use the top pair of lugs. This boot and others use a pair of recessed loops. I will try using the recessed loop on one boot and not the other, in order to see if I can feel any difference. Then I would reverse the process and see if results are the same. I noticed when I first tried the boots that the closed loop lugs could not move. The more I wear the boots the more I am able to move more of the lugs. I will report further on this in my last update.
Well not really. We had near 0 f temperatures followed by temperatures in the 50’s (F) in the daytime along with some rain. The frozen ground acted like a bowl and there were puddles in a lot of places where I hike. I was in puddles that were over the front part of my shoe and my feet remained dry. I also walked in slush that was near the top of my boots. The slush did cool my feet a bit. Unless I tapped the boot on a tree or a rock some slush would stay on the top of my boot and cooled that part of the boot. Standing in near freezing water would also have the same effect.
Recently I started taking my daughter to class and waiting to bring her home after class. This has given me the chance to bushwhack in several forests near her school where there are no trails. This boot has done very good under various conditions. The ground is very irregular and is covered by a lot of leaves and a generous supply of randomly placed rocks. The traction is very good on the larger rocks. I have noticed a slight instability when there is a predominance of hand sized rocks or smaller. This does not happen very often and for only a short distance. The best part is I am able to hike through light brush easily. Slightly heavier than a sneaker but with the protection of a much heavier boot. This is one of the exceptions where trekking poles are not very useful. Bushwhacking is a lot of fun for me and I tend not loose my sense of direction of where I started, when I hike in a large continuous circle.
In the snow and ice
I have hiked in the soft kind of snow that tends to cake up on the soles of my boots. The caking of snow on these boots has not happened. The snow just does not seem to accumulate to any significant amount on the bottoms of my boots. When I encounter icy conditions it is time to put on my traction devices especially if there is any elevation.
I am content with the Sierra Lite boots and think my comfort will improve as the shoe lace lugs become more flexible. I feel confident about having dry feet, and although I don’t think the boots are insulated, they have kept my feet from getting too cold. I look forward to using these boots about 3-4 times a week. Please check back in about a month when I will have more to say.
I have been wearing the Hi-Tec Sierra Lite boots about 3 times a week. I have been on several short hikes as well as a couple medium length hikes. I have experienced mud, ice, but no snow in this period.
I mentioned my discomfort with the top part of my foot. I continued with the suggestions I made in my previous report. This included re-lacing and not using the top pair of lugs on the boots. I noticed my comfort improved as the lugs for the laces became more flexible. At that point I decided it was working so I stopped fixing.
Middlesex Fells via the Sheepfold parking lot
This was a 2.5-hour hike with temperatures at about 40 F, sunny and a slight wind. The Middlesex Fells is an excellent place for preparing to hike in the White Mountains of New Hampshire, since it is like a small scale version. The traction was good to excellent on this hike. There was no ice but the ground was mostly frozen. There were places where the surface was soft and muddy where there was high usage and sun exposure. The boots handled the muddy areas very well. I was also surprised that I had very little mud on the top surface and very little mud sticking to the bottom surface of my boots. It did start raining toward the end of the hike and this had no effect on the traction.
Middlesex Fells via Falon Road or Marjam
The official trailhead is called Falon because it is on Falon Road, but when a company called Marjam located near the trailhead, hikers starting to call this entrance the Marjam trail-head. This was a sunny day, with temperatures about 40 F but with winds gusting to 50 mph. I had checked the weather before leaving for this hike. The parking is in the open and the wind was pushing me around easily. This hike was mostly in a different part of this forest. The steep areas had more ledge and in one place water was slowly flowing over a rock. There was slime on this rock and it was very slippery. I have never had a bare boot (a boot without an added traction device) that could handle this type of situation and I always walk around the slippery rocks if possible. I did test my suspicion and found that these boots also slide the rock surfaces are slimy.
I wore the boots to an all day technical seminar. I have found that wearing boots inside is a good way to tell if the boots ventilate well. My feet did not overheat or get sweaty. I have found that most public places have hard floors that have no give to them and that my feet tend to get tired when I am in such a place all day. It came as a pleasant surprise to me that with the Sierra boots, my feet did not get tired. This has provided me a way to be more comfortable at an all day seminar.
Although I have used these boots quite a lot in the forest, they do not show any signs of use. They still look almost new. There is a lot of space between treads and the threads are not that deep. I think that is what prevents mud from accumulating under the boots. To conclude the Sierra Lite I WP boots stay clean, are lightweight, provide good traction, and keep my feet warm, dry and comfortable. The only downside if you can call it that was there was a short break-in period. I wish to thank Hi-Tec and 4alloutdoors for the opportunity to test these boots.