User Review: Hi-Tec Magnum
Use: Every day, all day; 4-20 miles
Break-in Period: N/A
Price Paid: £90
Over the last seven years, I have owned three pairs of Hi Tec Magnums: 8” Classic Nylon, 8” Leather, and my most recent purchase, ELITE 900 8" WP, all in UK size 9. I was very impressed with the Classic and Leather styles; both pairs lasting more than two years of everyday wear, walking an average of at least 4 miles daily on pavements and country terrain (grass, footpaths, rocks).
To start with, things went well -- I thought that the Elite 900s were the most comfortable pair of footwear I had ever worn, beating even a pair of £200+ Scarpa Trionics that I had in the mid-'90s. I was amazed that my feet stayed dry on the odd occasion that my ELITE 900s were immersed; I always let my boots dry in ambient temperatures rather than in front of heat sources, and the Sympatex panels mean that I have had no problems with either ‘sweaty boot rash’ or odour. The upper materials seem to strike the right balance between being appropriately rugged, yet soft and light; and the boots responded well to thrice-weekly cleaning and polishing with either dubbin or Kiwi Black polish.
However, I have been sorely disappointed by the lack of durability of my ELITE 900s - I paid over £90 for them at the beginning of this year, and they are already unwearable. The initial problem was in the welting - after just three months wear, the upper on the right boot began to become holed along a crease towards the toe end from welt to seam; simultaneously, on the left boot, the leather upper completely separated from the sole along the whole length of the instep section.
Over the next couple of weeks, part of the heel insert on the left boot became detached, leading to a collapse of the whole heel area within the boot, causing a tear in the inner sock. On the right foot, the riser from the heel at the rear of the boot became separated from the rest of the heel moulding on both sides, with the result that the inner lining now floats free, making it uncomfortable and rendering removal of the boot a delicate exercise to avoid damaging either boot or foot. Also, the new sole design generally seems to have worn much more quickly than on the cheaper models, despite me being typically light on my feet. Unfortunately, resoling doesn’t seem to be an option, due to the way the boots have separated from the uppers and heels.
It’s a real shame that I will have to bin my Elite 900s, as apart from the instep and heel area, the uppers still look hardly used. I’m now left in a quandary: do I get another pair of ELITEs, and hope that the shoddy build-quality has improved; go back to a cheaper model that I can trust, or gamble on a pair of the Oakley S.I. Assault Boots that are now available in the UK? (http://www.thecombatstore.co.uk/shop/customer/product.php?productid=24&cat=6&page=1) It’s a tough decision: I really want to stay a Hi Tec customer, as the company is one of the highest ethically rated footwear manufacturers by http://www.thegoodshoppingguide.co.uk/, but I need a pair of boots that are going to last.