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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.
Use: Every day, all day; 4-20 miles
Break-in Period: N/A
Price Paid: £90
The good stuff: Reasonably priced, lightweight, fairly cool in summer, good traction sole, comfort is totally acceptable, replacement laces are available.
The bad stuff: Quality is about the same as a tennis shoe, seams begin coming unstitched within days, nylon uppers allow quantities of sand and dirt to filter through, tops could be an extra inch or two higher to help keep out brush or to keep BDU pant legs in.
Overall: Not a quality product by any standard, but does give acceptable performance while walking or climbing hills with lose rocks and soil. This boot would work best for a policeman who stays on clean city sidewalks.
Materials: leather with nylon upper
Use: police, military, hiking
Break-in Period: none
Weight: approximately 3 lbs
Price Paid: $50 (+/-)
I bought these boots for moderate use (ie police work), they needed minimal breaking in and were comfortable to wear. That's the good news, unfortunately although they were predominantly used for urban, non-stressful use the soles only lasted about 7 months before they were worn so much that it made walking difficult. Couple to that the fact that it was nearly impossible to walk on a wet, polished floor without sliding all over ! I doubt these boots would be any use in the field and I wouldn't buy them again unless they were very cheap !
Break-in Period: Nil
Price Paid: £79.99
I did like the looks of the boots, but also the first fitting was good. bought them, used them daily in the office and the 15 min. walking to and from the office. After four weeks it was holiday. 1 week of winter walking in snow and camping in cold nights and the boots where history: cracked leather (I did pollish them twice a day to keep them souple) and the waterproofing failed big time. Now I've got Danner Acadia & Meindle (German).
Materials: Leather, nylon
Use: daily use, winter walking
Break-in Period: 1 week
I wore these while in the military. Very durable. Survived numerous 12+ mile road marches and field excercises on sand, mud, dirt, concrete, asphalt, rocks, etc. No problems with seams ripping or seperating. Excellent traction and comfort. Never a blister. After 12 miles of marching in less than 2 1/2 hours, my feet felt as fresh as when I had started. No problems with BDU's coming out if the pant legs were of proper length.
Materials: Leather lower, Nylon upper
Use: Military, Police, Tactical
Break-in Period: 1 day
Weight: 3-4 lbs
Price Paid: +/- $54
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Reviewers Paid: $50.00-$54.00