Southend's finest sports shoe manufacturer has been producing decent footwear for years and now they've turned their attention to minimal running footwear.
|Out of the Box!|
I'd first been introduced to Hi-Tec as they're main supplier of trainer to the British Army. For years Silver Shadows have been the recruits best friend and to be honest they weren't actually that bad but like everything, things change and now people are spoilt for choice.
I'd first heard that Hi-Tec had produced a minimal shoe when I'd a budget trail shoe "shoot out" article in Trail Running mag this month. I was lucky to have sampled several offerings from the local manufacturer in the past and my everyday shoe of choice is currently a pair of Magnum V-Lite Intrepid HPI in Multicam.
There had been limited feedback on these new shoes so far as they are quite new but Trail Running mag basically stated that they were probably not suitable for anything other than the easiest of off-road terrain, well I was going to find out the truth today the hard way (literally possibly).
Well first impressions? I opened the box and.... err to be honest, I wasn't struck done by their awesomeness. They actually looked like a brown pair of Silver Shadows! BUT looks can be deceiving.
The design is what I'd call traditional paired with a Vibram sole in a style that I'd actually never seen previously. They aren't exactly what I'd call aggressive and I was starting to think what I'd heard might be correct and maybe they should have been a little more daring?
|A great little village|
Anyway as they say "the proof of the pudding is in the eating" so it was time to try them Out of the Box! I decided as part of my taper for the South Downs Way 50 miler to run a 7 mile trail race in the lovely Essex village Felstead. For those not in the know, trail races are off-road races following written directions describing the route to be taken.
It's always a guess on what the course will be like and what type of footwear to use but this time of year you can guarantee road shoes wouldn't make it. I got to the start only to hear the organiser describe the route as reasonably muddy. I was starting to think that I should have brought another pair of shoes as a back up but hey ho!
Pulling on the shoes for the first time and I have to admit they were feeling good. The toe box didn't look too wide but even with my wide hobbit-like feet they were ok. They come with what they described as an "Ortholite footbed" which looked like a standard insole to me but what do I know? and they felt comfortable enough.
I checked in with the race organiser and soon I'd got my instructions and I was off. In the first few metres I'd already covered wet grass and mud on a school playing field and a number of gravel tracks but so far so good. The next few miles I was now out of the village and crossing various ploughed fields, some areas were exposed to the elements over and as a results were frozen overnight but then next you'd be wading through ankle deep sections.
Generally the shoes held up well and even in technical muddy areas where you were moving fast and jumping all over the place finding the best route, the Nazka's held up well. Did I "loose it"? Well yes but not that bad only slipping a couple of times in sections that were extreme and anything other than spikes would probably be just as bad.
|The end product|
I got to the finish and as you can see from the pictures, the footwear had a pretty serious test. I'd earlier taken these out of the box for the first time and I didn't even have anything that even resembled a hot spot from the run and I actually wanted to carry on.
|U got sole! - Good enough but could be a little better?|
I like these a lot as I feel they offer people an easier route into minminal running with minimal transition pain and I certainly had no issue with forefoot stiking in them. the 5mm heel to toe drop is nothing in reality and as I said in the video I shot, I actually like the cusioning as it gives hard working feet a little rest when required.
So do I like them? Actually yes! Not sure I'll wear them all the time as I feel the sole could be a little more aggressive but I could see me wearing them as an everyday shoe busting them out in anger as required. I would like to see a more hardcore barefoot / minimal offering though.