What does Hi-Tec have to do with creating an incredibly lightweight trail running shoe? It’s in our heritage! Many of the big names in Adventure Racing today got their start years ago in Hi-Tec footwear. The Infinity HPi can handle anything a harsh trail throws at them – roots, rocks, mud and water – and still offers plenty of support while allowing your foot to adapt to the surface. Proud winner of the Running Network “Best New Trail Shoe” and Health Magazine Gear Awards.
- Extremely breathable synthetic upper
- Seamless Upper Zone Engineering upper design
- ion-mask hydrophobic technology
- Heat seal overlays for lightweight support
- TPU shank support with ESS protection
- Molded toe cap
- Reflective safety details
- Microfiber collar lining
- Comfort Tec contoured footbed
- Exclusive Dual Density Vibram Outsole
- Dual Density 3D Counter Balance Midsole
- Lightweight TPU shank
- Measured size 9
- Weight – 301 g (10.6 oz)
- Forefoot width – 94.7 mm (3.7 in)
- Stack height – 27 mm (heel), 15 mm (toe), 12 mm drop with insole
- Retail – $155
Hi-Tec originally started making footwear for Squash in the UK. This shoe has now sold over 18 million pairs alone since production began back in the mid 70s. Hi-Tec has grown a lot since then being distributed in over 80 countries around the globe. Hi-Tec is still largely a footwear brand but has also expanded to cover some clothing as well.
I started to work with Hi-Tec last year and have reviewed a couple of items for the site. Most recently I worked with them to review the Infinity HPi Shoes; a do anything lightweight shoe. This shoe also sparked a movement and some very intriguing videos, which are a good watch. Check them out below:
True to their design, I tested the V-Lite Infinity HPI Shoes on a variety of adventures. I used them for some mixed runs up to 5 miles in length. I used them for hiking and even some climbing. They got dirty; they got wet; and they even got a bit beat up.
The V-Lite Infinity HPi Shoes are a multisport shoe. In so being they are made to be used across multiple activities. The shoes at first glance look like a standard trail running shoe. I must say they are some pretty cool looking shoes. I tested the lime green and gray model, and they are pretty sweet. Starting from the top the shoes have been made with a breathable synthetic upper. The upper is a lightweight mesh that has some thin clear overlays in the midfoot and heel to add some structure and protection. The mesh is a denser weave near the base and has some larger openings the higher up the shoe for more breathability. Hi-Tec calls this their Seamless Upper Zonal Engineering (S.U.Z.E.). It creates a one-piece mesh to provide better protection, breathability, and support while not having as many seams that could cause discomfort. What really sets the upper apart is the ion-mask treatment. This treatment is an invisible protective layer that molecularly bonds to the upper making it more durable and not affecting the feel or appearance. Ion mask makes it so dirt and water cannot adhere to the surface and helps the shoes stay drier and cleaner longer.
The Infinity uses a standard lacing system with plastic eyelets for easier adjusting of the laces. There are also two upper eyelets if you want to use a lace lock system to lock in your heel. The tongue is made of a lightweight mesh with impeded perforated foam so it maintains breathability but also protects the top of your foot more. The tongue is gusseted to prevent rocks and debris from getting in and also holding it in place so it will not slide around on you. Hi-Tec has also put a protective toe guard over the front to add some protection from rocks, whether running, hiking, or adventure racing.
On the inside of the shoe the front half is the back of the mesh material while the back half is a microfiber liner that is not only soft to the touch but seam free. It incorporates some padding around the heel section to provide a better fit. The shoes have a basic insole that is removable if you want to use your own. In the heel, there is a webbing loop that can be used to help get the shoes on or clip them to a pack. In the midfoot, the shoes use EVA foam cushioning with a TPU shank for stability and protection. In the back heel area of the shoes, there is a 3D Counter Balance. This is part of the Infinity running platform for support and cushioning meaning a smoother, straighter center of pressure and fewer chances of injury. The 3D Counter Balance is denser foam to provide this support. It is labeled and colored bright green so you can’t miss it. The outsole of the V-Lite Infinity HPi Shoes uses a dual-density Vibram rubber. This puts different densities in strategic locations based on where they will be best used. The outsole itself only has rubber in certain spots to save weight. This is part of Hi-Tec’s V-Lite construction, which is a build philosophy that uses a variety of technologies to strip the weight out of the shoe without sacrificing performance.
The Infinity Shoes are made mainly with unsustainable materials as are almost all shoes. The one highlight of the shoes that is green is the ion mask technology. Looking at Hi-Tec as a brand, there is not much information about their corporate practices. I, therefore, gave them a 1.5 rating for sustainability.
Foot Length (15%)
Foot Width (15%)
Heel Width (15%)
Midfoot Width (15%)
Toe Box Width (15%)
This is where the Hi-Tec V-Lite Infinity HPi Shoes excel. Even though the shoes are billed as a multisport shoe they truly feel like a trail runner. When you first grab a pair you can feel the soft interior around the back of the shoe, and even though I always wore socks with these, I could feel this plush material. I must say I really liked it. As far as comfort next to your skin these shoes will be seriously difficult to beat. They feel awesome on the inside. Even the mesh in the front is comfortable, but not as sweet at the back half is. While this is all well and good I also must add that I never got any irritation when running or hiking so they not only feel good but work at keeping your foot comfortable. On one hike the shoes even got rather wet, and they still felt good. I ended up just using the stock insole during my testing, which is really basic. If you wanted to swap it out for one of your own, the insole removes easily.
I am normally a size 9 in shoes, and that is what I tested in these. I feel like this was the right size for me as I had a little extra room past my toes. If I was following the normal rule of thumb on this, I could have had just a slight bit more, but I am used to tighter shoes from my soccer days so it was not an issue for me. I think they fit true to size unless you are already on the edge then I would say size up. As far as the shape of the shoe I would say it has a slightly narrow toe box, medium with midfoot, and medium width heel. I felt like the shoe fit pretty well through the heel and midfoot, but I could have gone with a little more room in the toe. Even when looking down on the top of the shoe you can see it narrows. This did not cause me any issues or discomfort; it just prevented me from splaying out my toes as much as I normally do. It also made it tighter if I did choose to wear thicker socks. The volume of the shoes is pretty good as well. I feel like the shoes can accommodate a higher volume foot fairly well with an easy to get in opening and gusseted tongue. If you have a thinker insole, then this will reduce this volume but with the thin standard one there was plenty.
Water Resistance (10%)
The Hi-Tec V-Lite Infinity is an interesting pair of shoes as they are a multi-sport shoe. This essentially means you can use them for whatever you may be doing on the day. I have generally found that when you try to do all things, you end up not doing any of them particularly well. However, that is not the case with these shoes. While they are better at some activities over others, they really are solid across a wide range. Not only did I take these out for some of my runs but also used them for hiking and climbing. The lugging on the bottom is not very aggressive but still seemed to grip well. My runs were on both dirt and asphalt, and I did not have any issues there, but this was not a great test of traction. The best test was on a hike I did into the Broken Top Crater. Not only was it raining sideways, but the hike was on large rocks, loose gravel, dirt, and mud. I was pleasantly surprised how well the shoes griped across all these surfaces. I cannot think of a time during the whole day where I slipped. The Vibram sole gripped all the rocks well and even the loose dirt and mud were manageable.
Where the shoes do struggle a bit is in the upper. Hi-Tec has made these shoes lightweight by using less structure in the upper. This means there is less holding the foot secure, especially around the ball of the foot, and for me, it meant my foot would be less stable on top of the platform, especially when walking across off camber rocks. More than one time did it cause my footing to be not as balanced in these situations. The other drawback of a less reinforced upper is when hiking through larger rock areas, I noticed that the upper got a couple tears from rubbing on the rock edges. The upper is a lightweight mesh so it has excellent breathability but this also leads to a more fragile fabric. It seems that the upper is not very durable when it comes to abrasion so be careful. On the other hand, the rest of the shoe held up well, and the cushioning and outsole should get lots of mileage.
The V-Lite Infinity shoes have a reasonable amount of cushioning and when compared to most of my running shoes they felt quite plush. I never had any issues with feeling rocks pocking the bottom of my feet. The 3D Counter Balance does a good job of adding some support and helping the foot transition through the foot strike. It is not overly supportive, but the little bit added is helpful. I tend to be a bit more of a midfoot striker on the run, so I did not notice it as much then. Hiking is when I tend to be more heel toe and could feel the dual density a little more. With the thicker cushioning, 3D Counter Balance, and TPU plate, the Infinity Shoes do lose some of their flexibility. You can feel it a bit in your hands but when on the run they did not feel overly stiff.
The ion mask technology is an interesting addition to the shoes. It is not the first pair of shoes I have tested with this technology, and it is cool how it helps the fabric stay drier and cleaner. Basically, it does not let things adhere to the fabric, and therefore they can be shed easier. You can see the water bead up if the shoes get wet, but it does not mean they are waterproof. On my rainy hike, it took about ½ mile before I started to feel the water penetrate. This is to be expected as the whole upper is a lightweight mesh material. I do think that it helps the shoes stay cleaner longer as after all my testing, the shoes still look like new. The only areas you can see any wear is some on the sole, the small rip to the upper of both shoes, and some scratching of the lace guides.
Overall, the Hi-Tec V-Lite Infinity HPi Shoes are a good multisport shoe. They are very comfortable as the interior fabric is some of the best I have ever tested for pure comfort. The toe box does run slightly narrow, and this is mainly realized right at the toe so size accordingly. For me, the shoes are a bit heavier than what I typically like to run in, even trails. I do see them as an excellent approach shoe, fast hiking shoe, or adventure racing shoe. The sole has good traction, and they still are light, just not as light as many of the newer trail runners on the market. If you do need a little stability in your trail shoes, this is also a decent option as most trail running shoes do not have any guidance built in. One main qualm against the shoes is the durability f the mesh upper. The volcanic rock here in Central Oregon tore up the mesh in a couple of places, which was disappointing. The holes are about the size of a pencil tip but still annoying. If you are looking for a do anything shoe, take a look at these, they may even help you run on water. The Hi-Tec V-Lite Infinity HPi Shoes retail for $165. Of course, your mileage may vary.
Pros [field name=iFrame]
- Ion mask technology
- Very comfortable liner
- Vibram outsole
- Lightweight fully cushioned trail shoe
- More structure at the ball of the foot
- Mesh tears easily
- Narrow toe
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