Hi Tec Sierra Lite WP ReviewNovember 13, 2012
- Good breathability for a waterproof boot.
- Light weight for a mid-height boot
- Higher quality Ortholite insole
- Soft flex and soft upper make for less confidence in rugged terrain.
- Doesn’t do well under heavier loads, due to that soft flex.
- Mediocre arch support.
- Expensive for a light duty shoe.
The Sierra Lite WP is very comfortable but really only suitable for moderate terrain and light loads. In rougher stuff the soft-flexing construction doesn’t provide enough support. If you have high volume feet and are looking for something like a cross-trainer with ankle protection to hike in, this could fill the bill.
Support and Stability
The flex and support of the Sierra Lite made me think of a gym cross-trainer. The sole was very flexible laterally and at the forefoot. The upper doesn’t provide much support, and there wasn’t much arch support either. It’s a very comfortable boot, but my foot wasn’t held firmly in place on uneven ground.
Protection & Comfort
The sole provides decent protection against rocks and wraps up to toe and heel caps. This upper has fairly thick padding on the ankle and the gusseted tongue, and the open-cell EVA foam footbed is one of the thickest I’ve ever seen.
Construction and Design
Hi Tec constructed these boots to be light by using nylon mesh with some nubuck in areas of high wear, and using a fairly thin EVA midsole and a “contoured lasting board” instead of a shank. The most interesting concept is their Ion-Mask water-repellant treatment, which is sort of a DWR that’s molecularly bonded to the upper material so it never wears off (meaning the fabric never soaks through, which keeps the waterproof membrane pores from clogging and impairing moisture movement). It also has a generic waterproof laminate—and the breathability was excellent. My feet were very comfortable in hot dry weather.
The footbed that comes with the Sierra Lite is very thick and soft. I tried changing it out for an aftermarket footbed for better support, but then the fit was too roomy—you’re likely stuck with what comes with the shoe. The lacing system doesn’t extend far down toward the toes and the fit is medium-high volume (unless you change out the footbed, then it becomes high volume), so people with narrower feet may find that their foot swims.
I found the Sierra Lite best suited to fairly easy and level trails. The extensive use of EVA in the midsole and footbed was too cushiony to maintain precise footing on rocks, and the soft sole flex didn’t help either. My feet were fatigued at the end of long hikes due to the lack of arch support.
The ion-mask waterproofing technology performed very well. My feet stayed dry during rain and stream crossings, and reasonably during hot weather as well.
The mesh and nubuck upper didn’t show much wear but I didn’t really test it hard for abrasion because the boots weren’t in their element in rocky territory.