New for Hi-Tec's Spring 2016 collection, the V-Lite Flash will actually be available later this fall. The shoe is a real eye-catcher with its vibrant colors and aggressive Vibram outsole that is designed to maintain traction in a wide variety of terrains, including wet, slippery surfaces. Despite what appears to be a very dense sole, these shoes remain quite light. While they won't compete with a trail runner in terms of weight of course, they are still a lightweight alternative that offers better traction and all-around protection for the foot.
Hi-Tec has also integrated Vibram's RollinGait system into this shoe, which is designed to roll with the natural movement of the foot. This not only improves the comfort of the shoe, but reduces fatigue over time. As a result, you should be able to wear these shoes for longer periods of time, and over rough terrain, without your feet and legs getting quite so tired.
The shoe's upper is will remind you a lot more of a trail running shoe rather than a hiking boot. The synthetic fabrics are designed to breathe, helping to keep the foot cooler while out on a hike. Those fabrics are also easy to keep clean, shrugging off dirt and mud with ease. Despite these features however, I found my feet getting quite warm in them while testing. So much so that I found that in the hot conditions of the summer my feet were actually getting a little too warm, which makes me think the Flash Force shoes are better suited for cooler temperatures of the fall, and possibly even the winter, at least for me personally.
Overly warm feet aside, these are some extremely comfortable hikers to wear on the trail. The Ortholite insert that Hi-Tec includes with the Flash Force feel great on the foot, and they are also designed to improve your recovery following a long day on the trail. That same insert has anti-odor and anti-microbial properties, which meant that even though my feet were overly warm at times, my shoes didn't end up smelling horribly after a long hike. In fact, after putting these shoes to test in the field on numerous occasions, they still look like they just came out of the box, which is a testament to how well they handle wear and tear.
When I met with Hi-Tec at Outdoor Retailer last month, I was impressed with how great these low-cut hiking shoes felt on my feet. That same feeling continued after I received my pair to test as well, and they only got more comfortable after a short break in period. The lacing system on the Flash Force allow you to make them as snug as you'd like, while the overall fit and design cradle my feet perfectly, keeping them very comfortable even when walking on uneven, rocky terrain. And the athletic design of the shoe makes it easy to move fast on the trail as well, without your legs and feet feeling overly fatigued later. All qualities that I greatly appreciate in a good hiking shoe.
I'm looking forward to breaking these shoes out even more in the cooler months ahead. Other than them being a bit overly warm for summer hiking, they are a fantastic shoe in every other way. And I suspect as the season grows colder, I'll actually come to appreciate that warmth quite a bit.
If you're in the market for a new pair of light hiking shoes, and you want something with more of an athletic look, than the V-Lite Flash Force boots just might be exactly what you're looking for. I can't stress enough just how comfortable they are to wear, and how impressed I am with their overall build quality. This feels like a shoe that can accompany you on many hikes, and still continue to maintain their support, traction, and good looks.
The Flash Force will begin shipping this fall with an MSRP of $140. That is a highly competitive price for a shoe that offers so much performance. Check them out when you get the chance. I think you'll like what you find.