When Hi-Tec approached me to review the V-Lite Hornet HPi trail running shoes (and hold a giveaway too!) I was a bit hesitant. I’ve never known Hi-Tec shoes to be the top of the game when it comes to comfort, durability, style, and cutting edge technology in the outdoor shoe industry. Quite honestly, I’ve always thought of them as the budget shoe. But I’m open to trying almost anything, so I agreed to give them a shot. My results have been surprising.
DESIGN: A little on the heavy side for a trail shoe, The V-Lite Hornets feature a medium weight mesh upper with crisscrossing plastic heat seal overlay reinforcements for the hard molded plastic eyelets. Hi Tec’s ion mask™ Hydrophobic technology thoroughout the upper maintains good water resistance while splashing through puddles, though I didn’t have the opportunity to really dunk them. The Hi Tec website says the ion mask™ technology maintains breathability as well, but I had minor issues with that. Walking through the hot Arizona desert, the shoes didn’t breathe as well as I’d have liked, but in my tests in Maine, they performed just fine.
BUILD: The ion mask™ upper combines with Hi Tec’s Comfort-Tec memory foam insole and a Vibram lug outsole to unite this shoe into a trail running powerhouse. A 3/4 gusseted tongue keeps debris and water out of the shoe. A shank in the sole provides great support on rough trails, something I really liked. Part of the traction “pods” on the sole near the toe did start to peel off, which makes me wonder about the molding.
FEEL: I love the Comfort-Tec memory foam insole. Whether running down the tree root covered trails of Maine or navigating the slickrock trails of Sedona, these shoes kept the soles of my feet comfy the whole time. The Vibram outsole made me feel confident in the traction of these shoes. The tongue of the shoe is 3/4 gusseted, but where it’s sewn into the shoe near the toe box, it rubs uncomfortably on the top of my feet.
STYLE: The Hornets look cool. A funky pattern is created by the laces and eyelet reinforcement overlay. Tan, two shades of brown, and a greenish olive color the shoe, punctuated by spots of muted orange. They just plain look good, especially when you get them dirty.
Make: Hi Tec
Model: V-Lite Hornet HPi
Details: Despite the minor weight and breathability issues I encountered, the Hi Tec V-Lite Hornet HPi is a quality trail shoe from an underrated manufacturer. If anything, the Comfort-Tec insole and the Vibram outsole make for a great mix of comfort and traction, two things you’ll want out on the trail. At $110, those two features alone are worth it.