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Review by Kai Fitchen
I’m an all-around climber. Well, at least I try to be. I sport-climb mainly, dabble in long multi-pitch routes and am somewhat of a reluctant boulderer. On rest days I hike and dig steep wild scrambles.
I generally go for one shoe to do it all. Saying that, it has to be something light, low profile, takes a beating, while still being supportive enough for technical scrambles and going off-trail. Ultimately, I want all the “bells & whistles” without the weight, bulk and price tag.
The Scorpions just landed and they look pretty sleek. They are the big brother to my previous favourite, the V-Lite Wild-life Low: a bomber pair of kicks that have kept my toes happy, dry and blister-free throughout the summer months, as well as an icy 5-week climbing trip through Spain and the French-Alps.
The Scorpions have retained its predecessor’s skeleton, though Hi-Tec has updated some of the tech that I came to appreciate while scrambling around Catalonian crags and quaint little French mountain towns.
Just before I nerd-out on the specs, you can find all the information you need on www.hi-tec.co.za, but I’ve honed down on what I find most important.
They’re so light!
While I expected their more robust look, compared to its predecessor, would have immediately made them more chunky and less agile, I was proven wrong.
Their V-Lite™ technology that is used in the uppers of the Scorpions and most of their “light and fast” models, minimises the use of rubber, while retaining durability and performance. Right out of the box, they were comfortable and I took them up Devils Peak for a 3-hour dog walk descending into Newlands Ravine.
Hi-Tec’s MDT tread and XLR8 midsole technology have managed to find the “sweet spot” between durability and stickiness. The XLR8 also make the midsoles in the Scorpions 10% lighter; provide 10% greater rebound and 10% better energy absorption when compared to regular EVA rubber. While you won’t get the soft super sticky grip as you would from Stealth rubber, the XLR8 give a great balance. My previous pair has taken on a lot of mileage in both urban and natural terrain and they’re still going strong.
Every trail-runner, weekend-warrior or avid hiker will understand the annoyance of having a weak mesh upper. In the Cape, bush-whacking through thorny fynbos does a pretty good job in cutting through the mesh, but the Scorpions’ honey-comb rip-stop upper keeps dirt and grit out while retaining breathability. The toe guard works a treat delivering some stiff rubber edging for steep rocky terrain. Like it’s predecessor, the Scorpions moulded heel chassis cups my heel firmly, which is an ankle saver on uneven and bushy descents.
They aren’t waterproof, but they will give you some water repellency and they do dry really quickly. I accidentally went swimming in Badkloof, Montagu on the weekend – so I know!
I have a rather wide foot, so I have always enjoyed the roomy toe boxes in all of the Hi-Tec Models. Not having my toes pressed up against each other stops hot spots from forming. A lot of approach shoes I’ve tried seem to force my stride into a particular gait, while, the Scorpions give me support without the feeling that my foot is in a vice-grip.
So far so good, I have been wearing the Scorpions for about a month now. I can’t give a definite answer regarding wear and tear, but its predecessor is still serving me well and they’ve been through snow, rain, Karoo heat, and Yellow-wood approaches. They’ve got enough rigidity for steep technical approaches as well as precarious descents. Ultimately, I would recommend the Scorpions as an all-around mountain goat and for just over a thousand bucks; they’re definitely a wise buy.
Never belay in flops! I’ve seen a lot of belayers cut their climbing day short with swollen toes and blackened nails, due to dynamic barefoot belays. The Scorpions are easy to slip on and off.