The Altitude is a synthetic-leather hybrid offering from Hi-Tec that is our Best Buy winner for heavier hiking boots. The Merrell Moab Ventilator Mid is our Best Buy for lighter hiking boots. It's a bit burlier than some of the other boots in a comparable price range, the Altitude is a good choice as an upgrade from cheaper boots like the Columbia Newton Ridge. It was our preferred boot for fishing. Unlike many other leather-synthetic hybrids, the Altitude maintained its structural integrity even when thoroughly soaked. While we valued the Altitude's features, award winners like the Asolo Power Matic 200 and Salomon Quest 4D GTX edged it out by a little bit in most metrics. The Altitude still holds an important place as a all-arounder, and an excellent boot for anyone looking for a bargain.
Hi-Tec Altitude Review
Cons: Stiff, wide for the size
Our Analysis and Test Results
While it can't match boots like the Keen Targhee II Mid, the Altitude is well-padded, moderately insulated, and overall perfectly comfortable. The altitude is a bit on the stiff side, though it had almost no break-in period. These boots could do a multi-day backpacking trip right out of the box.
The Altitude is a little on the large side for the size. Not so large that blisters or chafing becomes a problem, but large enough to accommodate a thick pair of wool socks or neoprene waders.
The Altitude's soles aren't as boomer as the Vibram pairs we've tested. On multiple occasions, we slid on the same wet granite that the Vibram soles gripped just days before. The difference isn't highly noticeable, though it warrants consideration.
Stability is where the Altitude really shines. The Altitude is made of a leather-synthetic combination, with a bit more (and thicker) leather than is typical of the Altitude's price range. The result is a stiff but supportive upper. As a result, the Altitude holds its shape very well when soaked, in contrast with many similarly built boots. We appreciated this functionality while canoe tripping and fishing, situations where we depend on supportive but fully inundated boots. The boot's sole is very thick, which creates a bit of an awkward platform for uneven ground.
These boots are a bit on the heavy side. Even so, the boots make good use of the weight.Similarly constructed boots like the Asolo Power Matic are far heavier.
Unlike some other boots roughly within the same price range, the Altitude has a leather tongue. While a bit harder to cinch down, this tends to give it more reliable waterproofing. The Altitude does take a long time to dry out, however, and the leather can crack if not conditioned soon after drying. A bit of TLC with a leather dressing is all this boot needs to stay in prime waterproofed condition.
The Altitude is a prime candidate for cool-weather hiking and backpacking. It is a bit on the heavy side, both in terms of weight and insulation, for midsummer. But the Altitude's thick upper and stable exterior make it a perfect choice for early spring and fall. It even does well in the snow, and the reliable waterproofing can easily prevent ambient snow and dew from soaking you.
We don't recommend them for winter though. Nor would we suggest that you use it for hoofing heavy gear off trail. The Altitude is an excellent choice for someone looking for a solid all-around performer, but for specialized requirements, our award winners would be good alternatives.
We did not experience any problems with short-term durability during the course of our testing. We brutalized these boots for months, kept them almost constantly wet, and exposed them to the harshest conditions possible. During that time, the leather stayed in decent conditions, the seams stayed put, and the metal components survived without significant damage.
There are a few construction issues that could potentially produce problems in the future. Specifically, seams in the body of the boot itself tend to be points of failure. The Altitude doesn't have a seam along the ball of the foot, which is the most common and most problematic point, but it does have one in the instep. This could potentially shorten the lifespan of the shoe.
That being said, the Altitude is very inexpensive. I would be an excellent investment, even if the shoe's useful life didn't exceed two years.
— Atherton Phleger