The Best High Top Hiking Boots – Vivobarefoot Off-Road Hi
I’ve spent a week now with Vivobarefoot’s high top hiking boots, the Off-Road Hi’s.
I mentioned in past reviews that I’ve never been a fan of high top boots because they restrict your ankle and, in my opinion, are more likely to cause you an injury. I saw it first hand a couple of years ago when a good friend, sporting a pair of Solomon boots twisted his ankle not once, but twice. Luckily the damage was confined to a short period of soreness and nothing more but my own theory was proven.
My mind was somewhat changed with the Synth Hikers, which are more of a mid boot (with the Off-Road Mid actually being a low boot) after spending a great deal of time with them on my feet. Unfortunately, despite their positives, I’d still have chosen my Off-Road Mids (lows!) over them.
Now, however, the choice isn’t quite so simple. I spent a while awaiting the arrival of the Off-Road Hi’s after a request from a reader to test them out. Their stock levels of them are so low that people are finding it very difficult to get hold of them. The Off-Road Hi is a higher take on the low version of the companies popular Off-Road Mid that I reviewed previously. I’ve used those as the benchmark for this pair, while I’ll refer back to my old clunky Merrells for a different comparison.
Taking a first look at the boots, you’ll notice a huge similarity with their lower counterparts, so similar in fact that they’re actually identical, minus the additional material at the top. I’ve already concluded that the Off-Road Mid were a fine shoe and this version is merely a bit taller. It’s completely personal preference. High top or low top, that’s how you decide between them.
There are a couple of bonuses to these boots however – one is the lace locking system I previously said was pointless. It appears it does have a benefit after all. On the Off-Road Mid and also the Synth Hikers.
So why is this better than a simple clip? If a lace comes undone in a clip, it falls down and you tread on it. If the laces come undone with the lockers in place, it simply hangs from that point. So, not only is it quicker to secure but it also means your laces don’t get wet and muddy, should they come undone. It’s a feature that’s actually quite well thought out, despite first appearances.
The next positive I found with a higher top is the ability to walk through deeper water than with a low boot. I did a walk through water test with both the Synth Hikers and the Off-Road Hi’s and while neither gave me a wet foot, I’m very aware that in deeper water, the Synth Hiker wouldn’t fair so well. Which means the waterproof Off-Road Mid can withstand even shallower water. Common sense of course, a lower shoe will obviously let in water faster than a high top. Never the less, it’s a point in favour of the Hi’s.
I found once more that these boots require zero breaking in. The Off-Road Mid required none, while the Synth Hikers needed the ankle to bed in slightly. I was incredibly surprised to find that the even higher top on these boots didn’t hold me back in any way right from the get go. They’re much more flexible than the high top boots I’ve seen before – especially those Solomons!
In terms of weight, they hit the scales 40g heavier per boot than the Off-Road Mid and so are quite a bit heavier than the Synth Hikers too. The weight is still considerably lower than what you’d find in a non-minimalist shoe and frankly, in a cold winter, I’d be happy with an extra 40g of insulation around my ankles!
Like all the Vivobarefoot boots, these again come with the Off-Road sole which does a fantastic job with traction on slippery surfaces. Again I found the luggs to clear very quickly after walking through boggy, sticky ground. A short walk through wet grass or a stream seems to dispel any mud that was stuck there. I still haven’t cleaned an off-road sole to this day. When I compare this to the Vibram sole on my Merrells, it’s night and day in terms of mud retention. From experience of walking through similar ground in those, they come out weighing more than like a kilo than a few hundred grams. It’s like wearing lead boots. I find it somewhat surprising that this is the case and I think most people would expect the pointy luggs on the Vivo’s to clog up more easily than the sole of the Merrells but its truly not the case.
They come in two colours – black and brown – with me having chosen the former simply for variety within my collection! I’d have loved for Vivobarefoot to highlight some of the details on the boots or have additional colour-ways. There’s no reason they couldn’t highlight the ‘V’ on the side or have the upper and lower separator in a different colour. Think of the Breatho Trail details I spoke about previously and apply some of them here, it’d make the boot far less bland.
I gave these boots an OW rating of 4.5 out of 5 in my video review last week which means there’s not much they can improve on. A better selection of colours and some minor cosmetic changes could make them stand out in terms of looks as well as performance. I would pick them over the Synth Hiker but would I take them instead of the Off-Road Mids? That just depends on the weather…
Please check out the video review of the Off-Road Hi’s below and click through to YouTube for better quality.
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