Strong like OX, as in Hi-Tec OX!

Gear: Hi-Tec Altitude Ox i WP

Someone once said that experience is the best teacher, because she gives the test first and the lesson afterwards! I did Everest Base Camp two years ago, and let’s just say, lesson learnt… the hard way. This time round, I was not taking any chances. As the other famous saying goes: fool me once, shame on you, fool me twice, shame on me!

So with past experience in the bag, I approached the second time around with a lot more common sense. Knowing full well that common sense is not that common, I looked to Hi-Tec for their take on what shoe will take me all the way, and if the shoe fits…well, then we are going all the way!

The team recommended the Hi-Tec Altitude Ox i WP, which is really their top dog (or should I say OX) for the job. I walked for 11 days, covering 140kms through snow, rain, wind and ice, which gave me and my OX(en) many hours to bond, and boy, did we bond.

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Many people don’t realise how hard this trek actually is. The up isn’t just up, and the down isn’t just down… it is through valleys, down gorges, up uphills and over rivers. It takes a lot of grit and tenacity, and a word my wife uses a lot: “vasbyt”. The above picture speaks a thousand words…our shoes straight after the hike. Literally, it is a tale of sweat and tears (I left out the ‘blood’ part from that saying, because there wasn’t any, and I didn’t want to dramatise the events too much. That, I normally leave to my wife. She calls it poetic freedom).

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I convinced the poor woman to accompany me in this exercise of insanity, and to my, and everyone else’s surprise, she agreed! I can wax lyrical about her achievement of reaching Base Camp, and here are her top tips.

However, one thing I cannot dramatise enough, is how important your mental game is. Yes this trek is about physicality, yes it’s about gear, yes it’s about fitness… but mostly, it’s about staying mentally strong. For me it was really challenging to lead 6 fellow hikers up the mountain, each with their own fears, their own anxieties and most importantly, each with their own dreams.

It’s quite a thing to feel responsible for people reaching their dreams, and it’s heartbreaking for me and them when they don’t. We sadly bid farewell to a team member due to illness and seeing her being evacuated in a helicopter was a stark reminder that we are dealing with lives and dreams, each precious and each fragile.

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As mentioned, it was my second time, and the experience in terms of what gear to take, was priceless. Last time, for example, I was a lot colder… my gloves, layering items, sleeping bag and hiking boots were not warm enough, I was constantly cold and once you are up there, there’s not much you can do about it.

This time round, I knew it’s a lot easier to have a strong mental game when you aren’t freezing your tootsies off! So my advise to all trekkers is to really make sure you can rely on your gear. Your feet especially carry the hardest burden, and you need to be able to trust that your gear is good enough for the job.

I was therefore very thankful to have hiking boots and a jacket endorsed by the Hi-Tec team - it’s peace of mind, and at those altitudes, peace of mind is hard to come by. What does however keep the sanity in check, is the sheer beauty of the landscape. Miles and miles of mountains, as far as the eye can see. Snow covered and impossibly high, you cannot help but reflect on your own insignificance when surrounded by these giants.

I can safely say that Table Mountain is now considered a hill in my eyes!

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When the elements are in full force, you and your gear are in for an assault of rain/wind/ice and snow. On our way to Base Camp, we walked straight into a snow storm at -17’C degrees! At this point, you realise why your gear is a matter of life and death. The Orion 3-in-one with it’s Techproof and OX i Waterproof with it’s Dri-Tec technologies did what they promise, they can’t afford not to. The outer fabric membranes proved impermeable to the rain and snow. Both feet and body was warm, breathing and comfortable during the entire trek that day. I cannot say the same for my beating heart nor my racing mind!

So if you are in the market for a hiking boot that you can rely on, here is a quick overview of the OX i WP experience:

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Pros

  • I only did about 10km for walking in the boots before I left. Basically they were still brand new when I started the trek. This really worried me, as I was expecting blisters, but to my delight, they shoe and my feet agreed from day 1.

  • My toes were warm this time round and I was loving life! At -17’C my feet were warm and comfy. Last time I went I had trail running shoes and basically almost lost my big toe to the black death. What was I even thinking!?!?

  • They are super waterproof - we had rain and snow and not once was I worried about getting wet! Game changer.

  • The Michelin® outsole is rugged and lekker grippy. Again, it makes a huge difference when you can count on your shoe!

Cons

  • The shoes are big and bulky (for good reason because it keeps your ankle from say, uh, breaking!) BUT, it does take some getting used to if you are more used to trail running shoes.

  • The laces got damaged slightly with wear and tear throughout the trip. They started to wear down in high friction areas. But I had my backup laces with me and it’s a good tip for any multi day hiking adventure!

Overall

  • I was super impressed by the design and comfy fit of the boot.

  • The innersoles quickly adapted to the shape of my feet.

  • The lace system is strong and secure the ankles well.

  • The grip was superior in all conditions - wet and dry.

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The experience was life changing, and I am really proud of myself, our team and especially my wife for pulling through. If you are considering this trek, and you would like more insight or tips, please message me for more details. I will also be soon advertising a few different Himalayas trek packages from my website, such as Annapurna circuit, 3 passes and different base camp options, so watch this space!

To the Hi-Tec crew, your boots are made for walking and that’s what we did! But for now….. I’m gonna “nama-stay” in bed!

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