First impressions of the shoe were good, and I spent a bit of time getting a feel for the shoe build - it certainly seemed solid enough and I was impressed with the design and layout. The walls of the shoe appear to be fairly thick and should be able to take a bit of a beating without risk of tearing through the outer walls. The main material is a mixture of textile and Microfiber.
The shoe sports a smart lace up system which is a bit like Marmite – you either love it or hate it. You simply pull the lace cord up towards you and it tightens up the entire lace rigging. To release, you squeeze in the clip and pull up. It held throughout wear and didn’t allow the lacing to slip back and relax. The tongue design being well set up to provide a cover for the smart lace locking system so it’s out of sight.
The side of the shoe has a black plastic looking wall at the join of the midfoot to the midsole which in my opinion makes them look slightly cheap but seems thick enough to provide a good level of protection to a notoriously vulnerable section of the shoe.
Going inside to the insole, I was disappointed with the quality of this – for £119 I would be looking for a Vibram insert or something more responsive and supportive, rather than the simple piece of foam fabric that didn’t appear to be any different from any other cheaply made insole you would find in a cheaper pairs of shoes. This was disappointing as I had expected much more from a shoe of this price.
I queried this with Haix and they promptly replied, stating that the midsole and outsole provide all the comfort and support needed, even if you took the insole out. Apparently their research and end-user feedback has shown that most people replace the insole for a personal preference brand that they know and have experience with. Haix also mention that by keeping the insole simple but functional, it means the cost factor in the overall show is very low. This ensures you don’t force a loss on yourself by swapping it out.
I initially felt this was a bit of a cop out, but in fairness to Haix I then realised that, well, yeah, this is exactly what I do. I always stick a pair of Vibrams or OrthoLite insoles in my shoes, binning the stock one, so from that angle it does make sense, and with the insole out, something I hadn't tried prior to this, I can feel that support still there in the core of the shoe itself.
These shoes are designed to be a multifunctional outdoor shoe, and they provide a level of protection to the foot that should see it right across any kind of terrain, although this make the lack of a decent insole all the more disappointing.
I wore the shoes over the course of a couple of weeks in a variety of different situations and terrain, both wet and dry. The inner lining of the shoe is GORE-TEX Extended, making it waterproof and highly breathable. The terms ‘waterproof’ and ‘highly breathable’ don’t often sit well together, you’re either one or the other, but to be fair, it kept my feet dry and there was no real sign of sweating after a few hours in them.
I had these on whilst in a marshy in a field doing a recce for a nav-ex, that kind of ground where your feet squelch in just enough to come above the midsole and you think “bugger, here we go” but to be fair, they lived up to the waterproof claim and I was able to walk a bit more confidently. It’s worth pointing out that the shoes did nothing for me when I sank knee deep into a bloody flooded foxhole I hadn’t spotted! They did dry out quickly that night though once I’d stuffed some newspaper in them and put them in a warm spot in the house.
Unfortunately my nice black and silver shoes are now somewhat dirtier than when I started out but I’m sure they will clean up as good as new and I’m not scared of taking a nail brush to them due to the robust build quality.
Throughout the wear period, the shoes were really comfortable and felt really sturdy in terms of movement and the support provided helped me avoid a tweaked ankle on some dodgy ground. The grip on the sole of the shoe is well designed with nice, deep ridges in various shapes and angles to give great purchase on pretty much any terrain.
These shoes are, in effect, a pair of trainers with added design features which allow you to use them in the great outdoors. The shoes are breathable with what Haix call ‘Airflow channels’ built in to help the circulation of air within which I found to be great at keeping my feet cool and refreshed.
Overall, these are a smart, well designed pairs of shoes which can hold their own in a number of different environments. In my opinion however the price may put some people off making a purchase. £119.90, I feel is slightly expensive for the shoes you are getting. Would I purchase these shoes at that price? If I’m being honest the answer would be no. I can see that a large chunk of that money goes towards the quality of waterproofing and breathability, etc, but for me, I want just a bit more for that kind of price range. If however the price was slightly cheaper then yes, these would be a reasonable buy,