Even in my southern locale, the morning air is taking on a crisp tone. The cooler temps of fall mean that shooting class attendance will grow, and I’ll be spending 12-hour days on the range. Shotgun shells are beginning to move off the local store’s shelves in preparation for a new small game season.
There’s nothing that can make or break a day on the range, afield, or on duty like footwear. I’ve had the chance to do a late-summer test of some products that can help keep walking and standing pleasurable, even on a long day.
First, the shoes — or are they boots? They’re a little of both. Blackhawk’s terrain mid training shoe is a lightweight but sturdy, leather and mesh construction boot that comes in duty black or casual brown. The tops are cut low at the back of the heel but angle upward to tie where any ankle boot would in front, offering full ankle coverage.
I thought these would be my hot-weather hiking boots, being mesh and all. But they’re so good-looking, I’ve decided not to ape scratch them up on cacti and rocks just yet. These boots will pull off “dress casual” at the office and transition seamlessly to fun with guns after work.
As duty boots, there’s a little exposed and polish-able area, however mesh is still exposed at the top, making them less suitable than full leather for court appearances and the like.
A high rubber toe cap adds to the rugged appearance. Its protection makes the Terrain Mid a good choice for rough or rocky terrain.
The footbed is memory foam, giving a pretty cushy and surprisingly non-sweaty ride. There’s a good balance of cushion and breathability with these boots.
Flexibility is built into the soles. I was able to shoot in kneeling position with toes bent and with no feeling of strain. On rocky terrain, the tread protects my feet from feeling points but the boots’ flexibility helps agility.
I did find that thicker socks prevented any semblance of ankle rub. With thinner socks, I have to lace them quite tight in order to stave off hot spots.
Lacing is easy. Maybe there’s a trick to it, but one feature I was excited about turned out to be a disappointment. There’s a lycra lace pocket at the top of the well-padded tongue; the idea is to neatly tuck lace ends in there out of sight. The act of tightening the boots blocked most of this feature for me, making it impossible to use. It’s not a deal-breaker.
The Blackhawk terrain mid training shoe is available in men’s sizes 7-14, giving Sasquatch types a new choice in a market that’s not always accommodating. Shoe fit is a personal thing, but I’ll venture to say these run slightly smaller than average. I had to get a 7.5 when I normally wear a 7.
MSRP is $79.99, but I found them for $51.99 at LA Police Gear. At that price, these handsome boots are a don’t-miss.
Any follower of Anne Lamott knows that the exquisite comfort that comes from wearing “really fabulous socks” is a shortcut to peace of mind. (Did I just quote Anne Lamott in a gun blog? Yes, I did, and I’m not even a fan, much). Following that wisdom, Hi-Tec socks, not to be confused with the British shoe company of the same name, are the shortcut to nirvana.
Hi-Tec makes socks for outdoorsy men and women. Samples sent to me were packaged in sets of two pairs, each with complementary colors and the top pair being a little jazzier in design than the more conservative bottom pair. Crew and boot-length socks were provided in a wool blend as well as acrylic.
Being a firearms instructor who has foot problems, socks are one of the places I can’t afford to skimp on my own attire. I had been a diehard Fox River sock fan, but my horizons are expanded now. The Hi-Tec performance socks feature arch and ankle support, toe reinforcement, and excellent padding around the ankles, keeping those Blackhawk terrain mid training shoes comfy.
I’ve not had any issues with either the performance style or “lifestyle” (no elasticized foot support zone) socks creeping down on a long day. They stay put and have washed up with very minimal pilling. And they look good too, lending a little log cabin-style comfort to my days. Breathability is good, even on hot days. The male tester enlisted to help with this review also gave positive feedback on comfort and breathability.
Unlike the shoes in this review, Hi-Tec men’s sizes stop at 12. Sorry, Sasquatch. Also a little annoying for me was removing the tiny plastic strip that holds the socks together for retail use. I snagged a sock getting the little sucker out. Patience and fine-tip scissors are the right approach to unpackaging these.
The real challenge with Hi-Tec is a brand identity and finding product. With the shoe and sock businesses apparently now separated, the company’s website isn’t entirely functional. The site does have the socks used in this test, but ordering them direct appears impossible. A few men’s boot socks appear on Amazon but not on the website.
Though the shopping experience may prove a bit quirky, it’s worth the extra time to seek these out for both quality and price. Sold in packages of two pairs for $14.99 or $19.99, these socks will outlast department store brands, enhance the wearer’s endurance, and provide visual satisfaction with attractive design. The company has an unprecedented one-year warranty and 60-day comfort guarantee. I’m not going to say it’s a spiritual experience, but happy feet contribute to happiness in my heart on long days at the range. I’m a fan.