A robust, stiff (at first) pair of super-durable, grippy road-to-easy-trail running shoes that will last for years.
Wide fit toe box
Natural suede upper
Stiff feel to sole
Not super bouncy
No recycled materials mentioned
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Hi-Tec Spirit: first impressions
If you want a classic running shoe, look no further than the Hi-Tec Spirit. The white, gray and silver suede-and-mesh uppers are a fantastic blast from the past, with a wonderfully low price tag to match. (The Hi-Tec Spirit was the second cheapest shoe our guide to the best budget running shoes, with a list price of just £50 / $55 per pair.)
• List price: $55 (US) / £50 (UK)
• Weight (pair UK 6.5): 645g / 22.8oz
• Colors: Silver-gray
• Drop: 10mm
• Compatibility: Roads and light trails
Although it makes the Hi-Tec Spirit over 100g / 3.5oz heavier than most of the best running shoes out there, the suede upper is robust and comfortable, and the mesh makes them more breathable for running in.
The laces would be easier to pull through if they were threaded the other way around, which is easy enough to do yourself of course, and once pulled tight you get a nice snug fit around the top half of the foot.
The mid-foot is roomy and toe box is wide, which is great for people with wide toes and high-volume feet. They have an EVA midsole for cushioning and shock absorption, which isn’t as bouncy as top-end running shoes but provides enough for a comfy run.
The rubber outsole is formed in a zigzag like roof tiles up front for good propulsion and traction on wet and dry roads, and enough grip for light trails but not super-deep mud - not that you’d want to get these vintage-style shoes muddy!
Hi-Tec Spirit: on the roads and trails
I really like the vintage look of the Hi-Tec Spirits – these are the exact same style of trainers your parents – or even grandparents – might have had when they took up 'jogging' in the ’80s.
I found running around my local streets in the Hi-Tec Spirits was more difficult at first, because of the very stiff ride. You don’t get the feeling that the shoe wants to bend with your foot and the feeling is a little clumpy; plus the EVA cushioning in the midsole feels hard – think camping mat rather than plush mattress. This does ease up over the course of a few runs, of course, but most modern shoes are bouncy and comfy straight from the box.
You don’t see suede on many running shoes now, but it adds stability and also durability, which is great for the environment. (Obviously it won’t be a selling point for vegan runners.)
The interesting roof tile-style zig-zag grips felt good on roads, and also handled some easy trail terrain well. If you’re searching for a classic-looking trainer for easy running, walking and cycling at a knock-down price that will last you for many years, these are definitely worth a look.
The co-founder and former editor of Trail Running magazine, Claire now runs the YouTube channel Wild Ginger Running, creating films packed with trail- and ultra-running content. An award-winning journalist, writing for outdoor and adventure sports magazines and websites, her first book The Ultimate Guide to Trail Running 5k to 50k is out in January 2021. Claire also speaks and presents at events and races.