Hi-Tec Total Terrain Big Fit - GearReview.com
By Matt Smith
Everyone I know has limited resources. It is hard enough to justify to your wife why you need a $300 sleeping bag, let alone why your 7 year old needs one too. And so we all learn to walk the fine line between what we really want, and what we really need. Insert a kid into the equation, and your account just got way more creative. Enter the Hi-Tec Big Fit System. The Hi-Tec Big Fit System was designed with parents in mind. I can't tell you how many pairs of kids shoes I have in crates that are hardly worn, especially winter boots, and hiking shoes and boots. One day your kid can barely keep them on because you frugally bought them a half-size too big, and seemingly three weeks later he can't get his foot in because they are too small. If you're lucky, the shoe will get a second chance at life on a sibling or second hand store. With 5 boys, I know the story all too well. Thankfully, with innovations like the Hi-Tec Big Fit System you can stretch the life of your kid's shoe to months instead of weeks.
The concept is simple, put a thicker, removable insole in the shoe, and then provide enough adjustability in the upper to fit the foot both with, and without the volume-filling insert. Hi-Tec
graciously provided me with several sizes and styles of Total Terrain shoes and boots. We stuck them on a 7 year old, an 9 year old, and an 11 year old....and then we stood back and let them play, and hike, and grow. Our testing ran into a temporary setback when the growth spurts we were expecting didn't happen...until they did. After about 6 months we removed the Big Fit insoles, and milked the boots for another couple of months. With MSRP's ranging from $45 to $60, Hi-Tec's boots provide good quality at about 1 1/2 times the price of a discount department store boot.
The kids spent the better part of the spring and summer doing their worst to the Total Terrain shoes and boots, including what accumulated to over 50 trail miles over both alpine and desert terrain. For all intents and purposes, there was nothing other than cosmetic wear to the 7 year old's shoes. By the end of the testing, the older kids had worn through the sole on the heels and toes of the shoes, but in fairness, I suspect this was largely caused by a great deal of time spent on kick scooters. For comparison, the discount department store shoes they usually play in are completely worn out in 2 or 3 months.
Summary: If you are looking for a solution to stem the tide while your kid grows, the Hi-Tec boots with the Big Fit System are a great option. You'll likely be able to use them for an entire summer on the same kid, with the peace of mind that they will last. It also is worth mention that I found Hi-Tec's customer service to be excellent as we worked through a few size issues. Expect to spend around $60 or less. A frugal shopper can find good discounts on previous year models.
For more information contact:
Hi-Tec Sports USA
4801 Stoddard Road
Modesto, CA 95356
Matt Smith is a contributing editor at Gearreview.com and loves spending time exploring with wilds of Utah, especially now that his kids are old enough to carry some of their own weight.