Hi-Tec recently sent me a pair of their new Tunis shorts to test.
Before this review continues – it is important to note that these are running shorts, not hiking shorts. The distinction might be subtle, but the difference is huge.
My testing of these shorts included a fair amount of hiking and some running, and my findings are very different between the two sports. It is unfair to review a pair of running shorts and evaluate them by reference to how good they are at a sport that they were not designed for.
Testing the shorts at Mnweni, Northern KZN Drakensberg.
The summary of my hiking findings with these shorts are as follows: the backpack pushing on the elastic gets very uncomfortable very quickly, and the inner liner isn’t particularly comfortable when hiking. The summary of this is that you shouldn’t use running shorts for hiking. This is not a fault with the design of the gear, in the same way that it is intentional that your shoes for a formal dinner don’t have good grip on rock – a formal shoe with good grip would be counterproductive, your feet need to move easily on a dance floor, but easy of sliding while scrambling up a rocky slope would not be good.
My testing of these shorts included hiking and competing in the 2017 edition of the Capital Climb run in Pietermaritzburg, a 15km run with 400m in altitude.
I always enjoy the Capital Climb – road running is far from being a sport I am strong at, after all, it is the opposite of what I normally do. Big hills, altitude, difficult terrain with a pack compared to running on an easy stable surface with no weight or altitude to consider. Capital Climb does, to a small extent, level the playing field – not many participants are very fast up the hill, and some even complain about the altitude at 1100m at the top of the hill. A fair amount of the road is not tarred, which also evens things out a bit. So while others jog up the hill, I simply walk past them!
This year’s event included almost perfect weather, although it was hot near the end, and a field of just short of 1000 people. Since I strained my ITB in March, my training has not been as comprehensive as it was in 2016, so I was not sure how fast I would be. After wearing incorrect clothing last year, I learned my lessons and decided it was better to be cold before the race than it was to start in warm clothing and sweat throughout, so I geared up as follows:
- Hi-Tec Hickow shirt
- Hi-Tec Tunis shorts
- Hi-Tec thick socks
- Hi-Tec Speed Life shoes
Top of the hill, 5km into Capital Climb 2017. Photo by Instapix.
I paced the race perfectly this year – I can’t see any way I could have cut my time significantly, and managed to cut 3m20 off my 2016 time, finishing in 1h40m24, in 309th place. Not a terrible time for an individual whose main sports event is a 210km route almost entirely above 3000m with roughly 10km of altitude gain and loss almost entirely off trail!
My findings on the shorts are as follows:
At 170g, the shorts aren’t exceptionally lightweight. With the liner, this is to be expected.
For running, they are very comfortable. The fabric breathes well and I had no issues with chafing.
The shorts did not retain sweat and kept cool throughout the run.
If you are looking for hiking shorts, these aren’t the shorts for you. But they are great for running in.