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November 18, 2019

By Melanie van Zyl

Ever done a hike in a heatwave? I do not recommend it. I do, however, recommend climbing this sky-high summit of the Magaliesburg mountain range when the weather is a little kinder.

A mixture of smooth pathways and rocky ascents, the eight-kilometre Shelter Rock hike in Magaliesberg is a super way to kickstart a Saturday. It's also an excellent testing ground for the new Hi-Tec Ravus Quest hiking boot.

Melanie van Zyl took them for a spin on a popular hiking trail near Johannesburg. 

First impressions of the Hi-Tec Ravus Quest Lux Mid WP W

Direct from delivery, I couldn't believe how lightweight the box was. These hiking shoes weigh 930g together – that's a bunch of hefty boot features packed into one lightweight leather bundle. 

These new women's boots are part of the Hi-Tec Outdoor Crossover collection, and they're designed for both use on the trail and then strolling into the city. The camel colour tones gave me Timberland vibes, and the pale blue trim means you could comfortably get away with wearing them off the trail. The classic boot style ain't going anywhere though. However, I love the earnest feel that comes with it and the old-school vintage laces. 

Quick Specs - Hi-Tec Ravus Quest Hiking Boots

Weight: 460g per shoe
Comfort: Removable, moulded inserts with arch support on either side of the foot.
Waterproofing: Yes, Dri-Tec waterproof membrane.  
Traction: M-D Traction rubber, fairly deep tread and a non-uniform pattern on the soles.
Breathability: Leather upper complimented with mesh synthetic for breathability.

Hiking Shelter Rock in Magaliesberg 

We set our alarm for 5.30am (a bit of an ask on a Saturday, I know!) so that we could leave Randburg by 6am. It's roughly an hour's drive (and 70km) to the start point of Shelter Rock Trail – ensuring early arrival to avoid the heat of the day. It's an uncomplicated journey past the Cradle of Humankind. Just note, bigger groups need to book in advance. 

The mountain range extends over 120km from Bronkhorstspruit Dam east of Tshwane to Rustenburg in the west. Every time I visit, I'm reminded of how underrated this area is. Did you know the Magaliesberg Mountains are some of the oldest in the world? At 250 million years, they beat Mount Everest at the age game clocking in at an estimated 100 times older than this humble chain.

On arrival at the conservancy, hikers are given a small info book on the trail, which is a thoughtful touch.

Wearing the boots, comfortably cushioned by Hi-Tec's Exploration Socks and kitted out in the Ladies Basic Long Tights (undeniably comfortable, but a little thick and hot for a heatwave!) we set off. From the base camp, the Shelter Rock trail climbs towards one of the highest peaks in the Magaliesberg Mountains. The hike is well-marked, painted with red dots that efficiently guide the way. Combined with the booklet, you really can't get lost.

The trail begins with a forested section (oh how charming it must be when the river runs!), and plenty of birds resounded through the branches as we soaked up the precious shade. One of the trees in the kloof, our little handbook informs us, is a Wild Olive Tree estimated at over 1000 years old.

Leaving the woods, we start the climb up to Shelter Rock. The pathway opens up, and there are endless valley views. Sugarbush trees cling to the rocks and baboons holler from the heights above, while Spotted guineafowls scramble off into the shrubbery. We meet a dung beetle couple too, and the reserve is host to plenty more life besides – including warthog, kudu, porcupines, tree squirrels and even Black-backed jackals.

The next point is Shelter Rock, a big red sandstone slab that you can clamber up for even choicer views and enjoy a short rest. The trail is very exposed from Shelter Rock upwards to the peak. I'm thankful for the hydration bladders we decided to pack when we continue the march up to the summit. The terrain is a mix of loose gravel, broad rockfaces and dusty patches that the Hi-Tec Ravus Quest hiking boots take easily in their stride. The ankle support provides all the right security and plenty of grip for lunging up the mountainside.

There are a couple of ladders to climb that cross fences into the neighbouring farm, and we meet other adventurers enjoying the outdoors. Couples, families and even pets. Eventually, we reach the escarpment top. It's hazy, but the views are tremendous. A fantastic reward for enduring the heat!

I wouldn't describe Shelter Rock as a tough trail, but there are sections of uphill that become demanding. You can also take it easy and regularly stop if it gets too heavy going. Downhill is always more manageable, and the grip underwent more testing on the return route. Thankfully, suffering no slips or slides despite very wobbly legs!     

Back at base camp, there's a swimming pool and various braai areas for relaxing at afterwards. 

Quick Specs - Shelter Rock Trail 

Where: Shelter Rock, Skeerpoort/Hekpoort, Gauteng, South Africa
Length: 8km 
Elevation: 400m 
Highest altitude: 1711m
When: The trail is open between 7am and 5pm, the last hikers are let in to hike the summit at 11am. 
Weekdays: must be booked and paid for in advance. Minimum group size for weekdays is four adults.
How much: Entry to Shelter Rock costs R80 per person. 

Final thoughts on the Hi-Tec Ravus Quest Hiking Boots

These are a robust, durable set of hiking boots capable of tackling any trail. The high, cushioned sides provide protection against rocks and the doughy padding around the ankle makes for super comfortable wearability. The ankle height offered great support and built-in tongue kept out small stones, dirt and other hiking debris. I found there was enough flex to navigate the obstacles, but the shoes were still stable and secure, effectively gripping every inch of the varied terrain. I particularly liked the old-school, rustproof hardware lacing system.

Also read: How to care for your hiking boots.

The colour also hides dirt really well, and they were still in great nick after the hike. Consider getting a size bigger than usual. In summer, your feet swell and allow room for thick hiking socks to better-prevent blisters.  

The full leather upper repels water, and hopefully, once the rains arrive, I can put the waterproofing to the test too. 

Other great day hikes near Johannesburg 
  1. Rustig Nature Reserve is right next door to Shelter Rock. There are four walks to choose from: two-day hikes and two overnight trails varying from 3km to 18km. From R65 per person.
  2. Mountain Sanctuary Park. This 1000-hectare property is famous for its hiking trails that range from 15 minutes walk to 8 hours. Pack a swimming costume. Entry costs R150 per person.
  3. Dlala Nje offers an urban hiking experience in Johannesburg. Explore Johannesburg's biodiversity and rich history with this epic trip through Doornfontein ridge. From R380 per person.

 Also read: Four new different things to do in Johannesburg. 

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