This last couple of weeks, including while I was on holiday in Cornwall, I have mostly been wearing these shoes – these Brasher Kuga GTX shoes.
Brasher, who are a well renowned maker of walking boots, sent me these new “multi-activity” shoes to test. They are light trainer-looking lace up shoes with Goretex designed for “outdoor enthusiasts who enjoy a mix of activities from low level walking to cycling”. Of course I was delighted to accept the shoes and got them on my feet as soon as they arrived.
The features of the shoes are:
- A breathable 3D air mesh upper with 1.4-1.6mm Nubuck panels
- Memory Foam in the collar for enhanced comfort
- Waterproof and breathable GORE-TEX® lining
- All Terrain sole unit for superb grip, durability and traction control
- Ortholite dual density footbed
- Shock absorbing EVA midsole and TPU plate for arch support and torsion rigidity
I had the women’s version of the shoes (obviously) which are grey and green – the men’s are similar but with orangy laces (and also a slightly different fit of course).
The first thing I noticed when I took these out of the box and started putting them on was how light they were – so much lighter than my walking boots and even my skate trainers I wear around most of the time. I wonder if they are even lighter than my running trainers? Maybe not quite. Anyway, definitely light, which is a benefit on a hot day and also on long walks, as a discovered walking around in Cornwall.
I will happily write here that these shoes were comfy from the moment I tied up the laces. They fit really nicely (they’re available in half sizes, which when you’re a half size is a real bonus!) – the footbed is a great shape for my feet, spreading out my weight across my foot giving me stability and comfort. They didn’t need much breaking in, although they did get more comfortable after a couple of days, especially around the back of the ankle which softened up slightly, and I would always recommend breaking in a new pair of shoes/boots before using them for anything substantial.
They don’t flex as much as trainers do – but these are not trainers, and have been designed to keep you sturdy and sure whilst walking. The technology between the footbed and the sole keeps the shoe a bit rigid, meaning these can go where trainers might fail (have you ever burst the air pockets in trainers whilst walking? – it makes them very uncomfortable and hard on the knees!). But they do have slightly more flexibility than walking/hiking boots because they are lighter and give you the freedom around the ankle area.
The sole is rugged and has loads of grip. As you can see above it is designed with a deep tread so not only will these help keep you upright but they will also last for ages.
I took the them (or did they take me?) on normal pavement as well as sand, grass, gravel and even parts of the South West Coastal Path at Tintagel, Crackington Haven and Widemouth Bay, and I was never less than confident over my footing. I also wore these for a brisk six mile walk around the town wear I live – in the rain – and my feet were very happy (and dry). I did change to my hiking boots (an old pair of boots I’ve had for donkeys years that really could do with replacing) to climb Roughtor on Bodmin Moor because these are shoes and therefore give no tight ankle support, but they coped with everything I did in them perfectly. I haven’t yet walked further than six miles in one go but I am “training” for the Spires and Steeples later in the year so there will be many more walks to come, and unless I’m going on really rugged terrain which requires ankle support, I’ll be putting the Kugas on my feet.
Oh and I should say I’ve also been on my bike in these too – they work well on pedals because of the grip on the sole and also the breathable upper keeps your feet cool when you’re working hard.
Sounds all very positive. And it is. Just one very small thing. I admit for some reason I do look at styling even when it comes to practical shoes like these. I find the colours very muted – perhaps a brighter coloured mesh or strip along the side or something? They kind of blend in don’t they? Perhaps that is the idea. Maybe this way they don’t look too bad when caked in mud or when slightly worn (talking of worn, mine still look like brand new). But I certainly don’t dislike the look and am more than happy to wear these with jeans for casual days or cargo trousers for walking days (or maybe even shorts if the weather is good enough!).
I am impressed with these. My feet stayed dry in the wet and cool in the heat and at no point did I find my toes sore, blisters forming or my ankles rubbing. And that’s when wearing various kinds of socks with them. I would absolutely say walking shoes like these make a great alternative to boots for leisurely walking on most terrain. At £95 they compete with a wide range of walking shoe styles and brands, but I would definitely recommend you trying on a pair of these.
Take a look at the Brasher website for the full range.
I have also tested the Brasher Dual Trial Socks – the most comfortable socks I’ve ever worn!