Shadow Rabbit. Like some long-eared ninja lurking in the hedgerow. An inspired name for a shoe’s colourway and invocative of things which are far more exciting than these shoes could be given credit for on the shelf. And continuing the Ninja theme, someone said to me once that to enjoy the world one should only leave footprints; light footprints devoid of massive waffle-shaped lugs. That’s what the Roam GTX is for.
Brasher seem to pack a lot in to their shoes and boots without making them look too fussy. I must confess I don’t understand half of the buzzwords but it all sounds impressive.
These shoes feature a shock absorbent EVA footbed and gel inserts specially positioned to provide extra cushioning and stability by “promoting the foot’s natural rolling motion”. Sounds impressive huh? And if that isn’t enough there is also memory foam in the collar and tongue for extra comfort.
And of course, the name GTX is derived from the waterproof and breathable Gore-Tex lining, which helps keeps feet dry when the going is wet.
Technology and buzzwords aside the key thing about these shoes for me is that they claim to have been designed specifically for the shape of women’s feet, allowing our delicate tootsies to have space to relax as well as providing support.
That all sounds mighty impressive but does it stack up once they are on your feet? My experience of Brasher boots in the past is that they tend to come up a bit narrow on my wide feet. Straight out of the box these looked wider than the boots and once on my feet I was not disappointed. The ‘total comfort system’ was obviously doing what it’s been designed to do and my feet felt cushioned and protected but I could still wiggle my toes! They obviously use a different last (a last is the foot shape over which a shoe is built) to their boots.
Design-wise Brasher have used suede and breathable mesh, and the front has an impressive looking rubber bumper protecting the toes from sharp stuff. My test version are an understated charcoal grey colour with very subtle purple elements. I presume that the purple is the ‘Rabbit’ part of the colour description and wonder what they’re putting in the water near Brasher’s HQ? They feel very outdoorsy and walking shoe like, however despite this styling Brasher sell these as leisure/travel shoes and as only suitable for low level trails.
They have certainly faired very well on strolls around our village and are supremely comfortable. I did inadvertently put them through an off road test on a recent walk into the hills around GWA HQ, this walk ended up getting a little off-piste down a very wet and boggy track, wellies would have been a much better choice it was that bad, but despite me getting a tad hot under the collar the shoes never broke a sweat. Normally, shoes with a waterproof liner are quite hot to wear, but I haven’t suffered much in these low-cut and mesh-built Roams.
I did have to be mindful of where I stood so that the mud never came up and over the shoe (hence the barrage of scratches I came home with!) but even at the most boggy areas the waterproofing never failed. The shoes came home looking a tad battle scared but have washed up well and due to the design of the sole they haven’t kept hold of any of the mud.
The sole is a apparently a ‘travel active’ design I have no idea what this means but I do know that despite its minimalist design it is surprisngly grippy even in the boggiest of mud. The rubber is quite hard and seems to have been designed to last for a long time on hard surfaces. This fits well with the travel-shoe marketing.
I do find Brasher’s products to be on the weighty side and these shoes are no exception (841g for the pair). However, once on my feet its not something I was overtly aware of.
Despite all their inherent tech and the fantastic comfiness the £120 price tag would make me think twice about buying the Roam GTX. Yes, they stood up to much more than the most basic dry trail during my testing but I feel you can get more boot/shoe for your money elsewhere. That said if I spotted them in the sale I would bagsy myself a pair.
SUMMARY: The Roam GTX is a waterproof, hard-wearing fabric shoe which breathes well and is very comfortable straight out of the box. Lots of padding around the ankle and tongue, a decent lacing system and nice snug heel cup with wide forefoot help. The price is high, but if you were purchasing a single pair of shoes for a world-travel year, these’d be worth a look.