Is less more? Well, I suppose it depends what the context is, but in the case of walking boots perhaps a better question is “Is less enough?”. Well, Brasher have set about to ask that question with the Supalite Active GTX, and we reckon the answer is yes.
The Supalite Active is the leaner, lighter version of the Supalite 2, which we reviewed some time ago here. The physical similarities with their namesake are pretty much non-existent except for the tell-tale SUPALITE logo on the midsole, and the Active version seem to be designed for the more contemporary (younger?) customer.
However, as per their leather brother, the Supalite Active is a boot which is a compromise of support for weight. They’re really light – weighing in at 1050g per pair – and this translates to a lot of ‘give’ when you do that thing which most people do in shoe-shops of twisting and bending them. The resulting flexibility makes them behave a lot more like a trainer than a hiking boot, and in fact Brasher themselves are quite clear what they’re aimed at in their press release:
“Ideal for leisurely walks and kicking around the campsite. They’re also smart enough for a stop-off in the local pub or country cafe.”
At this point, some of our more hard-core readers can probably tune out – this boot isn’t for the type of person who questions why you’d need a boot for mooching around the campsite. This boot is for the type of person who hates wet socks, cold feet and discomfort on holiday. The type of person for whom a shoe is too little protection and a hiking boot is too much. It’s a jack of amateur trades and in that role it does very well.
The Midsole is a moulded EVA (rubber) unit which flexes and bends gently with your foot as you walk. No rocket science going on there. And the upper is a mix of man-made fabric panels and suede-like pig skin which is a lighter alternative to leather.
The design of the Supalite Active is contemporary enough to please most people, yet conservative enough to not shock the ramblers. Greys and blacks are pleasantly muted and a subtle but effective toe-bumper and reinforced heel-cup blend in visually.
The Upper is fully lined with Gore Tex’s Extended Comfort membrane (read technical gumf here). It’s waterproof and breathable, and designed to let your sweat out in real-world conditions where you move from indoors to outdoors and hot to cold. It works pretty well and after a couple of all-day wears I found no problems or smelling like a tramp’s pocket.
The only problem with the Gore membrane is that it hoiks the price of the Supalite Active up to a hefty £130 which may make those of you who are looking for a boot to wear around the campsite gulp!
Out of the box, the Supalite Active are very comfortable indeed. Their supple uppers and flexible sole, together with a wide fit make for a trainer-like feeling, and there’s plenty of padding to keep things snug. A moderate amount of arch support is built in to the boot, and also, oddly, a pad in the heel. Unfortunately (and bear in mind that boot reviews are horrible subjective), this couple with a pad of foam in the insole, mean that there’s a bit of an irritation under the heel when wearing these boots for a long time.
That minor irk aside, the Supalites are a decent low-impact boot for the everyman.
SUMMARY: A very lightweight, simple boot for general wear when a shoe isn’t quite enough. Subtle but contemporary styling and a full waterproof membrane. Price is perhaps a little high for the market.