I remember well when I was very small, being dragged up many a mountain in boots slightly too big for me which were done up tight enough to cut off the circulation. I was shoehorned into several pairs of thick woollen socks, absorbent cotton tracksuit trousers and a heavy ski jacket, and given a bag full of Mars Bar sandwiches. They were good times, but by God did my feet hurt.
Speaking to a few brands has made me realise that there’s a whole lot of inappropriate “outdoor” wear aimed at kids which adults, who walk up the same hills in the same weather wouldn’t stand for. And that’s kind of sad. We should be doing everything we can to make kids’ experience of the outdoors as pleasurable as possible, and providing them with high performance, well-suited gear to let them do it in.
Brasher’s Tora GTX boots are a smaller version of one of their adult boots, with no fewer features. They are constructed with a full GoreTex waterproof membrane and finished in a tough suede and fabric upper. A great big toe-bumper and chunky sole means that kicking stones and scrambling up rocks won’t hurt little feet, and a little reflective heel-trim helps them be seen at night.
The midsole is a full EVA foam affair which feels pretty stable when given a twist, but supple enough that lighter-weight people won’t have a problem bending and flexing the shoe when they walk.
We matched the Tora GTX walking boots up with a pair of Brasher’s rather snazzy Adventurer socks, which are also a feature-rich scaled down version of adult socks. With Coolmax wicking fibres and air channels they should keep kids’ feet well ventilated, and padding in all the right places helps cushion the impact of jumping into a cow pat. We gave the whole lot to Nicole, aged 6 (and a half!) who likes nothing better than jumping into unsavoury things and kicking stones.
She thought the boots were “cool looking”, and she was glad they weren’t pink. She says, ‘some girls might prefer them to be pink, but I’m a tomboy’.
When she first saw them she was worried they wouldn’t be comfy to wear, but they were. And once she put them on they felt really good on her feet and she felt she could run faster and jump like a bouncing jack rabbit. She particularly liked the hard tread at the bottom, which she said made it seem like her feet were limpets. (Andy – that’s excellent, I’m stealing it)
She didn’t get wet feet from any water getting in when she jumped in puddles (or cow pats), but her only gripe was that the boots made her feet sweaty. Having said that, she is a girl who doesn’t really like to wear shoes of any kind. These she was happy to wear the Tora boots all day.
The parents’ point of view is also important, and Nicole’s Ma & Pa commented that they seemed good quality boots, light and flexible, easy to get on and off, good support, very good for going uphill or downhill. Also excellent for a small person who needs to dig her heels in to stop being dragged along by a large dog.
SUMMARY: Brilliant “proper” walking boots for kids’ feet. Not just ‘lookalike’ boots or scaled-down adult boots, but tweaked designs with full features including a GoreTex membrane and protective toe box. Comfortable to wear all day, but our reviewer found them a little sweaty.