“A lightweight and stylish mesh shoe for low-level trails and everyday casual use” said the press release as it plopped in to my mailbox. Perfect, I thought, for a weekend’s camping in Wales where the weather would be unpredictable and the need for an all-rounder of a shoe was pressing. So, last weekend, the Brasher Tour GTX was put through its paces in a very, very wet Wales over a long weekend.
The first test for any shoe at GWA towers is inevitably a straight out of the box dog walk across a couple of grassy fields and along a rutted sandy path or two. The Tour GTX gave an initial impression of being nothing particularly special. Certainly, the way it’s sold as a sort of travel cum mooching shoe doesn’t evoke the grand images that could be conjoured by an approach shoe or a walking boot. But then it hit me: it’s not meant to feel special, it’s just meant to do its job quietly, efficiently and without fuss. That’s the holy triptych image that a travel shoe should depict, and the Tour GTX does that job very well indeed.
The Tour GTX is a kind of unassuming shoe on the shelf. It doesn’t scream look-at-me or get covered in those annoying hanging tags which talk about fancy marketing words. In fact, it looks like a shoe which costs a quarter of its price, so is it worth the £120 price tag? Well, we’ll come back to that.
The sole is a fairly thin and firm rubber design with great big blocks of tread which should last well on any long-term trip. It offers pretty good traction on wet grass, light mud, small puddles and trails, and the very wide heel tread makes for a firm and planted, secure feeling when you stride.
The sole lead up to a gel-pad filled TotalComfort insole, which takes a lot of the force from hitting the ground hard out. It’s not super-padded, but it’s more than enough for walking and the occasional jump off a log. The sole itself doesn’t curl too far up the outside of the shoe, but Brasher have added a thin toe bumper and heel protector to fend off any brief encounters with sharp shale or point sticks.
The upper of the Tour GTX is a suede and mesh construction which is a wide fit (note that this doesn’t feel anything like the fit on a Brasher Boot, but is similar to my other Brasher shoes) and thus very comfortable for me. It is lined with a Gore Tex membrane (hence the GTX name) and whilst this can sometimes result in a very hot, sweaty shoe I am pleasantly surprised by the lack of heat build up in the low-slung and well vented Tour GTX. It’s a shoe which I haven’t taken off since it arrived, and not really thought about twice which in this context is a compliment.
The Gore Tex membrane and DWR (durable water repellent) treatment that Brasher have used on the Tour GTX is brilliant. A whole weekend of very wet weather, wet grass, puddles and no chance to dry left me with dry and comfortable feet the whole time. They were flawless. The below is a photo taken after a very muddy and wet walk which shows how well the DWR has shed all the dirt and water and just left a bit of grass and touch of damp.
The lacing system on the Tour GTX is easily adjustable and secure. Combined with the fit of the upper it makes for a shoe which is comfortable to drive in for 7 hours straight, and then comfortable to go for a wander in too.
So, back to the price. You’re paying a premium for the branded membrane (Gore Tex). And you’re paying for what looks like a very well built shoe. But £120 for something which doesn’t sing and shout its technical wizardry from the shelf is going to be a hard pill to swallow for a lot of people. They don’t fall well in to any niche, being Travel shoes which get compared to Trail Shoes or even Approach Shoes on some retail sites is like comparing apples and pears which is a shame. Is £120 too much for a shoe like this. I’m tied. My head says yes, but my gut says no – they’re designed to function for travel, and they do that very well.
Brasher have tried to carve out a new niche here and I hope it goes well for them. I’ve very much enjoyed wearing the Tour GTX, and will continue to use them as day-to-day shoes. I’d recommend them for anyone going on an active vacation or travelling, or just who want a low-level catch-all shoe for the UK weather.
SUMMARY: They’re travel shoes, so put aside all you know about trail shoes and approach shoes. This is a shoe that is built to go unnoticed; to perform and be comfortable in a quiet and non-shouty way. Performance has been flawless. Comfort is great. Styling is safe. For what they’re sold to do, they are excellent… just a little pricey.