Brasher Boots Ate My Socks

I posted a few weeks ago about my terminal disappointment with my Salomon Comet 3D GTX boots (click here to catch up). Basically, I was fed up of wet feet, despite the boots being lovely and comfortable, their waterproofness was seriously flawed and although the Salomon warranty allowed me to swap them out, the new ones suffered from the same problem. In the end I decided to switch. I chose a lightweight leather boot from Brasher, the Supalite II GTX. A full leather upper means I can dubbin them to supplement their Gore-Tex liner.

I’ve used these for several walks now and I must admit to not being at all happy with them. They have addressed my wet feet problem, but instead I now have sore feet, even after short 7 or 8 mile walks my feet feel battered and sore, especially on the soles. I can’t put this down to the sole of the boot, although they are lightweight in the extreme, they are not particularly lacking in sole support. I can’t even blame the thin insoles in the boot because I’ve swapped them out and used my Superfeet Green insoles which have provided literally thousands of miles of comfortable walking.

I’ve tried pretty much everything I can think to alleviate this problem of sore feet. I’ve tried dozens of combinations of socks and none of them has made even the slightest difference. I sought advice through various sources to see if other people had any ideas and one option that arose was the use of gel insoles. These may offer additional sole support through shock-absorbing gel impregnated insoles that either supplement the existing insole or replace them altogether.

My weekends over the past few months have been spent either doing short walks in the Peak District or working on the Pennine Way guide book. I also needed to complete a couple of short sections of the Way and these pressures resulted in me using a two-day backpacking trip to test the new gel insoles. Ideally I would have tested them on a shorter walk, but the way the weekends worked out, I couldn’t really avoid this one. I either walked without them, resulting in guaranteed painful feet, or used them and hopefully reaped the rewards.

I set out from Marsden station with a 12 mile walk to Light Hazzles Reservoir ahead of me, where I would camp, followed by a shorter 8 mile walk the next morning down into Hebden Bridge where my car was waiting for me. I’d decided to try the gel insoles underneath the thin Brasher insole that was provided with the Supalites. The gel insole has a rather flimsy feel to it and I wasn’t sure the plush upper side of it would survive many miles of direct contact with my socks. Within a couple of miles of leaving Marsden I stopped to relace my boots and found my outer socks were falling down. I pulled the boots off and readjusted the outer layer of socks. A couple of miles further on and they were falling down again. I found the outer socks were bunching up around my heel, inside the boots. I swapped the insoles around; putting the gel insoles on top of the Brashers. I got a couple more miles and found my outer socks were now completely gone! Half the sock was off the end of my toes and the other half bunched up around my heel – quite bizarre!

I was also getting a hot spot on the back of both my heels; but at least my soles didn’t feel as battered as they usually did after this length of walking. The situation got worse as the miles passed by. My socks kept disappearing, irrespective of the layering of the insoles and my heels began to blister. I eventually removed the Brasher insoles and just tried the gel ones. My socks still got eaten by my boots. I tried just the Brasher insoles and at least now my socks stayed where they should be, but the damage was done.

Sheltered camp at Light Hazzles Reservoir

Sheltered camp at Light Hazzles Reservoir

By the time I reached my campsite, my feet were in tatters; the backs of both my heels were blistered and sore, the soles were sore, with two blisters developing on the bottom of my heels and two more under the balls of my feet. The next morning’s 8 miles were some of the most painful miles I’ve ever walked. I vowed never to wear the blessed Brashers again!! But that leaves me with a dilemma; where do I go now for boots?

lonewalker

Fell-walker, trig-pointer, peak-bagger, Wainwright-er & Pennine Way author, with a passion for long paths, malt whisky, fast cars & Man City

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12 Responses

  1. Gary Box says:

    Hi,

    You seem to be unlucky with boots! I’ve used various brands before including Meindl, Contour and even cheap Hi Tech. I do lots of hiking and have found I need two layers of socks, something like a thin Bridgedale inner and then thicker outer like Smartwool. Getting boots fitted by someone with experience is a must and wear the socks you use hiking when you get fitted.

    I’ve read the comments by others and tend to agree with an exception. In the past I’ve been happy with Meindl and I’m sure their Burma Pro are still good. However last pair I bought was Toronto GTX and unlike the other person who liked them I found them to be junk! They are comfy out of the box as softer leather than normal but they just don’t last. Within weeks the rand was coming off and reviews I’ve seen are very mixed.

    My next pair will be Alt-Berg Mallerstang which I’ve ordered and waiting for. Alt-Berg stockists seem to do a more thorough fitting. They might try and sell you stupidly expensive orthotics but once you know how your feet need correcting you could probably find something on the shelf that does similar job. I use green superfeet which help but I’m also looking for insoles that offer the same arch support but with slightly thicker section at the rear heel cup.

    Everyone is different and much depends on the type of terrain and distances you walk. Up to about 8 miles I’m ok in basic trainers but for varied terrain and longer distances I need something with a stiffer sole with less flex otherwise the bones in my feet ache.

    You also might want to look at lacing techniques. If properly laced you should not get any real movement in the heel section which helps prevent blisters here. Some socks lose their shape after numerous washes and I’ve had boots ‘eating’ Bridgedale outers whereas makes like Smartwool seem to be fine (Bridgedale make great inner socks though).

    Good boots and socks are not cheap but it’s worth buying what works for you. I’ll happily buy cheap brands for most hiking equipment but for footwear and waterproof jacket I’ll spend what I need for comfort.

    Good luck!

    Gary

    • lonewalker says:

      I’m with you on the quality of boots and socks being important – beds and shoes that’s where you should spend good money! I’m back on the Salomons now and much more comfortable. Often better the devil you know.

  2. I’d also suggest Altbergs from Whalley Warm and Dry. The service is excellent and I’ve had no problems with blisters, socks or leaking boots and I’ve done quite a few boggy moorland walks. The boots were comfortable from the start having been stretch to give me the perfect fit.

  3. Lindy Griffiths says:

    If you haven’t invested yet, I can also recommend Whalley Warm and Dry. Jon fitted me with a pair of boots about 18 months ago (after I had undergone some horrendous foot bashing in a variety of boots and trail shoes, over a number of years including the TGO Challenge 2012 which nearly killed me off.) I got a pair of Alt-berg boots, which have subsequently been back and adjusted slightly a couple of times – and (touch wood) things could be described as ‘comfortable’ now!

    Good luck

  4. Colin Warner says:

    Hi Stuart , you’d think everyone commenting on here worked for Meindl or something they way they’re all extolling the brand……. however i have to agree with them after buying a pair Meindl Toronto GTX. I owned a pair of basic Brashers , Azuma GTX model ,myself which i found extremely comfortable, but wore them out. Couldn’t find another Brasher pair which were comfy and they’d discontinued Azumas.. Don’t know if you got to the bit on my blog about feet and all the problems I’ve had but if you’re looking for some good insoles I’d gladly send you some of the foam i use, enough to make 8-10 out of. They are great for “on the walk” alterations and to alleviate blisters on the soles.I’ve tried some bought insoles, but can end up costly when cutting them up then renewing.I could send up to your local post office if you like no problem, won’t cost you anything.
    colin

  5. Simon says:

    Yup! I’ve done hundreds of miles in a pair of Meindl Burma Pros with 1000 mile fusion socks topped off with regular Primark white sports socks. Coast to Coast, Offas Dyke, Two Moors, South Downs, North Downs, London Loop blah blah… No blisters…. ever! Highly recommended, though a touch heavy.

  6. lonewalker says:

    I’m seriously considering some custom fitted boots as the only long term solution to my problem. Boot fit is hard to get right and I seem to have been lucky with Salomon, but need something more waterproof and long-lived. I appreciate the heads up on WWD Richard, will follow that up, as well as Alt-Berg which seem to be recommended quite a lot.

  7. Jim Tait says:

    Sadly not surprised by the non performance of the Superlites, not designed for distance hiking. I’m on my second, soon to be third pair of Meindls. I would also try Gehwol foot cream, put a thin coating on your feet before every walk and no blisters!

  8. Richard Forshaw says:

    Get to Whalley Warm and Dry, see the main man and get some Meindl boots properly stretched to suit your foot, not cheap but certainly worth it!

  9. JohnBoy says:

    I can also certainly vouch for the Meindl Burma Pro, excellent boot, very comfortable. And they seem to be well suited to the typical UK foot, wide at the front but snug in the heel. Having said that I’m also now about to try a pair of Anatom Q2 which have been specifically designed for the UK foot. Lovely simple design and good quality leather.

  10. Oisin says:

    There only thing worse than wet feet is sore feet. I’m afraid I can’t offer any advice on how to fix your boot problem – thought it seems you’ve tried everything anyway.

    I can only help by recommending the boots I wear, and can vouch for – Meindel Burma Pro GTX. They are like wearing slippers, great support, and are completely waterproof. Pair them with some Superfeet and I can promise you they are one of thee comfiest boots out there. It is said that Meindel are the boot to go for if you have wide feet, and though I wouldnt classify my feet as being unusually wide, they definitely fit well.

    I wear “Men’s PhD® Outdoor Medium Crew” socks with them and haven’t had any trouble yet, the socks are brilliant as well, and together I’ve got an ideal set up in mu opinion.

    Hope you find your feet solution soon, summer is just round the corner!

    Oisin

  11. PhilM says:

    I’ve been using these for a couple of years now

    http://www.cotswoldoutdoor.com/anatom-quadra-2-boot-32110333?id_colour=143

    They have been great for me. Waterproof, comfortable and haven’t caused me any issues. Might be worth considering

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