Brasher Hillmaster GTX Review

Brasher Hillmaster Walking Boots

Brasher Hillmaster GTX Championed by many as the best walking boot that money can buy, the Brasher Hillmaster GTX is the undisputed king of the hill walkers, but is it really all its cracked up to be? Beneath 15 years of tradition and history, is it still as popular today at it was in 1993? And how does it compare to the modern selection of lightweight, hard wearing, windproof, waterproof and fully breathable walking boots?

There are all very big questions to ask when choosing the right walking boots. For many the Brasher Hillmaster is the first choice as a symbol of Great Britain’s love for traditional brown walking boots

The Hillmaster is but one of the many brilliant walking boots engineered by the creative mind of 1956 Olympic gold medallist Chris Brasher. However, it was only in 1978 that Chris Brasher had a brainwave which would revolutionise the world of walking.

Half way through a 180 mile hike in Wales, the former Olympian removed his hiking shoes, discarding them in pain as he revealed a number of painful blisters to his comrades. Determined to continue the rest of the journey, he pulled out his New Balance trainers and walked on. Upon reaching the end, he marvelled at the soft cushioning and comfort of his training shoes which had made the rest of his hike light work.

“If only walking boots were as comfortable as my training shoes” He thought.

Soon after the Brasher company was born, with a mission to make traditional walking boots which would be just as lightweight and comfortable as wearing a trainer.

Following a succession of walking boots, each design improving upon Chris Brasher’s original concept, the Brasher Hillmaster was launched in 1993 and totally revolutionised the world of walking boots.

During an age of walking boots made from heavy leather with steel shanks which became even heavier when wet, the Hillmaster was a lightweight walking boot which was not only hard wearing, but 100% windproof, waterproof and highly breathable thanks to the Gore-Tex membrane. Ever since that time the Brasher Hillmaster has enjoyed fame, renown and an almost fanatical following in the walking community. But does the boot live up to its reputation?

Having won “Best Leather Boot” in Country Walking magazine for more than 6 years running. The Brasher Hillmaster GTX continues to be championed by outdoor enthusiasts today and is claimed to outclass many of the modern outdoor shoes with its traditional good looks, protection and out of the box comfort.

Hillmaster GTX put to the test

Brasher has marketed the Hillmaster GTX as a classic walking boot with modern technology that’s comfortable straight out of the box. It no one can dispute that the Brasher Hillmaster GTX is not a good looking boot that’s every bit as lightweight and hard wearing as Brasher says it is.

However, it is quite narrow to wear at first. But once your foot is actually inside the boot, it is incredibly comfortable thanks to the full leather interior. The Hillmaster does requite some breaking in, but very little.

As a fashion item or a real walking boot, the Hillmaster is very handsome with a rich brown full grain leather and besides its quick fitting comfort and good looks, it has many other good selling points as well.

As the historical boot which brought Gore-Tex to Great Britain, the Brasher Hillmaster GTX features a Gore-Tex lining, making it 100% windproof, waterproof and fully breathable. This winning combination not only keeps out the cold and the rain, but allows excess heat and moisture to escape for all day comfort and thankfully no blisters either.

However, where the Brasher Hillmaster falls down is its lack of versatility. This is due to a deep-cleated sole unit intended for crossing softer terrain than hard and rocky paths. However, it excels in light trekking and hillwalking, hence the name ‘hillmaster’. So while you won’t be traversing all types of terrain, the Brasher Hillmaster GTX makes light work of the Dales, Beacons or Dartmoor.

Weighing 1,440g, the Hillmaster may not be the lightest walking boot having now been surpassed by many of Brasher’s modern walking boots, it is still an excellent choice for its price point.

It’s a shame that Brasher doesn’t really shout about its technologies in the same way that other brands do. Or perhaps Brasher doesn’t need a wide range of features in their footwear and instead keeps things simple by focussing on the essentials and raising the standards of their products?

So while the Brasher Hillmaster may not be the lightest walking boot or full of technology beyond a reliable sole unit, fine leather uppers and a Gore-Tex lining, it ticks all the boxes when you’re looking for a good looking, lightweight and hard wearing walking boot which offers great performance at a true value price.

15 years on and the Brasher Hillmaster GTX is still an outstanding hillwalking boot and a symbol of the British walking community. As the best selling walking boot of all time, the Hillmaster has received rave reviews for many years and it’s clear to see why. So if you are considering a walking boot for softer ground, the Brasher Hillmaster should always be the first boot you try on.