Mr Roots and his lovely old boots (or 14 years of heaven courtesy of Mr Brasher)

Posted on Sat 02 February 2008 in Root


I love my boots. I know, they're not a lot to look at but they are the most comfortable boots I've ever owned. I almost fear the day I need to replace them. What are they? a 1994 Vintage "Brasher Hillmaster Classic". The date is stamped inside the soft leather ankle area and I remember buying them in 1995. I was doing the thing you never do, buy boots just before an expedition. As a 19 year old I had not a lot of money and had bought a cheap pair (perhaps 20) of walking boots. They didn't last the breaking in period, the cheap lace hooks cut through the laces within two days. Time to push the boat out and spend some serious money, more than half a weeks wages at the time, a staggering 100 - a huge amount of money to a 19 year old Steve

I still remember two parts of the sales pitch. Firstly, the sole. Not only big chunky grips but the deliberate shape that keeps the toe's high. As you put your heal down and roll forward the shoe literally helps you keep going, rolling the next part of each step. At least that's the theory, in practice I certainly have no complaints. They're gorgeous when you get into a stride and so much more 'walkable' than any other shoe or boot I've ever owned. Secondly, the tag line: "Travel light, travel far, travel in comfort". I know, now days I ignore tag lines for the marketing hype they are.... well, I pretend to ignore them. Every time I strap these boots on I get excited by the thought that I'm going somewhere and remember that phrase, even if it's just across the local fields with the children.

The only thing I ever do to them is smother them liberally in Grangers G-Wax before any major walk (my, this really seems like I'm getting carried away with the brands... perhaps I should be BBC like and add 'other brands are available').

They're first trip out was an epic, trekking for 3 weeks across Nepal. I was fortunate enough to be growing up within the youth group culture. We were organised by our leaders to fund raise enough to pay for a trek into the Himalayas, around 1800 which could also be described as far-too-much-of-my-annual-salary-for-me-to-cover-it-myself. The boots were an essential purchase as until then I'd survived in a pair of "High Leg DMS" army boots (very appropriate for ATC running around in wood things but I wanted something more appropriate for general walking). The trip was an experience of a lifetime, things I learnt on that expedition still benefit my life today.

This week I had to visit Sweden to check out a potential new supplier. It may sound like fun but the web-cam for the town showed snow on the ground, the forecast said snow, the UK Agent that was meeting me there said 'dress warm, it's very cold this time of year'. "Travel Light, Travel Far, Travel in Comfort".... I immediately decided to grab my Brasher's and my prized 30L Karrimor daysack (enough space to take as cabin baggage yet still carry 3 books, a change of clothes, a packed lunch and a "small clear plastic bag with not more than 100ml of any liquid" to meet the new stringent security requirements of air travel). My kit was light, Sweden is far, and I flew with Ryanair. OK, that may not sound like comfort and it sure isn't luxury but it was more than comfortable enough for my needs. I've not flown with Ryanair before and I'll have to write about it, some very interesting business principles well applied there.

Enough of my diversification though, you too can own the current incarnation of this boot by buying a pair of "Brasher Hillmaster Classic GTX", including the modern improvements of things like a Gore Tex Lining, for an under the rate of inflation price of 100. Yes, 14 years, 0% inflation and technically a much better pair of boots. Shall I treat myself to some new ones? No, my current pair are still perfect and besides, I don't have 100 to spare.