Christopher William “Chris” Brasher was born on the 21st August 1928. Deservedly renowned in the outdoor and running world, Chris Brasher embodied everything that the British visionaries of old stood for, he was tenacious with his dreams and ideas, which led him to create one of the most iconic British brands in walking footwear.
Chris Brasher was a runner, a sports journalist, an arctic expedition leader, a country gent and an entrepreneur. Above all that Chris was an outdoor enthusiast like you or I, with a fresh perspective and unwavering will to succeed.
During his lifetime Chris was a part of many moments of history, often creating it himself:
At his heart Chris was a kind, caring and sometimes eccentric individual, willing to push himself for the benefit of others. An account from an old friend, Ian Milne (Ranelagh Harriers) shows us that Chris was a man who knew how to enjoy himself.
“Another time he & I were up in the Lakes with Joss Naylor. We were to cross the Langdales on a route from Grasmere to Wasdale.
Before we started Chris insisted on a couple of pints of Guinness in Grasmere before we drove north to our start point below Dunmail Raise. When we got to that point, Joss and I lost no time in putting our shoes on and getting ready to climb the first of the fells (a 1 in 3 climb at best).
We were soon met with a quick shout from Chris, who we discovered was busily filling his pipe, and stuffing his tobacco pouch into his bumbag.
True to type, he puffed smoke on his way up Dunmail Raise letting us know in no uncertain terms that we were here to enjoy ourselves, not to take things too seriously. “
It was during another one of these adventures that Chris had an idea that would revolutionise the way walking footwear was made forever...
The idea behind the first brasher boot was conceived by the man himself in 1978. The story goes like this:
Whilst walking the Roof of Wales with Paddy Buckley, both Chris and Paddy suffered all sorts of blisters and problems with their walking boots. They posted the defective boots home for later examination, and soldiered through the next 180 miles in their training shoes without any trouble and in relative comfort. This lead Chris to ask the question:
“Why aren't walking boots as comfortable as trainers?"
Inspiring the creation of the first, cushioned Brasher Boot.
The core purpose of all brasher branded gear is easily summarised in four simple criteria:
After twenty-five different prototypes, and five years of field testing across the UK, the revolutionary boot was put on the market for the first time in 1983.
Known simply as “The Brasher” the boot exemplified true British craftsmanship and innovation, featuring a suede upper with a bellows tongue, a triple density sole composed of shock absorbing EVA and a waterproof membrane for complete moisture protection. This feature set is still used in top level mountaineering boots today. As a sign of Chris’ confidence in the quality of the boot, brasher offered a bottle of champagne to anyone who wore the boots and developed a blister.
Now trading as The Brasher Boot Company, Chris continued to develop footwear that accommodated for every type of outdoor enthusiast, from women’s boots with a specific narrower fit, to comfortable lifestyle pieces that don’t compromise on outdoor functionality, to the high collared Mountain Master and its’ legendary Vibram outsole and iconic crimson interior.
33 years later, with Chris sadly no longer with us, brasher are still manufacturing high quality, performance based footwear that still adhere to the same four criteria mentioned above. Each boot is packed with the experience and knowledge that comes with such a rich history to draw from.
Unfortunately, brasher can’t offer out champagne any more, but they can still make super-comfortable walking boots.
“The Brasher” (and later the Fellmaster Mk. 1) in all its’ glory, a waterproof hiking boot that revolutionised outdoor footwear comfort. An EVA midsole ensured the boot cushioned each step, with a non-clogging outsole that provided great traction, without picking up debris along way. This design and feature set is still commonly used in the majority of off-road footwear today. (See The North Face Back-To-Berkley)
Hillmaster GTX is still used as a foundation for the creation of exceptional lightweight walking boots today. Featuring a GORE-TEX® lining, and an aggressive lugged outsole, the Hillmaster was in a league of its’ own when it came to long lasting comfort and trail performance.
What set the Hillmaster apart from it's contemporaries was the introduction of the women’s specific fit. Billed here under the “Equal Opportunities” banner, the LADY GTX as it was known, featured a narrower shape and look set to outfit female adventurers with a boot that was custom made for them.
The Supalite GTX continued where the Hillmaster GTX left off - a waterproof, GORE-TEX® walking boot that was created for maximum comfort, without the bulk. The lightweight nature of the boot meant that it found huge success amongst the walking communities, winning the Crystal Award for the most innovative outdoor product in the year 2000.
The release of the Kamati GTX signified a change in pace for brasher, stepping out into a more lifestyle and laidback area of the market. The Kamati offered sleek, city ready looks with core outdoor practicality. A GORE-TEX lining ensured waterproof performance, whilst a robust sole unit guaranteed grip. The Adventure Travel range (AT20) featured more relaxed footwear for both men and women.
The updated Hillmaster® II GTX combines modern materials and technology, with a shape and design that harks back to its successful predecessors.
The Hillmaster® II GTX adheres to the original criteria set out by Brasher himself, it’s light, it’s waterproof, it’s comfortable straight out of the box and it offers unrivalled levels of underfoot comfort.
Inspired by a boot that revolutionised walking comfort, the Hillmaster II® GTX could be set to do the same again.