How light is right? For some only the lightest of products will do. For others only the most durable kit will suffice, no matter how heavy it is. For the majority of walkers the middle ground between these extremes is ideal, but finding that perfect blend of low weight and practical performance is a never-ending compromise.
Brasher has long been associated with comfortable, lightweight footwear, and for my money the Supalite GTX is still one of the best lightweight boots on the market at £130 and 1122g (pair, size 9). So it was with great interest that I got to grips with the £20 cheaper Brasher Lithium XCR, which is described as ‘the lightest boot in its class’ by the manufacturers at 1266g (pair, size 9).
The Lithium XCR’s unique feature is Tri-Fit Technology. This adds support to the upper through the addition of cross-lateral support panels, which give a degree of stiffness to the upper that does not always exist in fabric boots. Then there is the memory foam around the ankle cuff collar that moulds to your foot. Finally the big three technologies culminate in a dual density footbed.
The Lithium also features Gore-Tex XCR, rather than standard Gore-Tex, which makes it more breathable so your feet should be less sweaty wearing this compared to standard Gore-Tex boots.
From the box the Brasher Lithium XCR was comfortable. But what I particularly liked about this 3-season boot was that it provided a greater degree of support than most lightweights. In fact the ankle cuff is more supportive than the Brasher Supalite GTX, for example. I also liked the solid toe box and heel cup. Underfoot too the sole has excellent lateral stiffness and supportive toe-to-heel flex.
All these features came into their own when I tramped up my local rocky bridleways onto the fell. Some lightweight boots are very uncomfortable on bouldery bridleways, but these were great. The terrain steepened but the toe box proved its worth as stray rocks tumbled down. I was soon slogging up Red Screes in comfort.
The outsole is great with a good depth of lugs for mud, grass and moorland, while the cushioning deadened the impact of a long walk home on country roads.
On the hills of the Lake District, the Brasher Lithium XCR has really proven that lightweight boots can be supportive and practical. It also looks very durable, thanks to the double line of stitching, and after a couple of months of use it certainly appears to have many more miles underfoot.
The Brasher Lithium XCR is not the lightest boot on the hills, but I believe it offers one of the best compromises in terms of weight, hill performance and price on the market – and for that reason I’m going to be using these for a long time to come.
Upper 1.6-1.8mm abrasion-resistant suede upper with fabric panels
Lining Gore-Tex XCR
Sole three part Trek sole, high density moulded midsole
Footbed Ortholite dual density
Sizes 7-12 (men’s); 4-8 (women’s)
Weight 1392g (pair, size 11)
Made in China
Stockist details – tel. (0191) 516 5780; www.brasher.co.uk
Verdict: The Brasher Lithium XCR is relatively lightweight; supportive outsole; very breathable; great on hills and easier mountain terrain. But a full one-piece leather upper would probably be more durable in the long term; some boots are lighter and have deeper lugs for long-term retention of grip. Overall, it’s a superb, relatively light boot with enough performance to make hill and mountain walking comfortable.
Review by Graham Thompson
First published in Trail magazine Spring 2009