Not just one but several people sent me the link to this Sarenza blog post this week…
Sarenza, “Your Ultimate Shoe Closet”, are looking for a new Ambassador to receive and review shoes from their site each month. Application is via a blog post about a pair of shoes currently in their online shop, and so this is my entry. I mean, I couldn’t resist could I? I am a shoe addict. It’s a good job I don’t have much spare cash because if I did I would have shoes and boots and trainers coming out of my ears. Some might say I already do, but I really don’t… honest!
After extensive browsing (which, lets face it, I do regularly), I’ve actually gone for something that won’t surprise any of you. A pair of Converse low tops. I’ve written about them enough on Splodz Blogz for you to be able to predict that!
These are the Chuck Taylor All Star European Leather Ox in Brown. And I love them. I need them.
Converse low tops are seriously comfortable. My current grey canvas pair fit just perfectly and are very well worn. I’m desperate for another pair. And in this year of getting outdoors I can think of nothing better than choosing a pair of pumps that I can wear all year round with a massive variety of outfits, in all weathers. These are a casual supple flat shoe, the leather makes them more weather proof than the canvas ones, and the All Star style goes with jeans, trousers, skirts, dresses, everything.
I mean, when I go away for a week on the motorbike I have room to pack just one pair of shoes. Yes – just one. And they have to be petite – not bulky – and not ruin if squished at the bottom of my panniers. These would be just perfect for that job. I’ve no need to be overly smart, but I still want something that is stylish and won’t look out of place. It’s a bit like if you were back packing and had very limited space but needed something for stomping around town and walking coastal paths. Or if you were going on a holiday somewhere hot with just hand luggage (stupid check in baggage prices) and need something in addition to those flip flops for checking out the local castle or relaxing in the pub in the evening.
But these aren’t just suitable for sticking at the bottom of your bag for when your feet aren’t in biking or hiking boots. They are perfect with jeans for every day, with shorts on holiday, with little dresses on summer days. Fabulous all round style and comfort.
So even though I had free rein and could choose any pair of shoes from the Sarenza shop for this post, I chose Converse. Why didn’t I pick some amazing high fashion sky scraper heels or over the top party shoes? Or some stunning knee high boots or even a decent pair of trainers for the gym? Well because when you’re like me you have to pick shoes that you will wear over and over again to warrant an £85 price tag.
If I was lucky enough to become a Sarenza Ambassador then I wouldn’t play it safe every month, of course, but be reassured that the shoes I pick will be me all over.
Sarenza offer free delivery on everything (and free returns, just in case things don’t fit) and have shoes for the whole family on their site. Have a look, and if I’m lucky enough to be chosen for this Ambassador role, come back here for more reviews in the future.
This last couple of weeks, including while I was on holiday in Cornwall, I have mostly been wearing these shoes – these Brasher Kuga GTX shoes.
Brasher, who are a well renowned maker of walking boots, sent me these new “multi-activity” shoes to test. They are light trainer-looking lace up shoes with Goretex designed for “outdoor enthusiasts who enjoy a mix of activities from low level walking to cycling”. Of course I was delighted to accept the shoes and got them on my feet as soon as they arrived.
The features of the shoes are:
- A breathable 3D air mesh upper with 1.4-1.6mm Nubuck panels
- Memory Foam in the collar for enhanced comfort
- Waterproof and breathable GORE-TEX® lining
- All Terrain sole unit for superb grip, durability and traction control
- Ortholite dual density footbed
- Shock absorbing EVA midsole and TPU plate for arch support and torsion rigidity
I had the women’s version of the shoes (obviously) which are grey and green – the men’s are similar but with orangy laces (and also a slightly different fit of course).
The first thing I noticed when I took these out of the box and started putting them on was how light they were – so much lighter than my walking boots and even my skate trainers I wear around most of the time. I wonder if they are even lighter than my running trainers? Maybe not quite. Anyway, definitely light, which is a benefit on a hot day and also on long walks, as a discovered walking around in Cornwall.
I will happily write here that these shoes were comfy from the moment I tied up the laces. They fit really nicely (they’re available in half sizes, which when you’re a half size is a real bonus!) – the footbed is a great shape for my feet, spreading out my weight across my foot giving me stability and comfort. They didn’t need much breaking in, although they did get more comfortable after a couple of days, especially around the back of the ankle which softened up slightly, and I would always recommend breaking in a new pair of shoes/boots before using them for anything substantial.
They don’t flex as much as trainers do – but these are not trainers, and have been designed to keep you sturdy and sure whilst walking. The technology between the footbed and the sole keeps the shoe a bit rigid, meaning these can go where trainers might fail (have you ever burst the air pockets in trainers whilst walking? – it makes them very uncomfortable and hard on the knees!). But they do have slightly more flexibility than walking/hiking boots because they are lighter and give you the freedom around the ankle area.
The sole is rugged and has loads of grip. As you can see above it is designed with a deep tread so not only will these help keep you upright but they will also last for ages.
I took the them (or did they take me?) on normal pavement as well as sand, grass, gravel and even parts of the South West Coastal Path at Tintagel, Crackington Haven and Widemouth Bay, and I was never less than confident over my footing. I also wore these for a brisk six mile walk around the town wear I live – in the rain – and my feet were very happy (and dry). I did change to my hiking boots (an old pair of boots I’ve had for donkeys years that really could do with replacing) to climb Roughtor on Bodmin Moor because these are shoes and therefore give no tight ankle support, but they coped with everything I did in them perfectly. I haven’t yet walked further than six miles in one go but I am “training” for the Spires and Steeples later in the year so there will be many more walks to come, and unless I’m going on really rugged terrain which requires ankle support, I’ll be putting the Kugas on my feet.
Oh and I should say I’ve also been on my bike in these too – they work well on pedals because of the grip on the sole and also the breathable upper keeps your feet cool when you’re working hard.
Sounds all very positive. And it is. Just one very small thing. I admit for some reason I do look at styling even when it comes to practical shoes like these. I find the colours very muted – perhaps a brighter coloured mesh or strip along the side or something? They kind of blend in don’t they? Perhaps that is the idea. Maybe this way they don’t look too bad when caked in mud or when slightly worn (talking of worn, mine still look like brand new). But I certainly don’t dislike the look and am more than happy to wear these with jeans for casual days or cargo trousers for walking days (or maybe even shorts if the weather is good enough!).
I am impressed with these. My feet stayed dry in the wet and cool in the heat and at no point did I find my toes sore, blisters forming or my ankles rubbing. And that’s when wearing various kinds of socks with them. I would absolutely say walking shoes like these make a great alternative to boots for leisurely walking on most terrain. At £95 they compete with a wide range of walking shoe styles and brands, but I would definitely recommend you trying on a pair of these.
Take a look at the Brasher website for the full range.
I have also tested the Brasher Dual Trial Socks – the most comfortable socks I’ve ever worn!
I am currently very much liking the military boot trend that is everywhere… flat ankle boots with laces and buckles – I need a pair!
But what to go for? I’ve actually seen the perfect ones, being worn by someone. They were dark grey, leather, lace up with a couple of buckles on the lower ankle. But can I find that pair anywhere? No! Isn’t it annoying when you’ve got a specific idea of something in your head and you just can’t find them anywhere?!
I have found some really nice ones though… some of which are way out of my budget (as always!). If I can’t find that perfect dark grey as seen on a complete stranger soon I’ll have to choose from this lot! (Click on the images to take you to the website.)
Here is my top eight (in no particular order)…
Ash Rem Studded Biker Ankle Boots from ASOS.com – £269.99
ASOS Archive Leather Lace Up Ankle Boots from ASOS.com – £65.00
Dr Martens Classic Serena Fur from ASOS.com – £85.00
Oasis Izzy Work Boots from ASOS.com – £70.00
Read or Dead Seattle Boots from Schuh.co.uk – £99.99
Schuh Corporal Lace Up Boots from Schuh.co.uk – £49.99
Schuh Corporal Fleece Lace Up Boots from Schuh.co.uk – £49.99
Schuh Maron Military Boots from Schuh.co.uk – £69.99
So there we are… which ones are best? I’m not sure. I could happily wear all eight pairs… if only I was a shoe maker! Feel free to comment with your opinions.