I get a bunch of emails through this website, and whilst I do my best to reply, sometimes I just can’t, or indeed won’t if somebody is asking for something and there are no please and thank yous in there - but a recent email from a Yorkshire based angler really got my attention, and whilst this in no way a review of these hiking boots and whether they may actually work when used as wading boots, I thought it might prove helpful to copy and paste some of the emails that this angler and I had going back and forth. This guy has put these particular Brasher Hillmaster GTX hiking boots through hell for a few hard fishing seasons now, and via the photos he sent me, they are still going strong.
First email from this kind Yorkshire angler: “hi Henry, I’ve been reading your comments about wader boots and the lack of any good boots available at a decent price, well I might be able to help you I’m up near Whitby and fish the rock between saltburn and flambro I fish roughly 70 matches a year all on heavy rock and weed and the boots I find best are the old brasher hillmaster gtx,chunky hard rubber soles which take supatracks stud or the recently bought taimen studs,these boots are in their third season and will take the punishment of rock fishing.,you can pick them up cheap also, I am from Yorkshire! li like reading your comments on gear and the frustrations of not being able to buy good hard wearing stuff, I usually end up making stuff to suit, I hope you’re well and hope a 10lber comes your way soon take care.”
Email back from me, because this has got me seriously interested: “Thanks so much for getting in touch with me about this, most kind..........these sound like some boots with what you are putting them through! But, my principal worry is this - whilst I have not tried the hiking boots you recommend, I have tried some hiking boots before, and they nearly worked - problem is that they didn't take to being wet or underwater most of the time. What do you reckon? Via the fishing you do, are your boots spending a lot of time in the water and then carrying on ok? If so, then I need to check them out me thinks! My thanks again. And yes, it does me in that we sometimes can't get the right gear for what we do!”
Read his next email closely, because this is some serious abuse his boots go through: “like you fish hard and wear my gear harder and these boots have been the biz for me, a typical session for me,start of day hike over fields,mud, puddles just to get to the cliff top,scale down cliff up to 400 feet, mud rock just to get to the water then it could be anything up to 2 miles to get to your chosen spot through water over sandstone, shale,chalk and flint your boots are wet from the start,i bait fish for cod and hold my rod and can be stood in water all day when fishing flat scars then you have it all to do on the way back they are tougher than anything else,i soak them in fresh water after wash off and stick them near the aga i also glued a leather cap on the toes works great,i bet your on ebay now, I’m a size 10.5 and get a 12 in the boots for your neoprene.good luck.”
So there you have it. Whilst I haven’t done it myself, it has always struck me how that style of rock-edge cod fishing must be about as hard on gear as you can get, and if this lad’s Brasher Hillmaster GTX hiking boots are lasting like that then I am more than interested. Bear in mind that there is a newer version of this boot, the Hillmaster GTX II, and from what I understand the sole is a little less chunky than the older ones. To be perfectly honest, at around the £100 mark (plus studs), if I got a full year from a pair of boots with what I do then I would consider that pretty damn good - any extra and I’d be laughing with all the issues I have had with wading boots over the last few years. Put it this way - you’re looking at close to £200 for say the newer Simms G3 Guide boots now (plus studs), but I consider them totally unusable in saltwater because the eyelets start to rot out pretty quickly. Anyway, I hope that might be of interest and even a bit of help to some of you reading this, and my thanks to the angler concerned for reading my blog, kindly sending me those emails, letting me copy them here, and also for the use of his photos of his boots.