Price-wise, the RRP of the Explorers is pretty much in the middle of all tested, and that’s probably where it sits in terms of performance: not as technically focussed as the Aku, but they have the air of a premium lightweight walking shoe straight out the box. You can feel the weight of Berghaus’ pedigree in the well-pitched materiality of a shoe of this aspiration.
In other words, a decent all-rounder for relatively fair-weather walking; being light, comfortable, and surprisingly breathable for their water resistance – no doubt due to the Gore-Tex Extended Comfort membrane. Shoes like this come into their own during the type of climate we have just experienced; one with little rain, with well compacted trails. Thanks to their OrthoLite footbed and EVA midsole over a very robust VIBRAM sole, they were a breeze to wear all day on trails, though prolonged stints across in-packed ground proved a bit more taxing.
There are no tell-tale signs of wear beginning to appear, but given the ground mostly covered in them during testing, that’s not too surprising (the Cheviots hills, renowned for their boggy hostility, have been uncharacteristically dry underfoot). The Opti-Stud grip system gave a decently balanced feel, though was not suited to all surface. When things did get a bit more sloppy they began to struggle, though performed admirably on wet stone.
Despite the fancy technology, this tester found the fit quite… old fashioned. Broad across the forefoot and with quite a sloppy ankle, this tester thought they were reminiscent of old Brasher models. Though this isn’t really a problem – if you have broad feat they’ll fit like a dream - but this broad aspect, coupled with a very low heel, did make them feel a tad anitquated
That being said, they LOOK a class-act, with understated styling with a simple pallet of colour and texture indicative of Berghaus’ aesthetic overhaul that has swept through their range in recent years. This also made them ideal for post-yomp pub stops.
In classic Berghaus fashion, they also come with a lifetime guarantee.
My time with the Explorer Actives has on the whole been positive. They have coped with the unseasonal warmth surprisingly well (it was easy to forget they were waterproof!), and coped with what little adverse weather we have had without loosing step. The technology used in these shoes works passively to ensure all-day comfort on non-technical trails, yet their visual accessibility makes them wearable long into the evening.
Look out for the overall scores from the Hiking/Approach Shoe group test at the end of the week.
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