Exclusive to the outdoor retailer Blacks, the Technicals range is marketed as offering ‘technically advanced products that are packed with features to help you while you’re out in the field,’ so with that in mind we have its entry for this test: the Bracken Low. It uses a Waterproof Bootie membrane to stop the wet stuff from coming in, has a Vibram sole and the upper is a mish-mash of mesh, suede and nubuck.
The Vibram sole’s tread is sufficiently deep to keep you on your feet and, like the Regatta X-LT, the Bracken is very flexible. Foot protection has been sacrificed for comfort here, and even straight out of the box these shoes are nice to wear. There’s a lot of padding around the ankle, heel and lace areas and the extra flex makes them easy to walk in – a pretty important consideration for shoes.
The downside to this is that the Bracken offers little protection for use on rocky paths, and stubbed toes and ankle rolls could be a problem. The heel cup doesn’t provide much support (though it does its job at keeping the heel in place) and there’s little protection provided by the toecap, although there is a reinforced material which helps guard the hardwearing area. Because of this we’d shy away from using this shoe on scrambling trips or via ferratas.
But that’s not really what the Bracken’s designed for. When you look at it as a shoe that’s suited more to short rambles, easy hikes and for use as casual footwear, there aren’t many problems with it but again, like the other ‘budget’ shoes on this test, quality control at the end of manufacturing seems to have been overlooked as there are some messy glued areas.
In a line: Good for rambling or short hikes, but not supportive enough for more difficult terrain.