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Gear Tests

Best in Test - Air Revolution 4.1 Lady

​Meindl claims that the Air Revolution technology is 33% more breathable than a standard Gore-Tex boot. As well as a Gore-Tex lining it has a double tongue; the outer part protects against ingress, while the inner is designed to pump out warm air and draw in cool as you walk. The sole is solid and deep lugged, with a crampon lug at the heel and surrounding (but not quite complete) rubber rand. 5/5

This is available in UK sizes 3.5 - 9 for women and 6 - 12 for men, both including half sizes. It’s made on a female- specific last and fits snugly while allowing wiggle room for the toes. The ankle cuff is supportive without being uncomfortably stiff. It is almost perfectly snug, though , so if you have a larger-volume foot, you may want to go up a half size. 5/5

There’s no undue pressure anywhere on these and the interior feels quite soft, so comfort is immediately high. The lace rivets make it easy to get a good secure fit around the ankle, without affecting movement or comfort elsewhere. The toe curves upwards slightly, which gives a pleasant rolling momentum and there’s a little flexibility in the forefoot, which improves comfort on less snowy days. 5/5

These sit almost precisely halfway along the 3-4 season spectrum. Some winter boots can feel too stiff and clumpy (the price you pay for 4-season protection) but these tread the line between comfort and stiffness impressively well. They have the comfort of a 3-season boot and the features of a boot fit for British winter. You’ll get more stability from others, but less comfort. 4/5

You get am impressive set of features and genuine cross-season use, so while expensive these are not outrageous for their range. 3/5

An excellent example of a cross-season boot. Some models are stiffer, but few are more comfortable.

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TOP OF THE RANGE

TESTERS CHOICE

MEINDL Respond GTX

The Meindl Responds have been putting in the miles for a while now and these consummate all-rounders have proven themselves to be very dependable multi-terrain shoes. With a higher price tag than the Anatoms, they also come with higher specs (such as a Gore-Tex lining), so on paper at least, you do get what you’re paying for. Perfect for spring and summer, they’re lightweight with a breathable mesh and suede upper,

reinforced on the underside and with a sturdy toe bumper. Highly waterproof too, they’re versatile shoes – cushioned enough for everyday walking,

but stable and durable enough to put in the distance. With a little breaking in at first (making use of the double eyelet to lace them up securely),

they felt very stable tackling the uneven ground of the South West Coast Path.

But firmer ankle support would be welcome over mountainous terrain and the Contragrip outsole’s shallow tread doesn’t provide enough traction on grass and mud. Overall though, they’re well-balanced all-rounders. PT

+ Comfy and cool, technically sound, and reassuring stable.

BEST FOR

Long-distance challenges

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Long term Review of Bhutan

Here’s my Meindl Bhutan review

of the boots that I’ve had on test for the last 6 months.

Fitting

As soon as I received them they went
straight on. The fit is not overtly wide, but definitely not narrow, so they
should fit the majority of people’s feet in the UK. I went up half a size from
my regular every day shoe size to accommodate the thicker socks I like to wear
with walking boots.

Pulling on the laces tightens up the whole lace
system thanks to the smooth eyelets Meindl have used on these boots, it also
helps that only the first four are traditional eyelets, with the top three
being hook style, allowing you to tailor your fit with precision. (I like to
tie half a bow before the hooks, having a tighter fit on the ankle, with a
looser feel on the forefoot).

For a 3-4 UK season boot they have taken all I’ve thrown at them

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Review Expert

Brad Wills – Taunton Leisure - Exeter Shop

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FIRST TEST - New Gore-Tex Surround technology

​More breathability around the foot has to be a good thing.

It’s great for those who need it and ideal for warm weather conditions.

Features = 5/5

Fit = 5/5

Comfort = 5/5

In Use = 5/5

Value = 4/5

Read full review here

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MEINDL AIRSTREAM chainsaw boot


‘A REVOLUTION IN COMFORTABLE FITTING CHAINSAW BOOTS’.

Additional press information maintains that the Airstream is ‘a stand-out-from-the-crowd, modern-looking work boot with many innovative built-in features’.

This Class-1 chainsaw boot has a Gore-Tex waterproof and breathable lining, with a cushioned 3D mesh tongue, which, says the manufacturer, make this boot 33% more breathable than a standard boot. Added comfort and fit comes with the built-in memory foam to the heel area, which provides an individual custom fit to the wearer. Meindl DiGAfix lacing makes for a secure foot hold inside the boot. Protection comes with the high rubber rand around these boots, frontal Kevlar protection, steel toe cap and the famous Meindl multigrip double-density sole unit made by Vibram.

That’s a lot of bold claims to make, so essentialARB was asked to put the boots to the test. David Oliver (of Tales from the Trees fame) has had the boots for three months or so. This is what he had to say…

This has to be one of the most difficult reviews I have written – not because I have anything critical to say or the struggle that being objective over a fault brings, but because of the opposite.

Firstly, and most importantly, the boots come in my size – 9.5 UK (or 44 EU). This matters because having to wear either a size 9 or 10 boot that doesn’t quite fit is extremely annoying. The sizes available range from 6 to 12.

The next thing is that the boots are easy to pull on. After 25 years and the almost inevitable back issues combined with missing finger parts, this is a key feature – particularly first thing in the morning. The laces undo to a point where the boots can be slipped on and off without having to bend down to pull them and adjust the tongue.

As an aside, and it seems irrelevant, the laces are good quality too – not really a deal breaker, but I have worn boots that make me wonder whether
the manufacturers realise what tree surgeons do all day! Boots need to be tied securely.

The tongue is soft and comfy, the boots do indeed mould to your feet, exactly like they say they do – something called Meindl Memory Foam System
apparently.

The boots claim to have 33% more breathability. I’ve been wearing mine for around 6 weeks through May, June and July, and although my feet have been hot, they aren’t too bad – certainly better than any others I’ve worn.

The Gore-Tex makes them completely waterproof and I know this because my feet were dry in wet long grass and in the river. In fact, because you can tie
them tightly and with ease at the ankle you can prevent some water ingress even if you go too deep.

The features include the standard steel toe cap, good quality soles and grip and a high rubber seal between the sole and the top of the boot – over an inch.

After a month there was no sign of wear and it seems to me that this higher rubber seal could help the longevity of the boot insomuch as there is less opportunity for the boots to ‘separate’ where the sole meets the leather/suede. Whether or not this proves true remains to be seen, but one of my men, who has had the same boots for 6 months, reports no signs of wear.

There is Class 1 20m/second chainsaw protection. I haven’t tested this – it would be a shame as I don’t want to damage the comfiest boots I’ve ever worn. And that’s the point. It’s easy to read the leaflet and copy out a few of the selling features, but I was given these boots to test, which is what really matters, how they feel. On this alone they are faultless.

From day one I forgot that I was conducting a test, because I forgot I was wearing them. I’ve worn them for hiking, tree surgery, farming and even to
the Arb Show and I can’t think of a single criticism. At the end of the day I wear them to do the office work because there’s no particular rush to take them
off, unlike some boots, which I can’t bear to be in any longer than I have to.

I also fell out of a tree in them, not because they didn’t grip, but because I failed to put my rope around anything whilst abseiling down a larch I was felling. I’m certain that I fell 25ft (though my men reckon it was only 15), and I landed on my feet. This really was the ultimate test because where I hurt my knees, back and (oddly) my elbow, my ankles were totally supported and undamaged.

Although it makes me look like a covert Meindl employee, I’m not going to find fault with the boots.

I’m sure there are plenty of other good boots out there. Whether or not they are as good, and at the same price (£179 RRP), I don’t know, but I don’t
really need to know – these will do me.

Wiltshire Dave
(EssentialARB Summer 2014)

Review PDF: Download

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Meran Lady Review

By Vivien (Customer at Rutland Outdoors)

” If you have wide feet these are the boots for you. I have the classic English foot which has a high arch, high instep and are very, very wide. Trying to find boots to fit has been a nightmare including 5 purchases, 3 shops and hours of research and looking longingly at my old boots until I read about the Meindl Comfort Fit last. So I purchased these Meran’s and they are indeed very comfortable and wide. also being leather they quickly mould to your feet. They needed very little breaking in, I wore them around the house for a day then took the dog for a walk and wore them at work before I spent three days in them at the Fort William DH World Cup. The leather is wonderfully soft nubuck which helps the wearing in process. I treated them for Suede and Nubuck to ensure they would stand up to the ankle deep mud on Annoch Mor, they did superbly well. All in all I am delighted to have finally found boots that fit and are comfortable. You don’t need to go up a size in order to get the width and they run true to size. Rutland delivered them very quickly.”

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Respond GTX

Respond GTX
Respond GTX

This is very much an all-round outdoor

shoe with a good range of general features. So you get a mesh upper with a waterproof lining and some suede leather overlays to provide some durability. The heel cup offers very good support

for uneven ground while the toe box is less protective, but it does get a rand for durability and there’s at leastsome stiffness in this area to protect the foot from stray rocks.

The sole unit is less aggressive than some other models here with quite shallow lugs that mean this shoe isn’t great on mud or grass slopes – and that’s a slight niggle with this otherwise good design. Stiffness in the sole is good, though, and there is also decent cushioning to take the pounding out of walking on hard terrain. On the foot this feels quite spacious, and I found it generally comfortable.

Wearing it for day-to-day walks it performs well, but move onto more challenging terrain such as mud or rock and other

shoes have benefits. As this weighs 1020g (pair, size 11) it isn’t the lightest option so it’s not great for fast and light activity, and considering what it offers the price is a little high compared to others. It’s an all-rounder, but deeper lugs would make it better on soft

ground.

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Kansas GTX

Meindl Kansas GTX
Meindl Kansas GTX

The Kansas is a typically robust design from Meindl. The upper is made from leather with minimal stitching to ensure this area of the boot is very durable and well-suited to a long, hard life on the rockier hills. There is good support at the heel and toe as well, which again makes this ideal for rockier ground. The ankle cuff is very supportive, with an exceptionally soft cuff to ensure this area of the boot is also comfortable when traversing slopes. Extra durability is provided by the rubber rand around the toe. Underfoot there is a Meindl Multigrip sole unit with a reasonable spread of lugs and a good heel breast to create decent grip on most terrain.

There is also good stiffness in the sole for use on jagged rocks such as those found on the rockier peaks. In use this boot feels great for general hillwalking, backpacking or scrambling over rockier ground. It’s a little heavier than other models but then many lighter options aren’t as durable and often don’t provide the support on rockier terrain that’s offered here.

The Kansas costs £5 more than in 2013 but it remains a favourite for long-term performance where that small increase in price will effectively be spread over many years of use.

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Black Cobra GTX ultra-lightweight 8” boot

Black Cobra GTX
Black Cobra GTX

The BLACK COBRA is an ultra-lightweight 8-inch uniform patrol boot recently released onto the UK market by the German boot makers Meindl. Just as combat footwear design has leapt forward in massive bounds in recent years, as those in UK Forces who had the misfortune to be issued the old DMS boot will testify, so too has the design of the black patrol boot worn by police officers. Indeed in some areas police boot design is a stride ahead of its military equivalents due to factors such as higher quantities produced, greater amount of pavement pounded and more diverse range of specifiers whose needs and wishes the boot manufacturers have to cater for ... not to mention the greater number of competitors.

German boot makers Meindl, who are based in the small town of Kirchanschoring in Bavaria close to the Austrian border, have been producing footwear for over three hundred years and indeed not only has their Desert Fox boot been issued for several years by UK MoD but it has also recently been re-ordered in the new brown colourway as one of two choices in the Desert Combat High Liability category. In the past I have worn both tan Desert Fox boots and black full leather Meindl combat boots, so I know what the company can do in the way of conventional military boots but I have to admit I was stunned when I picked up the box containing their new Black Cobra 8” Police Patrol Boots as I thought a mistake had been made and fully expected to find it contained a pair of trainers.

These fully waterproof Gore-Tex membrane boots are not lightweight, they are ultra-lightweight. I immediately weighed one and compared it to one of my lightweight YDS Resolve GTX Ground Crew Boots (a boot model both Jitka and myself have been wearing quite a bit over the last few months) and was gob-smacked to discover that a UK Size 10 Black Cobra was 10% lighter than the YDS boot even though it is a much higher 8-eyelet design.

As the upper is of relatively conventional leather and textile design with an Gore-Tex XCR lining, this weight saving is mostly achieved through the Contagrip moulded sole design which gives the impression of having rubber tread blocks bonded to a clear resin containing a reinforcing mesh. You really need to look at this up close to try to understand what has been done. Only time will tell us how durable this design is, though I bet Meindl have experimented well and I don’t foresee problems. What I must say, however, is that these are the lightest 8” patrol boot I have ever worn, and my legs sure enjoyed the experience.

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Bhutan MFS

Bhutan Pro MFS
Bhutan Pro MFS

When Meindl released the Burma Pro in 1997, it was a game-changer – a tough 3-season boot with a multi-piece leather upper and an extremely comfortable lining.

For the first time hillwalkers who wanted a stiff boot for rockier mountain trips and year-after-year durability didn’t have to suffer more uncomfortable traditional leather boots. The Meindl Burma Pro was ‘Best in Test’ in Trail for many years, and remains to this day a hallmark of quality. Now Meindl is replacing it with the Bhutan, which features the hallmarks of the Burma Pro, but with a freshly designed leather upper, a new softer ankle cuff and slick speed lacing eyelets.

Tipping the scales at 1812g (pair, size 11), the Bhutan sits comfortably with other full leather boots of its quality while being lighter than the 1948g Burma Pro. The new upper is made from

quality leather as in the past, with some restyling to give it a modern appeal. The ankle cuff is nice and high to keep grit out and protect the ankle, but it now has an incredibly soft edge, which means there’s no chance of this rubbing

or digging in uncomfortably when traversing slopes and putting lots of pressure on this area. As with the Burma Pro a full rubber rand encloses the boot for maximum long-term durability and there’s good stiffness in the toe box and heel cup to further protect the foot.

The sole unit remains the same with deep lugs to bite into mud and good spacing to prevent clogging. The sole flex is nice and firm for spending all day on loose rock.

I’ve been trying lighter boots recently in an attempt to find a pair that are genuinely durable, but without success. By contrast putting on the Bhutan is like returning to an old

friend. The fit feels slightly closer than the Burma Pro, so I don’t need the volume adjuster I always wore in that model; instead the Bhutan hugs my feet. There’s a huge amount of stability underfoot, yet the toe flex is smooth enough to allow an easy walking action. Memory foam system

(MFS) cushioning is also tremendous, and more than capable of taking the fatigue out of walking over rocky ground or descending all afternoon.

What’s not to like? At £190 the Bhutan is not a casual purchase; but it’s a similar price to other models of similar quality, and when compared with boots that are lower in price you are getting far more long-term performance. So it’s an

investment, and ultimately a great way to save money

.

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