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Gear Tests

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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Meindl Kansas

Kansas
Kansas

​Meindl has a well established reputation for producing comfortable and durable leather hillwalking boots, and the Kansas follows this trend. It has a full leather upper that instantly feels robust in the hand. There’s a rubber rand around the toe box to improve durability on rockier ground, although as there’s so little stitching and so few separate panels, this boot is going to be very durable anyway. Meindl’s typical soft padding around the ankle and cuff should make this stiff boot comfortable, but you also get some articulation at the ankle to allow a little more lateral and forward flex without discomfort. Underfoot there is a Meindl Multigrip sole unit with a reasonable spread of lugs and a good heel breast to create good grip on most terrain. Stiffness in the sole is good too, with toe-to-heel and lateral support as well as good resistance to jagged stones when scrambling over rockier ground. The boot is a little heavier than others though, and some people may just prefer a less supportive design.

TRAIL VERDICT
A very good general hillwalking boot for those who are looking for good support and durability on a wide range of terrain.

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Barcelona GTX

Barcelona Lady Goretex
Barcelona Lady Goretex

+ Excellent fit around the ankle, with an efficient lacing system that provides plenty of support. A rugged sole gives heaps of grip. – The toe protection stops too short above the foot. VERDICT: Built to last by Meindl’s master bootmakers, these look good in town and work well in the hills.

Being extremely comfortable, your feet will feel part of the shoe rather than perched inside them.

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Meindl Respond Lady GTX

Repond Lady GTX
Repond Lady GTX

A great-looking shoe with a lovely, sporty look, these are very comfortable to walk in, with a soft yet supportive upper and an easy-pull lacing system that gives a really secure fit with no slipping at the heel. The midsole is one of the stiffest on test, so works well on gnarly terrain, and the flex across the toes helps spur your feet forward. The chunky sole offers great shock absorption, and the aggressive lugs provide excellent grip on rock yet shed mud well too. A Gore-Tex lining will keep your feet dry and the high mesh content in the uppers helps keep them light and breathable. A reinforced bumper does a great job of protecting toes from knocks. In a nutshell:

A great-looking shoe that’s as at home in the hills as it is on the high street.

9/10

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Meindl Softline GTX

Sizes: UK 6-12 Upper: Mesh and velour leather Waterproof/breathable lining: Gore-Tex® Performance Comfort Sole: MeindlMultigriff® Weight: 1,240g Women’s version? Yes

Contact: 015395 60214; meindl.co.uk

Softline Light GTX
Softline Light GTX

The latest version of the Softline has managed to shed a few grams yet still remain amazingly comfortable and very supportive. It’s quite a broad boot so careful lacing is needed to get a stable fit, but it feels incredibly light and agile on the foot, and it really does encourage a fast, springy stride. The midsole provides a surprising amount of support for the weight, so it’s as at home in the mountains as it is on easier paths. And the toe and heel are well protected too. It’s nice and high at the ankle – reassuring on uneven ground; and the sole is a great all-rounder: deep enough lugs for mud but still good on rock and firmer going. Superb price too.

IN A NUTSHELL:

A superb all-rounder, ideal for 3-season UK walking.

10/10

Meindl Burma MFS

IT’S GOOD This is a modern classic that changed the marketplace when it arrived on the scene many years ago. It has been a frequent winner of 3 season boot tests in TRAIL. It’s success has been due to a mix of features that are all dedicated to performance on the hill. So you get a good leather upper, with a Gore-Tex waterproof lining. There is also a large amount of padding inside that makes it very comfortable straight from the box. The upper offers plenty of protection and support, and there is a rubber rand to add the the durability. Underfoot a duel density Vibram sole unit provides excellent support and comfort while the sole flex and lug pattern are ideal for a variety of valley, hill and mountain terrain. If you can afford the price tag this is a highly recommended boot that’s exceptionally hard to beat on performance.

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