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Declan Cunningham is a proud Kerryman and it was there he discovered a love of mountains and the  ‘great outdoors’ in general. He left a perfectly horrible IT job and now works for himself running guided walks, navigation training and even the odd international trip with Explore More and Hillseekers.

He has walked and climbed all over the world including the Alps, Russia, Africa, Greenland and the Himalayas. Aside from his own great adventures, he has led guided trips to Kilimanjaro, Elbrus and all over Ireland and the UK so he is most at home when he’s not. Last year’s big trip was leading an Irish group to Nepal for a very successful trek to Everest Base Camp and Island Peak.

He is also a keen writer and photographer and his journalistic work includes regular articles in Outsider Magazine where he is the Mountaineering Editor. He also writes for The Sunday Times and other publications highlighting the excellent selection of walking all over his native Ireland as well as further afield. He is a man of all seasons, out in all weathers, and a firm believer in Safety in the Hills and Leave No Trace. Now throw in 16 years in Dublin Wicklow Mountain Rescue Team and you’ll realise he lives in his boots and when he’s not wandering Ireland’s wildest places finding himself he’s looking for you!

We invited him to review our Bhutan and Respond GTX boots – read on for the verdict…

Meindl Bhutan Review

“The Meindl Bhutan has a Goretex lining so are fully waterproof but a great little upgrade is the inner memory foam system of the boot so they’re like putting on a pair of your own slippers. Great comfort and support straight out of the box without taking the ankles off you.

Look and feel is really only a fraction of the sell so unless they perform, you (and the boots) may as well stay at home. No danger of that though as the first test was in a very damp Isle of Skye. A good solid boot with totally reliable Vibram soles meant for very confident rock hopping and scrambling and the tough leather outer took no notice of the crap conditions.

The only downside was due to lots of time spent descending scree on two of the days which was very rough going on us, our knees and our boots but I have to say I was slightly surprised to see a bit of minor damage to the stitching on the instep of one boot.

They have also proved their worth on longer more usual tramps in the hills in Ireland and the Pyrenees and I’m looking forward to clocking up lots more happy mileage in them.”

Meindl Respond GTX

“I’m not a formal shoe person so if it’s not a wedding or a funeral you’ll find me in runners or trailshoes of some description. With the summer not much more than a memory it was time for a sturdier walking shoe so I was impressed by the comfy, sturdy fit of the Meindl Respond GTX from the start (and I’ve been living in them since).

When it comes to hills, I prefer a non-waterproof shoe to run in but as a light trail or everyday casual walking shoe, these are great. Plenty of protection from the elements whether in town or on trails. The own brand Contragrip is also excellent so no comprise on performance with the Respond GTX.

Of course with a potentially everyday type of shoe, it’s great insulation means my feet do get a bit too hot so on the warmer days I need a backup option but that’s just me.

The only recommendation I could make is that while I accept that boots will inevitably be black or brown why not throw in a bit more colour in this style of footwear?”

“I’ve worn lots of boots in all sorts of conditions but over the years I’ve come to realise that if you want your feet to stay dry on your average boggy day in Ireland’s beautiful hills then it’s got to be a leather boot, with Meindl being an obvious choice.

Sure, they take a little more maintenance and care but when the rain comes in and you’re still 10km from the car you’ll be glad you put your foot in a Meindl.”

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