+ Completely waterproof
+ Durability over many years
+ Very comfortable
To be honest, I didn’t have the slightest interest in hiking until I met my then girlfriend and present wife, who loved rambling. Obviously, I had to impress her with my hiking credentials so I needed some serious boots. The salesman advised me to choose the most comfortable with a bit of breathing space for swollen feet. I chose these because they fulfilled both criteria and were also said to be waterproof. That was nearly 14 years ago.
The Meindl family has been making shoes in the same town in Bavaria, Germany for over three centuries. Meindl became a company in the twentieth century and now employs over 200 staff. It’s website is in English and German. In order to review this product, I had to contact Meindl to find out the name of the boots I had bought so many moons ago. I sent them a few pictures and received a prompt reply with the information I needed.
The boots have black, brown and green leather uppers and come with a gore tex membrane. The soles are rubber and have a so-called Air-Active cushion to put less strain on your feet. There are six lace holes and four hooks at the top, so you can tie the boots very tight. The tongue is made of thickly-padded leather.
Are they good?
I’ve used the boots for long and short day hikes, ranging from very easy flat trails to arduous uphill and stony paths. I also wore them on a very strenuous two-week hiking holiday in Norway.
Quite simply, the boots have never let me down. They are still very comfortable to wear. My wife has just bought some new hiking boots from a very reputable company and complained that mine, even though not her size, are more comfortable than hers. The Memphis boots have also remained completely waterproof. I’ve used them for the last three weeks to walk in the snow, as my normal winter boots, which also have gore tex, are letting in water like a sieve.
I still have the original laces which show no signs of fraying. The boots are slightly cracked at the front but still keep out the water. The tongue stays where it should when you are on the move, and the laces do not loosen.
All of this is rather remarkable considering that I have not particularly looked after the boots. I clean them once or twice a year, which usually consists of hosing down the mud in the shower, waiting for them to dry and then impregnating them with a spray. I am sure this is not what the manufacturer recommends, but it seems to work.
Unfortunately it is no longer possible to buy these boots, but my purpose in writing this review was to show that top-quality products will do the job over many years. The Memphis boots have taken a lot of punishment since 1997 and I still don’t expect to be replacing them anytime soon.
The outdoor equipment market has its share of companies producing goods with seasonal colours, the latest must-have accessory or an updated (virtually unchanged, but more expensive) product. All of these are, of course, ploys to make you open your wallet as often as possible.
It is therefore a relief that there are still some companies out there confident enough to manufacture products in the full knowledge that their customers will not need to come back for at least a decade. I contacted Meindl after 13 years of happily wearing their boots and received fast replies from Herr Zeiser in their customer services department. This is what I call a long-term business relationship.