It was a sad moment when my walking boots died in the Grand Canyon. After an emergency repair to temporarily fix the sole to the rest of my boot, enabling me to hobble back up out of the huge hole in the ground, I spent the rest of my trek thinking about the places they had taken me.
From the Inca Trail in Peru to the Torres del Paine in Chile and the Routeburn Track in New Zealand to the village of Pan Kam in Burma, these boots had so many memories attached to them. Granted, a few of those memories were “Do I really have to put these boots back on again?” as I woke up freezing cold in my tent on day three of a five-day hike. But on the whole I’d loved the adventures I’d had in them.
I’m a big fan of hiking. Even though I’m a city girl at heart, trekking up a mountain or through a forest gives me a chance to slow down, reflect on things and, most importantly, take a break from the constant technology which fills my everyday life.
Having owned my old boots for more than ten years I was worried about where to start looking to find a new pair. As I’ve already mentioned, I get scared by all of the technical jargon which comes with buying a new piece of travelling equipment. Luckily the lovely people at Ultimate Outdoors stepped in to save the day and offered me the chance to choose a pair of boots from their website. With my search narrowed down I set about checking out the options.
I was looking for something very sturdy, as I like a lot of support for my ankles. As someone who often hikes alone, the main terror I like to torture myself with is that I’ll trip and fall and sprain my ankle (that and being chased by a bear, obviously.) I also wanted something waterproof, as there is nothing as soul-destroying as knowing you’ve got to tramp along for another 12 miles with soggy feet.
I started reading other people’s reviews and was instantly drawn to the Meindl brand, a family company which has produced hand-made footwear for more than 300 years. I guess after 300 years they know what they’re doing and other reviewers raved about the comfort of their boots, especially their wide fit. Some people said they had found their first ever well-fitting hiking boots.
As I have quite wide feet I thought this would be a good boot to go for and decided on the Meindl Women’s Toronto GTX Walking Boot. The main attraction of this particular boot was that as well as being made of sturdy leather, it also had a GORE-TEX® membrane, which meant that it would be both breathable and waterproof. The soles were also made of Vibram rubber, which should provide good traction when clambering up the side of mountains.
At £150 they are pretty pricey, but then again comfort on a hike is definitely worth paying for.
As soon as the boots arrived I tried them on and spent the next half hour stomping around the house (the things poor Mr A has to put up with!) I was instantly pleased with the comfort – the wide fit meant there was no pinched toes and the heel of the boot, which can sometimes rub and lead to blisters was comfy. The leather around the top of the ankles was also super-soft so didn’t feel like it would chafe.
But the real test came a few weeks later when we went on a hike in Wiltshire with some friends. Thanks to a combination of days of snow, followed by days of rain, the fields we were walking through had pretty much turned into a sea of mud. Thinking there was no time like the present to test out the waterproof abilities of my boots, I marched through the middle of the muddy mess as my friends attempted to scurry round the edges.
While I may have ended up with most of the field on my boots my feet stayed warm and dry, a definite big tick.
I was also really impressed with the comfort. They’re not the lightest boots in the world, but they are so comfortable. Usually on a first walk out you can expect at least a little rubbing while your feet get used to the new boots, but these were perfect. It was almost as if I’d already had them for years.
So the Meindl Women’s Toronto GTX Walking Boots definitely get a thumbs up from me and I’m looking forward to many more adventures with them in the years to come!
A big thank you to Ultimate Outdoors for the Meindl Women’s Toronto GTX Walking Boots. All views and opinions are my own.