I was on my way to the ADA Hunter Education Course. And over an early morning cup of tea with the wife we discussed the difficulty I was having these days with walking great distances now that my ankles were starting to give me grief. She passed the comment, ‘Perhaps if you weren’t so lousy, and let the moths out of your wallet and brought some decent boots for a change, the problem might go away, it’s not like you can’t afford them. You’re going up to the course, they sell stuff there, see what you can pick up for yourself’.
So with this in mind, after the field trip was over, I went and perused the merchandise area. They had lots of things I didn’t need! But over in the corner on a stand were some boots, they looked pretty tough to me. ‘What sort of boots are these? I asked Tony from Tony’s Sports. ‘Meindls’ was the reply. ‘Never heard of them’ says I, ‘Are they any good?’ ‘Would I try and sell you crap?’ ‘I don’t know, I reckon you might, anyway how much are they?’ ‘Did you say $480? Damn I can buy six pairs for that money!’ ‘Yes and they would all worn out and the Meindls will still be going, but don’t believe me, here’s Mary Jane, the lady that imports them and is trying to promote them. No she’s not in the price!’
I was always going to purchase a pair but I was happy to hear the spin anyway. After trying them on I was very impressed in the fit and the way they laced up pulling the boot firmly around my foot and ankle and the difference they made to walking was unreal. Now there is one thing I must make very clear at this time it is imperative that you select a boot that fits you correctly; there is absolutely no give in these things so if it feels tight in the shop it will always be so. There are no refunds once you’ve worn boots so buyer beware.
When you purchase your new boots buy spare laces to have in your daypack. Yes, I know they’re $10 a lace, but the others don’t cut the mustard, for a start they aren’t long enough, and they won’t last any time at all. So consider them insurance to good walking, more so in the steep country frequented by sambar hunters. We can’t have laces that don’t work at keeping the boot firmly encased around your foot. When you’re young you can get away with it for a while, but us old fellas need all the help we can get.
When your Meindl’s are wet Don’t leave them close to the fire; they dry very easily so anywhere that they’re warm will get it done without damaging the external casing. Come on you say, there must be something wrong with them? Well, I wouldn’t say wrong, but there are a couple of weaknesses that show through after three or four years of consistent wearing - the internal stitching down the back of the heal breaks away, and the external stitching wears away on the sides of the boot from rubbing against rocks in steep country and lets the leather come apart. This has happened on the both pairs I have owned and really it’s just a part of normal wear and tear; something has to give eventually, and it’s nothing that twenty bucks and ten minutes at any boot repairer can’t fix. The rubber on the sides above the sole wears away too but even that can be replaced if at that stage you decide to re-sole and keep them a bit longer.
This isn’t really a product revue per se but me passing on my experiences. These boots are strong and long lasting and your feet are kept warm by the inner lining, while you’re sitting up waiting for that big honker to come along. Too heavy you say, make too much noise; both a small price to pay when you consider the overriding benefits. Anyway I know blokes that would make as much noise as a bull elephant even if they were wearing feather dusters on their feet! So really it’s a pretty lame argument, anyway if you absolutely need a quiet approach you can’t beat socks, no matter what else you might wear on your feet.
Now I’m not going to show you a pretty new boot fresh out of the box, but instead I’m going to show you what they look like after they’ve been flogged to death. Both pairs are five years old and in that time they were worn daily to work for three years, with hunting when I could get away the rest of the time. A damn good result when you consider most boots I’ve had over the past 40 years struggle to make it through a season.
In 2015 I bought my third pair of Meindls. You gotta worry investing all that money when you’re 65, after all you want to be around long enough to wear the suckers out! You know what I mean, get your money’s worth and all that. Anyway they are an excellent fit and as long as they are dry no problems but once they are full of water they seem to become very tight and tend make the bones in the feet ache (old age I suppose)! But then it’ s understandable if the water can’t get away then it would pressurise inside the boot. Stay away from rivers is the answer. This is the new model called the Sambar Hunter; lighter built and not as heavy on the feet. They have gone all right so far but I don’t believe they will give the wear that I got out of the others but then I have to make it to 70 to prove the point as well!
By Lu Cervi - 2017