Choosing Your Meindl Boot
The difference between properly fitted, supportive boots and ill-fitting bargain boots is like the difference between day and night. If you've been there and done that - climbed high into the mountains, backpacked deep in the backcountry or ventured into endless rolling prairie - you know how important good boots are. Likewise, if you've hobbled back to the trailhead on blistered and bruised feet you REALLY know the importance of properly fitted boots that can handle what you put them through.
We're not trying to scare you; we're just telling it like it is. That's why we put so much into the boot selection process. We want your Meindl boots to not only fit your feet but also fit your lifestyle and your needs. Look at choosing boots as a matchmaking process that should sync with your needs, expectations and plans. It's a personal process. Everybody's feet are different so what works for one may not work for another. What works for your friend may not work for you. It's best to get it right from the start. Start out on the right foot, you could say.
Here are a few things to consider. These are specific examples so you'll need to apply the same thought process to your situation:
Location and type of terrain - Meindl boots are made with specific purposes in mind. All are multi-purpose, of course, but it is important to match your boots for your intended use. We recommend choosing boots for the purpose on the farthest extreme end of your list of intended purposes. When in doubt, it's better to have too much boot than not enough. It's fairly obvious when you think about it. Elk hunting in Colorado, Alaska sheep hunting and upland hunting in Kansas require different styles of boots. Will you be hammering up steep rocky mountainsides? Climbing? (If you'll be sidehilling, look for all the ankle support you can get.) Or will you be putting in miles through woods or prairie? You'll be more comfortable, and more sure-footed in boots closely suited to the purpose.
Weather conditions - This is where we start talking insulated versus uninsulated; boot height, outsole configuration and other considerations. Temperature, wet or dry conditions, time of year and other factors come in to play. Again, use enough boot. What are the worst conditions you might face - and your boots might have to deal with? A bowhunter in September isn't likely to have (but in fickle weather could have) the same needs as a rifle hunter in November. And that's not even factoring in December or later seasons.
Flex use/durability/activity - Now we're getting into specific use and the types and amount of use (to learn more on how Meindl rates our boots as well as the rating for each boot visit our Flex-Use Rating page for more information). A sheep guide spending the entire hunting season on rocky slopes and shale fields will want very stiff, supportive and robust boots to handle the rugged day-after-day conditions, more so than, say, a weekend hunter planning one or two major hunts each year. That comes with a bit of a warning though. Weekend or occasional hunters should not sell themselves short on boot selection. It doesn't take long for sore or injured feet to ruin a weekend or even a single-day hunt.
Boot specifications - This is where Meindl boots really rise to the top in matching different needs and preferences which differ from person to person. It starts with internal considerations like fit, comfort and components, but also includes height, weight, lacing, outersoles and construction. Also, will you likely be using crampons to get up there where you want to go? We take it all into consideration.
So, once you've gone through those steps and narrowed it down to the style of boot, the next step is to assure the best fit. We know we talk a lot about fit but that is because it is so important. If you don't have a good fit, you're asking for trouble. And who needs trouble when you're way to heck-and-gone in the backcountry or any time you're miles from any hint of civilization? It's important to understand there are lots of boot options and different boots are built on different lasts (the foot-shaped form bootmakers use to mold boots) so, as you'd expect, fit of boots made on one last may not be the same as boots made on another. The best bet is to have your feet measured for length, width and arch length on a Brannock device. Find a shoe or boot store and ask to have BOTH feet measured. It is common (and normal) to have feet of different sizes. If you do, simply buy boots that accommodate the larger foot. So, have your feet measured (Again, find a store that uses a Brannock device), note the measurements and we can go from there. Visit our Meindl Sizing page for more detailed information.
Considerations when trying on boots:
Try them on at the end of the day - Feet normally swell during the day and will be at their largest after a day of activity. Trying them on when your feet are at their largest helps you avoid buying boots that are too small. Better to address this early on in the boot selection process.
Wear appropriate socks - Make sure the thickness of the socks you wear trying them on is the same you intend to wear in the world. If you're going to wear them hunting, try them on with hunting socks. If you're a hiker, wear hiking socks. We do not recommend cotton socks. You'll be better off with wool or synthetic blend socks, like our MT6, MT8 or MT Jagd socks (Meindl USA Socks). (We tell you this not so much because we want to sell you socks - which of course we do - but more to assure you have quality socks.) Wool blended socks wick away perspiration moisture yet still insulate when damp. And they'll dry much faster than cotton. Cotton holds moisture and, therefore, are more likely to cause blisters. You've probably had cotton socks get sweat-soaked and wad up, creating uncomfortable pressure and rubbing points. Wool blends and synthetics handle that much better.
Check toe space - Walking down hill is generally more difficult and certainly harder on your feet than climbing uphill. This is where well-fitting boots will save your bacon. Sufficient toe room is vital, especially vital when going downhill with a heavy load on your back. To test toe room and assure adequate space, sit down on a chair with the boots unlaced, then slide your feet forward until your toes hit the end. Next, slide your index finger down along the back of your heel. If there is at least a finger width behind your heel you have adequate toe space. You can also double-check this by pulling the insoles out of the boots and standing on them to make sure you have a finger width from your longest toe at the end of the insole.
We understand buying quality boots is an investment. That is why we recommend you invest time and effort in boot selection and proper fitting. By doing so, you'll assure you have the best combination of support, comfort and fit for your next adventure.