By Mike Schoby
My relationship with Meindl boots goes back over 25 years. Seems like a long time until you realize the Meindl family were cobblers making footwear in their German village as early as 1638. Even the modern iteration of Meindl Co. was founded in 1923 and is into the 11th generation today. So, in their world, 25 years is a relatively short amount of time.
After an unrepairable blow out on a pair of AKU boots last elk season (not a condemnation of AKU, as they served well for years but were simply worn out) I decided I needed some new boots. As I mentioned, I bought my first pair of Meindl’s over 25 years ago and ever since have pretty much worn some model of them across six continents hunting big game. I have come to trust them, know they hold up and are always comfortable.
Looking at Meindl’s site, I honestly didn’t know where to start. Times and terminology had changed since my last boot purchase—hence the problem of selling high end mountaineering boots, your customers don’t return but every few years.
The Vakuum Hunter looked interesting, and the technology intrigued me. Memory foam panels created a “boot within a boot”, forming to your foot for a near-custom-fit without pinch points or pressure spots, they claimed. Gore-Tex—always a boot must—had been improved upon with a Gore-Tex stretch heel, eliminating the need for traditional seams that can cause blisters. I knew from experience that Vibram outsoles provide great traction in our granite-strewn elk mountains, so that was a plus. The outside material is full grain Nubuck leather. I had no idea what a Nubuck was, but it sounded delicious and like something I should try and kill someday (unfortunately I learned it’s a finish, not an animal). I like the 9” height as a primary hunting boot. I have owned taller 11” models and shorter hikers, but for day in and day out hunting I feel 9” is about perfect for support and ankle protection and when combined with gaiters they work great throughout the winter’s deep snow.
When they arrived, the instructions said to put them on and lace them up tight for 10 minutes or so to let the memory foam mold to your foot. Maybe it was my imagination—like when I got new Zips at the start of each school year and I thought I could run faster—but when I started to walk around, damn if they didn’t feel like a custom-fit boot.
Over the next month I hiked all over Montana and Alaska on various fishing excursions and pre-hunt scouting trips. A couple of the hikes involved a heavily loaded pack. Not a bit of break in was required. Not one blister or hot spot developed. There was plenty of support for steep terrain and great traction across wet, slippery rocks. If my multiple past experiences are any indicator of Meindl’s quality, I know this will be the last time I’ll be on their site for the next few years at least.