User Review: Meindl Makalu
Source: bought it new
Price Paid: NZ$650 (in 2002)
A solid and reliable boot for travel in off-trail and steep country.
- Clunky on long trail walks
I bought my Meindl Makalus as a replacement for my worn-out Scarpa tramping boots — and after a lot of research!
As I was tending towards doing more tramping off-trail and in more challenging conditions carrying a relatively heavy pack, including pass-hopping with crampons, I was after a supportive boot with a torsionally stiff sole. The Makalus have fitted the bill to a tee.
I have been using these boots since 2002, and have clocked up a decent milage in them ranging from weekend trips in the ranges in the North Island, multi-day tramps in the Southern Alps, Canadian Rockies and the French / Italian Alps — often including easy climbing up to Grade 2 on the Mount Cook scale. In all the trips I've done, I have found that they are both comfortable (I have swapped out the insole) and have offered all the support I needed, even when they were soaking wet after a ten hour slog up a river.
The soles provide good grip, and are solid enough to provide good edging in snow and dirt on steep ground. The lacing system allows flexibility to keep the fore foot snug while allowing for the ankle to either be cinched up tight or loosened off as required. I wear a single pair of Bridgedale AT socks and haven't experienced any hot spots, rubbing or heel lift.
The only feature I have found to be less than idea is the Gortex lining. As I live in New Zealand where backcountry travel involves walk through rivers, all the Gortex does is act link a sponge and slows the boot's ability to dry. Not a deal breaker by any means and this wouldn't be an issue if you live in Europe or North America.
Last week the outsole started come away from the midsole, which started to disintergrate. Also the leather around the top of the cuffs at the ankles has started to split, revealing the foam inside. But otherwise the rest of the boots are in very good condition - especially considering that they must have done (many) hundreds of miles over 11 years of use. I have sent the boots away to the NZ distributers (Stager Sports Ltd) to have them resoled - I'll post an update on the results.
One note of caution, while I wouldn't hesitate to recommend the Makalus to anyone looking for a solid boot, bear in mind that it isn't a boot for designed for use primarily on formed tracks, the sole is too stiff.
Meindl boots do tend to fit me very well (I have a relatively low volume foot with a mid to high arch and skinny ankles = a tendancy for heel lift in many boots), and if you're the same you really couldn't go wrong with the Makalus. Eventually you'll forget the intial pain you felt at the cash register, and if you look after them, they'll last you for years.
Update 11 April 2013
I have recieved my boots back from Stager Sports Ltd (the Meindl distributer in NZ) after having the mid and out soles replaced and the ankle cuffs repaired (NZ$221.80). Sadly they have utterly botched the job. Somehow they have managed to fit a sole a half size smaller than was originally fitted, the rand is poorly fixed to the boot and doesn't even fully encirlce the boots.
Also in the re-soleing process, they have also managed to dramatically change the shape/fitting of the boot. The toe box is now too small to fit my feet with an inner sole, the over all length has been reduced (they are now too short), while area around the arches and ankles is now voluminous!
A very disappointing result indeed.
Update 14 May 2013
Having returned my boots to Stager Sports Ltd, they have decided that the repair job was indeed botched and the boots are now beyond repair. As a result they have offered to me the option of either a refund or a replacement pair of boots (the Makalu PRO 3000 MFS, as the orginal Makalus are no longer being made). A happy result in the end, even if it did take a while.
The Makalu PRO 3000 MFS is essentailly the same boot as the previous model, just with a larger rand and some different coloured leather.