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Meindl Makalu

rated 4.5 of 5 stars
photo: Meindl Makalu backpacking boot

Like Glenn Irving (below) I also decided after a long period of boot research -- and fitting -- that Meindl's Makalus were the best boot available. After only two months, I'm already convinced I made the best decision, even though the boots took a while to break in and the cost was nearly prohibitive. So far I've put 100 km on these boots and they are living up to expectations and then some. I've worked in them and I've hiked in them, getting to the summits of three 4000-to-5000 foot mountains in the general Vancouver area. The break-in period was a bit long but that's not the uppers, it's getting some flex into the medium strength shank. I'm told too that eventually the Makalu's flex will get even closer to the touted Island trekking boot's flex.

I have been a prospector, fieldworker and tree-planter and I've fought forest fires. Currently I'm making trails part-time in the rugged coastal mountains of British Columbia. Here the Makalus have taken me thru slightly muskegy terrain, rough creeks, bogs and mudflats, over slippery 'deads and downs' (logs), across steep scree and talus slopes, and up and down jagged boulders on old washed-out logging roads. Most of what I do gets me off-trail and that's what these boots were designed for. I don't carry a heavy pack (about 20 lbs) so I can't speak to the matter of heavy backpacking but I can guess that the Makalus are solid there too. I have been on ice and snow, though, and the boots were fine.

The torsional support is great; the one-piece leather is top-notch; the stitching is robust and carefully done; the gore-tex lining works as advertised; and last and probably least, the boot has a shape and design that's aesthetically pleasing. The uppers are forgiving and ankle-hugging and don't extend too high. The laces are a bit of a surprise in that they are flat, but they don't come undone as easily as round laces and the Meindl dealer said he's never seen a pair snap or wear out in his 30 years of selling boots. There's a well-placed rand all the way around. The last suits my somewhat narrow heel and slightly low-volume foot. The toe-box is roomy enough for me while the synthetically-reinforced heel cup is fairly snug if the boot is laced properly. The midsole is a full-length polymid orthotic shank with superb flex and roll for a boot that is also crampon compatible. The boot is classed according to Meindl's helpful usage categories as a 'C' boot, meaning it is for sub-alpine, off-trail sidling. (Sidling is a term from Australia/New Zealand -- see -- meaning traversing steep slopes across unlevel surfaces, where edge grip is important.)

The overall weight -- approx. 2 kilos or 4.4 lbs. for a Euro 10, or 44 -- is not bad considering the attention to detail in this boot. The sole is a medium-hard vibram, and the lugs are shaped and spaced so as to mimic the profile of the hooves of the ibex, which is supposed to give extra grip and traction and so on. Apparently the design concentrates one's weight on the ball of the foot, our natural balance point. Whatever, ibex or not, the boots work well.

My only reservations have to be the supplied in-sole which I replaced with a Superfeet insole, and the warmth of my overly sweaty feet in the boots. This latter problem bedevils all gore-tex lined boots anyhow -- indeed almost all leather boots in general. Using a coolmax liner and a fairly synthetic sock helps. As for blistering, if you've had a boot fitted by a competent fitter and you don't have overly oddball feet or bone spurs, you should never have a blister, even if you wear the most inferior, mass-produced boot (e.g. Merrell).

This bootmaker constructs boots the way Lexus makes cars (not that I can afford one). Perhaps I should say Audi instead as Meindl are German-made. Meindl's craftsmanship is unsurpassed, and I've had boots by different manufacturers, including the regular run-of-the-mill ones like Vasque, Montrail, and Asolo. But the technology underlying this hand-crafted boot is good too, despite the slightly old-fashioned appearance. At or at you can read a bit about the research behind the boot. There's also a brief review of the Makalu's sister boot for higher volume feet, the Nepal Pro, at in the UK.

In summary, while I wouldn't hike the PCT or AT in these, they can't be beat as a pair of general, all-purpose, rough terrain boots. I've also tried on Han-wags and Scarpas, which seemed excellent but the last seemed off wrong (and the boot-fitter untrained compared to the Meindl guy). But sometimes you have to pay a bit more to get something superior. I did and don't regret it. I recommend these Makalus without reservation.

Materials: Sil-nuBuk leather
Use: Rough or no trail; rugged terrain, with or w/o pack
Break-in Period: For comfort, none if fitted well; for shank flex, 60+ km
Weight: Just over 1 kilo per boot, Euro size 10, my scale
Price Paid: $339 CAD, plus taxes

A solid and reliable boot for travel in off-trail and steep country.


  • Tough
  • Comfortable
  • Supportive


  • Costly
  • 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.

Source: bought it new
Price Paid: NZ$650 (in 2002)

I bought mine back in 1996. Will I buy them again? Yes

My review is about the original Makalu, I presume the new Makalu Pro 3000 MFS GTX is a much better and improved mountaineering hiking boot.


  • Indestructible boot, tough as nails.
  • Tough one-piece leather upper will protect your feet when bumping into rocks.
  • Good heel support.
  • 100% waterproof Gore-Tex All-Terrain boot will keep your feet dry and well protected.
  • The Meindl Multigrip by Vibram is an amazing sole, stiff and strong, good grip on wet rocks and mud, great for heavy loads.


  • They're on the heavy side and might need some time to break-in.
  • When soaking wet the leather will soften up and give away a bit of its stiffness.
  • Meindl insoles are not the best, so get Superfeet to maximize the potential of this great shoe.
  • Sweaty in warm conditions.

When you're out there exposed to the elements having to walk through mud-pools, steep rocky and slippery terrain you need a rugged boot you can trust in every condition imaginable, a shoe that will never let you down especially when the nearest outdoor store is thousand miles away. 

I bought mine back in 1996 and went trekking in the Indian Himalaya. Of course nowadays there are so many good boots to chose from, but back then Makalu was one of Meindl's best C boots. 

The meindl Multigrip sole by Vibram is exceptionally good and together with the one-piece leather upper offer stability, stiffness, and great grip when carrying loads on uneven rocky and slippery terrain = saved me from sliding from a flat, sloping, wet granite rock into a glacial crevasse. By the way the soles of the new Makalu Pro are identical to the ones I bought 22 years ago, that says a lot about the quality of this sole.

As someone mentioned before I did also use two pairs of socks—a very thin and a thicker one—kept my feet well padded and avoided blisters although with today's great hiking socks this may not be needed. Bridgedale are my favorite socks, they offer great padding and a living room comfort while on the mountain.

Great C boot, highly recommended, will last forever.


Source: bought it new
Price Paid: don't remember, but they didn't come cheap

The Meindl Makalu MFS is by far the best hiking boot made. It is a 4 season, tough as nails boot. They are comfortable right out of the box, with time they become part of your foot and absolutely awesome feeling. They are a Cat. C boot with a full shank and are designed for heavier packs and rough terrain.

I have used them on multi-day winter trips up Mt. Washington in New Hampshire. The weather was in the 0-5 degree range with high winds. My feet never got cold at all. They are perfectly dry boots and are crampon ready. My father-in-law has the Meindl Engadin which is a little less stiff but just as well-made.

These Meindl boots are designed to last for many years. In order for them to last you need to properly maintain them. This requires you to clean and wax them regularly. I do it after every big trip or after a few small day hikes. It is not hard nor does it take long to do (maybe 15-20 minutes).

I have also been told to use two layers of extra light wool socks to keep your feet dry and comfortable. I definitely do this for my multi-day trips and have been very happy but to be honest, for day trips I've sometimes used one medium wool sock and been fine. LOVE THESE BOOTS!!!!!!!!

Materials: Leather and Gore-tex
Use: Rough Trails w/ Heavy Packs
Break-in Period: Very Short, comfortable right out of the box
Weight: 870g
Price Paid: $409


  • They fall apart after about 12 months, the soles disintegrate

I did a lot of research on boots and have been through about 20 pairs of all the supposed Name brands.

These are simply THE BEST no question.

They are rather stiff in the sole but they do break in very quickly and can be worn straight out of the box. Superb boots and they last.

Update: November 9, 2005

I have done a lot of bush walking, sometimes with boots that say a lot but just don't deliver in the extremes of the Australian bush. These do. Simple as that. Best boots by a long way. I did lots of research and tried ALL of them. These are that good I flew from Brisbane to Sydney to try them on and bought them on the spot. Fantastic.

Whilst everything I said about the boots is true they do not last more than 12 months, the soles fall apart. The rubber is obviously defective and Meindl know it as the UK sites are full of similar stories. The attitude of Meindl is disgraceful and so is that of their Agent, Stager Sports in New Zealand. They are the worst for after sales service I have ever seen in the outdoors industry in 50 years. I would never encourage any person to by this product again.

Materials: leather, Gore-Tex lined
Use: backpacking/rough trail
Break-in Period: nil, stiff but do flex a bit later
Price Paid: $400 Aust.

Just picked a pair up today after spending allot of time researching what boot I was going to buy next (hence the 4 stars not five yet).

I work for a spray/Nassela tussock grubbing contractor so will be using these boots full time on New Zealand Mid and North Canterbury high country. My previous pair were La Sportiva Karakorums which have lasted me a year now and were very good boots, but I was keen to try something new.

The amount of times the conversation over boot choice came up over lunch at work is phenomenal, so I had a rough idea of what I wanted next. All they boys that had owned a pair of Meindls had Lowas on their feet and agreed that the Meindls were still the best pair of boots they owned, and would definitely go back to them. A few of these fullas had their fair share of pairs of boots so it was good enough advice for me to get a pair next.

Bought them from Hamills in Christchurch. These guys have awesome customer service, which is why I chose to splash out $600 in their store.

Really looking forward to trying these bad boys out!

Watch this space!

Price Paid: $625 NZ

Comfortable, I never got a blister. Very secure on loose steeep ground.

I had a pair of Makalus for 10 years. They died earlier this year, by way of the sole disintegrating and eventually peeling off. Other than that on the top of the boot, some stitching wore out, some leather wore away and it exposed the foam in the upper. It didn't affect the functionality of the boot. I think I gave them one re-soling.

They had been very good boots for 10 years and took a lot of abuse. There was no real decision to be made, I wanted another pair exactly the same. I have ordered the next pair and am waiting for them to arrive to confirm the size.

I love the security they give when sidling on steep loose rock. I'm sure stiff soled boots from other manufacturers give similar security, but this coupled with never having a blister, being very waterproof and tough makes it a no brainer for me to buy exactly the same.

Source: bought it new


  • Strong comfortable and give confidence when in hard off trail country with rock and scree.
  • The best I have owned in forty years of tramping.


  • Price. Mid sole degraded and broke up after five years even though sole had more miles in it.

Fit is very good, especially at the heel. And the narrower outer heel width is what is needed off-trail for foot stability when traversing steep inclines.

Toe construction with sole is a bit long, extending too far ahead of toes so harder to climb when only forefoot gets a grip. This is my one complaint.

Lacing system excellent. Allows easy adjustment for up and down gradients.

When first bought the stiffness gave me some pain in the toe joints breaking in, but after the Milford Track walk following became the seasoned companions in adventure they are now. Stiff shank gives stability and confidence on uneven off-trail surfaces. Ankle support very good.

The decision to re-sole rather than replace with another brand is my tribute to them.

Got them resoled by Stager Sport in Alexandra, NZ, for $171. Very good job. (There was no place in Australia to do this.)

Source: bought it new

I did a lot of research on boots before I bought these ones. I have had them for two months now and they are the best investment I have made. They are very pricey in comparison to other boots in New Zealand, but they have been worth it.

I have used them in a variety of tramping situations in New Zealand including some river walks, scree, and snow/ice. They have performed well in all these conditions and have kept my feet warm and dry like never before (thanks to the Goretex liners!). The moisture transfer system seems to work well too.

I have replaced the standard insole with a Formthotic insole for greater arch support and this has make the boots a lot more supportive. To sum up, these boots are the best and I'd recommend them to anyone!

Materials: Leather
Use: off trail and light alpine
Break-in Period: four days around the house did the trick
Price Paid: NZ $530

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