Meindl Bhutan Review – a Fantastic GTX Walking Boot
These could be the best hiking boots we’ve ever tested. The combination of leather, memory foam support and Gore-Tex breathability is irresistible….
Key Positives of the Meindl Bhutan MFS: comfortable, rugged and supportive.
The Meindl Bhutan MTS is the recently updated version of the German company’s classic Burma walking boot which has been tramping the hills and mountains of the world for the past 20 years or so.
Meindl are a very well known brand with an extremely prestigious pedigree – they have been making boots since their founder Petrus Meindl first put a knife to leather in 1683, and are synonymous with great design, comfort and attention to detail in their fabulous footwear. Felix Baumgartner was wearing Meindl boots in 2013 when he jumped out of a plane in space and flew to earth. They are the dog’s danglies.
The Bhutan therefore has rather large boots to fill (forgive the awful pun) and I was rather full with anticipation as I awaited the free Amazon Prime next-day delivery. How did we ever cope before Amazon?
Meindl Bhutan MFS boot layout
Out of the box, the Bhutans are an extremely handsome pair of bhuts, sorry boots (ahem). The uppers are constructed from a very dark chestnut brown Nubuck leather, sourced from Europe and waxed to provide a waterproof sheen on the surface. They ooze quality at around 900g per boot for size 11. If you’re after a lighter-weight option then I recommend checking out our review of the Scarpa Terra GTX boots which weigh in at around 620g per boot.
The Meindl Bhutan MFS is an ankle boot and has seven lacing studs on each side of the foot rising up to the top of the ankle support. The lower four studs are typical eyelets, whereas the upper three use the Meindl Digafix lacing system with flexible locking hooks. This allows various tightnesses to be applied with the lace at different points on the boot. Meindl recommend that when walking uphill tie the lower part of the boot tighter than the upper, and vice versa when walking downhill. It’s probably wise to follow their guidance on this…
Memory Foam Bliss
The real piece de resistance of the Bhutan is the interior of the ankle support – it uses a bespoke Memory Foam System, which is where the MFS acronym comes from in the name of the product. This is a revelation. If you have ever slept on a memory foam pillow then you will know that it essentially moulds and shapes itself to whatever is pressed onto it – in this case that body part is your ankles and feet. It honestly feels like the boot is caressing your lower leg and you whisper prayers of thanks to the Meindl Meisters every time you descend a rocky mountain!
Between the leather outer and a porous inner fabric layer Meindl have incorporated a breathable Gore-Tex (or GTX) section. This turns the Bhutans into bona fide four-season waterproof boots with the ability to allow hot perspiration vapour back out through the liner. Your feet therefore stay comfortable on long walks even when you’re pounding out the miles like a member of the Royal Marines (who incidentally use Meindl boots!).
Underneath each boot is a Vibram ‘Multigrip’ sole which has been developed in a close collaborative effort between the two companies. On mountain walks in North Wales we found them extremely grippy, even on wet granite rocks. The rubber of the sole feels more solid than expected so don’t expect a forgiving and wallowy ‘suspension’ – these are the Ferrari of Mountain Boots! The top of the sole is connected to the leather section via a rubber rand which is a band around the circumference of the shoe. It helps prevent water from seeping into the shoe between the two sections and worked extremely well during my tests and in regular use subsequently.
Moving on to the style of the boots – the stitching on the Bhutans could almost be considered a work of art and I really did not want to get my pristine new boots covered in mud on their first outing. They have a classic, ageless look with a few discreet Meindl logos branded on to the upper side and on the tongue.
Overall, the look of the Meindl Bhutan is exemplary and the material quality of an exceptionally high standard. You will not be disappointed by these aspects.
Meindl Bhutan GTX boots - fitting considerations and field performance
Buying clothes of any kind online is an adventure fraught with danger. There always seems to be a chance of error when translating the sizing guide on the website to the actual fitting of the item in the flesh. With boots it is no different in this respect, even though there is an internationally recognized sizing guide which should remove any ambiguity and areas of misinterpretation.
I typically like to hike wearing thick merino wool socks. After unboxing the size-11 Bhutans, I put on my trusty socks and tried to get my feet i and found it was on the ‘snug’ side. It wasn’t the length of the boot that was a problem – more the width. I took the thick socks off and put on my normal thin work socks and sliped the boot on successfully.
Over the next few days I applied some leather-softening cream which helped ease the leather into a more supple condition. Eventually I was able to wear the thicker socks with comfort which was certainly a relief.
Walking-wise, the Bhutans are extremely solid and stable as you would expect. The memory-foam system cushions your ankles wonderfully and makes the ~£200 price tag justifiable to my mind – they just ooze quality. You can envision wearing these boots for many years and I feel they are unlikely to ever need replacing.
After breaking in the boots on some smaller jaunts, I eventually completed a 15 mile circular walk in wet and muddy conditions wearing Gore-Tex gaiters on top. My feet remained completely dry and I still had a spring in my step at the end of the walk – hats off to the Bhutans!
Meindl Bhutan MFS Hiking Boots - Conclusions
With some items in life it’s worth paying for quality, and with walking boots that motto should be at the forefront of your mind when you’re looking for a pair to buy. The Meindl Bhutan MFS boots are of exceptional build quality and have class and pedigree as well as technical superiority over the competition. I would put them in the same league as the Scarpa Men’s Kinesis Pro GTX boots which cost about 30% more – on that scale the Bhutans are a veritable bargain! Plus they were worn by a man who jumped out of a spacecraft and plummeted to earth – don’t underestimate the significance of that!
For information, I’m about a size 10.5-11 in shoe and a size 11 pair pair of Bhutans fitted well after some leather-softening was performed over a few days.
The Meindl Bhutan MFS boots are also available in a ladies version.
I was blown away by the comfort and strength of the Meindl Bhutans after they had been broken in. For around £200 they are expensive but worth every penny. A simply excellent boot.