Submitted by: Miguel - Detroit, MI
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Reviewed by: LHHT653I started the season with the Merrell MOAB Gortex and destroyed them quite easily. The weekend before I was leaving for the Grand Canyon I took them out for their second big over night hike. I started at the 653 trail head of the Laurel Highlands Hiking trail in Pennsylvania. I am 6 ft tall and weigh about 190lbs and my pack usually weighs about 30lbs. I was hiking 13 miles to the Ohiopyle shelters. I got a late start –so I was double timing it to beat the sun. The last 2.5 miles before the shelters is a straight rocky 1000 ft drop in that 2.5 milesI felt the foot bed break half way down. The bottoms of my feet were bloodied. The next morning I got up at dawn and trekked on my bloody feet the 13 miles back to my vehicle. I was leaving for Arizona in 3 days. I had no choice but take MOAB boots into the Grand Canyon (but this is a story for another time). The next boots that I bought after the GC trip was the Asolo Fugitive. They felt so good in the store. They seemed to be tailored for my stride, but they were super stiff, even after 70 trail miles. They were cutting into my ankles so bad that I was bleeding with two pairs of socks on. My foot shape was just not a match for the supper accurate and unforgiving Fugitive. They are a solid boot with great quality. The shape and design are just not for me. This is how I got to the Meindl Perfect Hiker I tried nearly every boot at REI and nothing felt right. So, I went to Cabelas a few miles down the road into West Virginia. My daughter and I looked over all of the boots when one of the employees started suggesting boots made by Cabelas. I am not listening yet. I figured he was pushing whatever was overstocked. I had him bring out a few pair of Danners that were on sale. They felt totally lose. Then a pair of Keen’s, but they had a steel toe. He suggests the Meindl boots again. Then he mentions they are made in Germany and have a cork/memory foam insole --I am listening now. I tried on the light version of the Perfect Hiker. They were very comfortable, but I could feel every step. They also had lots of seams around the toe area. I was picturing them getting ripped up while climbing over rocky trails. Then I tried on the Meindl Perfect Hiker. The Meindl Perfect Hiker is a midsized heavy duty hiking boot made in Germany, exclusively for Cabelas. Cablas sells the Perfect Hiker for $229. The upper end of my budget, but priced right for company that it keeps on the market. The first impression was the craftsmen ship that went into the boot. I had tried on other high end hiking boots that were made in China, and I put them right back down because I could see glue seeping out of the rubber seams or poor stitching. The craftsmanship of the Meindl boot appears flawless. The second thing that I noticed was how incredibly light they were for a full grain leather boot. They easily felt lighter than the Asolo Fugitives which have nylon mesh uppers. The third thing I noticed was the construction. They look solid and stable. The uppers are full grain leather. The uppers are constructed of one piece of leather from the toe back to the heel. Three pieces of leather meet and are triple stitched where the heel meets the arch. I would classify the sole of the Perfect Hiker to be moderately aggressive and very sturdy but flexible. The lacing eyelets are a bit different than I am used to. I have always preferred D-ring eyelets because of the speed and comfort that they provide. The bottom three pairs of eyelets on the Perfect Hikers are more like non flexible metal loops, and the top 4 sets of eyelets are quick lace speed hooks with a unique feature that I really like. There is a speed hook on the tongue of the boot near the top of the ankle. When that eyelet is hooked by the boot laces, it fastens the tongue firmly against the lower shin, and also brings in the flaps of the boot firmly together at the tongue. The insoles also have a unique construction. The insole is constructed of three layers. The bottom layer of the insole is an anti-slip mesh which is glued to bottom of the cork portion of the insole, and the top of the insole is memory foam covered with a quality ant-slip cloth material. The Gortex bootie comes all the way within an inch of the top of the boots. They are not labeled as GTX Gortex, but that does not really bother me. The original Gortex has kept my feet dry for the last 15 years. The ankle cuff is constructed of a very soft leather material, and has ample padding. The quality of materials and construction are very impressive. That is saying a good bit because I had tried on quality boots for the past two weeks until my fingers were raw from lacing up one pair after another. The fit was ultimately what made the deal for me. The toe box at first appeared deformed, well at least it did to me. I tried them on for the first time, and they were soft and comfortable instantly. They fit my deformed shaped feet so well that I can only see a consistent 1/8 of an inch of the insole all the way around when I stepped on the removed insole. I guess that if they fit me deformed feet –by association the toe box would appear to be odd shaped (see all the pictures on my website.) The fused cork and memory foam insole was instantly comforting. The insole is made similarly to the Birkenstock sandals that are popular. The arch of the insole is not quite high enough for the shape of my foot, but this is easily fixable with the addition of arch supports. There is definitely going to be a break in period. The foot-bed is apparently solid from the way my foot feels when striking the floor. The foot-bed is somewhere between the MOAB and the Fugitive on the durability scale. They Perfect Hiker does run big is size. I typically wear size 10-10.5 USA scale. Size 9.5 boot fit me best. The important thing for me when fitting a pair of boots is that the arch of the boot aligns with the arch of my foot, and there is no rubbing. This is just a first impression. Only time will tell if they are as durable as they appear to be. I will beat it out of them if they are not durable. I should be a gear tester because I am brutal on equipment, and I am not easily satisfied with my equipment. If there is a flaw or a shortcoming, I will find it and/or break it. But, if I like them I will buy two pair, and I will put one pair away for a few years later. I will cap off this review after I torture this boot a bit. Pictures here: http://janovich.zenfolio.com/p620395283
Q.} Do I have to get my girlfriend a women's-specific backpack if her torso size fits a men's one? Do the shoulder strap position and waist belt flare really matter and do you wear a women’s-specific backpack?
Submitted by: Miguel - Detroit, MI
A.} No, Miguel, you don’t necessarily have to get your girlfriend a women’s specific pack. I often wear men’s or unisex packs with great success. And I know small men who have had luck with women’s packs. Forget about the gender labels and look at the pack itself, and the way it works with your girlfriend’s body shape.