Hiking boots – you cannot overestimate the importance of a good pair for West of Ireland conditions. By the end of 2011 it was time to change mine. The old pair had served me well, been through a lot and was beginning to come apart. So off I went during the winter sales to pick up a good pair. The criteria were fairly simple really. First, they had to be ankle high. Second, they had to be very tough hiking boots that would provide really good support, especially on rocky, scree-covered surfaces. Third, they absolutely had to be waterproof.
My old pair was from Meindl. They had been brilliant, giving me nine solid years of fun in the West of Ireland hills and bogs. They even got me up Kilimanjaro, which was a thrill indeed. Unsurprisingly, my new pair was also destined to be from Meindl, although I did enquire about other brands. So far, these too have been superb [End of 2013 update : they still have :-)]. I have tramped Mayo’s mountains and bogs in very heavy rain, with very wet and waterlogged underfoot conditions. I have yet to feel even slightly damp in the foot; nor do I expect to for years to come. They’re solid and tough hiking boots, with no issues on rocks.
What I want to show you here are some improvements between my new Meindl hiking boots and my old pair. Hopefully, this will help you in your future decisions on what features you’ll need in boots you decide to invest in.
1. Raised rubber soles.
Check out this first picture. See the raised rubber that has been formed around the leather upper. Class.
2. Stitching, or lack thereof.
The image shows how the stitching has come apart on the old boots. Now, don’t get me wrong ! I’m most certainly not complaining, for after eight or nine years any stitching is entitled to come apart. However, if you refer back to the first picture, you’ll see that the new boots don’t have this stitching. No issue.
I’ve placed the boots on my square-patterned patio to demonstrate the difference in height (image 3). The newer boots have an extra loop to pass the laces through, high up on the ankle area. This is great and adds a lot to the sense of strong support I’m getting.
Hiking boots for Ireland
So there you have it. I’m keeping it simple. Check that your prospective new hiking boots have these features. For West of Ireland hiking conditions, I recommend Meindl without hesitation. My pair is the MFS Vakuum model. Read more of my hiking advice. Enjoy hill walking in the West of Ireland in a pair of hiking boots that will support you as you go !