How irritating – I appear to have expensive taste. Of all the hiking shoes I’ve tried, since I’ve worked at Adventure Travel not just for this test, the Meindl Portland XCRs (I refuse to include the word ‘lady’) are my favourites. I’m usually a size 6.5 but the pair that fit me are a 7 and they’re incredibly comfy. And they excel in most other areas too. The sole unit’s made from Meindl’s own technology, called Contragrip Trail, and I felt safe doing everything from scrambling up and down scree hills in Morocco to walking in to Peak District climbs over loose rocks. Meindl’s blurb about the shoe suggests that they’re only designed to be used on good paths, but I’d feel confident using them off-piste.
Up there on my list of important things from a hiking shoe is that it’s waterproof, and this one is: it uses a Gore-Tex XCR lining, hence the name of the shoe. Looks-wise, if you’re looking to attract attention, this isn’t the shoe for you. I’m not, so I’m happy with its quietly cool looks. In fact, the thing that will catch your attention most is the shoe’s heel system, which is cupped for added protection. If you don’t like how it looks, don’t worry – as with all shoes, once you’ve worn them for a while it’ll fade.
Other good points of the shoe are the added protection on the toe, the mesh upper for more breathability, laces with lots of friction and the loops on the heel and tongue to help you pull the shoe on. Always good when you’re knackered. The shoes don’t offer quite the amount of toe reinforcement as the Zenith above and they don’t feel as sturdy, but they are a bit lighter, at 406g for one in size 7. This will come down to what you’re planning to use the shoes for.
So the downside for me with these is the price – paying over £100 for a pair of shoes makes me feel a bit queasy. Are they worth it? As we’ve probably gathered I’m prepared to pay more for a waterproof shoe, and the nice balance of weight and support (plus of course the fit, which is subjective) mean that I would say yes.
In a line: A great light yet tough hiking shoe.