I just counted 26 pairs of boots in my closet and shop. Most were sent by manufacturers hoping I'd wear them on TV, and some I did. Others are special purpose and serve their function well.
But I actually buy my Meindl "Perfekt" boots from Cabela's. Why?
They fit my goofy feet perfectly. Snug enough to prevent slipping and blisters, wide enough for the inevitable swelling after a long day afield. They are engineered for rough terrain in the European Alps, and perform the same protective job on the lava rock that harbors chukars out here. Stiff enough, padded enough, with a sole that yields a bit for easy walking but rugged enough you don't feel the stones you step on.
They are tall enough so that many stream crossings are minor inconveniences, feet still dry on the other side. The leather is hefty enough to actually provide ankle support on squirelly terrain. They lace quickly and because the laces reach almost to your toes, this Digafix system allows fine-tuning the fit – helpful when you have a "surfer's bump" on one of your insteps like I do. Why anyone needs 400 grams of Thinsulate is beyond me, but if you're sitting still in a treestand, I guess that will come in handy.
Some of the mundane details: cork footbed, which explains the fit – it molds to my feet; Poron heel insert cushions your footfalls; GoreTex membrane ensures waterproof construction and relatively good breathability; the lug sole is not so deep it retains mud and stones like many, yet is grippy enough to keep you upright in all but the hinkiest situations.
I have one gripe: on the larger sizes, there is a band of black rubber encircling the sole, attached to the upper. It cracks and separates from the upper quite easily but doesn't seem to hamper performance. A little Shoe Goo or Barge Cement puts it back where it belongs.
I buy them like I buy puppies — bringing a new pair into the rotation so they are well broken in when the old pair is relegated to the yard, deserving a well-earned retirement. They are that good. If only Herr Meindl would send me a couple pair.
Want more stories and videos? Check out the Scott Linden Outdoors Channel.