But so far – just the new boots! The old Asolos have hiked their last hike and will see out their twilight years in gentle retirement around the garden. Although the soles are worn almost flat (through to the spongy stuff underneath in places) and the fabric uppers are a bit ragged, amazingly they remain watertight and astonishingly comfortable.
But they won’t do another year, and this model is now looooong discontinued.
Anticipating the old Asolos’ demise, I tried a pair of AKUs a while back, but didn’t like them, and none of the current crop from Asolo seem to fit as well. Readers with long memories might recall that I have “issues” with boot fitting.
But not this time – no sir!
Bury St Edmunds, miles from the nearest hill, is strangely well provided with shops selling outdoor gear, but I always go first to the independent outdoor emporium. Outdoor shops come & go, but 'Stepping Out' keeps on adapting and surviving, diving into any niche not covered by the big boys. In the face of competition from the new Cotswold and Blacks stores they are currently re-inventing themselves again. I browsed the footwear. Nothing much that I fancied, but the Meindl Softline Ultra GTX looked pretty good. Despite knowing that the narrower Italian lasts suit me better, after a chat with the owner I was persuaded to give them a try. My size wasn’t in stock, but it was ordered straightaway and yesterday a phone call confirmed that they were in.
Absolute astonishment. They laced up easily to give a firm snug fit. A stroll up and down – no appreciable heel lift, and plenty of room in the toe box too (the Asolos tended to taper in a bit at the end). Either my feet have got wider, or the Meindl Softline is narrower than their traditional boots, or maybe the new design and lacing system is much more flexible. Whatever – the fit is excellent.
Even better, this is a fairly stiff boot with a high ankle cuff. OK, unlike some of the softer lightweight boots they will take a few miles to bed in. The benefit is that over rough, steep ground edging won’t be a problem and that higher cuff means that maybe there is less chance of water pouring over the top in the ultra boggy ground that Scotland promises after this winter.
To sum up. Not the lightest boot on the market, but light enough, and very well made apart from the usual rubbish insole, which I’ll replace with my Superfeet. I think I’ll get a lot of miles out of them. So if you think that the regular Meindl boot is too wide or has too much volume, these are well worth a try.