All good things come to an end. Summer, Jean Claude Van Damme's film career, Manchester United's Premiership dominance, and this year will see Meindl end the production of the Burma. For years the Burma has been the do it all boot since 1997. Hiking, scrambling, walking the dog (ACROSS STRIDING EDGE!!) were all possible for the footwear that routinely punches above it's weight. The Burma was to Meindl what tomato soup is to Heinz, what the iPod is to Apple, it was the benchmark. There is almost no surface in the British Isles that can not be ascended, traversed, or waded through with a trusty pair of Burmas on your feet. Except, maybe, the living room carpet maybe. 2014 sees the end of Burma's reign and the launch of the... Bhutan.
Why? Why have Meindl decided that the Burma has had it's day? Why has it just been knocked off? There was nothing wrong with it, internet forums have been singing its praises for years and now it's being replaced.
Well, it has and it hasn't.
Meindl have regarded the Burma with an 'If it ain't broke, don't fix it' perspective. Not keen to mess with something they got right the first time round they've left it alone. Whilst continued improvements were made to it's hiking counterparts the Burma was left to do it's own thing. After a time you had to admit that whilst the Burma had a great fit and was proven in the field, it was missing some features that made other boots more appealing.
The Bhutan features a new lacing system, still incorporating a digifix design for pulling the heel in nice and tight, but faster and slicker to lace with a more even pressure dispersion across the boot. The other big difference is the MFS (Memory Foam System). For anyone new to the Meindl's memory foam concept it's a foam within the boot that moulds to the wearer's foot profile as it heats up. It can feel a bit odd at first but once the heat of the foot has worked it's way in it provides an extremely comfortable walking fit, you just may need to retighten the boots twenty minutes or so into the walk. The ankle cuff is soft to prevent rubbing and allow decent movement whilst your ankles get the support they need
The Burma employed the MFS system in the heel which, alongside the digifix, did a decent job of looking after your feet. Especially on descents where the heel would be loaded over other areas. The Bhutan has increased usage of the MFS into the upper of the boot. This means more comfort around the ankle and is a god save on long hikes.
The Bhutan is not so much a replacement as the Burma evolved. It's the same Vibram sole profile as the Burma, giving excellent grip in the slippy stuff and the rand gives the boot the same durability that the Burma was famed for. The fantastic Gore Tex layer is still present to keep the wet on the outside. It's essentially a Burma with a few extra tricks up it's sleeve. A classic car with heated seats installed.
So if you're looking for the replacement for a pair of boots that have given up the ghost or a looking for footwear that will let you tackle whatever the great outdoors can throw at you, then check out the Bhutan. It's the new king.