Keeping your feet dry in the hills can be a challenge. Repelling rain is one requirement, but so is allowing sweat to escape. Gore-Tex Surround Outdoor – built into Meindl’s X-SO 30 GTX shoe – has been designed to achieve that goal.
The technology behind Gore-Tex Surround first appeared three years ago in urban footwear, where warm air was allowed to escape through a perforated sole unit. In the great outdoors mud and grit would easily block these holes, so an alternative was needed.
Gore-Tex Surround Outdoor provides venting along the base and side of the shoe, using a 6mm thick open-cell spacer between the sole unit and the foot. There is then a more breathable area along the sides of the shoe that is 9cm high and has a 500mm2 surface area designed to allow more efficient venting of the shoe to the outside. Inside the shoe there is a Gore-Tex membrane that is constructed using a bootee method, meaning the foot is totally enclosed by a seam-sealed, waterproof and breathable ‘sock’ that the rest of the shoe protects.
The key benefit should be 360-degree breathability, as the base of the foot is better able to ‘breathe’ and cool down. The real benefit of this will of course be in warm weather; but anyone who suffers from particularly sweaty feet should also benefit.
Footwear incorporating Gore-Tex Surround technology will be appearing from many brands, but Meindl was the first to get a production pair to the Trail office. The X-SO 30 GTX is available in a men’s and a women’s fit with two colourways for each; and there is also the X-SO 70 GTX Mid, a mid-height ankle cuff boot design costing £160 – and again this is available for men and women with two colourways each.
At first sight the Meindl X-SO 30 GTX looks like any other footwear, apart from the upper looking slightly taller; however clever use of graphics on the sides does help to reduce the potentially more ‘clumpy’ appearance. On the foot the shoe feels slightly higher off the ground, but this sensation soon disappears; however for scrambling and climbing it would clearly be a drawback.
In order to allow for the extra breathability demanded by the technology, around the sides of the foot you do not get any heavy, durable leather, nor a rubber rand, as they would both reduce breathability. You also get a shallow lug pattern and lightweight upper. So by its nature this shoe is not going to be best suited to tackling rough terrain, and the technology appears most suitable for summer footwear.
Weight 958g (pair, size 11)
Upper ventilation mesh
Waterproof lining Gore-Tex Surround Technology
Sole Meindl Magic Active
Sizes 6-12 (men’s); 3½-9 (women’s)
More breathability around the foot has to be a good thing; but Gore-Tex Surround technology is only being incorporated into shoes that are best suited to easier terrain and milder weather, so the Meindl X-SO 30 GTX won’t be for everyone. However it’s great for those who need it, and ideal for warm-weather walking.
Review by Graham Thompson
Published in Trail magazine May 2015