My transition to minimalist footwear has been a long and slow move that needed to take place for a whole host of reasons. Those reasons have been discussed in previous posts so I won’t repeat myself. The last remaining component of this move is wintery type footwear. I have running sneakers, black “work” shoes and a black casual hiker boot. What I don’t have is something that will get me through the winter months. Since I live in MA, a state known for it’s cold and frigid winters, here are my wants and desires.
1. Something that will retain heat while walking on snow, ice, cold ground, etc. Meaning work to prevent cold feet while doing every day things.
2. Provide some form of water barrier. The shoes don’t need to be perfectly waterproof, although that would be really nice, but it needs to have a good water resistance.
3. Traction built into the shoe so I don’t have to worry about doing the above mentioned things.
4. The shoes must be durable. I’m not looking to use them on a job site just allow me to go hiking and such, without fear of some random stick ripping a hole in the side of my boot.
5. Zero drop, no arch, just a nice flat surface with plenty of area in the toe box for my feet to splay.
What I don’t need is my foot to be ultra close to the ground. I am more interested in staying warm. So if you as a shoe maker wanted to use a lugged sole, for example, I’m fine with that. Just keep it flat. I know shoes are supposed to be soft and compliant but like I said, I want to be warm, dry and not have to worry about something delicate.
At this point you are probably thinking, surely there must be something on the market that meets your requirements. Technically not and I’m hoping this post either uncovers a brand I am unaware of OR a current brand hears my calls (and many others as well) and makes it happen. By the way, a quick search will show you forums filled with people looking for the same thing I am, so yes, it’s not just me.
Lets cover what is out there pointing out the pros and cons of each pair.
I currently own of pair of these. Nice boots, not bad looking at all. The inner sole that came with these boots provided little to now insulation so I had to replace it with something. Even with that change, the boot chills up pretty quick. It’s also not the most durable thing in the world so I would be very hesitant to go hiking with it.
This boot is a hiking styled boot. Fully waterproof lined, and is made from leather so it should provide some durability. Has a lugged sole so it should work well in different conditions. Problem with this boot and Vivo in general, they have little to no stock for US buyers. Right now the only size available from their 7.5 to 15 US sized chart is 11.5US. To be honest, this company frustrates me greatly. They come up with a boot, then change it, then change it again, all the while not having any stock for people in the US. I’m hoping they get their inventory straightened out because I’ve read good things about this company. But right now, it’s US vaporware to me at least. I haven’t touched on the price because of sales. Right now they are having a 25% off sale making the Tracker boot $165.
On their website they claim to be a zero drop shoe company but when you look a bit closer you’ll see many of their products are not. The Brogan boots for example come with a cork innersole that is not zero drop (2-5 dependent upon how the sole molds to your foot) and has arch support. The boots already goes for $210 but to get their actual zero drop inner sole you will need to spend another $35. Adding tax to that and you have a boot close to $250. They are made from leather so the durability is there but at that price, that would be a tough sell.
Feelmax is a company based in Finland who appears to have changed owner/management/etc. Their Kuuva 3 boot looks like a hiking boot and provides some real features. Leather upper, water proof liner, and designed for winter wear. I’m a bit leery about their sole because it’s pretty smooth and very thin. But if anyone would know how to make a thin boot that is warm is people from Scandinavian countries so I’d have to go on faith for this one. But the big problem with this option is price. The boots start at $178 US but the S&H makes the price jump by about ~42. If they don’t fit right an exchange could put your boot well over $250. Like I said, location is an issue, not the shoe or company.
Belleville is not known for making minimalist anything. They are known for making bomb proof military and law enforcement work boots. I should know because I have their T770 and that thing is a tank. It has a Gore-Tex lining, Thinsulate 200G insulation, a very aggressive lugged sole, and did I mention these things are bombproof? Before I transitioned to zero drop footwear I went everywhere in all conditions with these boots. I loved them and they were worth every penny. The TR102 are a standard 8″ height boot, with a 2mm drop but are made for warm weather use because they are very breathable. They run $161 and can be bought from a number of local stores so S&H would be a none issue. If this boot was ever changed to a winter version with the same 2mm drop (would love 0 drop but….) but with gore-tex and Thinsulate I’d probably pull the trigger. But as of this entry, Belleville has said nothing about a winter version.
There are other options but those are out of my styling arena like Mukluks. Yes they exist but I’m looking to blend in, not make a statement. What really doesn’t make sense to me in all of this is … I’m looking for a flat shoe with no fancy arch supports, heel counters, etc, etc. You would think it would be easier to leave all that stuff out then to put it in. If I am correct, then why is it taking so long for someone to make a good solid winter boot with zero drop?
If you know the answer please let me know, because I’m baffled.