Paradox: Minimalist Winter Boots + brief reviews

kyleds8

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Hello,

I've recently gotten into minimalist (zero-drop, wide toe box) shoes, and I really dig the way I'm walking and striking the ground. This summer I tested out Belleville's Mini-mil's and VitaBarefoot's Tracker boots.

The Mini-mil's are super light, comfortable, and great for hot-weather, however the tread is not aggressive, they suck water like a camel in the desert, and I struggle to get them properly tight, foot sliding on steep descents.

The Barefoot Trackers barely feel like a boot, as comfortable and lightweight as a workout shoe. Super flexible, nice wide toe box, stay tight on my feet. My insoles quickly delaminated, so I have been wearing them without, and the ground feel is insane, too much for me with long days in the mountains on scree and talus really wearing on my feet. Great for silent stalking. The tread is not as aggressive as I am used to on my heavy mountain boots, but so far without snow has been fine. Although they are advertised as waterproof, the trackers are at best water resistant. The major downside to these boots is that they are breaking down very quickly, the soft leather is scuffing badly, and the rand breaking from the leather. I think that these boots are made for casual hikers, and cannot deal with hard backcountry use.

Neither of these boots will do when the snow starts falling this deer season, let alone for my late cow tag and lion hunting in deep snow. If anyone has ideas for zero-drop, minimalist type winter boots, capable of both deep snow, and a fair bit of hiking, I would greatly appreciate suggestions. I have looked at mukluks a little, but they seem like more of a flatland boot...

many thanks,

Kyle
 

Titan_Bow

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I’ve been wearing zero drop minimalist footwear for almost ten years now, and it’s been the best thing in the world as far as thwarting pain and problems with my feet,back, etc.
That being said, the hardest thing is finding footwear that fit the bill in really cold weather. I have tried different things and what I’m using right now is a pair of military boots I picked up 5-6 years ago or so. They are Rocky SV2 insulated, the made in the USA ones. They are zero drop but they are heavy and not really minimalist. This year I have been hunting in Lem’s full leather boots. So far they have been pretty good, but I haven’t tried them yet in cold weather. They might work with gaiters down into the 20’s or so with good merino socks.
The Rockys however are bomb proof and I’ve worn them in deep snow and zero degree weather all day and been comfortable. One thing I would like to try is a good pair of mukluks. I haven’t gone that route yet because the Rockys work. But if I had to do it again, I probably would have tried mukluks first.


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kyleds8

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I’ve been wearing zero drop minimalist footwear for almost ten years now, and it’s been the best thing in the world as far as thwarting pain and problems with my feet,back, etc.
That being said, the hardest thing is finding footwear that fit the bill in really cold weather. I have tried different things and what I’m using right now is a pair of military boots I picked up 5-6 years ago or so. They are Rocky SV2 insulated, the made in the USA ones. They are zero drop but they are heavy and not really minimalist. This year I have been hunting in Lem’s full leather boots. So far they have been pretty good, but I haven’t tried them yet in cold weather. They might work with gaiters down into the 20’s or so with good merino socks.
The Rockys however are bomb proof and I’ve worn them in deep snow and zero degree weather all day and been comfortable. One thing I would like to try is a good pair of mukluks. I haven’t gone that route yet because the Rockys work. But if I had to do it again, I probably would have tried mukluks first.


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I thought about those Lems, significantly cheaper than the barefoot trackers, but the tread didn’t look up to steep terrain, how have they been?

This will be my first winter in zero-drop, not sure about how gaiters will work with no heel for bottom strap to catch on...

these rockys? -


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Titan_Bow

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I thought about those Lems, significantly cheaper than the barefoot trackers, but the tread didn’t look up to steep terrain, how have they been?

This will be my first winter in zero-drop, not sure about how gaiters will work with no heel for bottom strap to catch on...

these rockys? -


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There’s not much tread on the Lems, but they are not too bad. I’ve been elk hunting in them this year in some pretty gnarly stuff. The soles are a little “gummy” so they stick pretty good to rock. Steep and wet or steep and sandy, they don’t do well though. They have so much ground feel that you slow down a bit and really are more deliberate with your steps, which I really like about them.
Yep those are the Rockys I have. They are not a minimalist boot but they are zero drop (or close to it). They are comfortable, warm, and keep your feet dry all day however


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kyleds8

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Interesting. Agreed, improved ground feel slowing down is great. I find myself more thoughtful of sign and terrain. There's a happy medium I think, and rockhopping in the barefoot trackers with no insoles pushed me way over...

looks like it might be the mukluks this winter :)
 

RojoGrande

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Been down the minimalist route for about 6 years now. Have you looked at the Xero Excursion boot? Its waterproof, got a pretty grippy sole, and light weight. Not insulated. I've been wearing the Altra Lone Peak 4 mid, Lem Boulder Boot, Vibram 5 fingers as well. The Lems are comfortable but have minimal tread/grip. For everyday wear they are my go to. I have a leather water proof pair as well as a few pairs of the canvas type. Altras are light, have good tread, a thicker sole like the Lems but are not waterproof. The Xero's have a thinner sole and provide more ground feel but not overly harsh. I used both the Altra and Xero's this year on a Colorado muzzleloader elk hunt with no issues. Although the Altras didn't feel as supportive while side hilling on steeper slopes. Xero also has a "winter" boot that I haven't yet tried yet.
 

Formidilosus

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Neither of these boots will do when the snow starts falling this deer season, let alone for my late cow tag and lion hunting in deep snow. If anyone has ideas for zero-drop, minimalist type winter boots, capable of both deep snow, and a fair bit of hiking, I would greatly appreciate suggestions. I have looked at mukluks a little, but they seem like more of a flatland boot...

many thanks,

Kyle


I’ve used all the shoes mentioned, as well as a bunch more. Have you tried the newer Vivo Barefoot Tracker Forest ESC? I have been wearing them for the last few months. They have excellent tread, they breath as only a leather shoes can, and they are the first shoes I’ve had in a long time that haven’t leaked. I haven’t went through tons of water, but stream crossings and 18+ inch snow hasn’t been an issue.
F44A310E-2771-4FEC-AFF1-90C39FCBE1AC.jpeg
 

TradArcher

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I do zero drop but not in the mountains...but if I were to try then I might go with Freet boots.
 

TxxAgg

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Tagged.

My feet got wet walking through wet grass this weekend.
 

Dobermann

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I have been looking at those. Was sizing atypical for you? Using their online picture app they're recommending a size smaller than I ever wear.

I've also been rocking the Vivo Barefoot Tracker ESC, based on Form's recommendation here on the Slide - haven't tested them as much as Form, but have done some short hikes and they've been great.

Vivo also have a sizing guide which you print out, and then map *both* of your feet - there's then instructions for how much extra space to add, which takes you to a line that shows exactly what size should fit you ... rather than guessing based off the size of other shoes (and manufacturers seem to use different standards for this), you get exactly what Vivo say your size should be - in their sizing.

Both my partner and I recently used it - our two key lessons were: first, it worked perfectly for both of us (and we have weirdly proportioned feet), and two, we both had feet of quite different lengths - had we only measured one foot on their tool, or gone by what a shoe salesperson in store quoted as a size from a Brannock device, but only based off one foot, then we would have purchased the wrong size.

Hope that helps!
 

ODB

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Might be a naive question…but why is zero drop or wide considered “minimalist?”

I just learned about zero drop from another thread - I got some Altra shoes because of the wide footbed because I have 4E feet and they are great. Turns out they are zero drop - something I had never heard of until two days ago.

isn’t a proper fit just proper fit?

help a brother out…
 

Formidilosus

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Might be a naive question…but why is zero drop or wide considered “minimalist?”

I just learned about zero drop from another thread - I got some Altra shoes because of the wide footbed because I have 4E feet and they are great. Turns out they are zero drop - something I had never heard of until two days ago.

isn’t a proper fit just proper fit?

help a brother out…

Do you understand the major difference in body mechanics and movement between “minimal” shoes and “supportive” shoes?
 

Titan_Bow

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Might be a naive question…but why is zero drop or wide considered “minimalist?”

I just learned about zero drop from another thread - I got some Altra shoes because of the wide footbed because I have 4E feet and they are great. Turns out they are zero drop - something I had never heard of until two days ago.

isn’t a proper fit just proper fit?

help a brother out…

The main difference is that “minimalist” refers to something that provides minimal support, the idea being it allows for your natural body mechanics to work. Shoes like Vibram Five Fingers, Xero shoes, Vivo Barefoot. A lot of them are not much more than a protective pair of socks, which again does not interfere with your bodies natural way of functioning.
Zero drop can be minimalist, but they are not always. Zero drop simply means there is no “wedge” or height difference between your toe and heel. Most every shoe out there, even if it does not have a visible external heel, has some differential between the heel and toe. The main idea is to create a wedge of foam cushion underneath your heel. The problem though, is if you are used to barefoot style and minimalist shoes, your bodies natural mechanics are to use the front of your feet as a shock absorber, not to use your heel. Once you put a cushioned heel shoe on, it forces you to heel strike which ultimately isn’t a natural thing for humans. So zero drop shoes can still be regular shoes, I have a pair of Rocky boots that are zero drop, but they have a shank, weigh a lot, and are basically normal boots, just happen to be zero drop. Altra Lone Peaks are the same. They have a thick cushioned in sole, and offer some level of protection and reinforcement compared to a minimalist shoe.


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sargent

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I am looking for a the same thing. I bought a pair of Altra Lone Peak All Weathers. They are water resistant at best as well. If you are looking for something to keep your feet dry in deep snow, look elsewhere.
 
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