Questions & Answers

Minimalist snow boots?

I normally were VFF's but it's a little difficult in the cold and snow. Does anybody have any good boots that would qualify as minimalist? They need to be waterproof to handle some snow, but I'd prefer no heel and some room to move around the toe box. Thoughts?


Answers and Replies


Terra Plana's Vivobarefoot Franklin boot does the job for me. If by "No heel" you mean a zero drop heel that is.


GoLite makes a waterproof boot called the Timber Lite. It has no heel and a good toebox. It is a little on the stiff side, and the sole has about 10mm of EVA though. If you go this route, make sure you ditch the insole, as it has a nasty arch support. When you take out the insole, there is a little bit of a bump under the arch, but not too bad... I guess it depends on how minimalist you want.


I have a pair of Tecumseh mukluks that I wear in the winter. They are sheepskin lined and have a "gum" kind of sole that is quite flexible, if a bit thicker than my Vivobarefoot's sole. I can feel what I am walking on when I wear them, but they keep my feet warm and dry! So far they are holding up really well with just a little cleaning and waterproofing spray once. Well, except for my in-law's jack russel did get a hold of them once so there are a couple holes in the fur part but its actually pretty easy to hide because they slouch a little once they're broken in ;)


I really liked your post Christine. It included models I'd never heard of before.

I have the Terra Plana Brooklyn boots and have worn nothing but all winter to walk my dogs (and pretty much everything else). I wrote a review for Living Barefoot at: (I saw that you included the link in your review, Christine, thanks :) ). They are completely waterproof and good to -20C with a thin pair of socks. If it's not there already, I'll add the review to the Terra Plana section here.


Thanks for all the great ideas! I think I like the idea of overboots. They seem to be more cost effective and I can wear whatever I want underneath.


I tried to go the NEOS route one winter. My only issue with them was that they are completely non-breathable. While they did work well for keeping the wet and snow out, they didn't do so well for activities that required a lot of exertion like snowshoeing and backpacking. It was like putting on plastic bags over my feet/legs.


Agree Damien,

For serious exertion a better option is either go with the EVO II which is water resistant and a nice pair of warm socks

or the Gor Tex Inov 288

We had a customer use these on a winter week long through hike of Yellowstone and raved about them.

If you are going to be out sledding with the kids or something more leisurely and prolonged in the snow the NEOs are toasty warm, flat, and dry.

Have a happy friday,



Yeah, I have heard good things about the Inov-8 Roclite 288 GTX as well. I haven't tried them yet, but I have a pair on order, hopefully they will arrive soon. My oldest daughter has a pair as her winter boots right now, and she has been quite happy with them. In deep snow, she adds a gaiter.


I second both the GoLite Timber Lites, and the Neos overboots, although the Neos i own have Stabilicer studs on the bottom (i use them for hiking/climbing in deep snow and ice), so i wouldn't call those minimalist by any stretch. But both of these are great products, and well worth looking into.


Feelmax Kuuva er absolutely perfect minimalistic-winter-boots! 2.1 mm sole, light: round 230 grams, flexible - waterproof...

I have used mine now since early Autumn 2009 - and still going strong.

Only minor problem per today is, that you can't get those any place right now... I just really hope that Feelmax come back on track as soon as possible - and take Kuuva also in production.


I had a pair of the Feelmax Kuuva boots. While I liked the fit and the way they felt, I found that they did not provide enough insulation in the sole. My feet froze from the bottom when the temperatures got cold.


I agree bad insulation, but I use thin extra wool-sole in the shoe when it's the coldest. Standing steady is as cold than any other winter shoe - toes start freezing... but when you start to move I notice my feet getting warm really quickly (this happens not with "normal shoes")

In my opinion we should feel the temperature as much as the structure on the ground - then we feel what's really happening around us.


I think that I would need to size-up to be able to fit a thicker sock and thicker insole. Maybe one day, if/when they are in production again, I will try a larger size.


Man...the Kuuva's look great! I'm in Charlotte so I don't need too much outrageous warmth. I think thick socks would do it. Now they just need to start making them again!


I ended up getting the Stabilicer Originals from REI,, they kept my feet from slipping and due to the raised sandals my feet dry in slushy spots. after i got out of the icy and slushy areas i took them to feel the ground again. they worked great, my feet will still warm and dry!


What do you mean? That color would be fantastic! I have been looking for a minimalist option for paint-balling. The tan would work great with my multicam uniform :-)


If you really mean snow and not slush, all you need is wool socks. I walked earlier this week in negative temps in wool socks and my thin little moccasins and was fine. Dry cold snow will not easily penetrate a good insulative layer. Snow may stick to the outsides, but it stays frozen until you come in. My socks will dry between morning commute and lunch draped over a drawer front, and be ready again for my lunchtime walk.

Slush though kills this combo, it's up into the 20s and 30s now, salt is working it's magic, and I'm back in klunky parking lot shoes rather than face the wet toes. (I can deal with some water in the socks, but sometimes it's just too much.) I'm going to give homebrew ingenuity one more shot, then if that fails I've got to hunt down a pair of Neos to go over my mocs.


I've comfortably used my VFF Bikilas in 15-20 degree weather with Smartwool's new toe socks ... even in a bit of slush as long as I keep moving. Wouldn't do it walking though, too cold at a standstill, or in snow. It made the difference between giving in to my (horrors) old running shoes, and being able to go thru the whole winter with just my VFFs.


I got my first pair about a week ago in nyc, and they were just unpacking the first box ... never tried Injinji, I know other VFF runners who love them though.


I just found this post on Naturally Engineered. He gives instructions on how to remove your old soles and replace them with a Vibram sole. Looks pretty cool.


Thanks for Earl Gray Toe's contribution to this thread & review of the Vivo Barefoot Franklins. I really need to get some waterproof barefoot-type boots.

A very short thread just appeared on Terra Plana's Facebook page:

"Bryon Rossi: The Franklin's are the best 3 season boot I've ever owned. Do you recommend treating them with some sort of leather conditioner or protection?

"Terra Plana A water proofing spray for leather could further protect against cosmetic water damage but they have been water proofed."

I have a pair of NB Minimus WO10 outdoor shoes. They are waterproof enough to run in snow but I am trying to do some winter backpacking as well and i dont have other boots and no money to buy any. I dont know how deep the snow will be and was wondering if anyone had any suggestions as to how to keep snow out. I have gaiters but with such a low ankle im not sure how much good they will do. My best idea would be a plastic bag but that would be super sweaty and uncomfortable! Any suggestsions would be great.


Gaiters are probably going to be your best bet with some sort of trail shoe. The tick is to find ones that fit well, and I think it should be possible, even with low top shoes.

I just purchased a pair of Gore-tex Tretorn Akta boots on Zappos. They are not advertised as being zero drop, but with the insoles out, that is what they seem to be. They are not as light or flexible as my Feelmax Kuuvas, but they are apparently waterproof, which is not the case with the Kuuva (3 rounds of beeswax, 1/2 a can, and still soak through in about one minute of rain).


I have a pair of the VFF leather ankle length boots. I treated them with waterproofing, and they worked well the week I backpacked on the AT... so sad that Vibram stopped making them. Also like my NEOS overbooks with my VFFs for city stuff.

For real cold, check this blog: From Like many outdoorsy people I used to go all through the winter with cold feet. I tried many kinds of boots that were well insulated and water-proof. These would work for a while but somehow my feet would still get cold if I were outside for hours at a time, especially in wet conditions. After many years of this I just grew to accept that being outdoors in the winter means putting up with cold feet.

Then one day I discovered Steger Mukluks and my winter life was never the same! For the first time in my life I went through an entire winter without cold feet. How is this possible and what's the magic behind the footwear?

Oh Steger Mukluks how do I love thee... let me count the ways. Bragging about this footwear is one of my favorite winter activities!

1) The outer is made of thick moose hide leather and once treated with water-proofing solution it is well... water-proof and keeps your feet dry even in wet snow conditions.

2) They come with a wool liner for extra insulation. Order them a size too big and double wide so you can layer up the socks and keep your feet warmer.

3) The soles are soft and flexible allowing your feet to feel the ground and for a quieter walk so they are great for hunting or sneaking.

4) The real magic behind how they keep your feet warm is the soft sole. It allows your foot to move and flex with each step. This combined with the looser fit (because you ordered them a size big) allows for greater blood circulation and thus your feet stay warm. It also strengthens your feet and ankles and prevents them from cramping up from lack of movement. Boots will not offer this kind of movement, circulation, and warmth because they are designed with stiff soles and strong ankle support which then holds your foot tightly in place instead of moving as it should. If you are sitting for hours (as in hunting) then you may feel a bit of a chill but they are still the warmest footwear I've seen.

I've had mine for about 6 years and all the stitching is holding up with no holes. I'm going to buy some insoles before this coming winter to add a new layer of insulation from the ground as they started to get a bit cold from the ground up last winter.

I highly recommend these mukluks if you have a desire to wander, play, or explore the outdoors in the cold of winter.

Ready to order? Go to and choose your style and color. (note: I get no compensation what-so-ever from your order)

Feelmax has Two new wintermodels: Uura and New Kuuva

Excellent barefoot feeling and very light. Can only recommend !!!!

Anyone tried a mid weight wool sock with just a wool felt liner like the Russian valenki's??? (I'd imagine that you could just duct tape the top and ankle area so that you could respectively keep snow out and improve the tightness of fit. I've used inov-8 Roc-lites in the White Mountains in spring snow w/ a cut-out sole diving bootie overshoe that worked well...kept out excess snow, but allowed breathability to let out excess moisture.

Post an Answer or Reply