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Minty Keen

At this point, I've given up on finding a Winter barefoot boot.

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But perhaps you can aid me. I have done a fair amount of research, which is why I've come to the conclusion that barefoot/minimalist boots just don't do winter as required in Canada.

 

I've looked at the Kuuva 2. I've looked at Ryder and the other winter models on Vivobarefoot.

 

I've even looked at Sorels, who are relatively reputable, even here in Canada.

 

I've read reviews on these boots that are 'barefoot enthusiast approved' (which, in case you aren't familiar, simply means footwear that is zero drop ((no raised heel etc)) has a flexible sole flexible and a wide toe box).

 

Thing is, I live in Ontario, in the capital. We get a LOT of snow here. As in, it's piled over your head by mid November - December. It stays there until March, and we have weeks here that are cold. Actual, real cold. I'm talking -40°C (-40°F). With this nasty thing called 'windchill' on top of that. makes it ACTUALLY like -46°C or more.

 

So I need a boot that is temperature rated to... ideally -40°C.

 

So far all the reviews I have read on minimalist winter footwear say things like "they're so cozy, I even wore them on a 14°F (-10°C) day!".

 

To which I raise an eyebrow, and then feel immensely disappointed.

 

My price range is up to but not really above $200 CAD. I might spend more on a boot that will last more than 2-3 winters (on top of the cold, here in Ottawa they put down literally tons of salt each season, and salt eats leather and destroys suede like it's its job).

 

I have protectors for suede but prefer smooth leather or even a rubber base boot.

 

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Long story short, I can't find minimalist winter boots that meet my requirements, so I'm now just looking at getting a good pair of Columbias or maybe another Baffin. But I'm sort of still hoping you guys can help me out and restore my aspiration to maintain healthy posture during the winter months.

 

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**Another thing I'm worried about, and part of the reason I went minimalist in the first place...

I have a tendency to get achilles bursitis due to high arches and a ridiculously tight achilles tendon. Anything hard that rubs against the back of my upper heel causes inflammation of the bursa (bursitis). It can be painful, not to mention terribly unattractive. Boots that are soft at the back are kind of a requirement.

 

I'm hoping it won't be a problem since boots are taller, so shouldn't put pressure *right there*. But it's been a while since I've worn anything more than my xeros or a pair of slippers.

 

So... is finding a barefoot boot for these temperatures hopeless?

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This had appeared in one of my feeds a little while ago... http://www.vegacommunity.com/group/barefootrunners/forum/topics/barefoot-winter-shoes

 

The one I read involved prying the treads off of a decent winter boot and then using shoe glue to attach a minimalist sole. I'm not sure about how the bottom insulation is affected.

 

Have you tried contacting an anthropologist about traditional Inuit footwear?

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This had appeared in one of my feeds a little while ago... http://www.vegacommunity.com/group/barefootrunners/forum/topics/barefoot-winter-shoes

 

The one I read involved prying the treads off of a decent winter boot and then using shoe glue to attach a minimalist sole. I'm not sure about how the bottom insulation is affected.

 

Have you tried contacting an anthropologist about traditional Inuit footwear?

No need to contact an anthropologist... traditional native footwear is available, but as stated originally, suede and leather aren't the best for standing up to the salt here. If I'm going to spend $230 at minimum on a boot (shipping, taxes, look at the prices on that website!) I want it to last me. Traditional is great, but traditionally, there wasn't so much salt... or pavement.

 

This list is what I used as a guide. I also found other models on external sites, but all seem to be intended for American (except Alaska) temperatures.

 

I've sort of concluded that I want to find a good quality winter boot for the really cold temperatures... perhaps I'll invest in a minimalist boot for milder days but if it's anything like last winter we won't get many of those, and I'm not fond of the idea of spending $400 on two pair.

 

EDIT:

Or I could find temperature rated socks... and wear those with my minimalist boots.

Hrm.

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For protection against salt... what sort of outside sock might work?  Would a nylon overboot, possibly adulterated with mold-making materials, make a leather boot last long enough?

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After spending another whole day researching... I purchased a boot. But without your help Gobnait I probably wouldn't have thought of manitobah mukluks and the thermal socks.

Thanks!

 

These are what I went with... in the "Stone" (grey) colour. They also have a super flexible Vibram sole... so I know that they're minimalist but will stand up to a lot of abuse.

 

Although there are a lot of gorgeous suede mukluks on the website I chose one that is grain leather specifically because I know it'll be easier to maintain and protect from the salt.

All I need to do now is buy some really good quality socks that are made warmer for negative°C temperatures. I think I've already found some, actually.

 

Topic resolved! <3

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Keep in mind too - it's only really cold a few days of the year, most of the winter it's more like -10 to +5 with lots of slush to deal with. You could find a pair of barefoot boots that work for the warmer days and use a pair of non-barefoot boots for the rest of the time. I take the bus to work and wear uninsulated Blundstone boots most of the time and only break out my old Sorel's when shoveling the driveway or doing something like snowshoeing or it's a blizzard. I do need to replace those Sorels though... I've had them for like 15 years (i.e. about as long as I've had adult-sized feet).

 

p.s. lowest temp ever in Ottawa was -36.1C, though it does regularly dip into the -20's with that nasty windchill ;)

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Don't know about temperature ratings, but I was looking for running boots in preparation for running in the Alaskan winter. I really liked my New Balance Minimus, and I ran really well with it. I considered the New Balance 110 boot, the ECCO Biom GTX, and something by Karhu. All a bit pricey, so I ended up buying a Merrel Mix Master 2 Waterproof, which has served me well so far being a minimalist shoe, but I still don't run like I did with my NB.

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Keep in mind too - it's only really cold a few days of the year, most of the winter it's more like -10 to +5 with lots of slush to deal with. You could find a pair of barefoot boots that work for the warmer days and use a pair of non-barefoot boots for the rest of the time. I take the bus to work and wear uninsulated Blundstone boots most of the time and only break out my old Sorel's when shoveling the driveway or doing something like snowshoeing or it's a blizzard. I do need to replace those Sorels though... I've had them for like 15 years (i.e. about as long as I've had adult-sized feet).

 

p.s. lowest temp ever in Ottawa was -36.1C, though it does regularly dip into the -20's with that nasty windchill ;)

 

I just know that last winter we had a week's period where there was severe frostbite warnings and all the networks said it was -40ºC with the windchill at some points.

The frostbite warning was in place because at those temperatures exposed skin can freeze in under ten minutes. It was recommended to stay inside that whole week, if you could.

I had to go outside during that time, as a lot of people did. I walked to my job, it was only a 20 minutes walk each way every day, but it was the most painful week of walking I had ever endured. The wind is what makes it bad.

We also got boatloads more snow than the city was able to handle last year. Not enough plows.

 

Also, temperature ratings guarantee that the boot/coat/item will be warm up to the given temperature. Going beyond that temperature means you'll probably be pretty cold. So, if I get boots that are rated to -40ºC, I'm covered.

Generally, the step down from that is -32ºC. Which is good for the average, but I am outside for long periods of time, and sometimes in above average temperatures. So I need a higher rating.

 

Since the climate has been steadily changing here to produce harsher, colder winters, I want a boot that is rated to at least minus 40. I also just get cold really, really easily. It'll probably be worse now that I'm thinner.

Anyway, I already bought boots that I'm confident will do the trick for me.

 

p.s I love blundstones. Too bad they aren't minimalist. Any heel at all makes my legs and back ache within an hour or so now that I've gone barefoot.

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My solution, known around here as "ugly as sin; warm as hell," was to layer hut booties inside overshoes.  I look like an astronaut, but my feet stay warm, and my toes can wiggle.

https://www.mec.ca/en/product/5031-586/Hut-Bootie?org_text=hut
http://www.neosovershoescanada.com/non-insulated/voyager-black

 

I have some permanent nerve damage to my toes from near-frostbite many years ago.  I still love my winter activities, but my toes go numb before any of the rest of me is even considering quitting.  I have not found any minimalist solution that lasts much below freezing.  Also, here in Toronto, we have an ongoing slush problem (as opposed to the two weeks in Ottawa at the end of the season), so I need boots to be warm AND waterproof.

 

Last year, I purchased a pair of Otz "waterproof" troop boots, which I cannot recommend, though I see that they have lowered the price significantly.  The materials might be waterproof (unconfirmed), but the stitching between the upper and the sole leaks like a sieve.  I smeared massive amounts of wax into the stitching, and that helped.  Of course, like all Otz boots, they came with a ridiculous cork footbed that I immediately removed and replaced with a sheepskin insole, but the inner surface below the removable footbed has lots of ridges, so I can feel them through the sheepskin.  Can't believe I paid over $300, had to make all those mods, and they still don't help me at -5 degC.  The toe box, however, is amazing.  :)

@MintyKeen, how are your Manitobah Mukluks?  I keep wondering about them, but it doesn't look like the toe box is all that wide, and I have huge-wide triangular feet.  Also wondering how well the soles grip.  I wonder if they'll consider putting Vibram's new Arctic Grip on...

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You definitely should try Russian valenki: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Valenki

They say that they are women's but they are unisex http://www.morgancreekmanor.com/womens-boots-online-shop-russian-felted-highboots-valenki-canada-woe0137541-p-13754.html

In Russia, a pair of valinki cost less than $10 and you can buy them everywhere. They are superwarm and totally minimalist. 

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So depending what your foot volume is like, when it gets REALLY cold you're going to want to insulate the bottom of your foot from the ground. I also have had some nerve damage from cold and have in the past made myself insoles out of the mylar-bubble wrap-mylar house insulation in a felt "pouch" dropped into the bottom of my boots. A lot of companies may a wool felt flat insoles for similar purposes. Check it out, and never wait for a bus or ride road bikes in thin-bottomed shoes when its cold out. :)

 

FWIW I'm currently rocking non-minimalist Keen's with 400g thinsulate and they're awfully nice for my wide feet but not as nice on ice as I would like. My Sorel's were too thin in the bottom. I love winter biking in them, or in Scarpa approach shoes with wool insoles and gaiters.

 

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