Anyone who’s spent a significant amount of time outdoor knows the importance of a good pair of boots. Military personnel know it best. Combat or military style boots are probably my favorite style of boot to wear, and for good reason. Combat boots are designed to be lightweight, breathable, durable, weatherproof, etc. etc. etc.. They’re the athletic shoes of the boot world.
Minimalist footwear is all the rage these days. This style is supposed to mimic the mechanics of our natural “barefoot” ability. Touted for its various health benefits, many athletes are transitioning toward it. Lack of excessive restriction and support naturally strengthens our balance and athletic ability by engaging muscle groups not normally triggered in traditional footwear. Plus, eliminating excess weight relieves unnatural stress on joints and provides a more comfortable experience overall.
Some may find the concept of minimalist boots a little redundant. Why eliminate additional support? Isn’t that the point of wearing boots in the first place? yes and no. Minimalist boots still allow for ample ankle support during high-stress activity, protection from the elements, and a buffer between your foot and whatever hazards it might encounter. Combine that with decreased weight and increased flexibility and you have the perfect storm.
Most minimal footwear comes with a widened toe-box, true to the belief that our feet are most efficient when our toes can spread out… just like walking barefoot. This provides us with additional balance and maneuverability. When first putting on the Belleville Mini-Mil, they might feel like clown shoes. The widened toe box feels a little excessive until your toes naturally adjust. Once this happens, you’ll wonder why shoes were ever designed any differently.
Those familiar know Vibram makes the best soles around. The Vibram Tarsus sole on this boot is both oil and slip resistant, providing traction in the worst of conditions. Of all shoes I’ve ever worn, this has got to be the best sole on any of them. Between walking through slick rocky stream beds and unforgiving scree slopes these soles provide a sure and steady grip. Consistent with the minimalist style this boot provides a 2mm heel-toe drop, creating a true barefoot stride. That being said, they’re really thin. This could be a pro or con depending which way you look at it. It will force you to mind where you step, because if you step on a nail, you can be sure it’ll go straight through. The whole point is to feel barefoot right? Nevertheless, this has only happened to me once.
The Mini-Mil’s cordura nylon & cowhide leather upper is both supportive and flexible. Depending on how tight you prefer to lace your boots, it can be relaxed enough to wear around the house or tight enough to ruck over hazardous terrain. Nevertheless, it appears to provide the perfect balance of manueverability and protection. Plus, they provide ample protection from sharp rocks or brush without adding additional weight.