Feelmax Kuuva 4 Boot Review

Feelmax Kuuva 4 Boot Review

I reviewed the Feelmax Kuuva 3 almost two years ago and found them to be a great pair of waterproof minimalist winter boots. In fact, they continue to be my favorite winter boots to this day.

Not one to stand on their laurels, the Finnish team at Feelmax have updated their popular boot yet again with some much-requested features for handling tougher winters.

Overview

Here's what Feelmax says about the Kuuva 4:

All new barefoot hiking boot. Improved waterproofing, new lacehooks and more durable laces. New Feelmax NatuRun Sierra outsole with "lugs" for improved grip.The outsole is zero-drop, with 2,5mm thickness, on "lugs" the thickness is 4mm. Higher design. Very comfortable and light. Waterproof inner lining and leather. Leather upper with fabric trim.

Weight | 14.2 oz (42 Euro, US 9.5)
Total Stack Height | Roughly 4mm
Barefoot scale | The best waterproof barefoot boot in the world gets updated for another season of winter fun!
Ideal Uses | Great for hiking, shoveling, catching the train, and playing in the snow.

Pros:

  • Taller and more durable than the Kuuva 3
  • Good traction with improved tread design
  • 100% waterproof
  • High-slung tongue
  • Thin, yet protective sole
  • Lightweight
  • Flexible

Cons

  • Not very breathable
  • The Heaviest Kuuva yet
  • Still no heel loop
  • Laces become untied easily

Price | €169.98 at time of review ($180 US)

Sizing | My size 42 Kuuva 4 (I upped one size from the Kuuva 3 I reviewed for more space and comfort) is an excellent fit for my wide feet. There is a generous toebox and a pretty wide ankle area.

If you have wide feet or odd ankles, this shoe will be a great fit for you. There is a very large opening for your feet and you can increasingly tie down your foot with the ample lacing points. It has a great anatomical fit.

Get acquainted with the Feelmax Kuuva 4 via these photos:

Sole

Feelmax Kuuva 4 Boot Review
The updated 2.5mm Naturun Sole

The Kuuva 4 features an upgraded version of Feelmax’s NatuRun 2.5mm “Sierra” outsole that is also used in the Vasko II. This is paired with a new lug design that has deeper treads and extra traction “nub” textures for good grip.

Like previous Kuuva boots, this sole is very flexible and provides a amount of ground feel that rivals many other minimalist shoes and is a standout for a true winter boot.

One of the weaknesses of the Kuuva 3 was its shallow logs and somewhat poor traction, especially for a winter boot. The newest version of the Kuuva features deeper lugs, a more aggressive sole, and the addition of small textures to aid in traction. All things being considered, they were great for climbing on snowy rocks and setting up sled runs. The lugs are still not as aggressive as traditional snow boots, but they do a great job and are a definite improvement over the older sole. As an additional benefit, while the treads have been redesigned for better traction, they are still not as deep as heavy duty boots, which means you won’t track in as much of the nasty stuff when you come home or get into your car.

Feelmax Kuuva 4 Boot Review
The more aggressive Kuuva 4 sole vs the smoother Kuuva 3 sole

Small details like twigs, variations in snow and ice, and small pebbles can be felt underfoot, especially if you wear thin socks. The overall thinness of this sole does not detract from its toughness as the treads get a bit more aggressive in this iteration and the boot gets a tougher build all around; while you feel a lot, you will be protected from the elements. You cannot smash things like with more block-like boots, so be careful when kicking ice or jamming your heel into a snowbank!

Feelmax Kuuva 4 Boot Review

The groundfeel for the Kuuva 4 is similar to a Vibram Bikila LS (and better than the Bikila EVO and V-Run shoes); roughly equivalent with anything in the 4-6mm stack height range.

The boot is so thin that I actually decided to take it for a test run of a couple miles during a hailstorm and they can do well to help you catch a runaway train or lyft. They are not quite as good for this purpose as the Kuuva 3 because the 4 is a bit taller, but you can still run around quite a bit in them.

They are excellent sledding boots: When you need to feel what your feet are doing, but still need to jam your heels into the hill, or dash off to reach ramming speed.

The boot itself is very flexible and you can easily do an upward toe flex, but not a downwards flex.

The Kuuva 4 strikes a nice balance between insulation/warmth and moisture management. After shoveling for a couple of hours and hiking for the better part of a day in 20 degree weather, my feet never felt cold, but they did start to get a bit sweaty as time went on the day became warmer. This boots are fantastic for late fall-to-winter wear.

Fit and Materials

The Kuuva is comprised of a soft inner lining fabric, the waterproof mid layer, the 2.5mm NatuRun sole, and a combination leather and nylon upper. The leather extends from the sole of the shoe and about ¾ up the shoe and ankle (up the metatarsal guard in the front the and back stay). The Nylon takes over around the hinge point of your foot and in the construction of the tongue.

The tall collar is nicely padded and feels great. It does a great job of keeping out snow. The tongue was smartly designed to start quite a bit more than halfway up the entire boot to prevent any water or snow for leaking in. However, this does make it a little bit more difficult to put the boot on; this is a boot that may require kneeling or sitting down to take on or off. Overall, I found the mouth of the boot to be more than large enough for me to put on and take off with ease, but not in a hurry. I do wish that they would include a heel loop so this process can be even faster. There is a little tab in the back, much like the Kuuva 3, but it’s not really usable because of how small it is.

Feelmax Kuuva 4 Boot Review
The high-slung tongue starts about 2/3 of the way up the boot; higher than a standard boot for added protection from puddles and snowbanks

Because the waterproofing is in the mid-lining, the leather and nylon upper can get wet. The leather and nylon is water resistant, but not waterproof. You will find that they will soak in a bit when you are active in the snow for a while, but your feet will stay dry, except for perhaps some sweat. I highly recommend that you treat your boots with some sort of waterproof treatment to help the leather last a long time and to further enhance the waterproofing of the boot. You can try sprays, such as Kiwi, Scotchgard, or Nikwax, but I highly recommend using wax for extra peace of mind and to toughen up various materials as well; I use boot beeswax for most of my outdoor gear and all of camera bags—just rub some on and use a heatgun/hairdryer to soak it into leather, canvas, or nylon.

Feelmax Kuuva 4 Boot Review
The cushy, padded collar keeps stuff out and keeps feet warm

The Kuuva 3 has a "Cleanport NXT" organic anti-odor treatment in the insole, which is removable. The insole is very thin at around 1mm and I just kept it in for the extra odor protection.

Feelmax Kuuva 4 Boot Review
The Cleanport NXT-treated insole

Because of the waterproof lining, the boots are not as very breathable. After wearing The Kuuva 3 for an extended period of time, my feet did get a little sweaty, even with socks on, but it’s a compromise to have a truly waterproof boot.

The Kuuva 4 has six metal eyelets that run from the arch of the metatarsal guard to the collar: three set, three hooked. I only used five of the eyelets for better mobility, but utilizing all six will give you the most security and waterproofing. I did notice that the somewhat stiff and rounded laces tend to get untied more often than my other boots, but a double-knot kept them in place for hours. In the future, I hope that Feelmax tries out some new lace options. Personally, I find that plusher, squishier laces, like those found in the Vibram Trek Ascent Insulated, to have excellent tying retention and durability.

Feelmax Kuuva 4 Boot Review
The Kuuva 4 features six metal eyelets for lacing. Three are set/fixed and three are hooked. I only utilize five of the eyelets for my own personal comfort.

When placed side-by-side with its older brother, the Kuuva 3, it is immediately noticeable that the Kuuva 4 is a more substantial, rugged, and overall more attractive boot. The Kuuva 4 is a good deal taller than the 3 and it looks more premium and less busy that the rather flat-looking Kuuva 3. Interestingly, while the Kuuva 4 is taller, it actually has two fewer eyelets for its laces than the 3. One of the eyelets in the older boot actually snapped off when I was tying them in a hurry last winter, and Feelmax has improved the durability of the latest Kuuva with thicker metal in their eyelets.

Feelmax Kuuva 4 Boot Review
Kuuva 4 vs Kuuva 3. The Kuuva 4 is taller, more substantial, and durable

In terms of fit, the Kuuva 4 has a bit more vertical space in its toebox than the Kuuva 3, but less arch space halfway into the boot; you can always increase this space by loosening up the first set of laces. The tongue is also more padded for comfort and security.

In a waterproof test, I stood in a puddle with a Kuuva 3 on my left foot and a Kuuva 5 on my right foot…and waited, and waited, and waited. According to Feelmax they improved on the waterproof elements of the Kuuva 3 with the Kuuva 4 and I can say that both boots are 100% waterproof and my favorite boots for winters in Boston. The Kuuva 4 does have a higher collar and some updates to the materials that will contribute to it being better for deeper snow and puddles, but this comes at the cost of weight. At 14 oz, the Kuuva 4 is still lightweight, but it is nearly 3 oz heavier than its predecessor. This puts it in the same league as most minimalist trail shoes, which is an achievement considering the capabilities of the sole and the waterproofing.

In terms of durability, my untreated Kuuva 3 boots are holding up nicely and should last a few more years. I expect the more substantial Kuuva 4 to last even longer. Unlike other chukkas or minimalist boots in my collection, I do not have to baby them; they can handle every game of king of the mountain, sled run, or the worst brown water that the city can offer. I will probably maintain a nice layer of wax to keep them waterproof and handsome for future adventures.

Feelmax Kuuva 4 Boot Review
My favorite winter boot

Future Improvements

For one, I would change the laces for better durability and tying management and, of course, add a heel loop. Besides that, there is not a lot that can really add to this nearly-perfected winter boot.

To be honest, they are a bit on the pricier side, However, you are getting a premium boot that will keep your feet dry and happy when things get cold. If you love your shoes comfortable and flexible, then you probably see tons of thick, plodding boots around town and view them as strapping on cement blocks just to play in the snow. The Kuuva 4 bucks that idea with something that is more comfortable, just as durable, and just as playful as you are.

Summary

If you are a minimalist enthusiast looking to keep your feet happy during the winter months, the Feelmax Kuuva 4 are just about perfect.

With a 2.5mm sole, you get a super flexible and lightweight boot, while its waterproof lining and interior fabric keeps your feet warm. While it is not as light as its predecessor, the improvements that Feelmax implemented in terms of durability and usability more than make up for it.

The Kuuva remains the best waterproof boot on the market and the only boot I wear for my messiest, and most fun, winter adventures. If you're interested in picking up a pair, head over to the Feelmax website!

Feelmax Kuuva 4 Boot Review

A huge thanks goes to Feelmax for sending me the Kuuva 3 for review!

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Xero Shoes Amuri Cloud First Look Review

Xero Shoes Amuri Cloud First Look Review

Xero Shoes continues to innovate on the class huaraches design with the release this week of their new "Amuri Cloud" barefoot sandals. What is this "Cloud" that I speak of? It's a design feature of the Amuri Xero Shoes that reduces weight and improves the "ride" of the shoes via some well-placed EVA that is embedded into the sole. Take heed! Until March 30, 2014, the Amuri Cloud will be on sale for 20% off—$39.99 vs. $49.99—available over at XeroShoes.com!

But if you'd like to see more of this "Cloud," after the jump I've got a few first look thoughts and photos! Read on!

Note: What you might recall as the Xero Shoes Sensori Venture is now becoming the "Amuri Venture" (I did an in-depth preview/explanation of how the Sensori-now-Amuri design differs from the classic Xero Shoes huarache here that might be worth spinning through if you have a minute!).

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TRUE Linkswear Tour Golf Shoes - 2013 Update/Review

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TRUE linkswear is releasing new styles for 2014, but I wanted to share some thoughts on last year's update to the TRUE shoe that started it all. In 2011, the original tour was TRUE's debut entry into the minimal golf shoe world, and while it was extremely comfortable it had the quirks of being a first generation shoe design. In 2013, they released an updated version of the TRUE tour, which was a great improvement in the look and quality of the shoe while maintaining the barefoot feel and comfort. New designs continue to come along, but the tour model is still in the core lineup, and now at a lower price, it is definitely worth considering if you spend any time swinging a golf club. You can read the original tour review here and read on for my thoughts on the updated TRUE tour.

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Bikila EVO, KSO Evo, Spyridon MR FiveFingers!

It's that time again—time for the latest and great Vibram FiveFingers to hit the market. You can find them for sale here. Via Travel Country (Read to the "Bonus" below for a code to get a gift card!)

Bikila EVO and KSO EVO

Bikila EVO, KSO Evo, Spyridon MR FiveFingers!
This is the men's Bikila EVO FiveFingers in screaming blue and neon yellow.

The Spring 2014 Vibram FiveFingers introduce the "EVO" line by way of the Bikila EVO and the KSO EVO. The Bikila EVO has a brand new sole structure that is built off a platform of EVA with pods of Vibram rubber. Tim has already done us a favor and reviewed the Bikila EVO FiveFingers here (If you've not yet seen it in detail). And thanks to the fact that the already-released Youth EL-X LS that hit last year, we've also gotten a fantastic review of what we can expect from the KSO EVO (Read that review here).

Bikila EVO, KSO Evo, Spyridon MR FiveFingers!
This is the men's KSO EVO FiveFingers in black, which if you'll recall was the most popular KSO color of all time for men.

Spyridon MR

Vibram has replaced the original Spyridon LS with the Spyridon MR. It's not fundamentally unlike the original Spyridon LS but the Spyridon MR removes some of the excess paint that covered the insoles. It's a nice improvement if you ask me.

Bikila EVO, KSO Evo, Spyridon MR FiveFingers!
This is the men's Spyridon MR FiveFingers in olive green.

Women's Vi-B

Also, you'll find that Vibram has put out a women's-only VFF called the "Vi-B" that has the "maxfeel" sole and a super airy upper—thanks both to the holey fabric and the "Classic" cut.

Bikila EVO, KSO Evo, Spyridon MR FiveFingers!
Above is the women's Vi-B FiveFingers.

Again, you can find all of the above* in men's and women's sizes for sale at the following links:

BONUS: TravelCountry looks like they are offering a $20 gift card for every $100 spent that you can use on a future purchase. The coupon code is "GiftMe" and eligible dollars towards meeting the threshhold come from regular price merchandise. Since all the 2014 FiveFingers are regular price, if you were to get the Bikila EVOs, for example, you'd get that $20 eGift card for some future purchase.

* excepting the women's Bikila EVO, which hasn't shown up anywhere yet.

Vibram FiveFingers Bikila EVO Review

Vibram FiveFingers Bikila EVO Review

The original Vibram FiveFingers Bikila model was released in the Spring of 2010 in conjunction with the Boston Marathon, and has long been the workhorse of Vibram?s running stable. The Bikila LS was introduced a year later and was among the first models to include a speed lacing system that is now popular on many Vibram FiveFinger (VFF) models.

For 2014, Vibram has completely revamped the trusty Bikila and has named it the Bikila EVO, which I assume stands for Evolution. The Bikila EVO now "out" for sale and is running $120 MSRP (See all 2014 Vibrams for sale here).

So how does it perform as a running shoe, and how does it compare to the original Bikila? Read on to find out.

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2 Parents and 3 Kids Going 2,200 Miles in 6 Months ... In Barefoot Shoes.

2 Parents and 3 Kids Going 2,200 Miles in 6 Months ... In Barefoot Shoes.

If you've been around the minimalist shoe/barefoot shoe community for awhile, you're surely familiar with Damien Tougas, a long-standing minimalist shoe enthusiast/reviewer who also founded ToeSalad.com.

Well, Damien is kickstarting hiking the Appalachian Trail--all 2,200 miles of it--with his wife and three kids, all of whom will be wearing minimalist footwear!

This is awesome, bold, and ambitious! I can't imagine hiking more than a few miles with my wife and kids in tow (maybe one day!). Damien and family will be sharing their adventure with the world via a series of web-based episodes--a feel-good "reality show" of sorts. There will typically be about three 10-15 minute episodes per month (produced by the Tougas family) and you can get access to these shows via sponsoring the Kickstarter campaign!

As of today, Damien has 14 more days to reach his Kickstarter goal of $16,000 CAD. He's shy by about $3K CAD.

Want to see this happen? Well, you know what to do ... go and pledge!

Vibram FiveFingers KSO EVO/EL-X LS Review

Vibram FiveFingers KSO EVO/EL-X LS Review
Above is the (available-in-youth-sizes) FiveFingers EL-X LS. What you may not realize is that the upcoming KSO EVO (for adults) is the same pair of toe shoes!

Earlier this week, I received a pair of Vibram EL-X LS and I wanted to share my thoughts on this highly-anticipated shoe. Why is it highly anticipated? Because the "EL-X LS" that's available in youth sizes right now is what will be available in all sizes come 2014 as the KSO EVO.

If you recall for the post about them earlier this year, the KSO EVO replaces Vibram's most popular shoe, the very versatile KSO. It features a speed lace system that is similar to the Bikila, Spyridon, and KMD LS, which allows for easy entry and a snug fit and the KSO EVO's thin sole provides excellent flexibility and ground feel.

Like I said, the "KSO EVO" is scheduled to be released in Spring 2014 and isn't officially available yet.However, if you fall within a narrow range of sizes, you can pick up a pair right now! That's because a model called the "FiveFingers EL-X LS" was released in youth sizes earlier this year. Indeed, the EL-X LS is available to buy online (See: Zappos, which actually has them on sale). Since some youth sizes overlap with adult sizes (up to a men's 42) and I fit these sizes, I was able to pick up a pair even though the adult-version EL-X LS or "KSO EVO" won't be available until 2014.

The FiveFingers KSO EVO is officially "out" and for sale as of mid-February 2014!

Save for differences in color and available sizes, the EL-X LS is the same exact shoe as the upcoming KSO EVO!

For the purpose of this review and since I'm no youth, I'll be referring to the EL-X LS as the "KSO EVO" for the rest of the review. Again, they are the same shoe just different sizes. Full review and photos after the jump!

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