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!

  • minimalist sandals!

    Xero Shoes - Barefoot Running Sandals

Pete gets his KSOed Feet wet on Spanish Beaches

Pete sent in the above two photos taken at a Spanish beach. I collapsed the two shots into an animated GIF to heighten the effect.

Here's Pete:

Hi,

Took [my] KSO's for a spin in a Spanish beach. Got curious looks but most of all it was fun to run by the water and not even care about incoming waves :-)

/pete

Even though Vibram fivefinger KSOs are designed to "Keep Stuff Out," that functionality tends to break down when it comes to running water filled with fine silt and sand — a point confirmed by Pete:

I did not notice the sand so much while running ( I suppose due to water) but afterwards it was rather hard to get it out of the shoes. There is still some :-)

For all of you presently strapped to a desk and staring at a computer, can you hear the crashing waves?

Thanks, Pete!

A day of fun with Sonia at the Harley Party and Sands Casino as seen through black KSO VFFs

A day of fun with Sonia at the Harley Party and Sands Casino as seen through black KSO VFFs
These Black KSO fivefingers have all the fun!

Above is a montage of photos (click for a larger version) sent in from Sonia who continues to enjoy her newfound foot freedom:

Hey Justin,

Just love your web site and had so much fun today that I took pic's of the whole day! From the Harley Party to the Sands casino ... the whole day from beginning to end — oh what fun!! People love these and want to know more!

Thanks!
Sonia

These black KSOs sure know how to party! Keep having fun with them, Sonia!

Running a 5K with Chad - this time in Classic Vibram Five Fingers

Running a 5K with Chad - this time in Classic Vibram Five Fingers
Chad pictured above with his new-to-running son, James.

Here's an update from Chad, who previously ran a marathon in his black KSO fivefingers, and recently ran the Charlotte, North Carolina's Hit the Brixx 10K and a 5K in his grey and orange fivefinger Classics — pushing his son in a jogger:

Hi Justin,

Just another note to let you know how my running is going. This morning I pushed my son James in our baby jogger (somewhat of a misnomer, as he's now five years old, four feet tall, and weighs sixty pounds) at Charlotte's Hit the Brixx, where I did both the 10k (50:49) and the 5k (23:02). It's a little hard to see, but I wore my orange and gray VFF Classics with black Injinji socks. That's me with the white hat, white singlet, and yellow BOB stroller.

We had a great time at the race, and James ran in his first fun run, albeit with regular running shoes. Maybe this is the beginning of a long love a running for him, I hope.

Sincerely,

Chad

Nice times, Chad!

I'm just learning to walk properly while pushing a stroller (harder than it looks it seems! Or maybe I'm just clumsy), to say nothing of running.

Great to hear about your son getting into running, too!

Scott Rafer at TechCrunch London in his Classic FiveFingers

Scott Rafer at TechCrunch London in his Classic FiveFingers
Scott Rafer, "serial entrepreneur," photoed above at TechCrunch London, September 24, 2009, by Taylor Davidson.

Internet entrepreneur Scott Rafer passed on a photo taken of him by Taylor Davidson giving a presentation at TechCrunch London. You can see Scott is wearing his black Classic fivefingers (Photo lightened a bit for better visibility). Here's Scott on his VFFs:

I now work in my black Classics (and work out in the orange and grey) ... I now live in the darn things.

I've got an upcoming post on the "everyday greatness" of Classic fivefingers that I should put out soon that gets at Scott's point of "living in" VFFs.

Thanks for passing this on, Scott!

Adam takes his fivefinger KSOs to the Cowboys Monday Night Football Game

Adam takes his fivefinger KSOs to the Cowboys Monday Night Football Game
Adam takes his fivefinger KSOs to the Cowboys Monday Night Football Game

In the mailbag this evening comes photos from last night's Dallas Cowboys vs. Carolina Panthers (Cowboys won) game viewed a la black Vibram fivefingers KSOs!

Here's Adam on his trip to the new stadium in his Vibrams:

Pictures of me with my Vibram KSOs at the Cowboys game 9-28-09. The brand new Cowboys stadium in Arlington, TX is awesome! I may have been the first person ever to go inside with Vibrams.

We love to go barefoot/vibram down here in Texas! Go Cowboys!!!!

-Adam

I think that is the biggest jumbotron screen I've ever seen! Also, it sorta looks like Adam's feet are squishing the little players on the field.

Thanks for sharing, Adam!

An amputee talks about his fivefinger KSOs

I was recently contacted by Adam, an individual who had to have his left leg amputated after suffering injuries in a car wreck. Adam's preferred method of getting around now is on crutches, making his remaining leg the central point of support and balance. It's under these constraints that he's turned to using fivefingers KSOs to aid in feeling the ground. Here's Adam:

Justin,

I recently stumbled across your website and decided to write you a comment. I'm 20 years old and lost my left leg last year due to a car wreck during my freshman year of college.

I don't always wear a prosthesis because they're painful for me still. As a result, I'm stuck using crutches. My primary footwear of choice while crutching is the KSO.

The FF allows me to have an impeccable connection to the ground, which is essential for a mono-pod like myself, making sure that every step is safe and secure. My balance and agility are improved when wearing FFs as well.

I always get strange looks from people, and I can't help but wonder if it's because I wear FFs or because I only have one leg. Perhaps it's both? :)

Anyways, thanks for making such an awesome tribute site, and if you know of any amputees who still have their left foot, I have a brand new left KSO size 43 that I don't think I'll be using anytime soon!

- Adam

I'm happy to manage a place where people can share how they're improving their lives by doing something so simple as improving their connection to the ground — Adam's case is unusual, but a great application of Vibram fivefingers.

Thanks for sharing your story, Adam, and I'll let you know if anyone else reaches out in need of your left KSO!