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

Who says you can't use Vibram Five Fingers Bikilas in the snow?

Who says you can't use Vibram Five Fingers Bikilas in the snow?

Mark recently made the switch to running in Vibram Five Fingers Bikilas with great success. He even decided to give them a try in a race on the snow. Here is Mark's story:

My first "race" of the year went well. It was just a little under 5 miles - 3 miles road, the rest snow covered trails. Before the race started I couldn't feel my toes. Once we got going I didn't even feel the snow. I have been running my long runs on trails in Bikilas, but not in the snow. I was surprised how good the traction was. There was about 4 inches of fresh powder on top of packed snow.

This was also my first actual race in Vibrams. I made the switch to them around October. I kept getting injured every time I ramped up in normal shoes. It seemed as though as soon as I went over 20 miles/week I would injure myself, usually tendinitis. After a 10 mile race last May I could barely walk. I went to several podiatrists got the normal story about orthotics which I got. Luckily, insurance covered them because I think they made it worse.

My friend kept telling me to try Vibrams. Then, of course, I read "Born to Run". I remember the first time I put them on just to go to the gym. I couldn't run due to the tendinitis but it was pouring and my car was parked a few blocks away. So I ran to my car. Then I noticed I didn't feel a thing. I got to the gym and hopped on the treadmill and ran a mile at around a 8 min pace. My legs felt amazing. Well, except for the next day when it felt like I got hit across the calves with a bat. I slowly continued to work in Vibram runs until I was just using the Bikilas. I have been running for a few months now with just the Bikilas with no pain at all, other than the normal muscle soreness. I picked up a pair of Saucony Kinvaras this past week to help with the cold of early morning runs when it is 19 degrees and I switch back and forth between the Kinvaras and Bikilas.

Any who, I am looking forward to a lot more races in Vibrams. I am also dying to get my hands, errr feet, on a new pair of the Merrel trail gloves to try out.

Mark

Thanks for sharing this with us Mark! Let us know how you like the Kinvaras.

2011 Fall Vibram FiveFingers Boots, Laces, Leather and More!

Vibram Five Fingers Fall 2011
Previews of just some of the new models in the Vibram Five Fingers Fall 2011 line-up.
Updated 7/21/2011 with links to:

I'm excited to share with you all a sneak preview of some of the five toed shoes and boots in the Vibram FiveFingers 2011 Fall line-up. As you can see, Vibram has taken things up a notch — in more ways than one.

Overall, we're seeing new laced varietals of FiveFingers — for those who don't get "laces" on their toe shoes, realize that there are many would-be toe shoe fans who have high insteps. These "high feet" can make many VFFs too tight on the top of the foot — laces are a simple, time-tested solution to both this problem and the general issue of making a standardized shoe have a more custom fit for unique feet!

Perhaps having heard the call for winter-worthy toe shoes as well as the need for toe shoes for everyday, casual wear (read: more fashionable and less sporty), we see FiveFingers boots!

FiveFingers Kanga!

Update February 2012: this shoe never really got mass-produced. Rumor is that a couple hundred pairs (or so) got produced and are for sale in Europe. That's it.

First, the super-high boots with the furry tops are a women's model called the Kanga FiveFingers. I'm going to go out on a limb and guess the FiveFingers Kangas are pretty warm. How could they not be?

th the furry flare the Kanga has, it screams for attention and fits in with the high-boot fashion craze (oh the hours I've spent shopping for boots with Mrs. BirthdayShoes!). I wonder what celebrity will be caught wearing them first. Any FiveFingers ladyfolk after some boots?

The Kanga FiveFingers may not see a U.S. release as word is they didn't show up in the U.S. catalog. The Cervinia may be the U.S. equivalent (knit upper, no fur, Jaya sole). Stay tuned.

FiveFingers Trek LS

Update Fall 2011! I've reviewed the Trek LS FiveFingers!

Next, we see leather FiveFingers with laces — these are the Vibram FiveFingers Trek LS, which are basically Speed FiveFingers dressed in leather with a Trek sole.

As many Speed owners will tell you, the FiveFingers Speed is a fantastic model in the VFF line-up. Dressed in classy leather with the fantastic Trek sole, I think these will be a great addition to the line-up. Want!

The Fall 2011 Vibram FiveFingers Trek LS, all-leather Vibram toe shoes for everyday wear (though you could certainly do an impromptu sprint, dead lift, or tree climb in them if need presents itself!).
The Fall 2011 Vibram FiveFingers Trek LS, all-leather Vibram toe shoes for everyday wear (though you could certainly do an impromptu sprint, dead lift, or tree climb in them if need presents itself!).

FiveFingers Speeds in the U.S.!

Update! FiveFigners Speeds are out in the U.S.!

Now, I'm unclear as to how this fits in with the leather, Speed-like upper Trek LS, but I've got numerous people telling me the FiveFingers Speeds (the non-leather, Bikila-soled varieties!) are indeed, finally, coming to the United States.

Can I get an "amen?"

FiveFingers Bormio (Boot)

From left to right we see the Vibram FiveFingers Bormio leather boot, the leather FiveFingers Trek LS (Speed!), and a few pairs of KSO Treks — all from the Fall 2011 Vibram line-up!

Meanwhile, perhaps a reincarnation of the never-really-released FiveFingers Cortina, we see a leather boot — this is the FiveFingers Bormio. The Bormio has zippers on either side and features the Trek sole. We've reviewed the Bormio FiveFingers boots here in full. They retail for $160.

FiveFingers KomodoSport LS

And what are these new-styled LS FiveFingers? It's the FiveFingers Komodo LS! You can tell it's a Komodo by the side profile of the women's (pink) Komodo LS. Update July 2011!: We actually got our feet into pre-production versions of the KomodoSport LS and have reviewed the men's here and the women's KomodoSport LS here!

inal, non-laced KomodoSport, if you're not up to date on VFF models, is the Spring 2011 model was released in Spring 2011 with a new sole design. You can order the KomodoSport (non-laced versions) now, actually, or learn more about them on the Komodo FiveFingers page!

More!

In addition to the new color combos for Bikilas and Bikila LS, which is also slated to arrive any day now. Finally, it looks like there may be a women's calf-length "boot" with Jaya sole called the FiveFingers Cervinia. Haven't seen any photos of the Cervinia yet, so if I get some, I'll be sure to post them here!

Parting thoughts ...

If you're still reading, might I suggest you head off to read the actual reviews of these FiveFingers! This post is now (Feb. 2012) over a year old and everything mentioned above has been released (save the Cervinia and Kanga, which got nixed as far as being mass produced). Perhaps more excitingly, there are now newer models slated for release to get excited about. Just head over here to get a full rundown of all the FiveFingers coverage on BirthdayShoes — the barefoot shoes reviews rundown!

If it's not clear, we don't yet know all the details on these Fall 2011 models READ: These models will not be available until Fall 2011 (Attempting to head off 100 emails by folks who skim — you know who you are!). It seems Vibram reps only learned about them in the past month at the most, and are slowly spreading word to retailers around the country (and world!). That means there is some speculation above and a few attempts to match scuttlebutt to photos. We'll sort it out here in the coming days and weeks. So what do you think of these new FiveFingers models for Fall 2011 from Vibram? Sound off in the comments below!

Hat tip goes to Max DeLacy of BarefootInc, VFF runner, distributor, and go-to connection for FiveFingers in Australia, for sending in the photos. Also a nod to my anonymous source who filled in a lot of the product details! If you have additional intelligence (or clarifications!) on the 2011 Fall Vibram line-up, please drop me a line!

The 2011 Vibram Five Fingers Komodo Sport will arrive soon!

Vibram Five Fingers Komodo Sport
Vibram Five Fingers Komodo Sport

The 2011 Komodo Sport will arrive soon! Click here to pre-order it at REI. This model will soon be available as part of Vibram's 2011 Five Fingers line-up. Click here to read Justin's review of this exciting new model designed for fitness/cross training that could be used for just about any activity.

Komodo Sport Product Description

Designed for cross-training, the FiveFingers KomodoSport multisport shoes take the popular KSO and introduce a friction-reducing footbed to enhance comfort.

  • Stretchy uppers hug feet and offer quick-drying comfort; breathable stretch-mesh panels keep debris and grit out
  • Adjustable instep and heel straps secure with rip-and-stick closures to provide a snug, supportive fit
  • Individual toe slots enhance dexterity, control and stability to help deliver a natural motion
  • AEGIS Microbe Shield® antimicrobial treatment helps control odor development
  • Seamless 2mm polyurethane footbeds reduce friction underfoot; EVA arch shanks help provide light support
  • 4mm Vibram outsoles are made of nonmarking Vibram TC1 rubber and feature traction pods that follow the contours of your feet and toes for enhanced traction
  • Recommended for running and fitness; in order to allow your feet to adapt to using different muscles, gradually increase usage of these shoes
  • The Vibram FiveFingers KomodoSport shoes are machine washable in cold water; air dry only
  • To determine size, stand with heels against a wall and measure from the wall to the tip of the longest toe; use the longest toe length in conjunction with the size chart

Pre-order now at REI!



* This post originally said that the Komodo was available for order at REI, but we later found out that they are just taking pre-orders for delivery next month. We're sorry for the mistake.

Review: Women's KSO Trek

Review: Women's KSO Trek
Justine at Lake Tahoe in her KSO Treks.

Consultant Justine Lam was instrumental in putting together Ron Paul's online fundraising campaign. She is also a big fan of Vibram Five Fingers. You may remember the interview she did about her KSOs here on BirthdayShoes. Now she has put together a review of her Vibram Five Fingers Women's KSO Treks where she compares them to her KSOs and Bikilas. Here is her review:

by Justine Lam — Guest Writer

Women's Vibram FiveFingers KSO Trek Review

When I got my first pair KSOs back in June 2008, I had never seen them in stores or on anyone’s feet. I tried them on at a kayaking store in NYC and started wearing them around the city and while hiking or backpacking.

Two short years later wherever I go, I will likely bump into a fellow Vibram Five Fingers fan. For example, I just sat down at Red Rock Coffee Co. in Mountain View, CA to write up my review and next to me a customer was sporting his black VFF classics. He told me he can’t go back to normal shoes, that he feels more aware of his surroundings and in his body w/ his Vibrams. He smiled widely while talking about his shoes. VFFs creates real brand evangelists.

Recently, thanks to BirthdayShoes.com I got to try the new VFF KSO Treks for women. I was ecstatic. I had been jealously admiring the KSO Treks for men for the past year, wishing they would make them for women. Finally my prayers were answered!

Read the rest of Justine's review after the jump!

Read the rest of this post »

Winter Running with O'Neill Reactor Reef Boots

Minnesota in Winter
Northern Minnesota in Winter.

Photographer, filmmaker and author, Dudley Edmondson, found that barefoot running in the chilly winters of Northern Minnesota can be a real challenge. Then he discovered O'Neill Reactor Reef Boots provide a near barefoot feel while being warm and inexpensive. Here is his review:

by Dudley Edmondson — Guest Writer

Justin here at BirthdayShoes.com asked me to share my thoughts about a minimalist shoe alternative for winter running conditions. If you’re like me and live in a colder climate you’ve discovered the Vibram Five shoe we all love is not exactly the best in cold weather. The Vibram Five Fingers Flow is supposed to be the shoe of choice in cold weather but here in northern Minnesota where the daytime temps can hover in the double digits below zero for a week or more, you really need more protection from the cold than a five toed shoe can offer.

Read the rest of Dudley's review and see his How-to video after the jump!

Read the rest of this post »

A Five Fingers Christmas

Molly's  Christmas Tree
Molly's Christmas Tree
VFF Collection
VFF Collection

Molly sent us the pics above and the following note about their Five Fingers Christmas:

It's Christmas in our house and what better time to celebrate Vibram Five Fingers. This is our collection of VFF, mostly obtained throughout 2010. Between the two of us, we have 15 pairs (Classics not shown, sorry!). We swear by Five Fingers and have spread the joy to family and friends all year. Here's to a Barefoot 2011!

Thanks Molly! Nice collection.

We wish a very Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays to all Birthday Shoes readers out there!! Thanks for your support and have a great 2011!