Minimalist shoes (like Vibram FiveFingers) have become incredibly popular in the military. Everyone will remember the iconic Special Forces photo of a soldier jumping out of a Chinook helicopter in FiveFingers. But you'll also recall that the popularity of toe shoes has resulted in the U.S. Army banning them (Meanwhile, The Navy seems to think they are okay. Even more on the Army's take here.). So it is that at least one military/police boot manufacturer—a company called Belleville—has partnered up with Vibram to produce a "minimalist boot." It's called the Mini-Mil and comes in TR101 (brown), TR102 (black), and TR103 (sage).
Check out the official specs and see more photos and video after the jump!
A true minimalist boot featuring a 5mm “drop” between the heel & forefoot, the Mini-Mil® is designed specifically for the conditioned warrior athlete currently training in minimalistic athletic footwear. This quick-drying unlined boot is not only highly breathable, but lightweight too - weighing less than 2 lbs a pair.
- A true minimalist boot with a 5 millimeter “drop”
- Exclusive Vibram® “Tarsus” oil and slip resistant rubber
- Highly breathable unlined leather & nylon upper
- Double & triple stitched seams for enhanced durability
- Padded Achilles support
- 8” height
- AR 670-1 Compliant
Tell me if this sounds familiar: Five Fingers have ruined me for all other shoes. Most days I really appreciate that I get to wear unique foot wear and that my feet and ankles are way stronger than the average person. I've managed to replace most of the shoes in my closet with zero drop equivalents, but I've yet to find a suitable zero drop boot option.
You see, while I'm not in the military, I love shooting and hunting, and wearing high boots is a necessity. My KSO's and Merrell Trail Gloves work great for my Crossfit gym, or hitting the nature trails throughout Southern California. Unfortunately, hunting requires a lot of off the trail walking with thick high brush. Some extra protection from thorns and creepy crawlies around the ankle is a high priority.
But most boots have elevated heels (aren't zero drop) and really heavy. I donned my Magnum branded boots for a recent shooting trip and I felt like was walking through ankle deep water. My feet felt super heavy and uncomfortable, and I've been on the lookout ever since.
Enter Belleville's Mini-Mil TR101. I really like the high quality "extra grippy" Vibram sole (if you look closely there is a "big toe" in the tread), and the soles are "Tarsus," meaning they use oil and slip resistant rubber. I really like the look of the "flesh out leather" and 1000D Cordura nylon.
I'd really prefer a zero drop but the Mini-Mil's have a 5mm differential from heel-to-toe, which is 1mm more than New Balance's flagship Minimus the MT10. I'd say that is pretty darn good. Also note there is some added ankle and Achilles support which I'm on the fence about... On the one hand I see the need for the support, especially when carrying a heavy pack, but I also wonder if this will hinder the overall flexibility of the boot.
These boots weigh in at less two pounds for the pair, and are available in desert tan and black. The retail price is $156 (the Mini-Mil comes in three styles/colors — TR101/brown, TR102/black, and TR103/sage), but I've seen them as low as $120.
I also found a couple product videos about the Mini-Mils that look interesting. Check'em out if you're curious or want to see/know more:
This one seems to be straight from Belleville.
This one looks to be produced by a boot retailer.
Anyone else seen these or ordered a pair? What do you think? Are these boots the answer to your barefoot prayers — particularly if you're in active service in the Army and find yourself without a minimalist shoe solution?
Let's hear it!