The Feelgrounds Chelsea boot is the most attractive Chelsea-style boot on the market. It has all of the great design elements and simplicity of other Feelgrounds products but improves upon their prior boots in a number of key areas. Read on to see our thoughts on the Feelgrounds Chelsea in this Husband-and-Wife review from Birthdayshoes!
By Jarvis Chen and Jingyi Qian
Timeless design meets barefoot comfort. This barefoot Chelsea boot is equipped with a flexible, zero-drop sole with grippy tread and an anatomically shaped toe box to respect the natural shape and function of your feet. The elastic ankle piece and convenient finger loop at the heel allows you to slip on the barefoot boots effortlessly without compromising on style. With their velvety microfiber lining and soft, water-resistant vegan leather, the Feelgrounds Chelsea boots are your high-quality minimalist boots for every day.
Feelgrounds introduced a new sole design and pattern for the Patrol and Patrol Winter Boots last year. The Chelsea boot uses the same excellent sole of these other boot models.
The original Feelgrounds soles from a few years ago were on the gummier side and featured shallow lugs with traction appropriate for streets and roads, but not for anything more demanding. Those were comfortable, but lacked in terms of traction and the earliest models had soles that were a bit soft for long-term durability. The leisure street shoes have since had newer soles that were less gummy and more durable. However, the boot soles are quite wonderful and that design carries over to this attractive Chelsea boot.
The tread pattern does a good job with rain, light snow and mud. They strike an excellent balance between lug traction and flexibility. For me, having a flexible and low profile sole helps a lot with control and awareness; you have more awareness of the terrain when you can feel the ground (sorry, unintentional pun) and you have a sole flexible enough to react quickly. However, if a sole is too thin and does not have deep enough lugs, you will lose out on traction. Tread pattern is also important, as lugs that are too close together can get snow, dirt, and mud caked and stuck. Lugs need to have just enough openness so that they can stick to the ground and not take bits of the ground with you.
I believe the perimeter square lugs provide stability and enhance durability, but they also hinder the boot’s ability to move snow out of the lugs in deeper conditions. I believe that more open perimeter lugs on the sole will expel water, snow, slush, and mud more easily.
On the inside of the sole, there are alternating triangle lugs that aim both forward and backwards. Despite being on the slightly thicker side in terms of total stack height, they are comfortable to walk in because of this more closed in lug design and its square perimeter lugs. On the flip side, as the lugs are narrowly spaced for walking smoothness, the space between the lugs is slightly on the narrow side, so like the perimeter lugs, gunk can get lodged between them at times. I think that maybe using more open chevron lugs that are V-shaped, unfiled triangles, the boot would be lighter and the sole would have slightly better traction that would prevent stuff from getting trapped within the lugs.
That being said, this is a heavy-duty sole that is much thicker than other variations from Feelgrounds. The rubber itself is a denser formula than prior models, but still has enough give to have good traction on bare surfaces.
In terms of stack height, the sole is on the thicker side of minimalist at 10mm. This can be heightened to 13mm if you include the removable cork insoles so you can customize your fit to control the amount of interior volume and groundfeel.
Want more interior volume and more groundfeel? Toss out the insole.
Need less groundfeel and tighter fit? Leave the insoles in.
One thing that is certainly minimalist about the Chelsea is its anatomically correct, zero drop, and wide toebox. For us, this is just roomy enough for wide feet.
For sizing, Feelgrounds provides measurements for all sizes and a printable sizing PDF for finding the appropriate size in terms of foot length using lines like a football field.
However, I would like to see a full-on template that can give buyers an idea of the shape of the shoe along with the sizing.
This would be helpful for different feet shapes and splays. Still, this is better than most shoes and sandals on the market, but just a tad behind the most informative minimalist sandals.
Aesthetics, Fit, and materials
The Chelsea boot design is pretty timeless. You see them everywhere, but this is, in our opinion, the most attractive interpretation of a Chelsea boot. Chelsea boots can look pretty bottom-heavy and chunky due to their thick soles, but the thinner soles of the Feelgrounds Chelsea really bring balance to the aesthetics of the boot, leading to an attractive, modern design that has clean lines. Just as the Patrol and Patrol winter boots have a bit of a rockstar vibe, the Chelsea also has a spunky look. The paneling and overlaying of vegan leather gives it a more heavy duty look that is lacking in other Chelsea boots. Overall, it is a dynamic looking boot; we love it.
A great feature is the subtle toe guard that the Chelsea shares with its Patrol and Patrol winter siblings. The Chelsea has a very subtle raised section at the front of the shoe that rises a bit from the rest of the sole to protect an area that usually will be the first to get scuffed up. This can go a long way in preserving the look of the boot as this is the part that most likely to scrape on the sidewalk or be dug into snow. This is by no means a steeltoe guard or anything like that, but that is the beauty of the design and its 100% authentic to Feelgrounds’ mantra of simplicity and purposeful design. This bit of raised sole material on the guard has a diamond pattern that should be able to take a couple of nicks before showing any abrasion marks.
The water-resistant vegan leather used in the Chelsea is one of the best leather alternatives I have seen. In comparing them to my vegan leather Patrol and Patrol winter boots, Feelgrounds seems to have improved their color and texturing. We have to say, the reddish-brown Sienna color is especially nice on this boot. Vegan leather is water resistant, but do not push that too far as the elastic section (a standard feature on all Chelsea boots) will definitely let in water. However that elastic section is raised pretty far up on the side of the boot, so the water resistance should handing a little bit of standing water.
Speaking of the elastic sections, these are great. The elastic bit actually widens a bit as you move down the shoe, which maximizes the amount of movement that you utilize when stretch the boot. It also balances the design by widening towards the bottom. This elastic section is really helpful for putting on and taking off the boot. My only concern with all elastics is how long it will last, but from our testing it seems durable, much like all Feelgrounds materials.
Oh, we are going to talk about the pull tab now. THE GLORIOUS PULL TAB! The little slab of fabric for pull tab on the Feelgrounds Patrol and Patrol Winter were really my one critique of otherwise near-perfect designs that stick the landing for their intended design and purpose. I would like to think that my review helped improve the upcoming models and everyone wins as a result. This color-matched vegan leather pulltab runs full length down the back of the boot with a lovely stamped Feelgrounds logo. It has a thick loop that is both durable and attractive. All in all, this is one of the best pull tabs in the world. Having it stitched down the full length of the boot makes it very durable and creates a cohesive look.
The combination of flexible elastic and glorious pull tab makes putting the boot on and taking off an absolute joy.
In looking at the Feelgrounds Chelsea, you can see the family resemblance to the Patrol series of boots. They use the same sole and similar vegan leather, but the vegan leather on Chelsea seems more refined. I gave the Patrol boot leather high praise in prior reviews, but the texturing and general feel of the leather in the Chelsea shows a marked improvement.
I believe that since the Patrol eventually had a Patrol Winter variant, it is a matter of time before a Waterproof Chelsea with the same waterproofing as the Patrol Winter will show up. That will be an excellent addition to the lineup.
As Feelgrounds is also improving and their products progress less-so in steps, but rather leaps and bounds, I am hopeful for a new tread design in future models that feature more open lugs for better traction and lighter weight. I would to see a heavy- duty winter boot with the same design philosophies are their other models.
Feelgrounds hits another homerun with their interpretation of the classic Chelsea boot. It improves on their prior Patrol boot in just about every single aspect from the vegan leather materials, the paneling, flexibility, and especially the pulltab. Feelgrounds continues to impress and this is their best product yet! They should be incredibly proud of this design.
If you wanna check out Feelgrounds, use my affiliate link and maybe they will send us more shoes and sandals to review for the community!
Disclosure: Feelgrounds sent us the Chelsea for free in exchange for an honest review.