The Feelgrounds Patrol Winter waterproof boot is an attractive, fleece-lined cold-weather boot that attempts to bring the new shoe company to the next level in terms of design and functionality. Does it succeed? Read on for my review of the Feelgrounds Patrol Winter~
From the Manufacturer
The Patrol Winter unites barefoot functionality and timeless boot design. Its animal-free materials keep your feet warm and dry while the sole pattern is made for maximum traction. Waterproof, snowproof, winterproof. Excellent for cold days.
This Patrol Winter is an improved version compared to last year’s model. The new Patrol Winter has a much more flexible upper and shorter laces.
Correct sizing, relatively wide platform/toebox. Template PDFs available on manufacturer website.
Feelgrounds introduced a new sole design and pattern for the Patrol Winter Boot. Prior soles from the company were on the gummier side and featured shallow lugs with street-ready traction. Those were comfortable soles for walking around in spring-to-fall, but Feelgrounds had yet to release a true winter-ready boot: enter the Patrol Winter. The sole of the Patrol Winter has deep lugs for tackling snow and mud. Its tread pattern features orientation-opposed triangles and with a perimeter of square patterns along the edges of the boot.
The tread pattern does a good job with light snow and mud, complementing its winter-focused design. Overall, these lugs are gritty and are wonderful in light snow, slush and mud. Even after rain froze over during a particularly dynamic weekend in Boston, I felt more confident on streets of ice than most of my friends, thanks to the lug design and the dexterity advantage I had with a slightly thinner sole.
Like other Feelgrounds soles, there are small dimples on top of the lugs that provide a whisper of extra traction and help flow snow, water, dirt, etc. from the surface of each lug. These will eventually wear out, but they are a good inclusion. 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 a more open perimeter on the sole will expel water, snow, slush, and mud more readily. In addition, the triangle lugs are good for traction overall. 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 so narrow, making it easy for ice and mud to get trapped and diminish the overall traction of the boot once the weather takes a turn for the worst.
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 the ones in my Original Knit everyday shoe and the sole is more durable as a result. Feelgrounds revised their leisure soles for more durability last year, but they still retained that slightly gummy feel; this Winter Patrol also has a slightly gummy density to it and it provides good grip on smooth surfaces.
In terms of stack height, the Patrol Winter is on the thicker side of minimalist boots. It is roughly 4mm thicker than the Xeroshoes Alpine winter boot and slightly more than double the stack height of the Feelmax Kuuva 5. That being said, the lugs are deeper and more capable than either of the aforementioned boots. If you are used to more traditional winter boots, the Feelgrounds Patrol Winter will still be thinner and lighter than what you are used to, but it is on the slightly thicker side of what can be considered the minimalist shoe market.
One thing that is certainly minimalist about the Patrol Winter is its anatomically correct, zero drop, and wide toebox. For me, this is just roomy enough for my very 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. 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 and Materials
Feelgrounds designs tend to lean more towards easygoing and light, and this is an attractive boot overall. The Patrol Winter has a seamless design that appears flexible and ready for action. In the black vegan leather, it has a slight rock band combat boot vibe that I am a big fan of. This is certainly not a chunky winter boot. In fact, while the sole of the Patrol Winter is a bit on the thicker side of minimalist waterproof boots, the actual aesthetics of the boot looks so light and understated, even when compared to boots with thinner and more flexible soles.
This is actually a bit of an accomplishment in terms of design. I find that this provides a great transition between standard winter boots and minimalist benefits; this is a boot that can be enjoyed by everyone.
There is a full layer of fleece throughout the interior, a plush collar at the top of the ankle, and perhaps the most minimalist pull I have ever seen. Like their lifestyle shoes, the Feelgrounds logo is tastefully embossed on the heel in a vertical orientation.
A great feature is the subtle toe guard on the Patrol Winter. I always find that the first thing that happens to all of my boots is the toe gets scuffed up and I just have to live with it. With leather boots, I can always add a layer of oil and wax to hide the scuffs, but it would be nice to not scuff things up in the first place. The Patrol Winter has a raised section at the front of the shoe that rises a bit from the rest of the sole to protect the ever-so-scuffable toe area. Again, it is a subtle bit of sole material, but it goes 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. The toe guard has a nice diamond pattern to hide any marks you may make in your adventures.
I have to talk about getting the Patrol Winter on and off.
Its pull tab is not a loop, it is a literal tab of vegan leather and it is far too short to get a good capture with your finger and thumb. Even more perplexing is its location, the bottom of the cowl of the boot, where it is not incredibly effective at helping you get the boot on.
The laces have standard reinforced lace holes throughout the entire length of the boot. There is no half-exposed metal hook on the last row or two rows of lacing. If you are an impatient person, like me, then getting the boot on and off will take a little more time that some other winter boots. Naturally, one can say that I could just grow up and unlace a few layers of lacing to put the boot on, but New England winters will sometimes require frequent boot wear and having some hooks for ease of putting on and taking off my boots would go a long way in making wearing the Patrol Winter in true winter adventures more enjoyable. Once the boot is on, things are fantastic and having full lace holes actually helps keeps laces tied longer and tighter as well as assist in the longevity of the laces themselves. There is a tradeoff, but for a true winter boot, having hooks at the top of the laces can make a big difference in the experience.
Let’s talk about the vegan leather: I believe most folks will be divided on this subject. If you want vegan leather, this is an excellent vegan leather. It has a nice texture, is very durable, and looks great. That being said, if you enjoy oiling and waxing true leather and developing a patina, then vegan leather is not for you. Overall, the materials for the uppers are fantastic and compared to other vegan leather, the Patrol Winter is among the best in terms of aesthetics and durability.
Overall, the Patrol Winter is a great looking boot that somewhat hides its excellent features and capabilities in casual clothing. There are numerous smart design choices that give it a nice aesthetic, but I do wish that the design dipped a bit into the chunky nature of other winter boots and had metal hooks at the top of the laces for ease of ingress and egress as well as a more substantial pull tab for the same purposes.
Two of the most important aspect of a winter boot are its warmth and waterproofing. With the Patrol Winter, it excels at both. While I did mention that the stack height is a big on the thicker side of minimalist boots, this works in the Patrol Winter’s favor in terms of warmth. Raising the feet from the ground a bit more makes a big difference in terms of insulation and the fleece is fantastic. Encasing the entire interior of the boot the fleece lining is warm, easy to maintain, feels great, and comfortable. There is even fleece on the inside of the tongue, which is gusseted. A gusseted tongue means that the tongue connected to the rest of the shoe for some of its length with some folded sections to maintain waterproofing and prevent debris from getting into the shoe. Basically, the tongue is incorporated into the uppers to an extent.
In terms of waterproofing, I spent a few days hiking, shoveling snow, tubing and sledding, and stood in a few puddles and I can say that the waterproof membrane is very effective at keeping my feet dry. In terms of traction, I had no issues climbing hills to sled and walking around town. While the lugs are somewhat closely spaced together, I never felt like that hindered the capabilities of the shoes too much, though I do wish that it is easier to move slush and snow out from the lugs a little bit better to make the shoes even more capable.
The removable insoles are felt and this is a very comfortable material that adds to the warmth of the boot. You can remove the insoles to expand the interior space of the boot. I find that the use of felt is not only a nice material in terms of looks and feel, but felt can handle more repeated compression than foam, so these insoles should last much longer than your typical insoles.
Feelgrounds is still a new company to me, but they continue to innovate with attractive models throughout the year. Better yet, they swiftly update and improve upon designs according to customer feedback. This is actually the second version of the Patrol with new uppers and other updates. All of these improvements happened in less than a year of the release of the prior model. I must applaud Feelgrounds for their speed and willingness to update according to consumer needs.
Here’s hoping that they hear my wish list!
For version 3, I would love to see metal hooks for ease of use, a true heel tab that is anchored higher on the boot, some new colors (as always!) and a more open lug design. Another wish list item, a real leather, but that’s just my preference.
Feelgrounds continues to impress with new models that fulfill a niche in their lineup. With the Patrol Winter, they have a genuine waterproof winter boot that is capable, incredibly warm and comfortable, and looks great. If you are in the market for a hip boot that will keep you warm and dry this winter, definitely check them out!
If you wanna check out Feelgrounds, use my affiliate link and maybe they will send me more shoes and sandals to review for the community!
Full Disclosure: Feelgrounds sent me the Patrol Winter for free in exchange for an honest review.
By the way, this review marks my tenth year as a shoe reviewer! What an adventure it has been! I am so happy to be part of this great community!