Barefoot Shoes

Minimalist Military Combat Boot Mini-Mil from Belleville First Look

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 hi…

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! More photos:

By Dan

Dan Finkelstein blogs at [url=]My Name is Foxtrot[/url], which covers firearms and movies.

61 replies on “Minimalist Military Combat Boot Mini-Mil from Belleville First Look”

For a few years now, I’ve been looking for duty boots that are minimalist and are 670-1 compliant so I am looking forward to seeing a review on these boots! As much as I love my Danners and Rocky C4 Trainers, they do tend to screw me up as I almost exclusively wear barefoot and minimalist footwear.

These look interesting! Living in Nh means there are times and places where taller boots are good. So far my only “normal” pair of shoes other than VFF is my waterproof Hitech Magnum side zips. They don’t feel too bad but I wear them with no insole (or possibly just the insole sort of thing they came with which isn’t much). How does the sizing work? Looks like these will be an internet order I can’t try on first.
Thanks! AndyB, NH.

Looks good.
My biggest concern is the drainage holes and the nylon.

I’d like to find something that would also work for the winter and snow.

With some wool sock it might be fine, but I’d worry about wet feet…

They need to make the sage green color so they’ll be USAF compliant. We can’t wear the tan or black with our sage ABU’s.

I wish I knew about these a few months ago! I was looking for some minimalist boots for my hunting trip and I couldn’t find anything reasonable. I will have to add this to my growing wishlist of minimalist footwear.

The Magnum Cobra boots which you linked to weigh 21 oz (less than a pound and a half). Is that per shoe, or per pair? Just curious, because the Mini-Mils are explicitly specified as “less than 2 lbs” per pair.

I currently have no use for a minimalist boot, as I haven’t gone hunting in several years, but if I ever get back into it, or if I start doing Search and Rescue again I would look into these.

Awesome. Just in time too, my Oakley boots are coming apart. I just ordered a pair of Vivo Offroad Hi in black. But I don’t think they are what I want. Maybe they will exchange them for brown, and I’ll order these Bellevilles.

These look great. is ther a waterproof or insulated version for winter hiking? I spent way too much on hiking boots before I found the joy of less (heel) is more. would love a warm Minihike?

As major minimalist and now an EMT, I’ve been hoping to find a minimalist black boot. I’m stoked about this! Except… I don’t see women’s sizes… Men aren’t the only ones who need boots.

Chip, if you read the article it says they have sage and even links to them.

Val, I was worried about that myself, but I just looked and they go down to a size 3, so most women should be able to still get a pair.

I am so stoked to see these, my boots are in critical need of replacement and I was not looking forward to breaking in another pair of clunky boots. Now to just figure out or make a guess on what size to order, gah.

I agree with Chip. Make the Sage Green the USAF sage green and I’d buy a pair in a heartbeat! Michelle–they do have Sage but that is definitely not the same Sage the USAF wears so it is a no-go.

I would love to see a non-tactical boot built on that sole. There are those of us in colder climates still searching for a dedicated minimal boot for winter. I personally hate the adjustment my feet go through each year after being confined to foot coffins for 5 months out of the year

To those of us looking for sage green for the Air Force I called Belleville today and they said the sage boots are not available yet but you can preorder them. They also claim the sage green they use is authorized for the Air Force.

Dan, could you measure total sole thickness at the forefoot and heel?

If it’s thick it wont be flexible, and it looks pretty thick in the pictures (compared to vffs)…

Something like this with an all leather upper would be nice for rain and snow.

I agree with Jay – a minimalist sole with an all-leather upper would be great. I need all-leather uppers for abrasion and water resistance and protection of my feet and ankles, but hate the clunky thick sole of my Meindl hikers.

Anyone know the drop on the Nike combat boots? I have those already and they are just like the Nike Free shoes. Curious how they compare to these as far as the drop.

I am a Belleville native and am proud to see the Belleville Shoe Co. is one of the first military contractors to release a minimalistic combat boot. I can only hope they release a USMC version soon!

Emailed Belleville Shoe and they have no plans as of yet to release Mini-Mil in compliance with USMC dress regulations.

If I was still in the Army, I would definitely buy these boots. I’ve been out for 18 years now, but when I was in I would stretch my E-4’s budget to buy Corcoran II’s because they were the only thing I could find that would not hurt my ankles. These look completely awesome – I’m sure my feet would love them. I am a State Employee on a National Guard base, and live near an Air Force base, so I will be sure to mention these to the Soldiers I know who wear Vibrams and other minimalist shoes. I’m sure they will appreciate them.

I have been trying to find a good minimalist boot as well, since I do like to wear things other than VFFs & hope these fit the bill.

Since I wasn’t sure about sizing, I did email Belleville to ask if they had any comparisons they could give for size & this is what they said:

With regards to fit I am unable to give you a comparison against
another manufactures style as every manufacture uses different lasts and
even with in one manufacture different lasts are used for different styles.
What I can tell you is the in wear tests we have found that MiniMil runs
about a size smaller than what you would measure on a Brannock device (the
device found in most shoe stores.)

Got mine in. I wear a 41 in VFF, a 9 in Merrell barefoot trails, and a 42 in Vivo. I ordered a 8.5 in the Mini-Mil because I read the normal Belleville boots run as much as 2 sizes big. The toe box feels nice a roomy. My big toe almost touches the end of the boot. Trying to decide if I should get a 9 or not. They aren’t cramping my toes, but not sure after a long day if they will get snug on my feet.

Got my pair in the mail two days ago. An amazingly engineered boot. Very very robust.

They do run small though. I wear 41 VFF and 9 in Merrell and Vivo Barefoot. I ordered a 9.5 hoping to have extra room for thick winter socks… well right now I’m glad I ordered 9.5 because 9 would have been a disaster.

I’d order a full size up if I were you, I will for my next pair.

The slip resistance is great too… I work for a healthy grocery chain that is requiring slip resistant shoes now (gone are my days in toe shoes here). Walked through a bunch of puddles in our produce department today on a very slick painted floor and it was like any other surface.

I could do with a zero drop version myself but the 5mm drop isn’t as noticeable as it is on New Balance Minimus shoes… perhaps though flexible because the sole is stiff in some points as you’d expect from a combat boot.

Now here’s hoping they let me where these when I join the Reserves… unfortunately Canada is switching to a dark brown boot and Belleville has no plans to make one. Gonna have to talk to my cobbler about dying an Air Force pair I think.

The have also been very warm a few degrees below zero (celsius) as well with a pair of wool socks.

The toe while not steel, is very firm and thick.

I can’t believe I missed this post.

The black and tan ones look spiffy and 5mm drop is pretty insane since even Minimus MT10s have 4mm drop.

The midfoot section seems to have little tread though, and I am unsure as to the width. It seems they have a similar width to Merrell Trail soles.

However it is probably the first minimal shoe MADE IN THE USA!

Normally wear a size 13 in most footwear despite measuring as a size 12…

Ordered these in a 12 because sizing information says they run a size large… ended up returning them and requesting a size 14 and am happy with that! Who would have thought I’d have to go up 2 sizes from what was recommended?


My husband wants a pair of these after he gets home from an Army school. Thought I’d surprise him with them. He wears an 11.5R in Belleville combat boots, a 13 in Merrell Trail Gloves, and a 44 in KSOs. Can someone please recommend what size to order him in the Mini-Mil? Thanks!!

I have these in black, been wearing for a short while now I can say they are comfortable and sturdy with plenty of toe box room. I usually wear a 10/43 but ordered these in 11. I wear thicker wool socks with them as planned so it worked out for me. Highly recommended!

Sytera: I wear a standard Belleville hot weather at 10.5, and found that 10.5 is exactly the right size in these as well.

Bought a black pair for civilian wear and I love ’em so far. If they don’t come out with a USMC-brown, I’m seriously considering buying a pair of the sand tan ones and finding a boot shop to dye them.

Well I got my pair in today, they are definetly the correct sage green. I wear a size 6W womens, so I ordered a size 4W figuring it’d be plenty big, nope. It’s too small, so now I need to exchange them and decide if I want to go with the 4.5W or the 5W.

I recently purchased a pair of these. I’m normally a EE wide but I’d read that they are very wide as is so I ordered the mediums. Also they are sized off of a running shoe as opposed to a typical military boot, so get your running shoe size. Anyway they fit great and there’s still more than enough space in the toe box for my toes to spread out. I made these my everyday boot and I did wear them up to recon a training site here in Utah with a ton of snow. They kept my feet dry and with the lightweight pair of FIT wool socks I was plenty warm. They aren’t great though if you’re doing a lot of standing around in the cold, but if you’re running around, they are great. Also the sole is super grippy, even on ice. I was amazed at that. And lastly the heel/ankle support is just a tad stiff in the break in period but it gets comfy in no time and you tend to love the added support, especially when doing some light rucking. They really aren’t designed for heavy rucking. But I love my pair and I plan on getting another pair to trade off with soon.

Are they 100% synthetic, cruelty free (no animal products)?
If so, I want to buy a few pair. I won’t wear an abused & murdered animal.

These fit similar the merrell sneakers of the same size. These are pretty decent boots depending on if the break in or not. I never had to break in a pair of shoes. The heel counter is very stiff and lined with leather. The first time I wore these was with think shorts and it was a painful experience. With thicker socks it’s better but the heel counter rubs below the outside ankle bone.

Why can’t they just go 0mm drop and no ankle support? That is what minimalist is all about. I want to strengthen my feet and ankles so that I am strong, flexible and agile enough to avoid rolling my ankles on my own. What I don’t need are boots that turn my feet into clunky stumps.

Sadly, my job requires steel-toe and I imagine it is tough to put one onto a very thin sole because it seems no companies are daring to even try.

My priorities in a boot right now, are to retain as much of the VFF feel as I can, while giving me more protection against freezing winters, and large thorns and thistles in some of the fields around here. My VFF are great shoes, but big thorns can be a problem, and I can’t handle standing around in snow for hours with them. So, I am looking for something that is much more foot-friendly then a heavy boot, but I’m looking for a bit more protection then the Vibrams offer for hiking, climbing, etc.

I’m also curious about the leather in these. I didn’t read what type of leather was used.

I am a Firefighter and I would absolutely love to buy a pair of these but my station boots must have a steel or composite toe! 🙁

I got the Mini-Mil boots as the Nike SFB had not traction in the wet.
While they are meant to be 1mm higher than the SFB they feel flat which is a positive, I don’t mind the ankle support in the boot when I’m wearing my duty-gear (belt and vest) or going a pack.

Like all of you seem to suggest why cant we get a 0mm drop Mil spec boot with 2 to 4mm Cush (with or without a stitched in liner) and 1/2 sizes to fit. There should be enough of us out there.

What I do need is some socks with cushioning to break these in for a 4 day assessment. I currently wear the Nike SFB socks which are great in the summer they just don’t cushion my foot for my 8k runs with light pack.

I currently run in the Merrell Road Glove 2 which has 4mm cushion but it kills my shins swapping between the two.

I loved them…..once completely broken in….they are horrible!!!! I am deployed and all I do is walk….and the back of my anckle is being distroyed!!!! The back right above the swade seems to curl up and cuts in to the back of my anckle…yes I do wear nice thik socks. Very disappointed!!they were great as long as you don’t put massive amount of miles on them….nothing worse than painful boots when you live on your feet.
Had to pull out my backup boots…. Bellvile should have field tested these before taken our money, I can’t afford buying boots all the time!

After being out of my Danner Strikers for 5 weeks they hurt my feet even sitting down? I didn’t know what was going on so I tried these mini-mil whatevers and I’ll never go back even though I have to use my own money for them. They are a huge leap in the right direction, but probably not the last step for me. I would take a polishable sandal. Until then, the ankle support seems to overdo it. Why would God Almighty in all his wisdom make us with fully functioning ankles just so we can immobilize them and overburden our knees? But anywho, these are the best there are so far for me.

Has anyone stumbled on more moots like this, but also has a composite safety toe? These boots are a step in the right directly, but the majority of people buying are in the military, police, etc….we have safety requirements like a composite safety toe. Perhaps someone has come up with something to fill the gap???? Thank you!

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