Barefoot Shoes

OTZ Troop Boot Review

It is winter time. For some of us that means it is time to bust out the winter boots and slosh our way through the winter months. I recently picked up the OTZ Troop Boot a winter weather friendly minimalist boot. I thought I would share with you

In the minimalist world there are very few winter shoe options. Usually I need some sort of winter boot in order to make it through the wet, muddy and cold Seattle winters. For awhile now I have been using my Vibram FiveFingers Bormio boots because it was one of the best minimalist options out there for cold weather environments. On a whim I decided to buy the Oetzi3300 Troop Boots, which amounts to a winter weather friendly minimalist boot, to see how they would perform against the muddy, wet, and cold conditions of Seattle.

Find out more about the Troop Boot and to see if it’s a good winter minimalist boot for you, keep reading after the jump! (Photos, video, and a coupon code for 20% off!)

About the company

We have never really talked about the Oetzi3300 brand on BirthdayShoes before. Oetzi3300 was formed back in 2009 by Ludo Malmoux. The company is named after Oetzi the oldest human ever discovered. He was frozen solid in ice around the year 3300 B.C. When people uncovered his body they found that he was so well preserved in the ice that his clothing and shoes were still intact. Inspired by the simple and functional design of Oetzi’s shoes, Ludo set out to re-think these basic essentials from the past in a fresh and unique way.

Some of the unique things about OTZShoes shoes are that they stitch the upper of the shoe down on top of the sole of the shoe. They use a minimal amount of glue to hold down any loose strings but essentially they removed all the glue that most shoe designers use to affix the upper and sole together. They often come with a built in Lycra Sock Membrane that provides some warmth and cushioning under the feet.

Lastly, every pair comes with its own cork footbed. Oestzi makes two different versions of footbeds the CorkFit and the CorkLite. After you wear them around for awhile they are supposed to conform to the shape of your feet like a pair of Birkenstocks. Luckily for us minimalist fans you can remove the cork footbed from the shoe as with the corkbed, the shoes are a bit hard-soled and the heel on the corkbed is elevated. (Read more about their Cork footbeds here.)

The Boot Styling and Construction

Front View of the Oetzi3300 Troop Boot

The styling of the Troop Boot is based on various military boots that you may have seen before. This could be good or bad depending on your taste in footwear. I like the style. It reminds me of something that you would see grunge rockers wearing back in the ’90s. The boots look just as good in a pair of ripped up jeans as they would in a pair of Khaki pants. I wore them with a flannel jacket yesterday and I felt like I was channeling Kurt Cobain.

The sole of the boot is quite minimal. I would say it is comparable to the Bikila LS sole or the KSO Trek sole in Vibram FiveFingers. The sole is 5mm thick in total. There is also a Lycra Sock Membrane that is 2mm thick but this is compressed under your body weight to almost nothing. In total from ground to foot you are looking at 7mm of uncompressed material.

The Lycra Sock Membrane has a hydra-guard layer and is sewn into the boot and helps to keep your foot dry and warm while adding a bit of cushioning to the shoe. Personally, I did not think I would like the sock membrane when I first read about it. After wearing it, I ended up really liking it. I find it to be soft against the skin and it makes for wearing the boot without socks more pleasurable. It also does an excellent job of keeping your foot dry and warm.

The Troop Boot comes with the CorkFit footbed. The company says that the more you wear it the more you will compress the cork to the shape of your foot. It takes a week or two for the cork footbed to conform to the shape of your foot. Once it does conform, it is supposed to be quite comfortable.

I tried the boot on once with the footbed inside. After about three minutes I ended up taking it out of the boot. The CorkFit footbed is not zero drop and I could not get used to an elevated heel, so I ended up taking it out. I can’t speak for how comfortable they would be once they are broken in.

One of the most important aspect of a minimalist shoe for me is that is has a zero drop heel. Anything more then 2mm and my knees start to hurt when I stand in one place for any period of time. I think most minimalist shoe fans will end up taking the cork footbed out of the Troop Boot, as well, so keep in mind all of my observations about the boot were made without the cork footbed inside.

The toe box on the Oetzi Troop Boots is quite wide. I have tried the Merrell Barefoots and VIVO BAREFOOT and both of those brands feel too narrow on my feet. I would say the OTZShoes toe box is somewhere between the Vivo Barefoot and Stem Footwear in size. Not too small but just large enough for you to be able to wiggle and curl your toes around without feeling cramped. I could wear my Correct Toes inside the boots without feeling cramped at all.

The Troop Boots Performance

Front View of the OTZShoes Troop Boot with tucked in Khakis

I love wearing this boot. It takes awhile to strap yourself in but once you do you should be ready to face anything winter might throw at you. You can even tuck your pants in to the boot military style to keep your pant legs dry while you are out and about. The grip on the sole of the boot does well on wet pavement and other wet surfaces. I find it does a better job gripping on wet surfaces than the VFF Bormio boot does with the Trek sole. I did not have any snow or ice around to test it on so I can’t speak to how well it would work in those conditions. (I will update once I get some icy/snowy weather)

The boot is smartly designed minimizing the amount of seams and favoring creases/folds that help keep you dry in wet conditions. I was able to walk around in extremely wet weather for extended periods of time without getting my feet wet at all. I mucked about in the mud in the back yard for two or three hours doing yard work and my feet were cozy and dry the entire time. To clean them off I just wiped off the mud and let them dry. Then I cleaned them with a little water and saddle soap and they were as good as new.

Now that is one flexable boot. (Without the CorkFit Footbed Inside)

The ground feel is nice in this boot. Often with winter boots you sacrifice ground feel with thick inflexible soles. While this will not have the same ground feel as the Vibram FiveFingers KSO you can feel the variations in the pavement or the little rocks under your foot as you walk. It is fantastic to finally have a winter boot with some ground feeling.

What I would change

The boot does take a while to lace up and get the fit right. In some styles of boots they replace the top few eyelets with hooks so you can quickly lace up the top part of the boot. This might be a nice addition in a future version of the boot.

Currently, the Lycra sock membrane is permanently sewn inside of the boot. It would be nice if you could take the Lycra sock membrane out of the boot in order to wash it. Not sure how they would make it removable and still have it be secure inside the boot.

Also, I can’t get used to the CorkFit footbed. I just find it to be too thick and the heel drop is just too much for me to feel comfortable when wearing it. I would love a minimalist cork footbed option. If they could design a thin zero drop cork foot bed with the antimicrobial properties that cork naturally provides, that would be fantastic. The owner mentioned this is something they are working on developing but there is no estimate on when it might be ready to bring to market.

A note about sizing: I normally wear a 10.5 but their sizing chart says I should wear either a 10 (43 euro) or 11 (44 euro). Their sizes run in whole sizes without half size options. Meaning if you wear a half size, you may want to size up or down depending on what type of fit you want. I wish they had half sizes available, it would allow some people to get a more precise fit.

Video Review

Along with the written review I made a short video review of the OTZShoes Troop Boot(4:27).

Final Thoughts

The OTZShoes Troop Boot is in my opinion one of the first truly successful winter minimalist boots on the market. There have been others out there but I either found them to be too narrow, the sole too thick, or they were not weather proof enough. The Troop Boot though has a minimal sole (when you take the footbed out) with a wide natural fit that should be able to handle any type of weather you may want to throw at it. What more could you want in a pair of winter boots?

I ordered a size 44 in the Troop Boot. I personally prefer a looser fit in winter boots. If you want to wear the boots with thicker wool socks I might suggest you size up as well. For example if you normally wear a 43 in VFF then I would go with a 44. You can see the Oetzi330 size chart here.

You can order them from the Oetzi website. I talked to Ludo and he set up a special code for our readers. If you enter the code ?bdayshoes? with no quotes at checkout then you can get 20% off your purchase! The code should should be active till the end February of 2012.

Questions or comments? Let me know!

By Robert

Robert Barr resides in Woodinville Washington. He is an avid FiveFingers enthusiast who enjoys writing about his experiences in minimalist footwear. After graduating from the University of Washington with a BFA in Photography he started [url=]Washington Home Tours LLC[/url] a local real estate photography company. He also enjoys being a [url=]Scentsy[/url] consultant. At the moment his favorite pair of FiveFingers are his Bormio boots. Get to know Robert better via [url=]his interview here[/url].

28 replies on “OTZ Troop Boot Review”

The sole looks like it would wear through very quickly. I have been looking for a good minimalist boot for winter and can’t decide between this and the vivo barefoot off roads that have the a 5mm sole, but significantly more tread. I am reluctant to spend $200+ dollars on a shoe if the sole is to wear out in a season or two. Any thoughts on tread durability?

i’ve been waiting for a minimalist boot option for a while. is there anything else besides the bormios and these?

these look cool but the price is a bit high.

I have been wearing these around for awhile now on a regular basis. I have noticed no real wear in the tread on the sole of the shoe. The sole also does an excellent job at gripping the wet parking lots here in Seattle. I have not had any slipping with the sole since I have been using them. I have been impressed with the overall construction quality of the pair of boots I bought. The way they stitched the upper to the sole is quite ingenious in my opinion.

They are normally $215 on the website. With the 20% coupon code you save $43 which brings the price down to $172 That is not a unreasonable amount to pay for a good pair of winter boots. If you have winter weather where you live and really need a good pair of warm/dry boots then it could be worth the investment.

thanks for the advice. i’ve been wanting a pair of boots and these seem perfect. mainly because i didn’t really fancy the vibram bormio.

fyi Feelmax is planning to make a new boot soon. They had a fire at their factory so we have not seen any new feelmax shoes this year.

re Oetzi3300

Anyone try their other shoes?

These are very similar to boots that I modified after falling in love with VFF and minimalist shoes. I had an old pair of Red Wing boots that I stopped wearing because of the huge heel. I took them to a local shoe repair shop and had the sole, shank, and everything else removed. Vibram Newporter soles were then stitched on. I love wearing them in the winter and for work now and the modifications only cost around $50. Any shoe repair store can make this conversion for you. I’ll post pics in the forum section.

i talked to them about sizing before, my foots is slightly too large for their largest size, this is a common and infuriating problem in the minimalist world. there are scant few (i would say NONE) healthy shoes that actually look fashionable. BS.

It’s a pity that Feelmax doesn’t produce shoes anymore. I still have a pair of Feelmax Kuuvas, and those are really, really minimal, lightweight, waterproof and great winter boots.
They only have two slight downsides: The color isn’t black, and the sole is the typical Feelmax sole. Which is great in general, but doesn’t offer very much grip.

I hate HATE hate these boots. They hugged my feet to a painful degree (a feature, as explained when I returned them, since they should be allowed to stretch to conform better to the individual).

With the cork sole removed there were too many exposed stitches – even with socks you could feel them.

I never wore them out of the house, but in house ground feel was poor compared to VFF Treks or Vivobarefoot Lesotho and Dharma…

I did not consider the outsole to be flexible, it had a very limited range of movement/flex – what you see pictured above is a generous representation, but not the whole story. As you’ll see below in my description of the Oetzi 300GMS, flexing the sole will actually result in “popping” noises that are likely indicative of the lack of flex designed into the product.

In fact, I’ve been so vocally opposed to these as minimalist footwear, the owner reached out to me to send me a sample of the newer designs, the 300GMS. Those feel much improved over the design of the Troop boots that I tested out last year, but still not something I endorse.

Here’s my personal review of those:

I’d have to say that they are immensely improved over the older leather models that I had tried of Oetzi3300, but still far below the standards I look for in my footwear.

The insole is still way too much for me, I personally can not be comfortable with any arch support or heel rise after spending so much time barefoot or in minimalist footwear. I will admit the tactile sensation is quite pleasing when standing on cork and understand why many would be happy with it, but for someone that appreciates ground feel it’s simply a no go.

Fitment is actually close to perfect and yet far from it at the same time. With the insole in, the shoe is secure around the ankle but ever so slightly confining around the toes (and that’s a compliment when you consider that my feet are quite wide). With the insole removed, my toes can splay quite well, but without the heel rise pushing up the ankle against the upper, it becomes so loose as to impart a feeling of wearing bags on my feet and the lack of
supporting structure makes the shoes aesthetically look worse as the canvas sags down.

I will say that a size 46 in these has a toebox with a level of comfort for my feet similar to a size 47 in most Vivo Barefoot shoes that I’ve worn… so I’m very satisified by that. With the insole removed, the exposed stitching would make it uncomfortable to wear sockless for any length of time. As for flexibility of the sole, it does seem better than what I remember from the older models, but not at the level of more minimalist shoes. It was also disconcerting when I went to test out flexing them and heard a loud pop – was that a stitch popping or the sole itself cracking, I don’t know but it occurred on both shoes. The stitching is exposed in the bottom of the sole and is extensive from the outer edges to the middle of the foot.

I’ll wear them out a bit to give them a fair chance… but based on my initial impressions, I still am leaning towards the not being appropriate casual wear for anyone that is hardcore into a minimalist or barefoot lifestyle.

@Jay I have bought a few of their other shoes and I will be doing a comparative review at some point in time. Something that talks about the similarities/differences and which one is the best minimalist option for casual/dressy wear.

Last year I searched long and hard for a winter boot in Chicago for trails or street wear. I found the best option was the terra plana Franklins. Completely waterproff and when coupled with a poly liner and a fleece sock it will stay warm all day. When there is snow on the trails I use them with a lightweight wraparound boot snow cleat and gators. Ive gone on extended primitive winter hikes and it is completely warm.


Oh, that’s good to hear.
Due to the moderated comments I didn’t see your post before posting my comment..

I got through last winter in New York City wearing the Vivobarefoot Aqueous. Mid-rise boot. Zero drop. Decent ground feel. 100% waterproof. Not cheap, but should last multiple seasons.

A good winter option to consider.

Hi, I’m having a hard time finding a minimalist winter shoe in a larger size. I usually wear a size 14 USA (vivobarefoot size 48/49). I’m looking for something other than five fingers. Anyone know of anything?

Do they come in brown? These would be quite an improvement over my Army boots (aka, the toe killers) and look to be the right height and of a moderate style.

Love these boots. Thank you kindly for the recommendation and the discount code (I used it a couple of months ago). I would agree with Steven Beckerman that going sockless with the footbeds removed isn’t advisable due to the stitching in the liner. However, this hasn’t been a problem for me because I wear socks to have warm feet, plus my feet eventually start to smell badly if I don’t wear socks. Maybe wearing socks isn’t hardcore minimalist, but that’s not my motivation. The boots have a flexible zero-drop sole that feels good to me. I happen to like the look, but taste is subjective. But where else can one get a healthy-for-your-feet boot that has some street style to it? Maybe you can but I think the Oetzi is unique in this respect.

Oh the sole is wearing very well for me, too. The TPU-injected outsole sole is showing very little signs of wear after nearly two months of frequent use.

On a tip from a reviewer, I got some bungee laces and tie them up halfway. This turns the boots into slipons, which is very convenient.

If they aren’t going to offer them in sage green suede, then they aren’t really trying. Nice boot, that I won’t be purchasing.

I don’t have a car, so I do a lot of walking. I’ve been wearing Vivobarefoot shoes, but I will have the soles worn clean off in under 8 months because of the extensive amount of walking I do, and they’re not able to be resoled. Do you have any knowledge as to whether these would be able to be resoled/repaired by a cobbler? I don’t mind spending a lot of $$ on good-quality shoes, but since I know they will get extensive use from me, I’d like to know that I won’t be stuck trashing them in only a few months. I’m looking to switch to a good-quality barefoot-style shoe that’s able to be repaired when needed. Do you have any further input or thoughts on this? Thanks.

I don’t have a car, so I do a lot of walking. I’ve been wearing Vivobarefoot shoes, but I will have the soles worn clean off in under 8 months because of the extensive amount of walking I do, and they’re not able to be resoled. Do you have any knowledge as to whether these would be able to be resoled/repaired by a cobbler? I don’t mind spending a lot of $$ on good-quality shoes, but since I know they will get extensive use from me, I’d like to know that I won’t be stuck trashing them in only a few months. I’m looking to switch to a good-quality barefoot-style shoe that’s able to be repaired when needed. Do you have any further input or thoughts on this? Thanks.

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