Barefoot Shoes

Belleville Mini-Mil Minimalist Boot Review

When the UPS guy dropped of the box of the Mini Mil boots by Belleville I could hardly contain my joy. I talked about these boots a little while ago and really hoped they would meet the need for boot with more protection while still being quite minimal…

When the UPS guy dropped of the box of the Mini Mil boots by Belleville I could hardly contain my joy. I talked about these boots a little while ago and really hoped they would meet the need for boot with more protection while still being quite minimal. Read on for my review!

The Boots

When I took the boots out of the box I was surprised at how light they were. The pair of Mini Mils seemed to weigh as much as just one of my clunky old Magnum boots. On the surface the boots looked great; very similar to the way most tactical boots look. The laces are made of the thicker para-cord type material and the eyelets on the boots are the traditional holes instead of the hooks. The wide toe box was very room without looking super wide.
I wasted no time and started testing the boots the first night they arrived. I had planned on attending my regular Crossfit workout and decided to wear the boots. I knew this was a little a bit of gamble but I figured this was any easy way to put the boots through their paces. Despite a few strange looks from my gym friends, the boots performed surprisingly well. My workout included lots of jumping around as well as quite a bit of full body movements. I had feared some blisters, but my feet were just fine. I had planned a trip up to the local Southern California mountains (Big Bear) and there was a good dusting of snow from the previous week’s weather. I know that these boots aren’t water proof, so I hit them with a light spraying of scotch guard and headed up the mountain. The weather was in the 30s during the day and low 20s and teens in the evening. I donned some thick socks and romped around in the snow. My feet stayed warm and dry with no snow sneaking in at all; another performance test passed.
I wore the Mini Mil boots everywhere. The tan color pairs well with jeans and I got a ton of compliments. The black boots have a bit more of a formalized look with a shiny leather that you can shine up; perfect for those in law enforcement as a duty boot. I wear a size 11 in boots, and the Mini Mils definitely run true to size. There is a whole lot to like about the Mini Mils, but I did have a few things that I would have preferred to be a little different. These boots are meant to be durable and with that comes some trade offs. The ground feel is better than regular tennis shoes, but I still had hoped for a little more. For a boot, it is the best the ground feel I’ve ever seen! But compared to most minimalist shoes (like my beloved Run Amocs) there was not that same deep connection with the earth to feel every pebble. For the first few weeks of wearing the boot I had two annoying hot spots on the outer edge of both of my heel bones. This appeared to be due to the heel cup, which holds the heel in well most of the time, but also seems to rub. As the boots “broke in” a bit, this went away. Now, I have no hotspots at all the boots feel like second nature. These boots are loaded with great features and all of them play a part in making a great minimalist boot. The added ankle support seemed fitting, and I could see how it would be a necessity when carrying heavy loads. It felt a pinch strange on the first wear, but after a short time I didn’t even notice it. The 5mm drop in the sole is hardly noticeable, and basically feels like a standard zero drop. Lastly, the edge of the toe feels quite firm (not steel toe, but definitely protective) yet still flexible. I found this balance to be great for still being able to wiggle my big toe, and having some protection. Besides those two tiny complaints I really love these boots. The Mini Mils will be my first choice for the range, hunting, or any place that requires a little extra protection. I know Belleville is considering making a Goretex version, and be sure to sound off in the comments section if that is a product you’d like to see. You can pick a pair of the Mini Mils for $156 on their official site, but I’ve seen them for as low as $120 at Ranger Joe’s.

By Dan

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

43 replies on “Belleville Mini-Mil Minimalist Boot Review”

Sizing is still a big question (I hate returning things). I wear a 42 in VFF Trek LS and a 10 in Hi tech Magnums (which are the only other non-toe shoe that fits comfortably now). It is heartening to hear that they can be water resistant since I live in NH and most winters we get a lot of snow and rain and ice (much less this year though).
I’d be interested to hear how they stand up to heavy use, how quickly they wear. I can sometimes wear out a pair of HiTech Magnums in a season or two (when I slip only to realize all the tread is worn off!).
Thanks for the review, AndyB, NH.

How wide are they though? (in comparison to Merrells /Vivobarefoot Offroad Hi which both run narrow, or NB Minimus Zero 4E which is about as wide as VFFs)

You wrote “very roomy”…

I like that they stayed waterproof.

Thanks for the review!

– A C C

These are great looking boots.

My family and I will soon be moving to the country and will have lots of woods and hiking trails available. You mentioned romping around in the snow, but were you able to test the traction in wet/muddy conditions or on steep terrain?

I was considering the new Otz boots, but at over $200, they are out of my price comfort zone. The 120-150 range is much more palatable.

Womens? =(

I’m an EMT and I’m on the techincal rescue team for Search & Rescue. The only brand I’ve found that has minimalist boots for women is Vivobarefoot. But I’d like to see more for the ladies! We’re pretty badass if you didn’t know =)

Now, hopefully someone will come out with minimalist safety-toe shoes/boots. This is a step in the right direction…

Yeah, not so sure these would fly on the flightline or the boat. It’s gotta be a matter of time though till something like this gets approved – especially with the adoption of minimalist shoes during PT for us squids.

I would hit “order” on a Goretex version of these so fast it would break my keyboard. These look perfect for hunting and general winter wear.

I’ve been contemplating getting a pair of these as motorcycle boots. Every other riding boot has a thick heel and narrow toe box. If anyone could give some feedback on motorcycle use that would be great!

I have the black boots and wear them in a government setting. I’ve had them for over a month now.

I previously was squeaking by our uniform regs with wearing Merrell Tough Gloves in a size 13.

I had to order a 14 Wide in these boots to accomodate my toes. Because they are thick and stiff uppers, they feel narrower than a size 12 Soft Star moccasin, although they are longer.

Ground feel is acceptable. These boots are not overly flexible, but not super stiff either (they do not have a shank, but they do have enough metal on them to set off a metal detector).

Since someone asked, there is no arch support.

I got this boot for winter as a compromise between minimalism and grip/waterproofness.

Right now I’m very happy with it. Of course it can’t compete in minimalness with my favourite shoe ( the allrounder, the transition is waterproof and looks cool, but I needed a bit more grip for the winter) but it’s really flexible and the toebox is much roomier than I expected.

YEAH Belleville! I’ve been wanting a minimal LE boot forever! These will be my next purchase. Please make some Gore-tex ones, that would truly be a revolutionary breakthrough for minimalists!

These boots are exceptional. They are very slip resistant especially with wet conditions, minus ice.

Make sure you order wide. And i didn’t find them true to size. If you are 9 in Vivo Barefoot or 42 in VFF order 9.5 or 10.

I hope belleville expands on these. They are a perfecg balance between all benefitz of a barefoot shoe and benefits of a combat boot.

They do need some breaking in.

Dark brown version would be great.

They also do well so far with Canadian winters.

Love these boots, I have them in black. I wear a 43 in VFF and found the 10’s to fit well as I use them for general use, also outdoor and winter use where I wear wool socks. Plenty of room and nice stability as it’s a tall full lace boot.

Regarding motorcycle use… I have worn these because I prefer them to my thick heavy/bulky motorcycle boots but since these are not a motosport boot they do not offer up much protection for that category. They are tall but not thick with armor like a ms specific boot.

Regarding LEO use… when I was in these would have passed for a duty boot, not while in the academy probably but once out of the academy for a daily buty boot they should be fine depending on how particular your Sgt is.

In the end I’m happy with them and would buy again.

I have two pair of these, one in tan one black, and they are wonderful! I would love to have Coyote Brown with Gore Tex obviously. Do it!!

They do run a whole size small as others have said. If you have hobbit feet…the wide is plenty for you for a change. I wear 9.5 4E or 42 in vff/feelmax and 10.5 wide is great.

I wore these for the second half of my last deployment to the middle east from which I have recently returned. (I had a pair sent over in Sep 12 as soon as they were released) In my role I found these boots second to none, and I have worn many differnt style of boots operating in many different settings!!. They are by far the best combat boot I have worn to stay connected to the terrain of all categories and to carry out missions of any objective, they are light, dry quick, provide just enough support and are put together strong. Although it recommends against using them for load bearing activites, I had no problem using them under loads of 100lbs plus over prolonged duration. Recommend these for every soldier who already trains and operates in barefoot or minimalist footwear. Would like to see a gore tex variation for the colder months in the mountains over there.

I emailed them about a waterproof version in November or so, and was let down politely. Maybe these comments will prompt a re-thinking.

I got Gore Tex socks in the event I need to keep my feet dry, but that is not the best solution obviously. Oh and if you make them closer to where the the market is to buy them it would not take a half a year or more to be more responsive to the needs of your customers, and the transportation costs would not be as high either. So, you might well actually have a financial as well as an ethical motive to do so. Just sayin’

I was given the same “polite” response when I inquired about Coypte Brown. CF is switching to brown boots as have the British and Marines.

I don’t think they quite understand the product and how exceptional it is. I feel like a Who Killed The Electric Car story may be coming. Gotta get a few more pairs just in case.

In the meantime Gore-Tex socks???

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.
They should definitely soften the heel counter and use synthetic materials to improve the comfort of this boot.

I would buy a Gore Tex version. I have been interested in this model, but since they don’t appear to be waterproof, I don’t think I will. I have been looking for a minimalist replacement for my current boots for a while, so I hope that Bellville makes a Gore Tex version.

The EVA Foam mid is my only major complaint. Out here in the desert we have thorns and I have had my share of Thorns go right through into my foot. Not good, especially the downtime and pain of taking them out. all they need is a thin layer of flexible plastic to solve the problem. similar to the New balance rock stopper only thinner. I haven’t found any other posts with this concern. All the barefoot shoes have this problem. Am I the only one who goes off the trail? someone has to have this problem that hunts, hikes or lives in the desert.

About sizing…
I wear a 13w trail glove and a 47 vff. I wear a 13w in all other military/uniform boots I have used (altama, Corcoran, rocky, bates etc) so I ordered these in a 13w assuming the comments about fitting like merrells and being “true to size” were true. My feet were at the end of the toe box with no wiggle room. I would definitely need a 14w. These are sized like Nike or new balance- NOT like merrell barefoot or other uniform boots.

I also find the bone on the outside of my ankle to be red, but calousing over. I’m not sure if this is good or bad but it took about a month of wearing them for 6+ hrs a day to get them worn in. I suggest softer ankle support. Still trying to figure out if its just a calous or if I’ve done permanent damage to the heel bone.

GORE-TEX PLEASE!!!! Ever since the army switched over to the tan boots I have only put on Belleville boots and they have all been Gore-tex. My go to boots are the Belleville 790s. I have two regular pair, and one steel toe pair. On the other hand my go to running shoes are my Vibram Bikilas. I just ordered these sweet lil’ mini mil. I use my 790s for everything civilian construction, military, hunting, and so on. The Gore-Tex vision of the Mini Mil would marry my two favorite shoes. It embodies both sides of my life. Hard core military life with my sports and gymnastics coaching background.

Thanks for the review. I did a lot of looking around, and finally ordered these from Belleville Canada. I work in federal law enforcement, and these boots look and feel great. Super quality for the price, especially considering the dearth of other options out there.

I’ve been barefooting for about ten years. I started out with real, No shoes at all training…. Took that all the way to a full crossing of the North Cascades National Park without any foot ware. The Pacific Northwet was a great place to really go footy free. Now I live in the Southwest where there are Cactus and Snakes ect…. Goat heads did me in and now I’ve moved into the world of Barefoot shoes. I’ve worn through every pair of five fingers in less than a month. I’ve tried many Japanese Tabi Boots as well. The best flat thin shoes I have found so far are a kung fu shoe called the “Feiyue” for 15$ a pair on amazon. I’ve got a whole year from these…. Been through about 7-8 pairs… Nothing lasts long… And so, I just ordered the Mini-Mills….

I am a Soldier and I have been wearing these boots for several months. They STILL bother my ankles in the way you described. These would be great boots if Belleville would fix the horrible ankle hot spots.

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 have the black ones in a 14 —- it’s a Euro 46.5 and not nearly a 14. They’re just a bit too small.
If they ran true to size I’d be a happier camper; they don’t make a bigger one.
The quarters are also too long and the eyelets nearly touch together when laced —- I don’t think they used an anatomical last to make them and the last is meant to have a thick insole.
But they are nice and wide and I love the sole. But since I can only wear them with a very thin sock, I don’t really get to wear them.

LEMS Boulders run small too, btw.

Any ideas when they may extend the sizing down so they are compatible for women’s sizes? The smallest I can find is a men’s US 7 which is too large for me.

real quick history: I’ve been in minimalist shoes for about 3 years now and when i got my new job i had to wear “tactical” style boots. well i couldn’t afford $100+ so i bought a cheap pair from walmart and for 7 months they killed my barefoot-conditioned feet and legs. out of an 8 hour shift, i walk and stand for about 6 on concrete. i was hurting bad.

Well i bought a pair of these in the black leather and i tell you what, my feet are dancing with joy. they are so light and comfortable, a bit stiff to start out and there are a couple spots that bite but that will go away once they get worn in. on day 2 of wearing them to work i got to do a sprint test by sprinting to an emergency and they were awesome. the last time i ran while on shift in my cheapies i felt like i sprained my toes. anyway, these are awesome and you don’t notice the 5mm drop. i would imagine after getting worn in that that drop probably lessens. awesome boot. i want some in tan.

I just came across this and if you love Belleville transitions, BOTACH.COM has limited sizes of tan transitions for 49 bucks! I think they are about the best boot I have ever found for wide feet and LOVE mine. I came across this searching for sales. good luck!

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