It’s been getting colder these last few weeks here in Atlanta–point of fact, the lows for at least a couple days this past week have been in the 20s! That’s unseasonably chilly for the South (It’s called “Hotlanta” for a reason!), and by extension, I’ve been shifting away from the ultra-minimalist shoes (Sorry Sensori!) in my closet to footwear that provides a little more protection from the elements. Thankfully, these days there are a decent number of options available to keep my feet biomechanically happy and temperature-comfortable. The cold need not be the arch-nemesis of healthy feet! Point of fact, we’ve reviewed a handful of “minimalist/barefoot boots” — everything from the Lems Boulder, to the Vivo Barefoot Gobi (Note: you can get the Gobi for 45% off right now — ~$80), or the Vivo Barefoot Offroad Hi (if you need some aggressive tread). And today, I’ll be talking about a new minimalist boot for winter 2013/2014: the Vivo Barefoot Scott. The Scott is a winter-ready boot that Vivo Barefoot sent my way to test and review, which is exactly what follows … after the jump!

The Boots

I grabbed the above image off of Vivo Barefoot’s website today. Clearly, Vivo is marketing the Scott as “winterproof.” But just what does that mean? The Vivo Scott is the first minimalist shoe (or boot) I’ve tested that uses 200 gram 3M Thinsulate for insulation and are “Ion-masked,” which is a treatment that makes them breathable but water-repellent (more on what that means). Note on the sole-to-upper construction: despite the photos on Vivo’s website indicating otherwise, the sole is not stitched to the upper. Apparently, the stitches were removed because they degraded the water-repellent qualities of the boots, acting as wicks to bring water into the shoes. By extension, the soles are glued to the upper. Unfortunately, like at least one other pair of Vivo’s I own, I’ve had a small sole-from-upper detachment issue on one boot. It’s minor and I just noticed it, but it’s there. I’m not over-worried about this becoming a larger issue simply because my most worn pair of Oaks has this in one spot and it’s never gotten worse. It’s annoying to note, but not really all that noticeable, thankfully. The Scott has a gusseted or bellows tongue, which helps keep out the elements, and rise above the ankle. The upper of the boot is a mix of leather and waxed canvas. The Scott’s 4mm “concave hexagonal” rubber sole is “classic” Vivo Barefoot in that I first experienced it my original pair of “Terra Plana” Vivo Oaks circa 2010 (and not since). They also have a removable insole. Take a look at the boots:

Soles and Insulation Keep Feet Warm without Sacrificing Ground Feel

The Vivo Barefoot Scott features 200 gram 3M Thinsulate for insulation.
The Vivo Barefoot Scott features 200 gram 3M Thinsulate for insulation.
The Vivo Barefoot Scott boots have 200 gram-rated 3M Thinsulate that wraps the upper of the shoes. Actually, it might also be part of the soles, too, but I’m not sure. 200 gram Thinsulate is rated to 55-60 degrees Fahrenheit. That’s not particularly cold, but bear in mind you’re likely going to be wearing the Scotts with socks and with this rating, you can use warmer socks to improve the temperature rating or go lighter if it’s warmer. My feet have been quite comfortable passing through mid-20s temperatures wearing regular socks in the Scott’s; mind, I’ve not spent long periods outdoors in these colder temperatures yet. If you’re a 200gm Thinsulate expert reading this, your input would be welcome in the comments. I’ve also worn the Scotts sans socks quite comfortably (to my surprise) but not in very cold temperatures.
The Vivo Barefoot Scott has a 4mm thick, concave hexagonal rubber sole.
The Vivo Barefoot Scott has a 4mm thick, concave hexagonal rubber sole.
The Scott’s 4mm concave hexagonal (it’s a mouthful, but descriptive!) rubber sole helps put a little more distance between your feet and the ground without sacrificing much in the way of sole flexibility or ground feel. Outside of the trail-ready sole you get with Vivo Offroad His, the Scott’s 4mm rubber sole is one of Vivo’s thickest offerings. Meanwhile, Vivo Barefoot also offers the “Gobi” desert boot, which has the 3mm TPU sole, the thinnest offering in Vivo’s footwear collection, and a sole that provides a slew of ground feel–more feel than the Scott. Regardless of these comparisons, you get pretty fantastic ground feel with the Scott’s with surface textures passing through the soles (and removable insoles). If you step back and look at the “minimalist boot” category, the Scott sets a high bar for ground feel. By comparison, the Lems Boulder has 9mm thick outsoles (and a good bit less ground feel). In addition to great ground feel, as with all of Vivo Barefoot’s offerings, the Scott’s have a large toe box, zero arch support, and are “zero drop” or neutral from heel to toe. All of the qualities you’d expect from a barefoot shoe. The Scott’s insoles seem to be the standard 5mm thick foam you find with other Vivos but have “Thermal Plantar Protection” (see this pic), which is some proprietary tech trademarked by Vivo Barefoot. All in all, the Scott brings to the table a suite of features aimed to keep your feet comfortable in the winter months. Are they “winterproof?” I guess that depends on how you define the term and what your winter is like. Could you stand outside in freezing temperatures for hours in the Scott? Probably not. That said, relative to other minimalist boots, the Scott is in a class of it’s own for cold-weather consideration. No other minimalist boots (that I know of!) have Thinsulate lining.

The Looks

The Vivo Barefoot Scott paired with bootcut jeans!
The Vivo Barefoot Scott paired with bootcut jeans!
Vivo Barefoot Scotts–like the Gobis (or the Ras)–have what I’d describe as a low-height profile, minimally embellished toe box that defines the look of the boots. After all, it’s the main thing you will see when wearing the boots with jeans or pants. The overall look of the Scott is classic to my eye. I feel like they’d be at home in 19th century England (BWDIK). In the dark brown leather/waxed canvas colorway, the Scott has stylish, rugged look to it. The leather is a high quality matte and the waxed canvas has a durable look, feel, and quality to it. Note that the canvas doesn’t feel waxy to the touch. The gusseted/bellows tongue and steel lace eyelets lend more quality to the build of the boots. For that matter, as high-top, gusseted boots go, it’s surprisingly easy to loosen the Scott’s laces, yank them onto your feet, and tighten them up to tie. Thank goodness. I’ve worn the Scott boots with both jeans and pants. They dress up pretty well thanks to their simple look and quality materials. They also feel right at home in a rustic setting or perhaps even in a business casual work environment.
Channeling my inner-farmboy wearing the Vivo Scott's while at a pumpkin patch with the family.
Channeling my inner-farmboy wearing the Vivo Scott’s while at a pumpkin patch with the family.

Conclusion

Like so many Vivo Barefoots, the bad news is that they aren’t cheap. The Scott can be had for $160 (shipped free both ways) from Zappos, which is $25 less than the price on VB’s website. Of course, that’s only $10 more than the old, discontinued FiveFingers Bormio, and I’d say that between the two the Scott is a higher quality boot. Still, $160 isn’t cheap. The nice thing is that if you’re looking for a minimalist shoe that delivers on providing barefoot-feel and comfort but also works through the colder part of the year, the Scott isn’t likely to disappoint. It helps that the Scott is fashionable, too, and can be worn in a lot of different settings (I think they’re easily passable in a chino/khakis-appropriate business casual environment). Bottom line: if you’re after a casual-wear boot that will take you through the colder months, the Scott is worth heavy consideration. There are other options out there, but it’s easy to argue that the Scott is the whole package, or at least, a really solid compromise of “barefoot” functionality and feel, style, and insulation from the elements. Just how cold it can get for the Scott’s to start failing on the insulation front is yet to be seen. It’s also not clear yet how they do in wet-weather. If I can lend more input here in the coming months, I surely will! If you pick up a pair, let me know what you think!

Specs

Official specs from VivoBarefoot.com:
This premium winter-proof mens lifestyle boot is put together with premium thick pull-up leather, organic waxed canvas, bellowed tongue, thinsulate lined and Ion-Masked. Simplicity redefined and loaded with amazing hidden features that you will forget are even there when you?re walking around in cozy barefoot luxury. Upper Material: Leather Upper Description: V Leather and organic waxed canvas Collar/Panel/ Lining: Thinsulate: The industry?s most diverse product portfolio?warmth solutions for every level of activity. Sole Unit: V – MULTI 1 Sole Thickness: 4mm Sole Description: V Multi 1: Concave hexagonal grip for lifestyle wintery months. Closure/Lacing: Lace-up System: Fasten securely with simple tie-up lace. Weight (grams): 300