January 18, 2011

Building a Better VIVOBAREFOOT Brooklyn Boot

Dear VIVOBAREFOOT designers,

I live in Alberta, Canada and have to cope with a great many days that are colder than -20C here in the winter. I'm so grateful that you make the Brooklyn boot as they are the only minimalist footwear I've found that is warm enough in this extreme cold. I've spent this winter almost exclusively wearing the Brooklyn boot for walking outside.

There are many features of this boot that I love: The off-road sole is fantastic for gripping on snow and every other surface I've tried (except smooth ice, which is understandable). The smooth leather is easy to snow-seal and does not show salt stains like suede does. The upper is waterproof, which is a must for slushy snow. The depth of the sole and thickness of the insole prevent all cold from the ground from transmitting to the feet. The sole is flexible enough to feel the contours of the hard-packed snow trails. The faux shearling lining is incredibly warm and keeps my shins and calves warm in -30C (and I have been out when it's that cold, not including the windchill).

May I suggest two changes to make this boot even better?

1) It would be beneficial to the fit of the boot if it had laces and a zipper, similar to last year's Dundan boot. Because the Brooklyn slips on and there is no way of customizing the fit, I find that my foot slides around in the boot when walking either uphill or downhill. It is most noticeable walking downhill as my toes get squished against the end of the boot, and after long walks, can be uncomfortable for quite a while. Laces would allow one to customize the fit around the ankles and calves, and prevent slipping. To preserve the waterproof feature, the tongue could be continuous with the upper part of the boot, like a fold, which would keep snow and water out. The zipper would make the boot easy to get on and off without affecting the fit of the boot each time the boot was taken off, and would be much easier to do up. It could be a waterproof zipper, like those included on waterproof rain jackets, in order to preserve the boot's waterproof feature. It could also have a flap of material covering it on the inside of the boot to preserve the boot's incredible insulating feature and prevent the zipper from touching the skin.

2) It would be great if the toe box could be a little wider, again similar to the Dundan last. I find that the toe box is smaller in the Brooklyn than the Dundan and can wiggle my toes less. It might be because of the added insulation in the Brooklyn, but thick socks definitely do not fit in the boot with the insole inside. A wider toe box would allow for thick socks and more toe wiggle room while the addition of the laces would keep the foot from moving around inside the roomier forefoot.

This is the first winter I've been able to comfortably walk outside in the extreme cold of the Canadian winter. Again, I'm very grateful for the Brooklyn boot and thank you for designing the best minimalist boot on the market to date.

Yours sincerely,