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"Barefoot" Footwear

Review: Feelmax Kuuva Boot – Winter Barefooting Series



FeelmaxKuuvaReview

Feelmax Kuuva Boot Review

  ★★★★½ 

By Tina Dubois

For barefooters and minimalist shoe enthusiasts alike finding winter footwear products that can stand up to northern climates can be challenging. As part of our winter barefooting series, we are pleased to review the Feelmax Kuuva boot.

We are very pleased to review our second minimalist footwear product from Feelmax, the Kuuva boot. The Feelmax Kuuvas are a great regular wear winter boot. They are incredibly comfortable, light-weight, warm to about -10oC or 14oF, have fantastic grip on ice, and look great for a winter boot. They have an excellent barefoot feel with their 2.5 mm rubber sole. I highly recommend them for spring, fall, and mild to moderate winter conditions.

Comfort

The Feelmax Kuuvas are incredibly comfortable. The lining is soft and the minimal padding is located in just the right places. The lace system allows one to adjust the tightness along their length for maximum comfort. They are roomy in the toes and just tight enough around the heel to minimize heel slipping. Although I have narrow to normal width feet, I do wear two pairs of socks with them (a habit of mine in the winter) and have never found them too narrow and my toes can wiggle happily. I can’t say whether this would be the case if you had extra wide feet, however.

Weight

One size 39 Feelmax Kuuva boot weighs 7 7/8 ounces or 223 grams. I was amazed with their meagre weight as soon as taking them out of the box. After wearing them on several walks outside, I can honestly say that their weight while on my feet is practically non-existent. It is a true pleasure wearing these boots in the snow and cold and not feeling the weight of heavy winter boots.

Flex / Sole

The sole is 2.5 mm thick allowing for excellent ground transmission. It is very flexible across its width allowing for plenty of movement along the toes and the ball of your foot.

The sole is made of texturized rubbed and, when asked specifically, Feelmax responded with a ‘special material from Continental’. It is made of at least two pieces: a bumpier textured outline of about 1 cm with a more gritty textured inside portion glued into the outline.

Support / Insole

The Kuuvas come with a thin, non-removable insole that is very comfortable against socked feet. The insole is glued into the bottom of the boot where the ball of the foot rests. It has no arch support of any kind.

Grip

The Kuuvas have incredible grip. I am astounded how well the texturized rubber sole handles snow- and ice-covered asphalt and concrete. The boots also performed well on steep dirt and on loose rocky trails.

Barefoot Feel

Of all the things that impress me about the Kuuvas, the barefoot feel is the most significant. With a mere 2.5 mm sole, your feet literally feel every pebble on the trail or crack in the concrete. Considering most winter boots are so far removed from the ground with an ample cushion of rubber, Feelmax has designed a fantastic winter boot with outstanding ground feel.

Quality of Materials / Manufacturing

The Kuuva upper is made out of canvas and Clarino, a synthetic, leather-like material in addition to the rubber sole. The quality of manufacturing of the upper is impressive; the stitching is impeccable.

Although the sole of the Kuuvas arrived in perfect condition, after much wear, I can see how the design may cause problems with durability. Because the sole is glued together, after a while, the glue may come apart. There is already a spot on the medial side of the boot where flexing occurs that is starting to come apart. Although this is easily repaired, a better quality glue or a change in sole design may alleviate this problem.

Water Resistance

The water resistance of the Kuuvas is also impressive. After long walks in 6 cm of snow and slush, as well as walks in wet grass, my feet remained dry. They are, however, not a rubber boot; if you were to stand in water that was above the height of the canvas (probably 3 cm) the boots would eventually become saturated and your feet will get wet.

Sizing

The Kuuva is designed as a unisex boot. According to the chart provided on the Feelmax website, my 24 cm feet should fit a size 39, which is the size I received and they fit perfectly. At least for my size, the sizing chart provided the perfect fit.

Price

The Kuuvas are offered on the Feelmax Online Store in Finland for 99.90 Euros. They are also offered in the United States through a couple of online retailers (links provided at the end of the review) for $119 USD. Considering that good-quality conventional winter boots costs about the same amount, I think the Kuuvas are reasonably priced.

Style

The design of the Kuuvas is a sharp and good-looking style. From all angles the Kuuva upper looks like a conventional winter boot but the detail added with stitching gives them an expensive look. The imitation leather, Clarino, looks so much like real leather I believed that they were made of real leather until Feelmax told me otherwise. They only come in the one brown color at the moment, but as long as you like brown footwear, then they’re perfect.

Break-in Period

The Kuuvas did not require a break-in period. After several weeks of wearing them, the upper has become more flexible. If you find them comfortable but slightly stiff, you can expect them to become more flexible over time.

Shoe care

Feelmax recommends treating the upper with an all-purpose footwear protector. This will probably lengthen the life of your Kuuvas, as it would any pair of winter boots.




Warmth

I have worn the Kuuvas in temperatures ranging from -10oC to 12oC (14oF to 54oF) and had warm and comfortable feet. If you were to wear these boots in temperatures colder than this, I would recommend inserting an additional thin insole to protect your feet from the cold ground. Although these boots have excellent ground transmission, you can also feel the cold of the ground beneath them.

Uses

The Kuuvas are a good-quality, general purpose winter boot. They are great for dry conditions as well as snow, slush, and ice. I would recommend them for general winter street-use as well as off-road terrains like forest or gravel paths. They are not recommended for terrains including sharp boulders as this may cause damage to the sole and upper.

Summary

I am thoroughly impressed with the Feelmax Kuuva. Their quality, comfort, and barefoot feel are all superb. They are great in dry conditions to about -10oC or 14oF and for mild winter conditions including dry snow (up to about a foot in depth) or short periods in wet, slushy snow. The mysterious but incredible grip inspires confidence while walking on ice or loose dirt. The Kuuva is not designed for the extremes of winter but they are a great choice for a regular wear winter boot.

To purchase these shoes in Europe, visit the Feelmax website at http://www.feelmax.fi In the U.S., you can purchase them at Outdoor Tactical Enterprises at http://outdoortactical.com/Feelmax.html as well as Extreame Outfitters athttp://www.extremeoutfitters.us/feelmax.aspx.

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As you read our reviews, please keep in mind that our reviewers review shoes in terms of their suitability for those looking to find the highest quality minimalist shoe products. All reviews are as factual as possible. In an effort to be transparent and ethical, we will point out any defects found, even if these do not affect the usability of the product. Not all defects will be present in final production shoes as we are sometimes offered “seconds” or pre-release products in an effort to provide you with reviews in a timely manor. In the event that serious issues are found with a review sample we will give every opportunity for the manufacturer to replace to explain the review samples before the final review is released. We never accept payments for reviews. We do not guarantee a good review for any products sent to us. We do not review products that do not claim to be minimalist or “barefoot like” unless we receive a significant number of requests from readers or listeners.

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Discussion

9 comments for “Review: Feelmax Kuuva Boot – Winter Barefooting Series”

  1. While somewhat ambiguous, I don’t think “several weeks” of use with already noticeable and substantial wear and tear, constitutes durability.

    1) I find disposable culture something we should all fight against as best as we can.

    2) I can not and will not finance businesses that support this culture (despite maybe trying to do just the opposite).

    3) I find it insulting when someone tries to pitch me a product that is in actuality no more than a decent prototype of an excellent idea.

    We will not get better products until we learn to leave sub-par products on the shelves and let the manufacturers hear what we really want.

    In this case, I bet, most of you would want to see Kuuva boots that would last long enough to see the next winter too – or am I wrong?

    I understand there are limits to every material. I don’t have the time, expertise nor real initiate to do R&D for suitable materials or designs – that’s their job, and that’s what I’m willing to pay them for if they can deliver.

    But it seems Feelmax fails to deliver, again. This is regrettable (for the demand is there, the concept is good), but with little to show and much to prove, I fear FM will put themselves out of business at this rate. Hopefully someone will pick up from there, should this ever happen.

    As for myself, I’d pay twice the price for these shoes (well, if they could come up with a regular walking shoe version while making the black sides brown), IF they could at least come up with a business model where I could send my shoes to be re-soled (or whatever) and then shipped back to me – with a tolerable markup of course.

    Since when did it become impossible to make shoes that last a lifetime with proper care and some easy -to-do fixes?

    We need to start thinking shoes as investments that, once done right, keep on giving, that are really worth spending a minor fortune on – not as $10 items we buy and scrap every other week.

    Posted by anon | December 7, 2009, 03:41
  2. great review! I peresonally love the Kuuva boots. I think it’s great that you can actually wear boots yet still get the same sensation as walking barefoot. And they look like regular boots too so i can wear them everyday and no one will know the difference! just because i like barefooting doesn’t mean i want to stick out like a sore thumb! When wearing the Kuuva i feel like i can walk all day – no foot pain or back pain!

    Posted by rebecca | December 7, 2009, 04:28
  3. I don’t think it’s possible to come up with flexible soles that don’t wear out quickly. (At least that’s my experience wearing Ecco.) At least if you’re mostly walking on snow the soles will last longer than if you’re on pavement a lot.

    I can see wearing something like this when there’s lots of fresh snow on the ground and barefooting is not a good idea.

    They don’t have wide sizes, though. (Or is it buried somewhere in their website?)

    Posted by Anemone | December 7, 2009, 10:57
  4. Hi Anemone,
    To my knowledge, Feelmax does not offer wide sizes. Also, it is my personal opinion that Feelmax shoes are truly not made for wide feet. If you consider yourself to have normal-width feet the shoes will likely fit very well. For those who often find shoes too naorrow the Feelmax brand is probably not for you.

    Posted by Al Gauthier | December 7, 2009, 16:27
  5. A couple of days ago, I left my apartment wearing my new Kuuvas. The rain was failing at a rate of 1 inch/per hour and the wind was gusty. I walked about 4 New York City blocks to get my car. My feet stayed dry and comfortable in my Kuuvas.

    Then I drove to work in New Jersey. Upon arrival there was about 1.5 inches of thick, heavy, waterlogged snow. I stepped out of my car to walk into my office building. There was a very good slope where I had parked, so there were no huge puddles, since the water was flowing downhill.

    As soon as I stepped out of my car, I could feel cold water coming in one of my boots. It felt as if it were coming in one of the eyelets, though that should not be possible.

    Once I got into my office, I changed my shoes and socks immediately. Unfortunately, this meant that I had to wear “real” shoes for the first time since September 22, 2009. Wearing sneakers with athletic socks felt like my feet were encased in plaster.

    Needless to say I am sorely disappointed to find that my Kuuvas could not hold up in the most mild of conditions.

    My next step is to test them in the bathtub to try to find where they are leaking, and see if I can use something to seal up the leak.

    Posted by moises | December 11, 2009, 12:17
  6. I am pretty amazed after reading these comments on how some are using the Feelmax Kuuva. The product is the most minimal on the market that works but I can see that these comments above are written by people who obviously do not know how to wear minimal shoes. I recommend that instead of whining and directing folks to websites in the UK to get 25% off that you keep your negative comments to yourself. I know over 100 people using the product and loving it but I think it is a given with superlight flexible materials that you have to have some sacrifices.

    Posted by Scott Johnson | December 14, 2009, 01:08
  7. To my knowledge, Feelmax does not offer wide sizes. Also, it is my personal opinion that Feelmax shoes are truly not made for wide feet. If you consider yourself to have normal-width feet the shoes will likely fit very well. For those who often find shoes too naorrow the Feelmax brand is probably not for you.

    Posted by tracy | December 15, 2009, 18:39
  8. Hi Scott,
    When you say you know of more than 100 people who are using “the product” it makes me think you work for Feelmax. Is that the case? If so, why don’t you tell us more about “how to wear minimal shoes”. It seems to me that people are using this product as they would use any other boot. Since the product is a boot and Feelmax does not provide any guidance about what is and what is not appropriate wear for the boot, why would the uses described thus far be inappropriate? Your comment also brings to light the question of what is and what is not a reasonable sacrifice for super-light flexible materials.

    Posted by Al Gauthier | December 15, 2009, 20:39
  9. [...] responsibility. Newton All-Weather Trainers – points for looking like a regular sneaker. Feelmax Kuuva – points for looking like a winter boot!This is not a comprehensive list, but might open up [...]

    Posted by Walk Softly – CrossFit Toronto – Forging Fitness for Life | May 22, 2012, 10:33

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