There are few truly minimalist footwear options currently on the market for cold, snowy, winter weather; the Brooklyn boot is definitely one of these few. The VIVOBAREFOOT Off-Road Sole, measuring 5 mm thick including 2.5 mm of grip, does a stellar job at both protecting your feet from frozen ground temperatures as well as providing enough traction for snowy terrain. The nearly knee-high, faux shearling lined, waterproof, and breathable boot is perfect for the snow and cold of northern winters.
Upon initially putting on the Brooklyns, I thought they were a bit snug, but this feeling receded after a few minutes of wear. I did have to adjust the position of the faux shearling lining because it bunched a little at the top of my left foot; after the adjustment, I didn’t feel like the boots were tight at all.
They might be a little narrow for a wide foot but they fit my average width feet perfectly. Although it doesn’t affect their width, if you find that the boot is snug, you can remove the insole to give your foot more room. Doing so would sacrifice their cold weather insulation and some comfort. The footbed of the boot is nylon mesh with a seam running down the middle. The one time I wore the Brooklyns without the insole, I did notice the seam beneath my feet. I also noticed that the insole provides a tremendous amount of insulation from the cold ground.
At the top and back of the boot, there is an elastic segment allowing the top of the boot to fit snugly against your calves. Because they don’t have any tightening adjustments near the bottom of the boot around the foot itself (like laces), I find they are a bit loose in the heel. My heel, therefore, moves up and down in the boot. This is a trade-off for the lack of laces and personalized fitting adjustment. While walking, I don’t notice the movement of the boot off my heel but you can sometimes hear a clunky sound because the boot hits the ground before your foot; on snow, this isn’t really an issue. Also because of the lack of laces, I noticed that while walking at steep downhill angles, my toes can get pushed into the top of the boot. Despite the lack of laces, I do find the Brooklyn quite comfortable and have gone for over-an-hour hikes in the snow without any comfort issues.
Each size 40 boot with the insole weighs 15 ounces or 425 grams. Although this is the heaviest footwear I’ve reviewed to date, I don’t think the weight of these boots is a significant negative factor. They are a knee-high boot with considerable insulation for minimalist footwear, which contributes greatly to their suitability as great winter footwear. Even after walking over an hour on unevenly packed snow, I did not notice their weight on my feet. They hug my calves snugly so their weight is further reduced.
Flex / Sole
Even with the thicker VIVOBAREFOOT 5 mm Off-Road Sole, the sole is extremely flexible. The sole flexes easily around every uneven contour of packed snow trails. The sole is a latex rubber mixed with recycled woodchips with a TPU abrasion resistant sole. It has a 2.5 mm sole base and 2.5 mm grip.
Support / Insole
The insole included is the VIVOBAREFOOT branded Poliyou insole. It is breathable, wicks moisture, and absorbs odour with natural active carbon and inhibits fungus growth. Poliyou is made of 70% recycled material and is washable. It is removable and provides no support, and neither does the structure of the footbed.
The flexibility of the sole provides decent barefoot feel. It is not as good as the 3 mm sole in other VIVOBAREFOOT shoes (e.g., the Aqua and Lucy) but it definitely does flex around uneven snow and the extra grip is an asset in slippery conditions.
The traction the Brooklyns have on snow is incredible and far better than the regular 3 mm VIVOBAREFOOT sole. I have complete trust in their traction on any surface except one: on smooth ice, the 2.5 mm grip depth doesn’t provide much traction. That being said, I do not have nor have I tried a pair of minimalist footwear that does have traction on ice.
I was tremendously impressed with the breathability of these boots. After an hour of hiking on uneven snow, my feet were still dry. When I took the insole out, the top of the insole was dry and the bottom was soaking wet; it had wicked all the moisture away from my feet and against the footbed of the boot itself. The nylon mesh and faux shearling lining were also dry while my snow pants, on the other hand, were soaking wet on the inside. And after being soaking wet from hiking, the bottom of the insole and the inside of the boot do not smell any different than when they were new.
Quality of Materials / Manufacturing
The quality of the materials is impeccable. The upper is made of pull up leather that is vegetable dyed with a natural, lived-in look. The faux shearling lining and nylon mesh are fantastic materials providing a well ventilated environment. The sole is made of latex rubber and recycled woodchips, which provide a good balance between grip and abrasion resistance.
The leather construction of the upper is excellent. The only imperfection in the boot is in the evenness of the pink paint around the top of the rubber sole and its junction with the leather, which is purely esthetic.
Although I have not had the opportunity to walk in deep slush (as it has been too cold here for any significant amount of snow to melt), no snow or water from shallow slush has reached inside the boot. The rubber sole curves almost an inch around the sides of the boot and the upper is intact leather. The only place for water to seep in would be at the junction between the sole and the leather and I have not found any gaps nor had any snow or water come through.
The Terra Plana website says ‘the Brooklyn is running TWO full sizes short’ and this is not an exaggeration. I wear a conventional size US8/EU38 and the size US10/EU40 fits me perfectly. To compare with other VIVOBAREFOOT products, I wear a size EU39 Lucy and Evo.
The Brooklyn sells for $230.00 USD on the Terra Plana website. I looked online for prices of leather, knee-high, winter boots and I found that they range from $80–$300 depending on style and quality. Although the Brooklyn price falls on the high side of this range, they are a high-quality, great winter boot and in this case, you definitely do get what you pay for.
For a winter boot, the Brooklyns look fantastic. For a knee-high leather boot, the Brooklyns also look fantastic. They have a simple yet elegant style and have the added bonus of functioning perfectly as a waterproof and breathable winter boot. They come in black (with a pink line along the bottom) and red brown (with a black line along the bottom).
There is no break-in period for these boots. If they aren’t comfortable within the first five minutes, you might want a different size. The only difference in the boots after wearing them for many hours for many walks is the faux shearling lining is more compressed than when they were new.
Because the Brooklyn upper is made of leather, it absolutely needs to be treated with leather protector before going out in the elements. I treated mine with a beeswax-based leather protector and they still look brand new. The insole can be hand washed if it develops a smell but it does contain a natural active carbon so developing a smell is unlikely and would take extensive wear.
I’m totally amazed at how warm these boots are. With the insole in, I’ve been outside in -27C and still had toasty warm feet even with a single pair of thin socks. Without the insole, I’d say they’re good to about -10C but you will feel the cold of the ground beneath your feet. This is the only pair of minimalist footwear I have that can keep my feet warm in -20C, including last year’s VIVOBAREFOOT Dundan boot with the 3 mm Duratex sole. Most minimalist footwear has too thin a sole or not enough interior insulation (provided by the insole in the case of the Brooklyns), or both. The Brooklyns have just enough sole thickness and insulation without sacrificing flexibility in the sole or too much barefoot feel.
The breathability of these boots also contributes to their warmth. The fact that the insole, nylon mesh, and faux shearling lining all wick moisture away from your skin does an excellent job of keeping your feet warm and dry even if you get sweaty.
The Brooklyns are fantastic winter boots. Their warmth, breathability, grip, and style make them the perfect cold weather footwear on almost any terrain (smooth ice being the exception). They are a stylish knee-high boot for casual wear for almost any outdoor activity (ice fishing notwithstanding).
I’m incredibly impressed by the Brooklyn boot. Although their fit is not perfect due to the lack of laces or other tightening adjustment, they are outstanding as cold weather, minimalist footwear. They have amazing grip on snow, great flexibility, good barefoot feel, excellent breathability and warmth, and they look stylish, too. They might be on the high side for price but the Brooklyn is a high quality, leather knee-high boot with superb manufacturing. They are my primary outdoor footwear for the winter.
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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