Thursday, December 10, 2009

Feelmax Kuuva Boots Initial Review

I received my Feelmax Kuuva Boots on Monday and took them out for a 4 mile run both Monday and Tuesday.  It seems very strange to talk about running and boots in the same sentence, but that is what I am doing, so here's a little background before I get into the review.

I adopted a minimalist/primal running style over two months ago after reading some of the reviews of Chris McDougall's book 'Born to Run' and similarly to the author discovered that my pain with running went away as my running style completely changed.  It had been over two years since I have been able to run without an onset of excruciating knee pain after a 1/2 mile of running.  And in over course of that two years, I've paid visits to two different doctors and and received physical therapy for patellofemoral syndrome and in the end, it helped some, but certainly not solved the core issue.  I had all but pretty much given up on running until I discovered primal running.  The theory behind it is that running in a padded and/or raised heal shoe oth allows you to run with poor form and additionally inhibits you from running properly.  Up until the introduction of the padded/raised heel by Nike in 1972, running injuries were almost unheard of.  Now, as many as 70 percent of runners experience knee injuries at some point in their lives, according to Dr. Kevin Plancher, an orthopedic surgeon and sports medicine specialist.  For more information on this theory, check out the article "The Painful Truth about Trainers: Are Running Shoes a Waste of Money?".  This article was written by McDougall just prior to the release of his book.

The first time I ran in my Vibram Fivefinger KSO's, I ran almost 3 miles with no pain!  Granted I've had sore calves and achilles tightness since then as well as rare minor twinges of pain around my knees as I increase my mileage.  This kind of pain I can deal with  and the calf and achilles tightness is typical with those adopting this style of running.  Currently I am up to almost 7 miles and am thoroughly enjoying running, enjoyment that I've never had before...

The best and quickest way to correct your running form is to totally bare your soles.  I did get a chance to do a little bit of barefoot running this fall before it got too cold and really enjoyed it.  The reality is that here in Minnesota, it is too cold for almost 6 months of the year to go barefoot.  In addition, the days that it was warm enough, it was getting dark too early to run barefoot.  I will bring this back into my training next spring of which I really look forward to!  

As the temps dropped this fall running in my VFF KSO's, I quickly realized that they would only take me so far and if I wanted to maintain this running style, I would have to find a different solution.  Searching high and low in forums and internet searches, the Feelmax Kuuva boots were one of very few options that I could find.  The great thing about these being boots that as the snow starts to fly (and remains, typically until early April), I can continue to run as these are water resistant and they come up midway up my calves.

Initial Review
Initial Use
I currently have worn these boots for a 4 mile run on Monday, then going to get a Christmas tree, a 4 mile run on Tuesday in 1-2" of snow, and to work on Wednesday.  For both runs, I wore my Injinji Nuwool socks in them, for getting the Christmas tree, I wore a pair of REI Merino Wool liner socks in them, and for work I wore a thicker pair of Bridgedale socks.  It was a little over 20F degrees for the first run and getting the Christmas tree.  The second run was 18F degrees (5F degree Wind Chill).  

The uppers are constructed out of Clarino (water-resistant, breathable synthetic leather) and Canvas  with a minimal amount of padding and insulation.  The soles are 2.5mm of very flexible CeraPrene.  Obviously, as a minimalist shoe, there is no arch support and no cushion in addition to the sole.  The overall construction, stitching and style are superb.  One potential flaw is that it looks like the bottom of the soles are constructed in two parts and thus they are glued to each other.  I could see this eventually coming apart, but only time will tell.

My size 46 came in at 652 grams (23 oz) for both pair which is 326 (11.5 oz) grams per boot.  This compares to 153 grams (5.4 oz) per pair for my VFF KSO's (Size 45) and 722 grams (25.5 oz) for my Inov8 Roclite 295's (Size 12).  Great considering that as a boot, they weigh less than a typical trail running shoe.

I am between the 45 & 46 sizes and decided to go with the larger size so that I could both layer socks and/or wear thick socks in them.  I find that even with just a pair of liner socks in them, I am able to snug them up enough with the laces.

My feet seemed a bit warm when running at 23F, but certainly not uncomfortable or sweating yet.  At 18F with 5F windchill, they were perfectly comfortable.  When out looking for a buying a Christmas Tree, I did find that when not moving around much and standing on cold concrete,  the bottoms of my feet felt a bit cold.  I don't think I could sustain being out in this cool of weather without continually moving.  In wearing a thicker sock sitting at my desk all day, they were a bit warm, but still very comfortable, however, by the end of the day my feet were a bit sweaty.  My initial reaction is that I will use these when below 20F or when there is snow on the ground below 35F.  All else above that, I will switch back to my KSO's.

Water / Snow Resistance
After running in 1-2" of snow and some drifting of 4-5", my feet and ankles remained completely dry.  The are water resistant enough to keep out snow and yet breathable enough to keep my feet from getting sweaty.

I purchased mine through which ultimately comes from Gifts From Finland.  Were I to do it over again, I would have bought them direct from Gifts From Finland so that they don't have to pay the surcharges.  Either way, they were currently on sale for $120 + Shipping, but it looks like they are currently out of stock.,, and all also sell these boots.

Feelmax is headquartered in Finland, but it looks like these boots are actually manufactured in Germany per the label on the boot.

Other Reviews
Adventure in Progress - First Impressions - Feelmax Kuuva
Adventure in Progress - Minimalist Footwear for Winter
Living Barefoot


Anonymous said...

3 miles with no problems? first time i tried it i was in massive pain!!

but i hope I eventually get the barefooting benefits listed here:

rebecca said...

That's great you had no problems in your first wear! Generally i'd always advise people to start off slowly when barefooting. I ached alot at first but now i'm used to it i love it!