Episode 78: Bearfoot Bruins
Updated: Feb 14
Before I transitioned to barefoot, my go to boot was always a rugged work style boot like Timberlands and Caterpillar. I enjoyed their functionality and especially style. When I heard Bearfoot was going to make a super rugged boot suitable for adventure and everyday wear, I was really looking forward to trying it. I had yet to find a barefoot boot that checked those boxes.
Visually, Bruins is everything that I thought it would be. It's incredible top grain leather upper and rugged outsole present a gorgeous quality (key word) boot that looks like it can survive anything.
Out of the box, the boot is a bit stiff, so I was quite surprised at how flexible the shaft of the boot is since it did not restrict my ankle mobility at all. I was able to pop into an ass to grass squat while keeping my heels comfortably on the ground while wearing the boots. However, while the toe box is wide, I don't feel like there is enough volume in the toe box since my big toe isn't able to lift up and it feel like the upper leather is pressing on my toe a bit when I walk. I gave the boot some time to break in since that is definitely a must with this one and I still have that same feeling in the toe box area. I'm hoping that'll resolve with more wear.
The boot overall needs some breaking into. The upper in the toe box area is quite hard and seems to make it a very safe work/hunting boot option until a true steel toe barefoot boot is on the market. The tongue is gusseted and has some extra give, making it suitable to be adjusted for high volume feet. I actually got caught in a major rainstorm the first time wearing the Bruins and they kept my feet warm and dry.
The upper part of the tongue can be worn folded down with the laces untied for a more casual laid-back look, especially on warmer days. I got more compliments on these boots than any of my other barefoot boots. However, these boots definitely have the longest break in time from other barefoot boots I own and do look the most durable out of the bunch.
You can find Bruins here and you can use code TBSR10 to save 10%.
Disclaimer: These shoes were given to me to review; however, my opinion is my own. This page uses affiliate links, and by purchasing from an affiliate link, I will receive a small commission which doesn't cost you anything. Thank you and enjoy the read!
What started as a pipedream by two regular guys in Fargo, ND to make specialized socks that could be a minimalist alternative to normal gym shoes quickly evolved into a thriving shoe company paving its own path through the footwear industry.
It began with a DM that Co-Founder Chris Duffin received in his inbox pitching an idea for a minimalist footwear company. Reluctantly, Chris declined this offer as it seemed to be just another attempt to capitalize on his growing influence online. After having his inbox flooded with requests asking to collaborate, Chris decided to invite these two over-ambitious gentlemen to his home in Portland, Oregon to pitch the idea to him in person. Only a couple days later they had arrived to meet face-to-face, and a few hours later a partnership and brand-new company was formed.
Chris quickly expanded the vision of the company to focus on minimalist shoes instead of socks, and just a year later Bearfoot Shoes had already made an impact on the barefoot community with only one shoe offered in one color.
Offering a simplistic, minimalist solution to over-designed footwear, they had a product that helped solve the multiple health problems that modern footwear causes to millions of people worldwide. With the company’s rapid growth, they needed to upgrade their development and manufacturing, fast.
The Bearfoot Team then gained a new member who had worked in the shoe industry for decades, who then used his connections to introduce Bearfoot Shoes to Esquivel Shoes. George Esquivel is a world-renowned shoe designer who creates unique footwear for celebrities all over the world.
With these new relationships established, Bearfoot was able to bring its manufacturing and development to North America. This brought huge improvements in quality and opened doors for new product options. “Optimizing the Human to Ground Interface” was and is Bearfoot’s mission from now and into the future, and we will continue to take the path less traveled as we pursue that mission.
Quality and Durable
Gorgeous top grain leather upper
Leather at edge of toe box is quite stiff
Shaft is quite flexible, no ankle mobility restriction
Can likely survive almost anything
High volume in foot area (toe box area less so)
Stiff - Needs some break in time
Upper part of tongue can be left untied for more casual look or for warmer days
Can be resoled
So beautiful you just want to try them on
Sizing & Fit
According to BearFoot, the Bruins fit true to size. Like any boot, I would say it's better to go bigger than smaller. Sean and I both sized up a half a size and are happy we did so.
I have a 25cm length foot with 9.5cm width and normal volume. My biggest toe is the longest and the rest follow in height order, and I generally wear a women's size US 8. I went with a Women's US 8.5 and they fit me perfectly.
Sean has a 26.1cm length foot and 10cm width high volume foot with his second toe as longest. He went with a men's US 8.5 when he normally wears an US men's 8. They fit him perfectly as well.
We would recommend sizing up a half US size especially if you plan on wearing with thicker socks.
BearFoot provides scanning by Strutfit to assist you in figuring out your sizing.
The Bruin is a super rugged boot that will be perfect for any labor type job, from construction, to gardening, to hunting. The upper is super durable and the outsole provides great traction and tread. At this moment (I've worn it for almost 2 weeks now) I wouldn't yet wear them on a long ruck since I still need to break into them some more, but if I was going on a short foraging adventure I would definitely give them a go. It's combined waterproofness and quality make will ensure that this boot will survive almost anything.
Weight & Movement
The outsole can be a bit stiff and the boot needs some break in time. However, the shaft area is surprisingly flexible and doesn't restrict my ankle mobility at all which is a huge plus especially if you are planning to wear them for gardening, hunting, or construction, and need the ability to squat down without restriction.
The boot itself is on the heavier side, so I wouldn't necessarily wear them for a pleasure hike that is kilometers long since I prefer something much more lightweight, but they would be great for a hunting expedition. For myself, they're perfect for everyday rugged wear and short distance adventures.
UPPER: (2mm) Top-Grain Leather
OUTSOLE: Rubber (Durometer: 65) / BearTrac Tread
LINER: (Semi-Lined) Mestizo Leather
STACK HEIGHT: 15mm
WEIGHT: 1lb 10.6oz (Men’s size 10)
CONSTRUCTION: Blake Stitch + Cement Construction
To help your Bruins outlast everything else you wear, we have premium Otterwax products available for sale:
CLEAN: Use Saddle Soap to gently clean your leather and remove stains
RESTORE: Use Leather Salve to restore softness and repair cracking
REVIVE: Use Leather Oil to polish and revive the natural shine
PROTECT: Use Boot Wax to protect and create a waterproof seal
... or you
can get them all together with the Leather Care Kit.
Where and How to Wear:
During winter months, the Bruins can be dressed down for a super rugged look, with looser jeans and a plaid button down and would even look dope with overalls. Or they can be dressed up for a casual every day look with more fitted jeans and a knitted sweater top.
For a cooler look on warmer days, the upper part of the tongue can be worn folded down with the boot only half laced and paired with jeans and a loose or fitted t-shirt. I have yet to try them with a dress, but I could definitely pull them off with an oversized button down or knitted dress.
The main issue I would improve is more volume in the toe box area so the upper leather isn't pressing down on my big toe. I would love for them to be more flexible/easier to break into out of the box, but I understand that can potentially compromise the durability and quality of the boot.
This boot is definitely a showstopper. The aesthetics are on point and very obviously made with durability, it will last you a lifetime just be patient as you break into them.
You can find Bruins here and you can use code TBSR10 to save 10%.