Belleville Tactical Research Mini-Mil Review

Anyone who has served in the military can tell you the importance of a good pair of boots. They can make or break you. Especially if you serve in a combat arms MOS, where you may be humping a ruck over rough terrain that weighs as much as you do. During my stint I noticed a major progression in boot performance technology from the days of the old jungle boots. Prior to my reenlistment I purchased some of the most comfortable boots I had ever owned- they were made by a company called Belleville. I'm a pretty brand loyal guy and since that day I've become a fan of their products.

A few months ago while searching for a new pair of boots I came across the Belleville TR Mini-Mil's or Minimalistic Boots. The Mini-Mil's are basically a combat boot that has been engineered to mimic Vibram 5 fingers or other "barefoot" athletic footwear. Most boots are super heavy and hot. I wanted to see how the Mini-Mil's performed in my area (we have extremely hot summers).
Right off the bat, I was shocked at how light the Mini-Mils were (less than 2 lbs per pair). They were lighter than my tennis shoes and much lighter than my other combat boots. The Mini-Mil's are unlined allowing for more ventilation.

 If you will notice in the picture above- The Mini-Mil compared to a USMC Issued Belleville boot (both boots are the same size). The USMC Boot looks substantially larger than the Mini-Mil. Mainly due to the lining, padding, and sole in traditional boots. By removing those components this allowed the Mini-Mil to feel as though I was not wearing footwear at all. They also integrated a 5 millimeter "drop" that allows for more of a barefoot or flat footed feel, unlike traditional boots where you have an elevation in the heel of the boot. The drawback to this being a lack of shock absorption in the boot. Making it important to understand that although this is a boot, it still is minimalistic footwear and you should transition into these. Like you would with other minimalistic footwear. The Mini-Mils come with a note explaining the transition period and at what length of time you should wear them while developing your muscles/feet for minimalistic footwear.
Upon initial inspection of the insole, you notice its much thinner and has a 5mm thickness. It also shows a diagram of the intended function of the Mini-Mil as a barefoot boot. Although its primary function is to provide sweat absorption.
One of the ideas behind barefoot running is that we are more efficient when are toes are able to spread out. Most shoes today have a narrow or pointed toe area. The Mini-Mil's come with a wide toe box to allow your toes to spread as though you were barefoot. It was an extremely comfortable feature that I'd like to see on other boots out there.

I was able to test the Mini-Mil's for a three month period. Using them daily walking around town, running, and wearing them to the field doing survival stuff. They were extremely comfortable to wear and hugged the foot quite well. Mostly due to the light weight and expanded toe box. I'd been using minimalistic footwear for awhile- so it was a rather smooth transition for me. The only problem I encountered within the first few days was a rubbing of the heal cap on my left foot. I had a hot spot for the first few days. Once the boots were broken in I no longer had that problem.

The Mini-Mils are also fitted with Vibram Soles (they are some of the best soles around). Even with a minimalistic sole these boots did not sacrifice durability. These soles are tough and had lots of grip to help with scaling rough terrain or slick surfaces.

I also appreciated the improved boot laces. I don't know how many times I would have boot laces break in the field. The ones included with the Mini-Mil seem to be 550 cord and are much more durable than others I've used.

Overall I'd highly suggest these boots to anyone that has been conditioning themselves to minimalist footwear or even those that are wanting to transition to it. With the 5mm drop this would be a good "middle ground" to get started with. Not only are they comfortable but they look great as well. I received numerous compliments as well as a few friends purchasing them after seeing mine. My experience with Belleville has always been a top notch product. I wouldn't hesitate purchasing this boot or any others produced by them.

These boots come in tan and black. Find more information at: Belleville Boot


  1. Those boots are looking pretty sexy. I recently took up motorcycling and got some regular boots to save money. I am quickly starting to regret not spending the extra money. If this boot is a good minimalist example of a boot, I may bite the bullet and get this.

  2. I just received a pair of these last week. I like many of the minimalist features of this boot, but I am having the same problem in that I am having a lot of discomfort in my left heel, I hope this will eventually go away. I plan to do a full review on my YouTube channel but I am waiting to see if my heel problem works itself out.

  3. Aloha,

    I have used these boots for my last 4 marathons and half marathons and last years XTERRA championships on Maui. They have held up well and are made of good materials and manufacturing processes.

    BUT,,, As a prior army officer and podiatrist i do take issue with minimalism. How can a boot that mimics (no boot or barefoot) be considered combat ready and safe?

    I understand the macho minimalist feeling of being able to say your feet are so tough they do not need shoes but in combat we should strive for Maximalism in our footwear. Whereas maximalist footwear show significant improvements in puncture protection, stability and energy efficiency of gait.

    We have tested new advanced composite orthotic systems in these boots. We have completed testing for the US DoD and Army Medical Research and Materials Command for SBIR A11-109 "Advanced Composite Insoles for the Reduction of Stress Fractures." Our testing results are posted here under Final Report:

    It may seem like blasphemy to maximalize minimalist boots but to me the smart soldier will maximize body protection over "looking/seeming" macho.

    Dr. Steven King
    Prior Army Podiatrist and Pedorthist
    Co-Principal Investigator SBIR A11-109
    ASTM F13 and E54 committess on Footwear Safety and Body Armor
    Mananging Member Kingetics LLC

    1. Hey Doc,

      I appreciate your viewpoint on maximalizing these types of footwear for Soldiers as we are required to bear a burden on our backs that our natural foot structure has not evolved to withstand. However, I would prefer to see the military spend its research $$ on developing significantly lighter and more efficient equipment to carry than spend money beefing up our footwear. Our anatomy as whole from the neck down cannot withstand a career of pounding with the currently prescribed loads and equipment.

      I am a long time convert to minimalist footwear and when appropriate I wear these boots during field training exercises.... but when the load exceeds 35 lbs, I switch to a more cushioned and supportive boot - at the expense of proprioceptive feedback and proper foot function.

      CSM Lawrence Perreault
      1-157th Infantry

  4. Hey, are these boots still holding up? Also if you condition to wear minimalistic footwear. Can you still wear regular shoes and combat boots? or must you continue wearing minimalistic footwear to train foot muscles? Thank you.

    1. Yes they are still holding up. I haven't noticed a problem from switching

  5. Wow! These are great boots. I am a happy owner of a boots like this one and it's still in good condition. Great post and you have such awesome pictures.

  6. Wow, great boots. i really liked it. Want one.

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