I’ve been meaning to write a long term review of the Tactical Research MINI-Mil TR101 by Belleville Boots for a while now…so here it is.
I got these boots in April 2013 and proceeded to wear them nearly every day for the next 2 years. I use them for walking and not running, so I wore them to work in the office, and for outdoor recreation, and everything in between. They are just now starting to show signs of wear and tear with some small cracks in the leather, so they get saved for hikes and other fun outdoor activities these days.
When they first arrived, I was very impressed with the fit. The wide, natural-shaped toe-box, and the minimal heel-toe drop and a very nice Vibram sole, made for a great fitting boot. Mine are 10.5 wide, and it seemed like I’d finally found a shoe that really fit. Most shoes aren’t made wide enough, and they certainly aren’t cut to fit your natural toe shape (a couple companies are doing so these days, but not with boots). In my opinion, the sizing is pretty accurate for modern shoe size. I don’t wear dress shoes, so can’t compare to that, but for running shoes and light trail hikers, I usually take a 10.5 US. I did experience a bit of rubbing in the ankle area, but that generally went away after some use.
The Vibram soles are fairly thin, and you can feel the odd rock now and then, but they provide plenty of traction for off trail use. I wore them through a couple winters and they are surprisingly grippy on ice and snow. I have Yaktraxs but don’t bother using them with the MINI-Mil.
The upper is Cordura and leather, so not waterproof, but the light leather with vents dries pretty quick when you are walking around. The advantage is they are very breathable and cool in the summer, and they will dry faster than a boot with a waterproof lining – that doesn’t always work.
I have to say I’ve been very pleased with these boots. The only things I’d like to see are a 5 or 6” version, and all leather. I rarely lace them to the top, and the full leather could increase the life and resist a bit more water. I do wish they were easier to get in Canada, but I will probably try the Black, TR102 in the near future. I think the smooth Black leather will be more durable, and likely hide the wear a little more. Bottom line – Very happy with these boots, and pleased to see they are still being made.