A short review of the Vibram FiveFinger Bormio men's boot.

The Vibram "Bormio" men's boot is out, and available on the company website.

Is it pretty? Can it be called "appropriate" for a professional work environment? Is it "dressy"? That's all up to you.

The reason I bought a pair is simple: I live in a place with some serious winter weather, and regular old Vibram FiveFinger shoes simply become a problem when the temperature falls below about 50 degrees F, at least where day-to-day wear is concerned. Yes, FiveFinger shoes will keep you warmer while you are running or hiking than if you are sitting and standing around. But I do a lot of sitting and standing around at work -- the modern world, you know -- and cold is a problem for about eight months out of the year here.

It is true that you can extend the wear of KSOs, or Treksports, or Speeds into cooler temperatures by using Injinji socks, especially the excellent "Outdoor" series (70% NuWool, 25% Nylon, 5% Lycra) and even more especially in the knee-high version. But even so, the thin, stretchy fabric between the toes in almost all Vibram FiveFinger shoes is simply not conducive to keeping your feet warm in cold weather.

Enter the Bormio.

1. It's a boot. Boots are warmer than shoes.

2. It has leather between the toes, not thin, stretchy fabric. In fact the the entire boot is made of fully lined kangaroo leather.

This is the warmest men's shoe Vibram makes.

How much warmer?

Quite a bit, actually. On days where I would be downright COLD wearing a pair of, say, KSO Treks, the Bormio is toasty and comfy. They aren't exactly brilliant in deep snow, but aside from that, they have served me very well through a typically cold Montana winter -- which is nothing to sneeze at.

The fit is excellent, roughly the same sizing as the KSO, KSO Trek, and Treksport. The thicker material between the toes is not a problem; yes, I do notice that my toes are spread ever-so-slightly further apart, but the Bormio is still extremely comfortable. The leather is a bit thicker and stiffer than in the KSO Trek, and these feel like they actually need a little "break in" time, but by the end of the first day, they were dandy. I believe it was more a matter of the boot shaping itself to my foot than a matter of the leather softening or stretching out. They have gotten even more comfortable over time.

These are just as comfortable as any other FiveFinger shoe for "office" wear. They feel fitted and secure enough that I could hike in them with confidence. They are the most "conservative" and "unobtrusive" FiveFinger shoes out there (especially in black, which I chose) and many people don't seem to notice them at all. My colleagues and students are all so accustomed to seeing me in FiveFinger shoes that they don't even bat an eyelash anymore.

These are a winner. They have extended the weather range where I can wear FiveFinger shoes by a wide margin. If I am out walking in sub-zero weather, I still go to "water shoes" (oversize and worn with two pairs of thick wool socks) to keep all ten toes pliable and attached, but the Bormio has made a big difference for winter wear. In fact, I am considering getting a pair of the new TREK LS shoes, also all-leather construction, in a lace-up shoe design, for an option in cold weather wear.

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