Healthy Boots – that look great!

I got rid of 95% of my old shoes once I made the switch to minimal, wide-toed, unheeled footwear. Wearing my old collection just felt awful after my toes were liberated. Like children, once they are educated, there’s no going back. :) So I was left with my new shoes… and NO healthy boots. With our cold, damp winters, and as much time as I like to spend outside, that was no good at all. So I went on a mission. I visited Shoe Mill (their selection was disappointingly high-heeled and rigid-soled) and Footwise (just didn’t see anything that appealed to me). I would have liked to hit Cobbler Bill’s and the rest of my list, but I’m a busy girl!

I checked out both Imelda’s (Update: closed in Dec 2022) and Clogs & More on Hawthorne about a month back – all I found was the rain boots mentioned in the shoe shopping post. They may have some new stock now. After Nordstrom’s and Macy’s at the mall, I went online. Zappos was uncharacteristically empty of options, but the Nordstrom’s website was terrific.

Here’s what my quest brought me. I didn’t buy all of these, but I did “borrow” a few on my credit card, since they all have free shipping & returns, and I can wear them inside for a while to see how they really feel before I pick which one(s) to keep. Much better than a 30-second try in a store, right?

The Finds:

Keen Delancy

The Keen “Delancy” is close, but I couldn’t get it zipped. This is a common problem for me, since I am 4’10” and my calf muscles start lower. If you have longer / slimmer legs, try them out. I have been distressed by Keen’s new line, which is both stiff and narrow. These are a rare, and welcome, throwback.


Soft Star makes this boot, the “Phoenix,” but it doesn’t meet my aesthetic standards so I haven’t tested it. I’m not fond of the “Ugg” shape and I don’t do brown. If you do, give them a go!

Born Lecia

Børn “Lecia” – These made me very, very sad. Born is a great company, and I was SO excited about having red lace-up boots! Sadly, the tops were too long for me, and pushed up under my knees. They were fine for standing, but when I moved and bent my legs they were no good. If you are a normal-sized human this will not be an issue. Note – these would be fine for even bigger calves than mine: The tongue has a big overlap. Worse than the height is the heel. It has a pointed bottom, and a soft sole, so the net effect felt like a point poking up into my heel. Immediately very uncomfortable, and it got worse over 20 minutes.

Merrel Haven (Nordies)

Merrell “Haven” is no oasis.

My first impression: The Havens are the least comfortable Merrell’s I’ve ever worn. They are far too narrow. By the time I sized up to a decent width, they were crazy long… Like, clown shoe long. Try again, Merrell. Plus, the look isn’t really my style. Note: The Captiva (not shown) is wider and better looking, but I couldn’t zip it. Besides, it has a small heel lift.

Born Kaila (Macys) healthy boots

THE WINNER! I was Born to wear these healthy boots! :)

Børn “Kaila,”  at Macy’s 

Love these! They do have about a half inch net heel – the most heel I’ve worn in months – but it’s not bothering me. Initially the top of the calf was snug on me, but it quickly stretched sufficiently that I don’t feel it anymore. Bonus: There is an adjustable buckle at the top. Mine are matte black. This glossy pic is the “mahogany.”

Verdict: YES! There was even room for my Correct Toes inside these gorgeous things!

Romika Fiona

Romika,  please make a quieter, taller version!

Romika “Fiona” at Nordie’s. 

Also in black. These look narrow, but feel huge inside! I swear they are made of Tardis! Unfortunately the zippers jingle when I walk (I’d have to swap the tab out), and the height of the calf is awkward and unflattering. They would be good under pants or jeans, but I pretty much only wear skirts.

NF JaneyNorth Face “Janey II Luxe” (Ordered from Nordstrom’s website)

I very much liked the short zipper at the inner ankle, which allowed for easy on-off. However, the toebox was narrow and stiffly structured. That’s a no.

Sorel Yaquina

Sorel “Yaquina”  (Ordered from Nordstrom’s website)

So close! The toebox is just a little too snug. I could feel it pressing against my big toe. If you have narrow feet, these will work beautifully for you. But not for me.

Final verdict:

The only pair that really worked for me 100% was the Born Kaila. I’m wearing the black ones right now, and I’m ordering a second pair of “mahogany.” The Keen “Delancy” and Sorel’s “Yaquina” were close… try them if you are, respectively, slim-calved and narrow-footed.

Hopefully this little review has helped you find some healthy boots, and more importantly, reminded you of what to look for when shopping. Please let me know if you find any other good candidates!

NOTE: For rainboots, I love my Bogs! They have a nice wide toebox and are zero drop, unlike most wellies.

14 thoughts on “Healthy Boots – that look great!

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  2. Since i got my vibrams in august i can’t wear anything else, closed toe shoes feel like foot traps!

  3. Great article; thanks for posting!
    Tip: the selection at the downtown Clogs ‘n’ More is a bit different and might offer what you desire. :)

  4. Mahalo for sharing your boot experience! I also have wide feet (along with a high arch) and do find it difficult to find awesome boots that are comfortable ~ ~ your detailed reviews will come in handy!

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  6. Thank you!!! I’ve been scouring the net for information on a boot that would work. I, too, hate the Ugg look. I also want something that looks good and is also fairly water-resistant, as I trek through snow to get the kids from school. I’ve been considering the Haven Autumn as well as the Delancey. Been leaning toward the Delancey, but I also have “soccer calves” and have read this might be a problem. Might try to find the Kaila to try on as well. Thanks for another option!

    • I have only been able to find the Kaila at Macy’s. In store or online. The good news is that shipping is free both ways if you decide to go that way.

  7. I was looking for a rain boot and found a pair of Tretorn rain boots online. Ordered the Skerry model as they have a flat sole and couldn’t wait to try them. The Skerry rain boot does indeed have a flat sole and a thin liner. I tried it both ways: with and without the liner. First, I took the liner out and stepped on it. My toes barely went over a tiny bit but I went ahead and tried the boots without the liner and didn’t like the feel where my heel sits. Felt wafflely like and uncomfortable. Replaced the liner and put on my Correct Toes. Seemed to fit ok although I would go up one size if I want to wear socks. The boots are lightly lined with micro fleece so socks aren’t necessary if you like to wear rubber boots without socks. All in all, the Skerry rain boot fits the bill for a rain boot with its flat and semi flexible sole. Not as flexible as the Lem boot but flexible enough for me. Definitely go up a size if you wear socks and Correct Toes.

  8. I really thought I had already thanked you for this post, but it appears I never did–so THANK YOU! Based on your recommendation, I wanted to try the Fionas and Kailas, but took too long and couldn’t find them. However, I have skinny calves, and so decided to risk the Keen Delanceys. I’m so glad I did! I had to go up half a size for toe box comfort, but they’re low-profile enough that the salesguy assured me they didn’t look like clown shoes. These boots are AMAZING–warm even in snow and entirely dry through deep puddles. I tend to be hard on boots because I want them to multitask hardcore, but these are sufficiently sleekly styled and easy to clean that they can transition easily from weekend hiking/snow play to biking to work to dinner–with jeans or tights and a dress. I can’t thank you enough for the recommendation!

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