Chelsea boots and Vivobarefoot’s Fulham

*Currently on sale for Black Friday!!*

Vivobarefoot Fulham ankle boot

For someone with low volume feet, a slip on barefoot boot has been very difficult to find. I tried and returned these and these Otz Paso chelsea boots as well as the Vivobarefoot Nepal from Winter 2017 before I found these promising ankle boots by Camper (sold in limited sizes on Amazon, here, here, and here).

Camper Peu Cami in black
Sorry for the crappy photos!

You have to remove and replace the insoles on Camper Peu Cami shoes in order for them to be zero drop, but after doing that they are very minimalist friendly. Maybe a little narrow across the ball of the foot for some, but straight out from the toe and very flexible. I liked that they were short (coming only to my ankle bone) and had a simple cute design, but they were still too loose around the midfoot. I had to add 2 of these felt pieces to keep my foot from sliding around. Ultimately I ended up selling them in search of a better fitting chelsea. I also owned these Camper lace up boots in brown and they were much better for low volume feet, but I was still on the prowl for a good chelsea boot.

Enter Vivobarefoot’s Fulham Chelsea boot (Available on Amazon for slightly cheaper in limited sizes here, here, and here). I snatched up a pair immediately.

While not yet my “Holy Grail” of a chelsea boot, these are the best fitting and most stylish I’ve tried yet. The leather is soft and supple, and very durable (when buying VB look for shoes made from WILD HIDE). I purchased 2 sizes, and ultimately ended up keeping the smaller. Based on reviews, this will depend on how you want them to fit, since they seem to be true to size.

The smaller fit closer around my ankle and had the look I was going for even though they were tight around the ball of my foot. Oddly, the next size up was still tight in the toe box, but looser everywhere else. So, I kept the smaller size. While I can still wear them *mostly* comfortably they do press on my pinkie toes. Most people don’t have such narrow, low feet and so sizing up would be advisable if you plan on wearing warm socks or just want toe space. I like that they’re easy to slip on and off and that my foot doesn’t slide (I did still need to insert a piece of felt into the top of the boot to achieve this). I also like that they have a streamlined look and aren’t super bulky. This makes them easier to style, especially in transitional weather. Because I am petite I prefer boots that hit lower on my ankle to preserve my leg line. If I had my way, these would be an inch shorter for that reason.

Tons of styling possibilities!
Honeycomb grips on the bottom
Pittard’s Wild Hide is excellent quality! See my sticky felt insert hiding in there?
The elastic on the side has been holding up really well, even though it’s starting to look like a little wavy. I’ll keep you posted on wear over time!
Pull on tabs!

I can only wear thin socks in my size unless I remove the thermal insole, but without the thermal insole you feel the cold ground almost immediately and in winter that’s not practical. They’re advertised as being weatherproof, but there is no extra lining on the interior and they don’t keep my feet super warm with just my thin socks. I find my Gobi Hi Tops to be a lot warmer than these, by way of comparison.

I clean and care for all my leather goods with Chamberlain’s leather milk. On these I did not use the waterproofing agent since I didn’t want to change the color, and because these are already pretty waterproof.

In conclusion, the VB fulham is one of the best chelsea boot options out there, meeting my expectations for looks and barefoot qualities. I expect to get years of use out of them. But because they are pull on and not adjustable at all, the shape of your feet will be the main determining factor. Thanks to VB’s free shipping AND free returns, trying these out for yourself is pretty much risk free. While I sometimes prefer the customer service and sale prices of a 3rd party site like NorthSole co over Vivobarefoot’s (get on North sole’s e-mail list!), when I am very unsure of size and fit I still order from VB direct. VB also has a rewards program that is pretty good and first time purchasers can use a referral link to get $30 off.

Other minimalist chelsea boots:
Xero Viennas here & here
The Drifter Leather Chelsea (I am planning on trying these soon!)
Luk Shoes Ankle High Boots
Otz Paso
Camper Peu Cami

What are your favorite barefoot chelsea boots? How are you styling your VB Fulham’s?

10 thoughts on “Chelsea boots and Vivobarefoot’s Fulham

  1. Sallie Reply

    Thanks for this! What made you return the Otz boots? I am searching for the perfect Chelsea too, and I love the look of the Fullham, but it was too narrow in the toe box for me. I think I may try the Camper.

    • Anya Post authorReply

      The Otz were very loose in the midfoot for me, my foot was sliding all around and they looked like bricks on my feet! You could use sticky felt in the top to make them more secure, but I hadn’t learned that trick yet. Besides Otz and Camper, there’s also Luk Shoes (I just updated my post to include a link to their Chelsea style boot. After that, Drifter Leather will be your best bet! Can’t beat custom. I think a Chelsea is particularly difficult to make barefoot, since one of the core principles of barefoot is secure to your foot. That’s hard in a slip on.

  2. Justine Lustig Reply

    Thanks for the helpful review! I have the gobi hi tops and am looking for a summer work shoe. I definitely want to try these now – thanks so much!

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  5. Eva Reply

    Thanks for this! I have bunions and am looking for a barefoot boot with a wide enough toe box to accommodate. Have you tried the Xero Vienna? If so, how does it compare?

    • Anya Post authorReply

      I haven’t tried them and don’t have much info to go off of! Check out my Winter Boots roundup though, there are lots of options and many of them will be wider than the Fulhams.

  6. Eva Reply

    Thanks! I’m trying to decide between trying the Fulhams or the Otz Paso…would you say the Fulham’s run narrow? The pictures on the Vivo’s site make them look quite roomy, but maybe that’s inaccurate? Do they have much give?

    • Anya Post authorReply

      The Otz were roomier with the insoles removed than the Fulham’s. The Fulham’s run a little narrow compared to other brands, but seem consistent with Vivo’s widths. They do have free shipping/returns, so at least there’s that if you end up getting it wrong the first time.

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