Do you want that perfect Camden town grunge look? But without sacrificing your alignment or toe space? Doc Martens have a quintessential style, but they’re not great if you want strong functional feet the rest of your life. Check out my selection below of barefoot-approved combat boots that have all the grungy style and none of the foot deforming features.
Welcome to Episode 5 of Wear This, Not That!
Why Doc Martens Aren’t Good For Your Feet
Doc Martens have two things going for them: a classic look, and a super durable outsole. But everything else about them can wreak havoc on your body over time. A chunky heel, tapered toe, and rigid sole essentially make these more of a straight jacket than a shoe.
By contrast, natural footwear is completely flat (the way feet are supposed to be on the ground!), have an anatomically shaped toe box, and a flexible sole that moves with your foot. Wherever possible, I highly recommend getting your feet in shoes that fit this criteria. Tending to the health of your feet today can keep you mobile and strong for decades to come.
But here at Anya’s Reviews we know that caring about your foot health doesn’t mean losing your sense of style. It may not be what you see when you go shoe shopping, but there is an entire market of natural footwear that can keep your feet happy without making you stick out like a sore thumb.
Now let’s check out some barefoot combat boot alternatives that meet all the criteria of healthy footwear, but don’t compromise on style.
My Favorite Barefoot Combat Boots
I love a combat boot look! Every option on this list makes my little fashionista heart go pitter patter, but is still zero drop and wide in the toe box. In no particular order, check out this list of barefoot combat boots in a range of prices, fit types, and even vegan options! All images are of black boots, but they come in other colors as well. Click through each boot to see more options!
We talk about foot type here to help you find the shoes that will fit the best. Read this post for more context.
1. Ahinsa Jaya
Ahinsa Jaya | $164 | Vegan | Water Resistant | Sizes EU 37-46
First up is the Ahinsa Jaya, a vegan boot with an ultra wide toe box. This option is super flexible, fits a wide range of foot types (check that non-sloping toe box), and can accommodate high volume feet. It is the lightest and softest of the bunch as well, and boasts water resistance.
I am wearing my usual size 37 and have space for socks and an insole (medium or high volume feet won’t need to tighten the laces as much as I do, but should still fit). They have a Roman shaped toe box (great for those with long 2nd and 3rd toes).
You can order these babies directly from Ahinsa with code
ANYASREVIEWS for 10% off, but be aware that they don’t accept returns unless the shoes are defective. For your convenience, US customers can now order the black Ahinsa Jaya through Anya’s Shop! Orders placed through our shop will be eligible for US returns.
Same shoe, different foot!
Check out the Ahinsa Jaya on two different foot types. On the left (below) is my low volume foot with a wide toe spread. On the right, is Samantha (our researcher here at Anya’s Reviews) with an EXTRA wide and high volume foot. Notice that the laces are cinched much tighter over my low volume foot, but Ahinsa fits both our foot types well.
2. Vivobarefoot Gobi Hi & Scott
Vivobarefoot Gobi & Scott | $190 (after code
ANYAVB) | Leather | Water Resistant | Sizes US 5W – 15M
The Vivobarefoot Gobi Hi (women’s) and Scott (men’s) is a seasonal boot that comes back every fall and winter. It’s lined for a little extra warmth and has a grippy outsole for some decent traction. Mine double as a light hiking boot, they’re pretty durable and break in more and more over time. They have a simple, classic aesthetic to them. If you’re wearing them in the cold, be warned that the insole that comes with it is NOT warm. Check out this post for tips to improve that.
For women, the Gobi Hi runs narrow and low volume. If you have wide feet I recommend sizing up (I have my usual size 37 but they’re borderline too small and I can only fit thin socks in them). The men’s Scott is true to size and fits a medium to high volume. Both cater to an Egyptian shaped foot, with the big toe longest.
*These boots are currently sold out at Vivobarefoot.com, find them at Revivo and Amazon linked below*
3. Mukishoes Igneous
Mukishoes Igneous | $142 (after code
) | Leather | Wool Lined | Sizes EU 36-44
*This is a winter model from Mukishoes that is only available seasonally. Check back later in the season to snag a pair!*
Mukishoes is one of my all time favorite brands because their shoes are soooo flexible, gorgeous, AND they have extremely high ethical standards. The Igneous is a nubuck leather boot lined with felted wool. The zipper on the side makes these easy on and off, and they are superbly flexible. I recommend protecting them with suede spray, since they’re more prone to damage than finished leather.
Mukishoes is an average width brand, I sized up to a 38 so I could fit a wool insole and warm socks (cuz it’s winter yo). I wear a 37 in their sneakers, but wear them barefoot or with thin socks. They fit high volume (I always use an insole in my Mukis), and have a Greek shape to them.
ANYASREVIEWS for 10% off any Mukishoes purchase (except sale items). You can read my full review of the Mukishoes brand here.
4. Groundies Berlin
Groundies Berlin | $135 | Leather | Sizes EU 36-47
Groundies Barefootwear is always keeping it fresh with trendy styles that are barefoot friendly; they’re a brand I keep coming back to. The Berlin is a combat dupe that comes in a few different finishes and outsole types, and is very well loved in the community. I don’t own these myself but I own quite a few other Groundies and adore them for their barefoot feel but stylish look. One of my all time favorite sneakers is from Groundies!
I wear my usual size 37 in every Groundies shoe I have tried. They have a Greek shape to them and are medium width; a little bit wider than Vivobarefoot. The regular Berlin fits a low to medium volume foot, and the Berlin GS1 (with a different outsole) fits a higher volume foot.
5. DaVinci Footwear
DaVinci Footwear | $230 (after code
ANYASREVIEWS) | Leather | Sizes US 5W – 13.5M
DaVinci Footwear makes rustic, resoleable barefoot boots with a unique look. The women’s lace up is called the Primavera and the men’s is the Mohawk, both of which are being transitioned over to a wider toe box (see the photo below for the new toe box shape). These boots are the most similar to a Doc Marten style, with visible stitching and brass eyelets, and they have a level of quality to match. You can read my full review of their new toe box width here.
DaVinci boots run big, most people size down 1/2 to 1 size in them. The new toe box is very generous and should work for most foot types (it tapers in slightly at the big toe, so some Egyptian feet will have a problem). The lace up styles work well for medium volume feet, but because they are fully leather you are able to stretch them to fit. There is a break in period at first.
*Note that currently the listings have no photos!! They are waiting on final samples of these new toe boxes to photograph.
6. Gaucho Ninja
Gaucho Ninja | $520 after code ANYASREVIEWS | Leather | Bespoke Option | Sizes EU 36 – 45
Gaucho Ninja Leather handmakes barefoot boots with a fully bespoke (custom) option. Wooee they are pricey, but Lisandro does top quality work and runs a very sustainable business. He makes lace up boots in several heights, all with a beautiful look to them. The black boots you see on me here are bespoke, cut to fit my foot shape. See the brown boots below for an example of the premade toe box. Get 10% off your order with code ANYASREVIEWS.
The premade boots run true to size, have a Greek foot shape and an above average width. They fit a medium to high volume foot, but low volume feet should be able to cinch the laces tighter. Unless of course you get bespoke, then everything will fit your foot shape perfectly. The brown boots below are a size 37, my usual.
7. Peerko Go & Empire
Peerko | $215-$270 | Leather | Sizes EU 38 – 43
Peerko is a relatively new brand on the barefoot shoe scene, but they stole the show this season with a sexy combat boot in two heights. Both feature a side zip for easy on and off and a very edgy style. These don’t come in my size so I wasn’t able to test them out for you, but they were very popular this season so I’ve gotten lots of feedback.
Peerko’s unlined boots and shoes run true to size and have a generous width. They are good for all foot shapes except Square, and fit low to high volume thanks to fully adjustable laces. The tall Empire boot fits snugly around the calves, so wide calves might need something like a Boot Band.
8. Lems Boulder Boot
Lems Boulder | $125-$165 | Leather & Vegan Options | Waterproof Option | Sizes US 5W – 15M
The Lems Boulder Boot is super popular in natural footwear circles because it has a timeless look to it, and a wide toe box. They have a thicker sole than any other shoe I review here, but it’s still zero drop and flexible (not as flexible as the others). Lems shoes do have a slight toe spring that I wish they would ditch, but otherwise I like wearing my Lems boots when it’s cold or rainy and I want a little more distance between me and the ground.
All of Lems shoes size a little bit differently, so it’s best to refer to their Size Guide for each model. In my waterproof Boulder Boots I sized up to a 7.5 from my usual size 7 and they fit well with plenty of space. In my vegan Boulders I am wearing my usual size 7, and still have plenty of space. They are great for Roman shapes and high volume feet.
9. ZlaTush Shoes
Zlatush Winter | $250 | Leather | Fleece Lined | Sizes EU 36-45
ZlaTush is a one-woman handmade shoe shop, with each order fulfilled by Zlatica herself. I have two ballet flats made by Zlatica that I love, but have yet to try these boots out. It can be a bit involved to order, since you must reach out to her and be invoiced, but I can assure you she is good on her word and makes quality products.
The flats I own from Zlatush run long for me, but she has detailed measuring instructions here and can tell you exactly how long each size is in the shoe you’re looking at. She also does fully custom options if you want something unique.
No(N)s is a brand new European barefoot shoe shop on the scene, and I mean brand-spanking-new. At the time of this writing she has made 5 of the boots you see above and they are currently in transit to their new owners. That means there are no customer reviews to be had. But they have an awesome look and seem promising if you’re looking for an extra wide toe box.
And that’s it peeps! Plenty of grungy combat boots for you with none of the foot deforming features of Doc Martens. If you’re interested in seeing more healthy footwear options that don’t make your eyes hurt, make sure you check out my Fashion, But Make it Barefoot series!
*If you’re looking for true combat boots for the military, check out the Belleville Mini Mil*