"The heel lift bothered me from the outset. I found that they strained a muscle in the sole of my left foot, just from walking around inside."
I spent yesterday building an igloo with my daughters. I decided to wear my good old (20+ years old) LL Bean boots; since I never applied that second treatment of Obenauf's to my Russells their water-resistance is suspect.
The Bean boots are unmodified, they have the regular heel lift, whatever that is. But the rubber keeps you dry, and some decent socks keep you warm. Also, they have the typical Bean "chain-traction" sole, which is horrible in the snow, IMHO.
Once again, I got a pain in my left foot at the front of the arch, and I'm limping around as a result of it. This hasn't happened the last couple of times I wore these (I've been doing a lot of snow shoveling lately), so it may just be that I was wearing these for longer this time around.
But there you go. Once you get used to barefoot-style shoes, you wind up having to adapt back to regular shoes. I need to treat my Russells again.
We didn't finish the igloo, despite putting about 4.5 hours into it. What we have looks pretty cool, though. I've got to give those "primitive" Eskimos a lot of credit: they invented the arch and the dome with stone-age technology. It's very impressive, and not easy to execute.