I'm a huge fan of my VBC flannels, feels like I'm wearing pajamas at work.
For the brown I'm a bit more unsure, I didn't find any flannels.
I am personally a bigger fan of criss cross lacing on boots, http://www.fieggen.com/shoelace/crisscrosslacing.htm, and then you can pass both laces underneath the slit.I was not referring to you with the last comment, rather to VRaivio.
I suspect the answer to your first question is that the boots have speedhooks, which you don't use bar-lacing on. The answer to you second question is that you often get creases up to the point where the toe stiffener ends. Sometimes, this is shorter than the cap toe and the cap will be creased.
I have slightly wide feet, especially at the toes, and Rain is too tight for me widthwise while the 915 is close to perfect. I think the 915 fits like C&Js 348 albeit a bit less elongated and with better arch support, and looking a hell of a lot better; it certainly looks like a top-tier last. I received my balmoral oxfords this week, and they have quikly become one of my favourite pairs. I will write a review ASAP.