Update: I swapped out the included laces with these and turned my Lems into slip-ons.
I’m happiest when I’m barefoot. The less constraints on my feet the happier I am, especially when I’m on my feet or traveling all day. As such I always seek out the lightest most comfortable shoes I can find that don’t sacrifice on durability all while keeping a sleek minimal look. Something that I’ve realized is surprisingly hard to find in my journey to find the best versatile footwear. Having said that, boots don’t really come to mind when you’re looking at those specific criteria. I’ve never really been a boots kind of guy, always preferring low profile shoes in order to keep weight to a minimum. However I’ve recently been traveling more often to colder climates as well as places with more opportunities for extended outdoor hiking activities that had me wondering if I could find something that I could use to trudge through snow and slush lined streets while at the same time looking simple enough to walk around town or even do some moderate hiking in.
I found out quickly that my options were quite limited. The deal breaker usually being that the weight of the boots were too much to be comfortable to wear all day. I tried about half a dozen different brands before realizing that my search may be in vain. I don’t ever travel with anything more than the shoes that I’m wearing and I wasn’t ever going to change in that regard so I kept trudging on in my search.
As luck would have it I stumbled across Lems Shoes based in Boulder Colorado. Their story really resonated with my own thoughts on footwear so I became quite intrigued with their Boulder Boot line. Right off the cuff their description notes the barefoot design, lightweight form (less than 10 oz!) and wide toebox all of which were key requirements for me. The flexibility of the shoe and the fact they describe it as a “Lightweight Packable Boot” was reassuring enough that I had to give it a shot.
The first thing that struck me unpacking them was how amazingly lightweight they are. My wife was watching me unpack them and to her they looked like a durable heavy duty boot until I tossed one to her where she initially gasped with reluctance followed immediately upon catching them with “Wow they’re so light!”. The majority of the outside material is a 1200 denier nylon which does a surprisingly great job at repelling moisture. While I’m not planning on trudging through snow in these they are more than adequate for any fairly serious wet weather that I would possibly come across in my travels.
Slipping them on I immediately noticed how free my feet felt. Secure yet not constrained like most boots would feel. My toes had ample room to flex and clench as if I were barefoot which is exactly what I was looking for. The soles of the boots strike a nice balance between having some nice traction while still keeping your feet feeling grounded and flexible. Walking around was a bit odd at first since I felt the need to overcompensate for the fact that I had boots on until I quickly realized that there was no extra weight associated with the bulky look. I was excited to wear them that weekend on a moderate hike I had planned.
My hike that weekend was just enough to put the Boulder Boots through its paces. It was slightly damp from a storm the night before so parts of the trail were still soggy the first few hours until everything dried up by midday. The hike was only about 4 hours or so until we stopped for lunch. Having used trail running shoes in the past I appreciated having the extra protection and ankle support of a boot while at the same time having the flexibility of a shoe. At not time did my feet feel tired nor did I want to stop to remove them to flex my feet. I always wear my merino wool Darn Tough hiking socks which while thick, breathe quite well even through the boots.
Being the only pair of shoes I brought along, I wore them all day the next day walking around town. Covered under my Thunderbolt jeans they kind of just looked like a pair of walking shoes. I was pleasantly surprised that with just a quick brush off from the prior days activities they looked good as new. Coming home that evening after having been on my feet for almost 11 hours straight I didn’t have that sense of urgency to pull them off and rest my feet. I can’t say that of any other boots I’ve ever worn.
I’m looking forward to seeing how these hold up in the next few winter months. If the comfort remains consistent while showing no major wear and tear these will most likely be my go to boots from here on in. The $115.00 USD price tag was considerably lower than what I thought I was going to have to spend and combined with a 45 day return policy makes these very easy to recommend.
Keeping your feet in as natural a state as possible is so absolutely key to the health and well being of your feet, legs and posture. It’s refreshing to see more independent and passionate brands like Lems giving us options to satisfy these requirements. I’ll be sure to follow-up towards the end of winter with an update so stay tuned.