Updated: January 2019
Quick Look: After wearing these boots almost every day for the last 16 months, in a variety of conditions – garden, forest, town – I recommend them, with a few caveats.
They are comfortable, light, flexible, good looking, and protect my feet without weighing me down.
Who Should Buy this Boot?
If you’re looking for a lightweight, comfortable shoe that covers your feet more than the average “minimal” shoe, the Lems Boulder Boot is a fine choice.
You value versatility and want a shoe that is good on the trail, splitting firewood or buying groceries.
Who Shouldn’t Buy this Boot?
If you need a boot that is impervious to water, or if you tend to drop heavy things on your toes, look elsewhere.
Yes, these are leather, but step in anything deeper than a puddle and your toes may get wet. (Waterproofing may help, but I haven’t tried yet.)
No Steel Toes. More and more I prefer a shoe that gives me more agility than armor, but If you work in a setting where black toes are common, these boots are risky.
Last Caveat. If you have some pre-existing foot condition, consult with a foot doctor before making the switch to a minimalist shoe.
So what’s a minimalist shoe?
Here’s what I’ve learned. Minimalist (sometimes called barefoot style) shoes are designed and built to support your natural foot function and help you maintain balance, flexibility and mobility.
Here’s how they differ from most conventional shoes and their potential advantages.
- A Wide Toe Box gives your toes room to spread which improves your balance, stability and overall comfort. Side note: Ever noticed the foot of a baby or someone who walks barefoot a lot? Their toes are the widest part of the foot. But, after years wearing conventional shoes, most of us have feet that get pointier at the toes.
- A thin, flexible sole allows for a full (er) range of motion than a stiff soled shoe.
- Zero Drop. This is a fancy way of saying that there is no raised heel (zero drop from the heel to the toe). This keeps you in better alignment (you’re not pushed up and forward by a heel), and if you’re a runner, encourages a forefoot strike.
NOTE: You might be thinking, but I don’t wear heels! Look closely, many shoes, including hiking boots and many athletic shoes have a slight heel.
And don’t get me started on logging boots like those from Danner or Georgia Boot. I know they are essentially a badge of bad-ass-bro honor, a symbol of rugged manliness, but having worn both types of shoe, I can tell you that my feet and body are much happier with light, minimal shoes.
Can you actually work in them?
For most country-living, do-it-yourself type folks, the Lems Boulder Boot will make a great work boot.
I tend to bounce around to different “jobs” regularly. I may work in the forest, thinning and harvesting firewood, for a few days; then switch gears into gardening or a building project. I also hike and take my kids into town for gymnastics, swimming and little league.
They’re versatile. And I like that I can go from one thing to the next without having to change shoes. I do have a pair of Muck boots for wet, muddy days, and some Vibram toe shoes for summer running, but the Lems are perfect for most of my activities, my go-to shoe.
As I mentioned before, I prefer agility over padding or “armor.” But again, if your work is stationary and puts your toes at risk from heavy, falling things, I’d suggest a beefier boot.
Other things that I appreciate about the Lem’s Boulder Boot
- They’re light. At around 10 oz they weigh less than many running shoes.
- They’re flexible and comfortable. These have just a bit more cushion than some barefoot style shoes, which I like, but my feet can still flex and bend easily. I fell very agile when wearing these shoes.
- The quilted lining is soft and adds some warmth in cool weather.
- They look good. This is certainly subjective, but some barefoot shoes make a strong fashion statement. These are understated.
- The laces are good, and an extra pair comes with the shoes.
How Are They Holding Up?
Almost a year and half later, the toes are scuffed, but the boots are holding up surprisingly well, given how light they are.
The seams are all still in tact and the sole is still fully attached (more than I can say for the last pair of Danners I owned).
I’d like the tread on the sole to be grippier. I wouldn’t want this at the expense of flexibility, but if the boot could keep its flexibility and add a little more traction, that’d be win.
Could the sole be re-craftable? This would be a huge bonus in my book. I’m sure the shoe would cost more (upfront), but I’m ok with that.
Small gripes aside, I still highly recommend the Lems Boulder Boot if you’re looking for a versatile, comfortable shoe that won’t weigh you down.