Baseball season beginning, allergies picking up, and finding myself going to bed while the sun is still out are all things I typically look forward to in spring. Another perk though, being the opportunity to ditch the boots and wear some light and comfortable shoes. That quest ultimately led me to the Lems Shoes Mariner Walnut Boat Shoe.
Lems Shoes is a family owned business that has been producing footwear since 2011. It all started when Grand Shoebah Andrew Rademacher was having trouble finding the ideal shoe, a natural design that allowed for unrestricted mobility. Thus began a long journey in development, from working at a shoe store to literally dicing up expensive sneakers to see how they were made. Lems is based out of Boulder Colorado where Andrew designs the shoes. I was surprised to learn that Lems is ran by four employees and works closely with a factory in China who produce their footwear.
The Mariners are made from 1.8mm full grain leather, the interior of the shoes have no lining to promote breathability. The soles are made from LemsRubber, a proprietary injection blown rubber. In case you’re not up to date on your rubber sciences, air-injected rubber is lighter, softer and more flexible than traditional rubber. However, this sometimes comes at a cost of less durability. You’ve got a 1.0mm Pigskin/ 4.0mm open-cell PU sole. The Mariner’s main difference from a traditional boat shoe is the lack of a heel. There is a zero drop offset which means when the shoes are on, your heel and the balls of your feet are equally level. At under 9 ounces, the Lems are easily half the weight of other shoes.
The whole idea behind Lems Shoes is to let your feet operate on their own, without the impediments of modern footwear. You definitely “feel” the ground more in these as opposed to shoes with thick soles. While you might notice you can’t trounce over the occasional rock with the same aloofness as before, I personally feel the Mariners offer a more intimate walking experience. Since your toes are engaging more, you are more perceptive to how you move and navigate everyday obstacles. I would suggest taking these on a few shorter walks as you get used to the Mariners. The lacing does an adequate job of keeping your foot secure but I do wish the tongue was a bit higher or even better if it had elastic to keep it in place so you could slip them on without lacing. The zero break involved on the Lems Mariners is a nice break from the leather shoe norm and you’ll be out and about immediately.
The Lems Shoe’s Mariner has that classic boating shoe ancestry that remains a pretty timeless design. The toe area is as wide as I’d go, as any more would look almost clog like. Although it should be noted that this is a fundamental feature of the Lems– the larger area for your toes to move improve your traction and foot engagement.
The leather wears quite nicely and the sole contrast is on point. With a purely aesthetic objective, I would have liked to have had a straight edge from the heel collar to the tongue but understand this allows the fibula more freedom of movement. Overall Lems did a good job of retaining the boat shoe look while cleverly including minimalist features. Lems+American Flag Shorts+BBQ = Profit
We’ve seen a lot of nice footwear here at BestLeather. Most of the time you need to spend weeks breaking in shoes, so it was an absolute pleasure just throwing on a pair and going. The build quality is pretty solid for the $105 price point and while the styling has a few minor hiccups in my opinion, I feel they are definitely one of the better looking minimalistic shoes out there. If you want a light, simple shoe that will help strengthen your feet, Lems Shoes Mariner Boat Shoe are a solid option.