It’s pretty fun clomping through the snow in a new pair of boots.
I got these babies just as some major storms were sweeping over Utah. And being a reviewer, I was eager to test them in the worst conditions. So on my walks, I aimed at the biggest drifts and snowpiles. Sometimes I’d sink up to my knees. It was tons of fun.
And I’m happy to say the Russet Leather Boulder Boots from Lems Shoes proved themselves worthy.
First, let me give you a caveat.
Lems has an unconventional philosophy—a philosophy that impacts design and performance. And if you don’t buy into it, you probably won’t like wearing these boots.
See, Lems believes a shoe should fit the natural shape of a human foot—that means the toebox is wider than other shoes. Lems also believes a shoe should enhance what the foot does rather than alter it—that means these have no heels (i.e. “zero-drop”), which helps preserve the body’s barefoot gait. And last, Lems believes in minimalism—that means a thin, lightweight sole, which keeps you close enough to the earth to feel what you’re walking on. I happen to be unconventional (or hippie) enough to buy into this philosophy. And I love these boots. (If you’re curious but unconvinced, you might check out Born to Run or search YouTube for “Principles of Natural Running.” If you’ve never done athletic barefooting, know that it takes some getting used to. Muscles unused in a regular shoe will get activated in a minimal shoe, which means soreness in new places. Something to think about.)
The Boulder Boots are made with 1.8 mm full-grain leather that has a sleek finish. I was a little worried the leather might feel cheap and second-rate, but I’m glad to report that they’re good quality. The interior plaid lining is made from 100% cotton. The souls are air-injected rubber, which is surprisingly lightweight. Seriously, when you pick them up, you’ll be caught off guard if you’re expecting the weight of a thick rubber sole. They’re only 11.5 ounces! (Which makes them great for travel.) They’re so thin, in fact, that you’ll notice a huge difference when walking on concrete. They’ve kept me off my heels, really shifting each footfall to the front of my foot.
Although they’re minimal, I’ve worn my Boulder Boots out in snow for extended periods, and with wool socks they kept me nice and warm. Just make sure to lace them tight so snow can’t get in. I haven’t yet tested them in extreme temperatures, so that experiment is up to you. (I consider them more of the fashion product anyway.)
Oh, and by the way, when I wasn’t wearing wool socks, I did notice a little moisture from melted snow getting inside, which I suppose could be fixed with waterproofing spray. The bottom line is that they’re not waterproof and probably wouldn’t be great slogging through puddles.
I’ve gone hiking and have even done some sprinting in them, and I love they way they move and shift with your foot. They’re super flexible, which leaves your ankles plenty of mobility.
I loved the look of these boots straight out of the box. However, that was my personal opinion, and I actually worried other people might judge me for not having heels. (Yes, really.) Then I started getting compliment after compliment, and I’ve started to walk a little more proudly.
When you step forward, the toe of your back foot bends. This has created some slight ripples in the leather above the toe. You can hardly see it in the pictures, but if I were to change something about these boots it would be to smooth those back out. It’s not a dealbreaker, but maybe something for the shoemakers to consider when making the next version, if there even is a fix with leather this light.
Lems ships their Boulder Boots with two pairs of laces. The russet style comes with gold laces, which are kind of flashy, and a pair in a more conservative chocolate brown. I actually like the look of both, depending on the occasion. And speaking of colors, Lems makes the Boulder Boots in a raven-black leather, as well as several canvas hues too, so check those out on their site. There’s definitely something for everybody’s taste.
But I leave the final aesthetic judgement up to you…
The Russet Leather Boulder Boots from Lems Shoes have a roguish look. They’re lightweight and minimal. And while I don’t necessarily recommend them to everyone, you should consider them if you think organic is a good thing. Or if you want your gait to be as natural (barefoot) as possible. Or if you care about walking in style, ha ha.
I’m personally a huge fan of mine.
(P.S. If you’re still on the fence, Lems has a generous return policy, and, FYI, you’ll pay about $8 in return shipping if you change your mind.)