On October 10th, 2019 Darcy and I hit the road. On October 7th I received my Lems Boulder Boots in the mail. Waterproof Cordura, leather accents, and brown laces already attached and a set of orange laces that were extra. Of course, I used the orange laces.
The first time I used them was on the flight. I always fly with my heaviest/bulkiest clothes on to save space. In the airport, just before boarding, someone walked up to me and said, “Are those Lems? I’ve been looking at getting a pair forever!”
I told him I just bought the ones I had on, and encouraged him to take the leap.
For nine of the last fifteen months I’ve used the Boulder Boots.
Before buying my Lems I did research on which boots to purchase and my needs were simple. Zero-drop and a wide toe box. (Zero-drop means no difference between the toe and the heel like you might find on tennis shoes with the thick heel, so your foot is slanted.) For a few weeks I leaned towards buying a pair of Vivobarefoot despite their steeper price tag and notoriously narrow toe box. I had wanted a pair forever and wasn’t going to let my large feet get in the way!
Lems were one of the only shoe brands that kept popping up. Initially, I wanted to go with a brand that had more behind it. A longer track record. More experience.
I’ve used them in the rain and snow, during hot days and cold ones, hiking and walking. Here’s what I think.
The first thing I noticed when I put them on was the space. My toes rested comfortably inside the shoe with thick wool socks. No pinching, no tightness.
The second thing I noticed when walking was how comfortable walking become. The zero-drop aspect is supposed to be better for your back and overall stride, and if I’m going to be spending time in a pair of boots, I wanted to make sure I wasn’t going to pay years later.
As a traveler, the way clothing or shoes smell after use is a big deal to me. I don’t tend to smell too heavily when I sweat, but I’ve found that shoes with a lot of rubber brings out the worst in me.
When I saw that Lems had a flannel interior, and a waterproof exterior, I feared the worst.
After using them for the first few months, going on fairly frequent hikes and climbs, I found they rarely, if ever, smelled. Not that they smelled amazing. But they didn’t smelled like a diseased sock.
Because of this, they’re my go-to on a plane. I like to take off my shoes when I’m on long flights (so I don’t sweat them out, and for simple comfort) and I hate to have my seat neighbors smelling my feet. Now they don’t!
When I went on my first trip ever back in 2013, I bought a pair of Merrell Moab hiking shoes. I tested them on the ‘traction tester’ at the sporting goods store which I only realized later was a ramp covered in sandpaper (what wouldn’t stick?).
The first time I took the Merrell’s out on a wet walk, I nearly face-planted stepping off a curb. For a while, I thought it was the way I was walking. Then I realized, no, it’s the shoes. No grip.
I went through a number of shoes after that, from hiking shoes to tennis shoes, trying to find something that worked in the rain (I have a really bad habit of visiting Europe in the winter, just as the rainy season starts).
I took the Lems out on a walk during a bit of rainfall and snow and was fairly impressed. No sliding, no slipping. The boots felt like they were still solidly attached to the ground.
Every once in a while, usually on ground that is covered in lichen, and has recently been rained on, I have some trouble. But I find that’s usually because I’m 200-odd pounds with a higher center of gravity. Darcy is much lighter, with a lower center of gravity, and doesn’t have as much trouble walking on slippery surfaces. Or she just has better balance.
Not yet! The leather around the edges is starting to crack, but that has more to do with my lack of upkeep than the leather being bad. (Seriously, treat your leather goods well!) The DWR waterproofing on the Cordura is starting to get a little thin, and therefore less waterproof, but that can be reapplied. The shoe laces so no signs of wear. The inside flannel looks worn, but not dirty or unusable.
If you’re going to buy a pair of shoes before heading out into the world, I whole-heartedly suggest Lems. Again and again, their quality impresses me.
And I wasn’t paid or in any way compensated for this post. I just want to give a shout-out where it’s deserved.