Finally we have a minimal boot with zero drop and the ability to actually feel the ground! The Lems Boulder boot has been around for a while. Their first iteration was a canvas/leather mix which I haven’t had the pleasure of trying. The newest iteration though brings together an all leather version. This all leather design brings with it a more durable construction and the ability to apply some waterproofing to the leather.
Lets see how the Lems Boulder Boot Leather stacks up. I am reviewing the Raven version which is the all black color.
To see this boot in use and in the field, check out my In the Field Video of me walking, running, and splashing around in these.
Info from Lems website:
- WATERPROOFING None
- LAST Lems Natural-Shape™ Last
- UPPER 1.8mm full-grain leather
- LINING 100% cotton
- OUTSOLE 9.0mm LemsRubber™ (air-injection rubber)
- FOOTBED 3.0mm removable PU insole
- INSOLE BOARD 1.0mm PU strobel (lined with fabric on top)
- STACK HEIGHT 10.0mm (not including 3.0mm footbed)
- DROP 0.0mm (Zero-Drop)
- WEIGHT 11.5 oz (sz 43)
- PROVIDED WITH 2 PAIRS OF LACES black + red
The Boulder Boot is instantly comfortable with no break in period required. Putting them on requires loosening the laces and using the sturdy loop hole to pull them on. One your foot is in you’ll instantly notice how much room your toes have. If you are not used to a wide toe box this will be a welcome change. No more rushing to get your boots off at the end of the day.
I didn’t noticing any toe rubbing from the stitching on the toes. With outward facing stitching the toe area feels smooth. When the laces are tightened the boot wraps around your angle as tight as you set the laces. Once the laces are properly adjusted there is no up and down give and I didn’t have any issue with the boot rubbing on the back of my heel.
The Lems Boulder Boot Leather are a softer more pliable boot. This means you won’t have as much ankle support as a traditional rigid boot. Personally I don’t like a rigid boot to begin with, this means no sore shins from hiking in the Lems as it provides just enough flexibility in the ankle but still just the perfect amount of support.
With a 13mm stack height (10mm with the 3mm insole removed) these do have less ground feel than a more aggressive barefoot shoe. Remembering the use-case of these as boots, you do still have ground feel compared to none with a traditional boot.
The flexible sole of the Boulder Boot allows your foot to bend and conform around objects. In my in the field video you see me walking across a log and the soles actually bend down in the heel and toe allowing even an easier time balancing while walking across a multitude of objects you may encounter on your own adventures.
Speaking of rocks, these do great in rocky environments. They provide enough protection where you could do a full day of hiking in a rocky place and not having sore feet. You can still feel the contour of the rocks but there is no discomfort. The removable sole allows some customization in ground feel as well.
It’s amazing how compact of a ball these boots can roll into. I would never put packable and boot in the same sentence but these defy all logic.
If you need the ability to stuff your boots into a bag or pack, then these will do the trick. When I travel though I usually only bring 1 pair of shoes and sometimes a pair of sandals as well. So I could potentially see a need of throwing these in my bag if I wanted to wear sandals on a certain day. The Boulder Boot offers that flexibility.
I have been impressed the the Lems tread pattern and performance. In everything except full on mud or wet snow the traction is dead on.
In mud you do notice some slipping but these are still a fine choice if you are more careful about your feet placement. I would say the same about snow.
On a scale of 1-10 on traction, 10 being the most grippy, I would rate it a 7.
A common questions around the Lems boot is are they waterproof? The simple answer is no. I even attempted to use some Atsko sno-seal (affiliate link) to attempt to make them waterproof. While the leather soaked it up and enhanced the waterproofing of the leather, the problem lies in the stitching in the toes.
These can work in the snow, but I would only recommend them in shorter snow. I haven’t had problems with snow penetrating the leather or the stitching, the issue lies with when the snow melts and water can seep into the toe seams. The rate at which water leaks through is very slow. So for shorter hikes maybe 1-2 hours these boots will do you fine. Any long all day ventures out the in the snow, I would opt for a fully waterproof boot.
In the rain I haven’t notice any leakage. The leakage only happens when the boots are submerged, in water or in snow. They shed rain well and especially with the Atsko sno-seal (affiliate link) i am very comfortable wearing them in the rainy PNW. If walking through wet grass I would put it in between snow and rain. They might be a very small amount of seepage after walking through a wet field.
Although the stitching is the issue with the non-waterproof it allows allows some breath-ability in the boot. After splashing around in puddles and walking in the rain, even if some water got in my feet are always dry when I take the boots off. The water isn’t trapped inside and once your feet generate some heat from moving, any wetness dries up in about an hour.
I’ve had mine for just under a year now. I honestly haven’t noticed any wear yet. They actually look better broken in than they do new as the leather softens up even more. These aren’t my daily shoes so more wear might be visible if they had daily use, but I use these as my “work” boot. Muddy hikes, wet grass, walking the dog, mowing the lawn, snowy walks, these boots excel in all of these areas and are my go-to.
I normally wear a size 12-12.5 in US. EU sizing I’m normally a 47.
For the Boulder Boot I ordered the 47 and it was the perfect fit for me. For comparison I have the Lems Primal 2 in a 46 which fits me comfortably but on the snugger side. Their size chart seems to be true to size.
Where to Buy
As with any shoe purchase online it helps to have free return shipping. Lems website doesn’t offer free return shipping so I recommend these other sites. The following two sites offer free return shipping to the US.
HUCKBERRY – Where I bought mine at.
CAMPSAVER – Offer free shipping as well. I have purchased multiple items from here before.
Overall I would recommend the Lems Boulder Boot Leather. While not waterproof, they are water resistance and can handle rain, puddles, and shorter snow. The no break-in period makes it so you can wear them comfortably from day 1 and enjoy them from the get-go. They have held up great for me after 1 year and still see many more years use from them.
If you are looking for a backpacking or hiking boot and you don’t need extreme ankle support (previous injury or the like) then these will serve you well. The sole has enough cushion and rigidity that it would be comfortable even on the rockiest of hikes. There is still some ground feel though, achieving a nice balance of protection and feel. The flexible sole allows it to bend around object giving you the ability to grip things with your feet or balance across logs.
The packability of the Boulder Boot makes it a great travel boot, if not your only choice out there right now. I would be wearing this instead of putting it in my pack if I were traveling, but that flexibility is still there. It comes with 2 different color laces, I have the red on here for this review which makes it look more sporty. With the black laces on I could dress these up comfortably and be able to go out to a nicer dinner with some nice pants and a collared shirt. This is my top pick for an everyday travel boot!