Gear Review: Lems Shoes prove less can be more

All images by Erin Kirkland for Lems Shoes

All images by Erin Kirkland for Lems Shoes

I am a footwear junkie. One look at my closet or garage gear shelves and it’s clear, I may have a problem. But in Alaska, where weather and geographical changes mean different shoes, boots, or sandals may be required to comfortably navigate outdoor activities, footwear is a critical element of recreational success.

Meet the Lems Shoes brand, a product that strives not only to be comfortable, but sustainable within the realm of Alaska’s active adventure lifestyle. I stumbled across Lems via social media several months ago, and was immediately drawn to their “Less is More” concept. Less is definitely a signature element of Lems except where it pertains to quality, or so they told me, so when the big box arrived on my front porch I was determined to give it my AKontheGO all.

Note the leather/ballistic nylon uppers, with tight stitching between them. No wet feet, here!

Note the leather/ballistic nylon uppers, with tight stitching between them. No wet feet, here!

Testing the Women’s Boulder Boot, a sort of hybrid between retro-style hiking boot and minimalist walking shoe, I subjected this pair of Buckeyes to just about any aspect of an Alaska spring condition as I could. Here’s what I found out.

Construction: Made to nurture the natural shape of the foot, Lems products are all flat, flexible, and possess a “zero drop” concept (thickness of the heel area), allowing feet to spread and move as the good creator intended. Constructed of leather and 1200 denier “ballistic” nylon fabric, the shoes are solidly sewn and woven, with nary a gap where one shouldn’t be.

The Boulder Boot comes in a variety of earth-toned colors, and each is attractive in an outdoorsy sort of way that styles nicely with shorts or jeans or hiking pants.

If you’ve never worn over-the-ankle, lace-up boots, entry and exit can prove frustrating, but it’s easily fixed by loosening the laces as much as possible and using a shoehorn.

Comfort: Weighing a mere 9.9 ounces, the Boulder Boot is like wearing, well, nothing. Light, airy, and very comfortable on, the boots didn’t make my feet feel 1) encased in cement like heavier hiking boots, or 2) sweaty after a day exploring the forests and shorelines of Southcentral Alaska. Note: All sizes are European, but Lems provides a simple sizing chart. There are no half-sizes, and I found that the size I ordered was just a tad large, so perhaps order down.

 

Sleek soles with sticky rubber worked well on board our Major Marine day cruise.

Sleek soles with sticky rubber worked well on board our Major Marine day cruise.

Function: The ultimate test of Lems Shoes Boulder Boot was a weekend aboard a boat in rainy Seward, Alaska. Buckets of precip fell between Saturday and Sunday, but my feet stayed dry inside and out, thanks to the weave of the nylon and tightness of lacing. The soles, flat and without too much tread, were perfect for standing and walking about on a slippery, moving boat, and I was glad to have them as the swells increased throughout the day. However, if I had been hiking a muddy Alaska trail carrying weight on my back, it is likely I would have chosen a more traditional style of hiking boot. But for casual walking or day hiking on secure surfaces, the boot performed well.

Just how water-repellant are these boots? I found out when I accidentally stepped in an ankle-high puddle of slushy water in the hotel parking lot. While I admit my foot did squish a bit, I also am proud to say my sock was not as sodden as I would have expected. So, not waterproof, by any means, simply due to the construction, but I’m confident that during any normal rainstorm feet will be dry and cozy.

Cost: At $115 per pair, the Buckeye Boot is not cheap, nor are any Lems Shoes products. That said, I’ve been wearing the boots for a few months now, and the things look as they did the day I received them. I’m taking the boots along for our Iowa to Alaska road trip in May, where I’m sure they’ll be subjected to many a trial. Ask me how they look in June.

Final word: I like these boots. I like them enough to wear on any casual outdoor excursion that doesn’t involve mountain climbing or wading. My feet like these boots, too, and feel refreshed at the end of the day. That’s enough for me. I’d like to try the original style that started it all, the Primal, however, for everyday wear. But the Boulder Boot is a solid choice for those seeking a comfortable day hiking shoe that doesn’t feel like a hiking boot.

Oh, and did I mention Lems Shoes and boots are completely collapsable?Packing win.

Oh, and did I mention Lems Shoes and boots are completely collapsable?Packing win.

~EK

*Lems Shoes provided a pair of Boulder Boots for review by AKontheGO.

 

 

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