If you’re looking for a minimalist boot with a barefoot-like feel for backpacking or hiking, look no further. At CREUS, we only recommend products that we truly believe in. One of our goals is to help you find products that are of the highest quality and good for your health–Lems Boulder Boot meets both of these qualifications.
I tested Lems Boulder Boot a couple weeks ago on a 25 mile backpacking trip on the John Muir Trail (JMT). My wife, a couple of friends, and I did an “out and back” from Tuolumne Meadows to Donahue Pass. After wearing my Vibram Five Fingers on the Lost Coast Trail, I decided that for the JMT I needed a shoe that would provide a little more ankle support and warmth, as well as keep the dirt off my feet. After shopping around, I decided to go with Lems Boulder Boot, and it didn’t disappoint. Here are a few things I liked about the boot:
There are very few minimalist boots on the market right now. Among the boots that are available, the biggest issues are the design and quality of the sole. Most of the boots I looked at are either “minimalist-inspired” and still have a slightly built up heel, or the soles are of questionable durability.
The Lems Boulder Boots has a perfectly flat sole, which allows the foot to follow a natural gait pattern and the arch to function as it should. I’m of the opinion that hiking in a zero-drop boot also helped prevent my feet from sliding forward (which can scrunch the toes and cause blisters).
Excellent Ground Feel
Lems has managed to achieve what feels like an optimal sole thickness for backpacking. The soles were thick enough that I didn’t have to worry about every detailed foot placement, Iike I’ve had to do when backpacking in Vibrams Five Fingers, but thin enough that I could feel the ground.
For me, having good ground feel is a very important part of backpacking, for two reasons: For one, I enjoy feeling the ground beneath my feet, experiencing the wide variety of terrain I’m walking on. With ground feel, my feet become another avenue for experiencing and remembering the amazing terrain. Secondly, adequate ground feel, with zero drop, provides improved traction and a lower center of gravity. Combined, these two factors improve balance and can help prevent twisted ankles (which often occur because of the increased torquing leverage caused by thick soles).
At 9.9oz, Lems Boulder Boots are one of the lightest boots on the market. If you’re a backpacker, you know that the lighter the gear the better! These boots feel lighter than many trail running shoes I’ve worn, making each step airy and enjoyable along the trail!
Amazingly, the lightweight construction doesn’t seem to interfere with the boots’ durability. More miles are needed to discover the actual endurance of the boot, but after the 25 mile hike over rough terrain, the boots look little worse for wear. Keep in mind, I was hiking a 50lb pack, and I weight 205lbs, so the boots were definitely taking some pressure against the hard granite. From what I can tell, the soles incurred little wear, the stitches are tight, and there are no signs of anything coming unglued.
Probably the most important aspect of any boot or shoe is the level of comfort provided. Thanks to their soft-lining and spacious toe box, Lems Boulder Boots are very comfortable. My toes had plenty of room to wiggle around in and my fore-foot had plenty of space to spread out (both important when it comes to backpacking). I should also mention that I was the only one in the group not to get any blisters, and this was the first time I wore the boots other than around the house!
Another advantage of Lems Boulder Boots is that they provide the comfort of ankle support. It was great to know that I had the benefits of a minimalist shoe with the extra protection of an over-the-ankle boot. Thanks to the good ground feel, I don’t think I ever slipped, but if I had, I’m happy to know that the boots would have provided some protection against spraining one of my ankles.
If you’re looking for a completely water-proof or technical mountaineering boot, then Lems Boulder Boot probably isn’t the right fit for you, but they’re a an awesome step in the right direction as far as minimalist boots go. Lems Boulder Boots are water repellent, but they don’t have a one-piece tongue, and you aren’t going to want to go marching straight through streams with them (but you shouldn’t have any problem walking across boulders in the stream).
Also, if you aren’t an experienced bare-footer or wearer of minimalist shoes, backpacking or hiking in Lems Boulder Boots isn’t a good idea until you’ve had some practice. If your feet are used to wearing shoes with built up heels and arch support, it will take some time before they are strong enough to hike or carry weight while wearing minimalist shoes. For more on the benefits of minimalist shoes and/or barefoot running, read our previous blog on barefoot running.
To check out Lems Boulder Boots, visit Lems Shoes!
Originally posted 2013-09-03 13:15:27.