• Leon Pantenburg | Survival Common Sense


Review: Lem’s Boulder Boots | Do you need or want zero-drop barefoot footwear?

451 400 Survival Common Sense Blog | Emergency Preparedness

I break-in a lot of  boots  to do reviews. But sometimes it’s nice to just go for a walk, relax and not pay attention to what is on my feet.

by Leon Pantenburg

Disclaimer: Lem’s Shoes supplied the product for this review. I was not paid to review the product and write this review. This is strictly my opinion, and nobody had any input. All I ever promise is a fair shake.

Walking barefoot is a thing. Barefoot enthusiasts claim all sorts of health benefits through “earthing.”

“Earthing (also known as grounding) refers to the discovery that bodily contact with the Earth’s natural electric charge stabilizes the physiology at the deepest levels, reduces inflammation, pain, and stress, improves blood flow, energy, and sleep, and generates greater well-being,” according to sciencedirect.com.

Lem’s Boulder Boots Nylon are like walking barefoot, without the worry of stepping on something.

Lem’s Boulder Boots are designed to duplicate walking barefoot. They are designed in-house in Boulder, Colorado, according to Lem’s, which are then manufactured in a family-owned factory in China. The toe box is wide and the last is shaped like feet are.

Q: So if walking barefoot is such a good idea, why not dispense with the foot coverings and go barefoot hiking?

A: Because broken glass can be found anywhere. There are also thorns, barbed wire, sharp pieces of metal, stickery, pointy things etc. no matter where you go. No place is so pristine that some scumbag hasn’t left trash there.

My dog, a 12-year-old black Lab named Naga, and I walk a minimum of two miles every evening, year-round. In the summer, I typically walk barefoot on a concrete/asphalt oval track near my home. If the pavement is too (Mississippi summer) hot for my bare feet, then it is too hot for my dog. A pair of flip-flops are along for rough spots on the route. Naga always has the choice of running in the grass next to the track.

Obviously, you can’t go barefoot everywhere, but you can find shoes that replicate the experience. Knowing how walking barefoot feels, I was interested in checking out the Lem’s Boulder Boots Nylon.

Here are the Boulder Boot Nylon specs:

  • Waterproofing: None
  • Last: Lems WIDE Natural-Shape™ Last
  • Upper: Leather + 1200 denier nylon
  • Lining: 100% polyester
  • Outsole: 9.0mm LemsRubber™ (air-injection rubber)
  • Insole: 3.5mm removable moisture wicking PU insole
  • Stack Height: 10.0mm (not including 3.5mm insole)
  • Drop: 0.0mm (Zero-Drop)
  • Weight: 9oz (Men’s 10)
  • Laces Provided: 2


Zero-drop refers to the angle between your heel and your toes.  These Boulder Boots are the first zero-drop shoes I’ve tried, though the Costco Flojo flip-flops I wear on the way to the dog park are probably zero-drops. There are many benefits of wearing zero-drop shoes, according to the Lem’s website, which include:

  • Improved ankle mobility
  • More natural running gait
  • Better posture
  • Improved balance
  • Better alignment

With your heels and toes in a straight line, the foot stays flat to the ground, which corrects posture and aligns your spine – encouraging a mid-foot strike.

This means that Lem’s shoes can help alleviate strain on the lower back, and allow you to walk with a mid-foot to forefoot strike. Other Lem’s have a slightly higher drop of four millimeters, or about the height of two nickels stacked.

Here’s how the Lem’s worked out:

Zero-Drop:  Traditional footwear elevates the heel an average of 14-24mm (0.5″-1.0″), which, according to Lem’s, may throw off the alignment of the spine and could force an unnatural heel strike. In a zero-drop shoe, Lem’s claims, your heel and toes are level, which mimics your natural barefoot position on a flat surface.

Lem’s boots are shaped like feet.

Fit: I wear a size 11 wide, and these boots fit like they were custom made. The sizing appears to be spot on.

If your feet hurt after walking for a while, part of the reason could be that the footwear is too small and/or too narrow. Everybody’s feet swell during the day. Sometime at the end of the day, your feet will be your true size. If you buy hikers early in the morning, sized like your dress shoes and wearing ordinary socks, you can pretty much guarantee the hikers will make your feet hurt.

After a mile or so, my feet swell up to my real shoe size. Subsequently, the Lem’s appear to be sized perfectly

Comfort: These were immediately comfortable. It was coincidence that my Men’s Boulder Boots Nylon arrived just after I got back from a dog walk. The boots fit perfectly, right out of the box. They were comfortable immediately and there was no rubbing or chaffing on the initial two-mile walk.

The lining is a classy plaid. There is no moisture barrier in these boots.

Lining: The lining is 100 percent polyester. That means there is no cotton or other material to stay soggy if it gets wet. I like the bright plaid colors – who says boots have to always be brown or black or dull-colored?

No waterproof liner: This is my preference in most of my boots. I’m still looking for a liner that can live up to its hype. My experience is that there isn’t a waterproof liner on the market that can eliminate moisture generated inside  a boot as fast as it is created.

Sole: Made of 9.0mm LemsRubber™, the injection blown rubber is a mixture of air and rubber that makes shoes lightweight. Used for the outsole, this material creates a lighter and more flexible shoe, but does compromise some of the durability compared to shoes with outsoles made using full rubber.

The soles are made of Injection Blown Rubber for lightness and flexibility.

That means is that shoes with IBR outsoles may wear down quicker than their counterparts. Depending on your preferences and activity level, you may prefer super lightweight shoes made with IBR versus a more durable rubber. So far, I like these soles.

Uppers: Leather and 1200 denier nylon. This combination, along with quality socks like the wool Darn Tough™ work socks made the boots extremely comfortable. I wore them walking while the temperatures were in the low 90s, with an almost matching humidity level. I’m guessing the pavement temperature was way over 100 degrees. No shoe/sock combination is going to be cool in those circumstances, but the Lem’s are remarkably comfortable.

Then there’s this:

These are considered minimalist shoes. The Boulder Boots are wonderful for walking around town and on footpaths, and there is no question they would be great for dayhikes with light packs.

But I haven’t worn the Boulder Boots enough to recommend them as hardcore hiking boots. The soles seem a little light and soft for rugged trails and heavy backpacks. I would think twice about wearing them on hikes where crossing boulder fields might be on the route. Likewise, I would want a stiffer upper, more aggressive tread and more ankle support for those circumstances. I wonder how the soles would stand up to sharp, rocky trails.

But so far, I love the Boulder Boots! I break-in a lot of footwear for reviews, and I walk every day. I love hiking boots. But sometimes, I just want to walk to relax, and in those instances, the Boulder Boots are perfect. These are definite keepers.

Order your Lem’s boots here.

There are many factors that determine how comfortable your hiking footwear will be.  Consider these things when you are shopping:

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