Meet Lems Boulder, the "Barefoot Shoe" Boot

Meet Lems Boulder, the "Barefoot Shoe" Boot

I got good news from Andrew Rademacher, founder of upstart minimalist/barefoot shoe manufacturer Lems Shoes* ("Light. Easy. Minimal.") — the first batch of the much-anticipated Lems Shoes Boulder Boot are now available for order! I say "first batch" because it's only the first few hundred pairs of production (more to come, of course, within a few weeks).

The release of the Boulder boot marks the first of a new line of Lems hitting the market in 2013! What's so exciting about the Boulder? Aside from it being a "barefoot shoe boot" that is super lightweight, zero drop, minimally and flexibly soled, and a boot, well, what else is there to say? If you've had a pair of Andrew's barefoot shoes, you're expectations are likely through the roof for these boots. We've reviewed the first offering from Lems that hit back in 2011 — the Primal (see reviews here and here) and had nothing but good things to say.

Andrew has a pair of Boulders coming my way, so I hope to share more about it soon, but if you're eager to snatch up a pair without further adieu and want to know the scoop, read on!

UPDATE: I got the boots! If you want to jump straight to my full review of the Lems Boulder boot, go here!


The official Boulder Boot specs from Lems!

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Edgar Kicks his KSOs at a Radio Station in Barcelona

Edgar wore his KSO Five Fingers "on the air" at a radio station in Barcelona.
Edgar wore his KSO Five Fingers "on the air" at a radio station in Barcelona.
Edgar normally gives Segway tours around Barcelona — wearing his VFFs, of course!
Edgar normally gives Segway tours around Barcelona — wearing his VFFs, of course!

Hi Justin,

Today i went to a radio station invited to talk about the segway tours I give around Barcelona, when they saw the Ksos they were so intrigued by them that I had to explain on air what they where and why I am wearing them.

I took a few pictures while at the radio station :)

You might recall that Edgar gives Segway tours around Barcelona in his KSO FiveFingers.

I love the looks on the radio guys' faces. I'm not sure if it's incredulity or curiosity! Way to spread the word Edgar! And if any VFFers are in Barcelona, be sure to check Edgar out!

Jim Weber, CEO of Brooks, on Barefoot Running

This is interesting — an open letter from Jim Weber, CEO of Brooks, on barefoot running. If you have a second, go read it. Here's a clip from his letter:

Let’s call a spade a spade. [Brooks makes] running shoes: High-quality, biomechanically mapped, performance running shoes calibrated for runners’ unique needs. We hope runners buy our shoes and we’re confident they’ll enjoy them. But this isn’t about selling shoes. And, quite frankly, this isn’t even about running barefoot.

So what are we talking about here? First and foremost, we’re all talking about running, and that’s a great thing because we believe to our core that running is a positive force in our world. We want everyone to run and be happy. But to get there, whether you should run barefoot is not the great debate. We are all unique. The focus should be on how you run and train, and then finding the right shoe that addresses your unique biomechanical needs. "The Perfect Ride for Every Stride," as we say at Brooks.

There's more, including Weber's categorization of runners into a spectrum generally broken down into runners who effectively must wear shoes because their form is particularly bad or their feet particularly weak, "biomechanically blessed" runners who have the option to wear shoes or not, and everyone else, a catch-all for the average, majority of runners.

Though it's interesting at a meta level that Brooks is publicly addressing the barefoot running movement, the letter seems fatally skewed towards a pro-shoe bias. As is often the case of any insider, you breath your own exhaust long enough and it's difficult to see clearly. Weber and Brooks mean well, I'm sure, but I personally think they are misled.

Below is a comment I left to the open letter. It's no surprise that I'm biased (aren't we all?); and though I'm hesitant to post so much opinion on this blog, the "running shoe debate," pun intended, is important so I'm reposting my comment here.

Read my comment below. Feedback is welcome.


So this is about running. If that is the case, then shouldn’t the focus be on how best to get people running injury-free?

Therein lies the rub and the evidence may soon be mounting (slowly) towards barefoot running. Like the recent study showing that torsional stress on hips and knees is higher running in shoes than running barefoot (link)

Anecdotally, there are many, many cases whereby individuals report going from being biomechanically cursed running in shoes (and getting injured) to running min-shod or barefoot and reducing/eliminating injury and becoming biomechanically blessed.

Since wearing shoes is the default position, the progression here is typically from being a shod runner first and then later becoming a barefoot runner. Anyone out there gone the other direction? Anyone out there given a concerted effort towards barefoot running only to fail and have to get some biomechanics correcting shoes?

You note:

We are all unique. The focus should be on how you run and train, and then finding the right shoe that addresses your unique biomechanical needs

This is problematic for shoes for a couple reasons — but no problem for going barefoot.

  1. how do you focus on how you run and train (or how to run properly) if your shoes affect how you run and train? This chicken/egg problem isn’t trivial when shoe design directly affects how you run.
  2. a quick count of the men’s shoes offerings at Brooks brings up 31 styles. That’s 31 styles for every unique runner out there. Even if we grant that all the unique variations in runners can be categorized to find the one correct shoe style out of 31 that will be the best, how is a runner to go about testing them each to find the magic style that works — a problem compounded by (1) above, which is that the shoes affect the way you run.

Contrast this against the automatically customized shoe — one built only for you, one that has built-in AI with a few thousand input receptors to provide instantaneous feedback, and a “shoe” that will rejuvenate forever. This shoe is so advanced that it has has an internal frame of almost 30 parts. Even still, this shoe is hardwired into the rest of the body.

Of course, I’m talking about our feet: unique to each of us and massively adaptable. Feet are our living shoes.

Now sure, if you’ve been clunking around in dead-shoes (pardon the terminology), then your live-shoes may be a bit weak and need to be rehabilitated. We expect as much whenever we cast a bodypart for months, so we should expect the same for anyone who has been sticking their feet in “foot casts.”

I don’t mean to come off so pejoratively towards dead-shoes, but they’re just so simple compared to our feet, and if you’re going to talk about uniqueness, then I think the default position should side with the innately unique solution — bare feet.

I’ll wrap it up, but to me, your runner categories is off. It seems to me that the only ones whose default position should be to run in shoes (or non-minimalist footwear such as VFFs or otherwise), are those who’ve not sustained injuries — those who are “biomechanically blessed” to run in shoes! If this isn’t you, maybe you can spend an enormous amount of time and effort trying out all the shoe options out there until you find one that doesn’t injure you -OR- you could just go outside and run down the street barefoot.

Disclosure: I’m biased as I run http://birthdayshoes.com, but even as I love VFFs, I still recognize that even they dumb down my feet. Their success is just a testament to how much better they are than your average shoe (And hey, for all I know, Brooks are way above average, so no dig there I swear!).

(permalink to the comment | Note: did some minor edits to my comment here where typos/wording could be improved! )

Latest Vibram Five Fingers Reviews 1/24/10

This week's latest FiveFingers reviews:

  • Review: Vibram Five Fingers "Sprint" at Give Me Back My Five Bucks [Sprint]:

    So it works for most of what it was designed to do. Whether you can get used to them in terms of looks and fit, is up to you. For me personally I'm not ready to give up on my regular shoes. But I do wear my VFFs around the house, sometimes when I work out on my Wii, and washing my car, etc. My mom thinks they'd be brilliant for her, since she does a lot of paddling and kayaking.

  • Vibram FiveFingers, review at Professional Adventurer [Flow]:

    BREAK IN. Even though they fit well out of the box, my feet and the FiveFingers had to break into each other. Fist I wore them inside my house for about 4o minutes and upped the time as I could for a week before I took them out for a hike, then a run. I am pretty sure this is an important step.

You can read last week's latest Vibram Five Fingers reviews here.

Cross Country Running with Courtney in KSOs

Courtney has been running cross country in her Five Fingers since the fall despite running into the occasional skeptical coach.  Note Courtney's face compared to her fellow competitors as she bounds up the hill.  Speaks volumes!
Courtney has been running cross country in her Five Fingers since the fall despite running into the occasional skeptical coach. Note Courtney's face compared to her fellow competitors as she bounds up the hill. Speaks volumes!

Courtney sent in the above photos from a recent cross country race she ran in her black KSO FiveFingers. Courtney's been running in here KSOs since the fall. I can't help but notice Courtney's resolve in the leftmost picture of the collage as she bounds up a hill in her VFFs. Her fellow racers look whipped but Courtney just looks determined!

Here's Courtney talking about her experiences (and the reactions of coaches and fellow runners, too) with her KSOs:

I've been running in [my KSO Five Fingers] since November/October. I absolutely love them, they are the coolest shoes ever! :)

Other runners think that they are odd, interesting, cool, etc. One coach at a meet was bugging me about them and lecturing me about how I needed something with support and cushion, and did I have any idea how many pounds of force I was putting on my foot, etc. It's very annoying getting talked to like you're an idiot. But I raced in them at that meet anyways. :)

When I running, or walking around I can also hear people talking about them, pointing them out. I wish they came with a box of pamphlets so that I could answer more questions about them.

I'm also planning on converting my friend on the guy's XC team by having him read Born to Run, because it's appalling how the modern running shoe and "correct form" are based off of well-sold lies.

Sounds like your coach hasn't seen the latest study showing that running shoes result in more impact being experienced than when running barefoot (or walking in high heels!).

Way to go against the grain, Courtney! Keep on spreading the good word, and eventually we may be able to turn the tide of misinformation!

Ryan in Arizona heads to work in his Classic VFFs

Ryan took a leap and wore his Classic FiveFingers to work.  Ryan is taking bold steps towards a more comfortable professional dress environment!
Ryan took a leap and wore his Classic FiveFingers to work. Ryan is taking bold steps towards a more comfortable professional dress environment!

I got this note yesterday from my buddy Ryan out in Arizona — as you can see from the photos above, Ryan is wearing his Classic Five Fingers to the office with his suit slacks!

Hey Justin,

Happy New Year. Well, I finally did it – I work in a suit type environment but just couldn’t put my feet into shoes this morning. So, here I am at the office kickin’ it in my classics (which I love). I’d be sporting the Moc’s if I could just pony up and buy some.

No doubt Ryan got some odd looks due to his unique combination, but I applaud his courage and I'm sure his feet were thanking him! Men's dress shoes just aren't comfortable!