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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VFF Lore: A 2006 Interview with Robert Fliri, Inventor of [what we now know as] Five Fingers

VFF Lore: A 2006 Interview with Robert Fliri, Inventor of [what we now know as] Five Fingers

Robert Fliri is the original creator of what we now know as Vibram Five Fingers. Fliri was a student at an Italian design school back in 1999 when he originated the concept of a foot glove for outdoor use, specifically in the mountains. It was only later when Fliri met with Marco Bramani, the grandson of Vitale Bramani, the founder of Vibram (Vi-bram, pronounced "vee-brum," get it?).

Nelleke Don interviewed Fliri in 2006 for Body Conscious Design about the origination of FiveFingers. The interview can be read in it's entirety here (PDF, but the link employs the Google Doc reader).

For VFF and/or design junkies, it's worth reading in it's entirety, but below are some selected quotes which I found particularly interesting:

On the origination of the idea:

I was in my first year of the design school in Bolzano and one of my professors started a project: sports is fun. It was about sports as leisure, not as a profession or a power-thing. I decided to work on my idea of going barefoot in a protected way and with this professor tried out all kinds of solutions. Instinctively it was clear to me that it had to be a glove. We have five toes: when they can move and grasp the ground independently, and when you can really sense the surface under your feet, your body is able to do what it is designed for by nature. That is a powerful feeling. ...

Was it difficult to develop the five fingers or did you get a lot of support?

There were times that I thought “I quit”, not because of the product as such, but because of the environment I worked in. The concept is totally new and very different from what is usual in the footwear-industry. I had to fight for every step on the road. I had to convince the people I worked with that it had to be a glove and that a glove is not a shoe. Shoe-people think a shoe needs shock absorption, cushioning, support. Innovation means more spacey material, more technology – not a totally different concept. So it was difficult for people to accept. But I was also very fortunate. I had this opportunity to work in the special office of Vibram’s owner, where we have a platform to develop the five-fingers. ...

Q: What distinguishes this five finger’s concept from a normal shoe?

The biggest difference is the five toes which make the foot move like in nature and you have much more body-smartness. You can move better, you can feel, you can have more power. With the five-fingers every toe can spread out, can work independently from the others, can grasp the ground, can feel the ground. It is totally different from a shoe where the toes are stuck together, even if the sole of the shoe is very thin and flexible.

It is very joyful to move around on the five-fingers, you will become really happy to move. Your movements will be more flexible, more supple. For example if you walk in the mountains on heavy boots, you will loose around 20% of your energy to the shoes, because of their weight, their stiffness and the impossibility to move your feet. On the five-fingers that doesn’t happen. I have experienced myself you just want to go up and up. When I see a rock or a tree, I want to climb it. It makes you become very playful and energetic. ...

In the first year I was wearing these shoes, old mountaineers said I was crazy, because I was on these flat, low shoes, instead of on high, heavy boots. Among mountaineers, young and old there is one rule: wear high shoes, over the ankle. That is true for normal shoes. With a rigid, hard sole your feet cannot adjust to an uneven surface and you can sprain your ankle. With a thick sole, you are suspended from the ground and whenever there is an unevenness and you go out over the side, you are not warned by your senses in the forefeet. But barefoot, that never happens. Your body is too smart. Whenever you risk loosing your balance, the senses in the forefoot will register it and your muscles will adjust. The sign doesn’t even need to travel all the way up to the brain. Every sense of misbalance will go directly to the muscles and they will adapt themselves. Your body knows perfectly well what is going on - in a way you become more animal-like. ...

Q: Do you think the market is ready for this product?

Maybe not. Because working and thinking with the body is not a common thing yet. But things change. We are now creating five fingers for indoor use, with a thinner sole. And we are also developing aqua-socks fro use in water. People also ask me if we can do them for children. Well, I say, maybe in the future this will be technically possible, but actually I think this product is more suited for adults. As adults we are growing older every day and we become more closed off, even in our movements. Children are playing. They do the same thing in a different way every time. We as adults do the same thing in the same way. I say with this shoe you will be happy on chaotic surfaces, it will inspire you to explore and discover something and play with it. You will receive pleasure by moving, which is a good thing for adults. Children are playing anyway, shoe are no shoe. We are not playing, so it is better for us. At least, that is my opinion.

It's great to read about Fliri's persevering against conventional thought regarding footwear. Now that we have them, it's hard to imagine a world without VFFs.

So much of what Fliri says resonates with me in my experience with VFFs. At the risk of sounding a bit mystical, it is amazing how being more connected to the ground connects us all in a common, if not chaotic, experience.

Additional reading: a blogpost from Foot Talk on the origination of VFFs.

the Beginner's Guide to Vibram Five Fingers

the Beginner's Guide to Vibram Five Fingers
Over 20,000 downloads and counting (Over 100/day)! The Beginner's Guide to Vibram Five Fingers is a truly free PDF — requires no email sign-up and is a totally anonymous download. The only "cost" is in clicking the link, which will start the PDF download.

It's been a long-time coming, and with ever more interest in Vibram Five Fingers barefoot shoes with each passing week (and Lieberman's research on impact forces in heel-striking vs forefoot-striking continues to make the rounds in the press), I decided it was high-time a simple guide was put together to help would-be VFFers learn about the "barefoot alternative" — Vibram Five Fingers.

I present the [beginner's guide] to Five Fingers [it's a PDF].

The [beginner's guide] is a twenty-one page how-to document aimed at Vibram Five Fingers "newbies." Why would you need a guide to a pair of shoes? Well, a couple reasons. For one, foot gloves aren't your typical footwear, and two, any shoe that requires measuring the length of your foot from heel to longest-toe on your longest foot and then using that measurement to determine your shoe size by matching it on a grid by model and gender — well yeah, VFFs kinda need a guide!

The beginner's guide to Vibram Five Fingers covers some of the basics regarding the barefoot movement, generally, and VFFs, specifically. It includes background info, advice on which styles/Vibram Five Fingers models you should consider first (including user photos and links to user stories), tips and how-to on determining your VFF size, where to buy a pair, and what to do once you've finally gotten them on your feet!

The beginner's guide to Five Fingers is completely free to download and share.

As the document is electronic, it will be updated and edited based on feedback received, so if you want to make sure you've got the most updated version, just use this link, which will always point to the most current version.

If you already have a pair of VFFs and are way past the beginner's point, I encourage you to download this guide, anyway. My hope is you'll find it a useful tool to pass on to friends and family who are interested in your quirky five-toed footwear.

If you have any feedback on this guide, please let me know!

Download the free [beginner's guide] to FiveFingers!

Share the guide!

the [beginners guide] to Vibram Five Fingers shoes!

If you benefited from the guide, please pass it along on your blog (or wherever) by copy/pasting the code below! Thank you for your support!

<a href=""><img width="180" height="150" src="" /></a><br />the <a href="">[beginners guide] to Vibram Five Fingers shoes</a>!

Latest Vibram Five Fingers Reviews 1/27/10

This week's latest VFF reviews:

  • Vibram Five Fingers (VFF) KSO Trek at Rundurance [KSO Trek]

    So this is a review of the KSO Trek’s, which are very similar to my classic VFF KSO’s, except with new and hugely improved traction on the sole. The original KSO’s were very smooth, and so any sharp turns on a wet road or wet trail tended to get very slippery. I even found myself slowing down on tight turns out of fear for sliding off the trail (which did happen more than once). With the new Trek’s, that problem is solved completely. I have run on wet roads, wet trails, and packed snow without problems.

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

Vibram Five Fingers Trek Sport in Fall 2010 [New Product]

Above to the left is an upcoming Fall 2010 FiveFingers model called the FiveFingers Sport Trek displayed at the recent Outdoor Retailer event in Utah.  The Sport Trek simultaneously combines elements from the KSO, the KSO Trek, and the Bikila.
Above to the left is an upcoming Fall 2010 FiveFingers model called the FiveFingers Sport Trek displayed at the recent Outdoor Retailer event in Utah. The Sport Trek simultaneously combines elements from the KSO, the KSO Trek, and the Bikila. Beneath it in blue and grey is another color combination of the Bikila (previously unseen).
Alert! - 7/30/10 The all new Black Trek Sport has arrived at CitySports along with a new blue Bikila.

Last week and weekend was the winter market 2010 Outdoor Retailer trade show out in Utah. Vibram apparently had a booth and thanks to Bryon over at iRunFar, we get his scoop — seems Vibram is working on a FiveFingers Trek Sport for fall 2010 (now available here!). The VFF Trek Sport borrows elements from the KSO Trek, the KSO, and the Bikila — it has the Trek's sole; the KSOs synthetic upper (I assume a major selling point in the Vegan community); and the TPU toe protection, reflective bits, and an "achilles notch" similar to what we're seeing with the FiveFingers Bikila. Here's how Bryon put it:

The Vibram FiveFingers Trek Sport will combine the more aggressive outsole of the KSO Trek with and light upper similar to the KSO. While the upper will be light, Vibram has added a bit of TPU on the top of each toe as is found on the forthcoming Bikila model we discussed after last summer’s OR show. The FiveFingers Trek Sport will also feature reflective detailing, an achilles notch to make it more run-worthy, and a removable heel strap.

Re-read that last part — "removable heel strap." Many VFFers with KSOs have run into breaking heel-straps, a consequence of the "sawing" that can occur where the nylon strap bends on either side of the instep. A common way to fix this problem (mod) has been to tape up the KSO straps — as demonstrated by Jason.

The FiveFingers Sport Trek is expected to retail at $100.

Additionally, we are glimpsing a blue/gray combo of the FiveFingers Bikila. I have no idea if this color combo will be available when the Bikila comes out in the next couple months or later. Time will tell. Get it now!

So another year and another version of VFFs to ponder. It's becoming increasingly complicated for VFF fans to determine which Five Fingers will best suit their needs.

I say if you're new to VFFs, keep it simple. Go KSO or Classic first. You'll have plenty of time to flesh out your line-up in time. Or just try and get them all like Shawn!

What say ye, fans?

Again, thanks to Bryon for allowing me to share this on BirthdayShoes!

Erik takes his KSO Five Fingers to the Playground

It's a lot easier to do a bit of 'beam' walking in VFFs.
It's a lot easier to do a bit of 'beam' walking in VFFs.
FiveFingers are so amazing that you can levitate in them!
FiveFingers are so amazing that you can levitate in them!
Gotta say: if I was a little kid on a playground looking up at Erik here, I'd be a little scared!  Stranger danger!
Gotta say: if I was a little kid on a playground looking up at Erik here, I'd be a little scared! Stranger danger! Just kidding.
Top of the playground for Erik!
Top of the playground for Erik!
See what I'm saying about levitation?  Erik is flying!  Note the look on the face of his daughter!
See what I'm saying about levitation? Erik is flying! Note the look on the face of his daughter! Superdad!

Above is Erik, having an extraordinarily fun time on the playground in his black Five Finger KSOs. Here's what Erik had to say:


I really enjoy your website and forum, as I've used it from the sizing guide (prior to getting my vffs) and ever since I've received them I've been checking in to see what's new. I figured I'd send some pics because I am enjoying my Vibram KSO's to the point where the use of conventional shoes (at work) has become a chore.

My wife took these pictures at the park near our house in Virginia Beach on an unseasonably warm day last weekend. Since I've gotten my VFF KSO's a month ago, I havent had many chances to use them outside the gym. We took our daughters to play, but I probably had more fun.

Thanks again,

It's a common saying that VFFs make you feel like a kid again — way to prove the point!