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!

Read the rest of this post »

Latest Vibram Five Fingers Reviews 8/02/09

And the past week's latest Vibram Five Fingers reviews are:

  • VFF KSOs: First Impressions at the Road to Comrades [KSO]:

    Yesterday morning I headed out for a 3K walk in my KSOs. That meant another struggle to get into the things, but I found I was getting better with practice. (There are minimal instructions on the box the KSOs come in about how to put them on. But, to tell the truth, the process is more of an Insertion than a Putting On. Maybe someone should write a manual ...)

    The walk was good. I really missed the feeling of road, sidewalk, grass, etc. on the soles of my feet. But the payoff was that I could walk more easily than I had on my recent barefoot walks. Just that little bit of protection at the bottom of my feet meant that I could adopt a more natural stride and gait. That, in turn, meant, I wasn’t punishing my feet the way I had been previously. Less pain, more comfort, resulting in more pleasure. (To say that I’m essentially a pleasure -oriented animal is something of an understatement.) Got a couple of odd looks from the few other folks I met along the way, but they normally see me barefoot, so for them it was probably just another “Here’s the old guy being weird again” moment.

  • Review of Vibram Five Fingers Shoes at Clinton Lake Ultra [KSO]:

    I've had my Vibram Five Fingers shoes for 3 weeks now and have walked on both roads and trails quite a bit...and done a few short trail runs too. My quick summary review: They are great!

  • Barefoot Running in the Vibram FiveFingers at Christopher Cooper's blog [Classics]:

    I found them to be a mind opening experience on any surface that is softer than asphalt. It really was amazing to feel all the intricacies of the ground - the small twigs under your feet, the variations in the level of the dirt below, the tiny bumps here and there, the grass softly cushioning your foot-fall. It was a different experience than I had imagined. Now, I don't typically run barefoot, had I done that on a normal basis, perhaps my first experience with the FiveFingers would not have been so enlightening. Beyond the surreal feel of the earth below your feet, I also found there to be a significant increase in my ability to grip the ground and properly predict how my foot may need to be positioned, my weight balanced, and even how my next push-off should go. I certainly am not a 'professional runner', but I genuinely did notice these new aspects of each step when using my new freak-feet.

  • Vibram Five Fingers SPRINT Review at Smiling Skepticism [Sprint]:

    They’re sturdier than they appear. I do a lot of walking and after each outing I’ve checked the soles for signs of wear and tear. Each time I been pleasantly surprised. Even on the couple occasions I stepped on a sharp rock - an experience you will be profoundly aware of- I didn’t notice any cuts or marks on the sole.

  • Review: Vibram Five Fingers Shoes at All Climbing [KSO]

    I have high arches myself (my footprint in the sand is two unconnected imprints) and have not had a single problem. Two days after my track workout (complete with sprinting) my arches were killing me. And then a strange realization – was this the first time in my life I’d ever felt the need to stretch my arches? It was. The next day I felt fine – and my feet were stronger than ever before.

If I missed any (worth mentioning, of course!), please let me know!

Previous week's reviews:

Sterling Purdy Gets Primal (And primally fit!) in his Vibram Five Fingers Sprints

Sterling Purdy shows off his VFF Sprints while sporting a Mark Sisson "Grok on!" tshirt!
Sterling Purdy shows off his VFF Sprints while sporting a Mark Sisson "Grok on!" tshirt!

Sterling Purdy shows off his VFF Sprints

Name:Sterling Purdy
URL:http://twitter.com/sterlingpurdy
Birthday:February 28
Age:38
Regular shoe size:10
VFF shoe size:M41
Feet are:Bueno!



What prompted you to get Vibram Five Fingers?

I first heard about Vibram Five Fingers from Mark Sisson on his website marksdailyapple.com. After reading about their utility and their barefoot mimetic quality I decided to investigate their usefulness and safety; I could not find one negative thing about VFFs anywhere on the internet. In fact, I found multiple articles on the benefits of 'barefooting' and of course VFFs mimic going barefoot (I like to call them barefoot mimetics - a sterlingpurdyism). John Sifferman also had a great write-up on barefooting and referenced several sites that supported VFFs as running shoes, hiking shoes, etc. VFFs takes the pressure and work off of the knees and hips and shifts the work to your calves (the way it should be). If you are a virgin VFF user, then be prepared to have some very tender calves after your first running or sprinting encounter. Good stuff!

What type and color Five Fingers do you have and how long have you had them?

I chose the gray VFF Sprints because of the strap that velcros across the top of the foot. This has allowed me to use them in the water without fear of watching 80 bucks float down river. I've had my VFFs for 5 months.

What do you do most while wearing your Five Fingers?

Sprint, bike, jog, hike, repel, zip-line, plyometrics, lift weights, procreate (just kiddin'...or am I?)

Any unusual experiences while wearing them?

Lots of looks of bewilderment and amazement from locals in Puerto Vallarta.

How do Five Fingers fit in with who you are as a person?

They are totally me. I've always been an out-of-the-box person and I consider VFFs not the norm. I'm a different breed: I know it and embrace it. Wearing my VFFs to the movies supports that premise. As a father of 5, you learn to adapt and roll with it and my VFFs help me roll with it in a unique, fun, and healthier way. My kids love them and they all want a pair. My 15-year old is the only one big enough to fit into a pair, but he'll have to earn and pay for his own :)

You were featured on Mark Sisson's blog after transforming your lifestyle to be more in keeping with our hunter-gatherer biological/genetic roots (See below for "More on Sterling's transformation"). Could you briefly talk about how you've changed over the past few years, and what you tell people when they react to your improved health and physique?

Wow, a loaded question! As you'll read in Mark's post about my transformation [See teaser and link below!], I was a big ole boy - 225lbs @ 5'8"; a change had to be made. I changed my life - not a diet, not a 90-day plan, not a get-ready-for-summer plan — none of those. I changed everything I did. I began exercising — everyday. I began eating right — everyday. I began thinking differently about everything — everyday. It was not a fast process. It was a battle for my life. Now that might sound dramatic. But it sounds that way because it was dramatic; I made dramatic changes and had dramatic success and results. I credit 4 people for my success: my wife Donna who is the consummate encourager, Tony Horton, Mark Sisson, and Tom Venuto — google them all (except my wife of course) and you'll find a wealth of information about health & fitness.

Regarding people's reactions? People have freaked out! You have to remember that I went from a size 40-42ish waist to a 28-29ish and a bodyfat of 'really fat' to about 9% at present, so naturally people are going to freak out. It's funny though because when they ask me what I've done to make those changes, it's not the typical answer (and I've sustained my results). Most don't want to hear that I work my butt off through weight training and eat the right things — lots of protein, lots of fat, limited carbohydrate intake, very few grains. Their response is usually a 'well, I really want to get into shape like you are now, BUT...' I could go on on all day about health and fitness...

Anyone looking for insights of VFFs, nutrition, fat loss, weight & resistance training questions feel free to contact me through twitter @sterlingpurdy. I'd be glad to help.

Thanks Justin for the opportunity to share.

Thank you, Sterling!

Below are a few action shots of Sterling climbing in his Vibram fivefingers Sprints. Click any image for a larger version!

Afterward

* Birthday Shoes readers are encouraged to go check out Sterling's transformation. For just a snippet of the post at MDA, check out Sterling's "Before and After" shots:

More on Sterling's transformation:

After

Here's a teaser that gives you a glimpse of just how drastic the improvement was in Sterling's life:

Within the next 3 months, not only did my weight get down to 170 lbs, and my waist shrink to 31.5”, but my life had changed forever. Remember the litany list of medications I mentioned before? Depression medication: Gone. Blood pressure medication: Gone. Testosterone: Gone. And for the first time in 30 years…let me say that again…for the FIRST time in 30 YEARS. Asthma medications: Gone. Done. Finished. Wow! What a concept. Proper nutrition and exercise – the best medicine available to mankind. Big Pharma and FDA beware! We are coming after your business.

How did this happen? I started to live more like Grok. I cut way back on whole grains and legumes. I was eating lots more plants and animals, whole lean proteins, fruit, and tons of veggies. I lifted heavy things often. I got 8+ hours of sleep every day and napped when I could; even if only 30 or 40 minutes.

You'll have to read the full entry at Marks Daily Apple for the rest!

Sterling's story is a fantastic example of how your life can be transformed by changing your lifestyle for the better. In addition to to the above "after" shots, check this photo of Sterling at the beach. Hello six pack!

Vibram Five Fingers for Webbed Toes? Introducing "Vibram Four Fingers" [modification]

Vibram Five Fingers for Webbed Toes? Introducing "Vibram Four Fingers" [modification]

For a long time, I thought webbed toes were limited to Labradors and Kevin Costner's better-forgotten movie Waterworld. Then I heard would-be VFFers lamenting their webbed toes making it impossible to use Vibram fivefingers. What a bummer*!

For a primer on webbed toes, allow me to quote from wikipedia:

Webbed toes is the common name for syndactyly affecting the feet. It is characterised by the fusion of two or more digits of the feet. This is normal in many birds, such as ducks; amphibians, such as frogs; and mammals, such as kangaroos. In humans it is considered unusual, occurring in approximately one in 2,000 to 2,500 live births.

If I do the math right (using 1/2000), that means that only about 150,000 people in the United States have webbed toes, which is almost certainly too small a number to make it worthwhile to make a four-toed version of Vibram fivefingers.

So what's a webbed toe individual to do?

Modify your fivefingers to make them into Vibram fourfingers!

One webbed-toe individual named Philip saw fivefingers and had an idea on how he could modify them to work with his webbed feet. First, below is what Philip was working with:

Philip's idea was to cut a U-shaped slit between the two toe pockets that matched up to his pair of webbed toes. The cut needed to go slightly higher than the actual webbing between the two toes were webbed. From there, all that was left to do was to sew together the cut fabric across the toe gap. For this, Philip had help from his significant other who used monofilament nylon thread to join the two toe pockets.

Do that and here is what you get:

V4F Sprints modded for webbed toes

In Philip's own words: "I snip the fabric from the inside using sharp scissors, cutting slightly further than the webbing of my toes. We use nylon monofilament thread to sew the edges back together."

Philip has had such success with this modification that he's also made KSO fourfingers:

As you can see, there is a solution for those of you out there who want to wear Vibram fivefingers but have some amount of webbing between your toes! Mind, it's probably a tough pill to swallow to have to slice into your Vibrams, and your mileage may very in performing this mod.

To conclude, Philip's "Vibram Four Fingers" mod is very workable solution—the only solution I've seen—to wearing fivefingers with webbed toes. I want to thank Philip for allowing me to share this on birthday shoes**!

* A "bummer" only because it overtly eliminates the ability to wear Vibram fivefingers, of course. Webbed toes are actually kinda cool as they are a fascinating reminder of the diversity that frequently lurks unseen within our DNA.

** Philip originally posted this solution to the minimalist runner google group. I asked him if I could share this "at large" on birthdayshoes.com and he graciously accepted.

More on the Vibram Five Fingers Bikila (2010 Catalog Photos)

05.06.10 - The Vibram Five Fingers Bikila is out!

Don't ask me how, but I have managed to get my hands on a couple images of the Vibram Five Fingers Bikila that were taken from the 2010 catalog, which was on-hand at the recent Outdoor Retailer Trade Show. These images show off one color option each for the men's and women's fivefingers Bikila!

The men's VFF Bikila is grey/green, a color combo which bears a striking resemblance to the grey/green KSO:

And the women's Bikila pictured is orange/pink/grey soled:

The above (apparently) stock photos do the Bikila more justice than the original overhead (cameraphone?) photo we saw via voycontigo. In short, these Bikila's look awesome.

Things I notice:

  • more aggressive tread — reminds me a bit more of the soles you might see on a running shoe. It's partially obscured, but it looks like the focus of the tread takes its lead from the midfoot pad of the foot.
  • heel structure — I don't know what else to call this, but there is a distinctive lip around the lower ankle of the Bikila. Perhaps this is to provide sufficient adherence to the heel (and account for the elimination of a rear strapping mechanism). I also wonder if the bit of added material here won't help with wicking moisture away or at least absorbing it. Based on looking at these photos, I don't get the impression that this heel design actually provides any real ankle support.
  • thin fabric throughout — like the KSO, the upper fabric looks to be a very thin material.
  • some sorta protective covering on the toes — don't know how else to describe the shimmery bit I see on each toe (particularly noticeable on the women's). Maybe this is reflective material? Maybe it provides some structure to the thin fabric toe upper? Your guess is as good as mine.
  • reflective material on the strap — I think I see silverish reflective material on the little dashes on the right side of the strap. This would make sense in light of the Bikila being geared to on-street running.

All in all, like the upcoming fivefingers Trek is geared to trail running or hiking, the fivefingers Bikila seems to be designed to compliment street/asphalt/concrete running. It's exciting to see that Vibram is expanding their line and taking a concerted stab at providing a VFF running solution!

Of course, it's going to take some time for Vibram to gear up and get the Bikila's out on the street, so I for one am already looking forward to 2010!

I wonder how many times we can twiddle our toes to pass the time until then ...

Other posts regarding new models:

Getting Married in the Dunes. In Vibram Five Fingers!

Getting Married in the Dunes. In Vibram Five Fingers!
Getting Married in the Dunes. In Vibram Five Fingers!
Getting Married in the Dunes. In Vibram Five Fingers!

click any image above for a larger version!
The above photos were recently taken at the wedding of Jason and Suzi. These two lovebirds got married in the Great Sand Dunes Park and Preserve in Colorado. The wedding was simultaneously immense in scenery and intimately serene (As you can see from the pictures). And since high-heels and cap-toe shoes just don't work well in sand dunes (and hey, these two are both big VFF fans), Suzi and Jason wore their Vibram fivefinger Sprints and KSOs, respectively.

Maybe one day Vibram will come out with some patent leather VFFs for gents in need of five-toed dress shoes and sequin and/or rhinestone-covered VFFs for the ladies. If they ever do, I'm sure we'll cover it here.

I asked both Jason and Suzi to share with us about the experience, here is what Suzi had to say:

Earlier this month, Jason and I got married at the Great Sand Dunes Park and Preserve in southern Colorado, wearing our FiveFingers. It was a beautiful, small ceremony; we were married by our close friend, who was ordained specifically for our joyous occasion. Two other great friends also helped us celebrate. (We surprised the rest of our family and friends, to say the least...) It was a wonderful day, and we are very happy to be married!

As to our choice of footwear...

I wear my FiveFingers everyday, everywhere. I can't stand any other shoes anymore. So when it came time to pick out shoes to wear for the wedding, and nothing in any of the stores, magazines, and catalogs came close to being comfortable and practical, we decided FiveFingers would be fine. A good choice? I wouldn't say that. The sand was VERY hot, and I thought several times that my FiveFingers had indeed melted into the soles of my feet. (I can't imagine Jason's pain, his KSO's being black). Even still, it was great feeling the sand between my Vibram'd toes.

We appreciate all the support we have found online, from you and the good folks over at marksdailyapple.com. (Quite a few relatives and friends have been critical of our "shoe" choice). Thanks!

Suzi

Suzi donning her grey VFF Sprints in the sand dunes after her wedding to Jason

Jason and Suzi, I think I can speak for the rest of us here when I say, "Congratulations on a beautiful wedding!" No doubt the relatives will come around to your wise and ahead-of-your-time-thinking with regards to your footwear. And as for the location, no wedding decorator could have done a better job!

Thank you both for sharing! Best wishes!

Walking off into the dunes after getting married in VFFs

The Skinny on the FiveFingers Moc and Performa a.k.a. "Glove" for men and women

On the shoulders of the recent news about new models fivefingers Bikila (arriving in 2010) and fivefingers Speed (a European 2010 release), I have learned some information regarding the new models Vibram fivefingers Moc and Performa which should pique the interests of yoga, Pilates, and martial arts advocates (as well as all VFF fans!) who desire even greater foot and toe flexibility.

The Moc and Performa are the male and female versions, respectively, of what we have been thinking of as the fivefingers "Glove," as it was called on voycontigo.de back in June.

On the Vibram FiveFingers Moc

According to sources close to the subject, aside from merely having gender-specific names (and likely color options), the Moc has a slightly higher "vamp*" than the Performa, which lends it a slightly more masculine appearance. If you'll revisit the original picture of the Moc, you might notice the front lip (vamp) does appear a bit longer as compared to Classic fivefingers:

It's a subtle difference, but if you gauge based on the length of the big toe pocket (or the second toe) relative to the termination of the vamp and then look at a pair of Classics and make the same comparison, you can tell a small difference. As I think about it, I think this small change could make a fairly substantial difference from an aesthetic point of view. Of course, it'd be nice to see some Mocs on an actual foot!

On the FiveFingers Performa

What about the Performa? Thankfully, the folks over at KayakShed have posted a handful of photos and news taken from the recent Outdoor Retailer Trade Show that went down last week in Salt Lake City, Utah. Here's a snapshot of what KayakShed had to say:

We know many of you use your FiveFingers for yoga and pilates and Vibram clearly sees that too as there is an all new shoe specifically for indoor use. The Moc and Performa have a very lightweight, minimal sole on the bottom and very buttery leather on the top. These should make for a much more exciting holiday gift for all those folks you were thinking of getting slippers for!

What you might notice about the photo above is that the vamp doesn't go as high on the purple and orange models as in the earlier photo of the blue fivefingers Moc**.

The "buttery leather" referred to in KayakShed's description is the kangaroo leather. Since most of us aren't familiar with any leather other than the kind we get from cows, it's worth noting that Kangaroo leather is analogous to cowhide. In Australia, kangaroos free range and are used both for their meat and their hide (source Wiki). Word on the street is that kangaroo leather is known for superior breathability and is also sweat and salt resistant.

Oh and the Moc and Performa, despite using leather, are both still machine washable!

On the soles of the Moc and Performa

As you can see, the soles of both the Moc and Performa are the same. Employing an all-new pod-like sole design consisting of (as I count them) seven separate mini-soles should allow for increased flexibility between the various points of impact on the bottom of your feet. Though they are intended for indoor use only, I'm excited at the potential for increased toe and foot flexbility. Perhaps in the Moc I'll be able to easily pick things up off the floor with my toes, which though possible in existing VFF models, is still pretty difficult.

Available by mid-October for $110

The Moc and Performa are slated to be available for purchase by mid-October. But who knows, maybe we'll get lucky and they'll show up earlier.

Finally, you'll have to head over to the KayakShed blog for more information on what they saw at the trade show including a photo of a new color combo for men's KSOs, black VFF Sprints for women, and another photo of the Trek. Thanks, KayakShed!

* Refers to the front upper part of a shoe, as in that which covers the front top of your foot!

** You have to look very carefully at this photo, but in addition to the three models in the foreground, which are purple, blackish (upside down, sole up), and orange, you can barely make out two more models in the background. Once you can distinguish these two (one on the right being blue and upside down - like the topmost photo on this post), notice the vamp on the black one: that's the men's Moc!