Barefoot Shoes

Review Lems Boulder Boots in Leather Russet

Since Lems shoes released their Boulder Boots nearly five years ago, they have updated the line with additional colorways and styles. One of those styles is their leather Boulder, which they make in a brown or black full-grain leather. These boots…

Since Lems shoes released their Boulder Boots nearly five years ago, they have updated the line with additional colorways and styles. One of those styles is their leather Boulder, which they make in a brown or black full-grain leather. These boots really caught my eye and (finally) I asked Andrew at Lems if they would provide me a pair to test and review, and that’s what I’ll be doing today.


The Boulder from Lems uses a 1.8mm full-grain leather upper that is lined with a flannel cotton. The outsole and footbed are 9mm and 3mm, respectively—this is the same outsole you’ll get on the Lems 9to5. Like all Lems, the Boulder is zero-drop from heel-to-toe. The Boulder in leather (or otherwise) isn’t waterproof and the sole is glued to the upper, not stitched. Take a spin around the Boulder in brown leather through these photos:


What’s not to like about the look of the Boulder in all brown leather russet? Lems additionally will send you two lace-styles with your Boulders—gold and chocolate brown. You can see in the photos what each looks like. I tend to prefer the gold but they’re a little louder. You can also see how the brown laces really tone the entire look of the boots down.
What I really like about the Boulder style—in addition to the full-grain leather, which is by itself the key draw over the other Lem Boulder colorways—is the ridge that runs the periphery of the boot. This ridge/lip gives the Boulder a nice stance, reducing the visual width of the toe box in the process.


If you’ve tried any “barefoot” boots, you’ll know that they tend to be heavier, less flexible, and less minimalist. This comes with the territory of being more robust footwear—and boots also have uppers that typically go above the ankle. Lems are no exception in this regard, and if you’re familiar with Lems, you also know that they’re not the most thin-soled of minimalist shoes. With a 12mm total stack height (including the insole), the Lems put a decent bit of space between your foot and the ground. The impact of this is just a reduced ground feel—these aren’t FiveFingers by any stretch. That said, the soles are very flexible, so the stack height is made up for, somewhat, in how well the shoe moves with your foot. These aren’t you’re typical Vibram rubber-soled boots, in other words. Which is to say that I don’t see the stack height as a negative. Meanwhile, Lems’ wide toe-box and zero-drop design are two crtical characteristics that make the boots comfortable and foot-friendly. Overall, the leather uppers seem to wear-in nicely. I have found that there is some break-in period with the Boulders, in general, and certainly with the Boulder in leather. For the first few days of wearing the Boulder, I found the lip of the upper would bother my ankles after a full day’s wear. This gets much better over time as the leather creases and breaks-in to my gait. One pro-tip: if you want to be able to put the Boulder on quickly and don’t mind wearing it a little loose on the foot, loosen your laces as much as you can and tie a little knot at the end of each lace. What this does is make the boots slip-on/off. I find this is my preferred way to wear these style boots as they still feel plenty snug on my feet as to not have me worrying they are going to accidentally flop off.


I’ve yet to put the Boulder through a hard hike. I’m not sure I want to either, as for me, the Boulder is more a boot to be worn casually than for hikes. For hiking, I’d sooner wear the Xero Shoes Daylite Hiker, as but one example. That said, for casual outdoor activities, I’m sure the Boulders would hold up just fine—and you could polish the leather afterward to remove any blemishes. Speaking of which, I’ve not seen any big scratches on the russet leather.


Note, while I’m a 10.5 and a 43 in FiveFingers, my Euro sizing can be anywhere from 43-44, usually. But with the Lems Boulder, my sizing is a 45. So my advice is to size up.


Overall, the all leather varietals of Lems shoes continue to be my favorites—from the Mariners, to the Nine2Fives, to the Boulders, and were I to recommend the Boulders, I’d choose the leather russet over the hybrid versions. If you’re interested in picking up a pair of the Boulders, head over to Lems’ website. Note that while the Boulders in leather MSRP for $140, the versions that aren’t all leather are only $115. What do you think? Do you have the Boulders? Or the all-leather Boulders? What’s your take on these boots? Let’s hear it in the comments.

By Justin

Justin Owings is a deadlifting dad of three, working from Atlanta. When he's not chasing his three kids around, you'll find him trying to understand systems, risk, and human behavior.

5 replies on “Review Lems Boulder Boots in Leather Russet”

I love my Boulder boots. Btw the ridge that runs the periphery of the boot is called a moccasin toe, commonly shortened to moc-toe =)

Maybe it was just my experience – but I find the Lems shoes to be a bit stiff and uncomfortable especially when compared to VivoBarefoots. I tried on a pair of the Boulders and just didn’t like the feel of them.


I think that’s pretty reasonable. In general, most Vivo soles are a bit more pliable (thinking specifically of my long-term favorites, the Vivo Oaks).

My favorite Lems are the 9to5s (wore them yesterday). And then the Vivo Oaks circa 2010, which were sadly disco’ed years ago.

I have been using the original Boulder Boot in black, and the leather Russet for he last winters. I got the leather to try it out at work. I work as a gardener/farmer, so often walk in muddy and wet conditions. The Boulder Boots is not really up for that. The biggest problem however is that the sole is very vulnerable to walking on gravell. Since I live in Sweden, we get snow. When the snow melts there is gravel. The sole is also extremely slippery on snow an ice. After I fixed the holes in the soles with glue, they became dangerously slippery.
Another downside is the fabric lining, which means I can only wear them in cold conditons.
On the good side is the width, the height above the toes, and also a bit thicker feel in the sole, if you want that.
I find that the leather Russet have shrunk after all the wetness I have put them through, and does not have the same shape anymore. The black originals are exactly the same as when I got them more than 5 years ago. The next pair will again be original black fabric, a size bigger since my feet got wider..

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *