Model: Boulder Boot
Overall Rating: 3.8
Why we like it These featherlight, zero-drop, mid-height boots are protective enough for mellow dayhiking, light enough to carry as a luxurious camp shoe, and stylish enough for around-town use.
Protection Lems set out to make a barefoot-style hiking boot, and the Boulder is the result. “They proved substantial enough for an 8-mile hike with an 18-pound pack to Ramona Falls on the west side of Mt. Hood,” reports an Oregon tester. “Though traction on the waffle-pattern type sole was a bit dicey on anything loose or slick, my feet felt adequately armored from—yet intimately connected to—the dirt-, rock-, and snow-covered trail.” Boulder Boots are some of the lightest mid-cuts around. Lems saves weight by skipping the midsole altogether: Only a 9-mm rubber outsole and a thin, 3-mm insole separate you from the ground. “The underfoot support is what you’d expect from such a minimalist shoe—minimal—but the 6-inch-high cuff kept me from rolling my ankles,” reports a Colorado tester.
Comfort The moccasin-style upper, made of nylon and full-grain leather, breathed well and gave testers’ toes plenty of wiggle room. The cotton lining makes them feel like slippers, perfect for lounging around camp; just don’t get them soaked.
Packability “Because the sole and upper are so flexible, they fold down to about 1.5 inches flat, perfect for shoving in a pack pocket or suitcase,” another tester notes.
Caveat Like all barefoot shoes, these require some getting used to. Start with short hikes and a minimal pack to train your feet, and avoid wet weather or puddles (they aren’t waterproof).
$115; 1 lb. 4 oz.; m’s 40-48, w’s 36-43; lemsshoes.com