I HAD NO SHOES TO WEAR
While preparing for a recent trip to New York City, I realized I had no shoes to wear. Except flip flops or fuzzy winter boots (my hikers were so spent, they needed to be tossed).
This was due to two things:
1) I rarely find shoes that can comfortably fit my feet (my long toes need to spread out, or they experience sharp pain).
2) I like to own as few things as possible.
I NEEDED A SHOE THAT COULD MEET SEVERAL TRAVEL NEEDS IN ONE
So I found it helpful to create a travel shoe wish list:
—a wide toe box (cute, too!)
—classic styling (for city activities)
—rugged enough to tackle light hikes
—wearable during 3 seasons
—lightweight/packable (soft enough to bend/fold)
—eco/vegan (I'm slowly transitioning away from leather shoes)
Wait, is that expecting too much? =)
AFTER EVALUATING EVERY SHOE I COULD FIND WITH A WIDE TOE BOX
Online and in person, I noticed customers discussing which wide toe box shoe seemed to have the widest—plus most attractive—natural toe box.
Lems' Women's Boulder Boot in Black received excellent reviews (their other colors were not vegan). They also appeared to meet every wish on my list.
I didn't expect my experience with Lems Shoes to be as positive as their reviews, though, due to my feet being so hard to fit. Thank the Gods, I was wrong.
FINALLY, THE RIGHT SIZE
On the U.S. foot scale, my longest toe measures at the 9.5 line. Size 43, in Lems, was perfect. (I ordered a 43 and a 44, then returned the 44.) I think this may be the first time in my life where the space between my toe and the shoe feels as if it was custom made for me.
WITH THE NATURAL SHAPE OF THE HUMAN FOOT
My toes can stretch out as wide as they desire now, and they never touch a thing. Even when they bend. This means no more toe pain. Unbelievable.
Just think: How many foot (health) issues are caused by shoes that are not designed to fit the natural shape of the human foot? Thank you, Lems, for doing what is right for the human race! XO
AND PRACTICALLY NO WEIGHT
This boot is so lightweight, it feels like I'm wearing air. It's a little freaky. Sometimes I worry that they'll blow away if I leave them outside and a windstorm kicks up.
As a child, do you remember running around barefoot all the time, even on gravel? I felt no pain. I had the hardiest feet back then! I've spent so many years off that kind of terrain that my feet are now more sensitive. So I've wanted to toughen them up a bit.
The Lems Boulder Boot is an ultra-minimalist shoe, which means it does not have thick soles. One can insert a thicker insole, yet still feel in close contact with the ground. Of course, not everyone would want this barefoot-like experience.
However, I spent four days on the hard slab of NYC, without breaking in these boots (my feet) ahead of time, and I was just fine. In fact, I loved being closer to the earth. But again, not everyone would.
THE WORLD'S MOST PACKABLE BOOT MEANS...
It's amazing to experience something so stashable. What a fantastic option for travelers.
But this also means there is no traditional (hard) hiking boot support. Yet, for myself, after hiking in heavy hiking boots, light hikers, and Chaco hiking sandals, I found my hikers were actually responsible for quite a few ankle rolls.
So, again, I'm grateful that Lems' packability also keeps my feet closer to the ground.
I HAD TO RUN
Late one night, I found myself running, and was surprised by how fast and unencumbered—how free—it felt to run in these.
Could this have something to do with "a barefoot boot...promoting healthy foot development, better balance, increased mobility in the feet, legs, and back AND helps to alleviate certain foot ailments such as bunions and hammer toes...?"
I don't know, but it made me hopeful that this might be true.
WHAT ABOUT WATERPROOFING?
There is none. I'm okay with this. It rained cats and dogs in NYC and even though the rain hit the outside of these boots, my toes (in thin wool socks) never felt wet. Of course, keep in mind that I was avoiding puddles.
Some people add a waterproofing treatment. I wonder if there is eco waterproofing?
SPEAKING OF WHICH, I'VE WASHED THESE TWICE ALREADY
I like to wash my shoes in a front loading washing machine if they get funky. Or before packing them up for a trip.
Even though Lems does not recommend doing what I do, these boots have turned out great after each washing and natural air drying. Maybe I've just been lucky.
I'm okay with taking this risk, but I wouldn't recommend anyone else take this risk. If these boots do shrink/wear out from washing, I'll be fine with buying a new pair of Lems every year or so.
A SPECIAL NOTE TO THE AMAZING SHOE DESIGNERS:
Lems currently labels the outside of this boot with a red/maroon tag and lines the inside of this boot with red/maroon plaid cotton. If Lems changed that red/maroon color to a neutral color (gray, taupe or black?), this boot could literally match with nearly every color one might wear!
So my fingers are crossed that Lems considers this color change for those of us who are trying to up our fashion flexibility. =) Love you Lems!