The Bottom Line: A lightweight and packable boot that works well around the city, in the office, on trips, and some light hiking.
Lems belief is that shoes should be minimal and designed to fit the foot's anatomy. They design their shoes to be packable (you can roll them up) yet sturdy enough to withstand daily use. In addition, the shoes are designed to fit the foot naturally with a wide toe box and zero drop sole promoting better posture and natural foot movement similar to a few shoe companies out there these days. The Boulder Boot fit took a bit of getting used to. As a runner, I had done plenty of reading on zero drop shoes and wide toe boxes a few years ago when the changes took the running world by storm. Lems' take on the zero drop sole and wide toe box felt like my foot was floating a bit inside the boot, and for the first few days my foot actually seemed sore after wearing them (primarily at work). For a period of time I actually stopped wearing them because I thought they might mess up my feet. I gradually started wearing them for shorter durations and found that my feet were not as sore afterward. I generally enjoy walking barefoot and figured I could jump right into these boots, but it turns out my foot needed to adjust to them a bit. I cannot say whether it is a good thing or not, but now I can comfortably wear these boots on a regular basis without foot soreness afterward. I have even worn them on a few hikes. My recommendation is to try them on in the store, and if you purchase them, take your time getting used to them.
The Boulder Boot upper is made of leather and 1200 denier nylon, so it can withstand its fair share of scrapes and scuffs. The boot is not waterproof, so I do not recommend jumping in puddles with it. My dog managed to spill her water bowl while I was standing near it at one point: The boot shed some of the water, but absorbed quite a bit of the rest of it through the fabric. The ankle support in the boot is fairly minimal. If you need something with ankle support, you might want to try this on before you buy them. The bulk of the upper is made of nylon with leather reinforcing wear points around the sole, the toe box, the heel, and the upper calf. The leather reinforcement provided some stiffness to the boot, but otherwise the boot is very flexible throughout. Tying the boots tighter just seemed to cause the leather on the upper calf to rub oddly on my leg. Over time it got a bit softer as the boot broke in more, but it is still fairly noticeable. A surprising fact about the boot is the laces themselves. I never thought I would pay attention to shoelaces before, but these feel great in the hands. They are fairly thick, they tie easily, and they do not seem to loosen throughout the day. The back of the boot has a leather heel loop to assist with putting the boots on, which is great because unless you loosen the laces a considerable amount, the boot is a snug fit.
After the break-in period (and my feet stopped feeling sore after wearing them), I finally started attempting to hike with these boots. They certainly can handle light hiking, but more than a few heel blisters later told me I either needed a different size or that the flexibility of the boot was causing them to rub. The lack of ankle support was also a bit concerning, but the leather reinforcement around the toe box and the sole did surprisingly well when I accidentally tripped over rocks here and there. While the boot can handle hiking, it would certainly not be the first shoe I would reach for when headed to the woods. Where I believe the boot truly excels is for travel. You can roll these boots or squish them fairly flat, so they can easily be packed in a carry on or backpack. Once broken in, they could even be comfortably worn throughout your travels driving or flying. They are even fashion forward enough that you can easily get away with passing them off as business casual in the workplace, so you can go from travel to the office without having to pack multiple pairs of shoes. So far I have not seen any noticeable wear on the sole after eight months of wear. In the end I would say that if you take the time to allow your feet to adjust and the boots to break in, you will find yourself reaching for them more on urban adventures and perhaps even for some light hiking.