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Episode 41: Lems Chukka Suede


Introduction:

Lems is one of the most loved and renowned companies in the barefoot community, and has not long branched out to provide their customers additional models to their existing models - the much loved Boulder, Mariner, Primal 2 and Nine2Five. They've introduced a Chukka model, 2 models with a slight heel drop - useful for transitioning (Mesa & Trailhead), in addition to a mid height Boulder boot, as well as a waterproof, and a leather version. I was fortunate enough to test out the Chukka Suede in Lions Mane, and was particularly intrigued by the colour and material.


The Chukka is a mid height boot, better suited for casual settings - if you're game, it should have no problem in rougher scenarios. It has a stack height of 10mm, so it might not be a preferred option for most die-hard barefoot enthusiasts; however, this shouldn't always discourage people from looking into the Chukka or Boulder, as it a) looks more boot-like with a thicker sole, thus fulfilling aesthetic requirements b) could prove beneficial in certain environments, c) is a great option for those transitioning, and finally, d) a great option whether you suffer from sensitive feet during injury/recovery.


It is priced competitively at $120 USD, available in a vast range of sizes (3.5 Boys-15 US), and can accomodate fairly wide feet. In addition, there are 6 different models available; 2 suede models, 3 corduroy models, and a canvas model - which is their most eco-friendly shoe in the entire Lems range (Pictured Below).


Click here to access the Lems website.


Disclaimer: These shoes were given to me to review, however my opinion is my own. This page uses affiliate links, and by purchasing from an affiliate link, I will receive a small commission which doesn't cost you anything. Thank you, and enjoy the read!


Company Overview:

"In 2008, Lems’ creator, Andrew Rademacher, reached his end point searching for shoes that fit the natural shape of the foot. Starting out by dissecting his favorite running shoes and cutting out the extra, unnecessary material, Andrew decided to learn the art and science of shoemaking in his own way. He studied shoe fitting, last construction, and pattern making so that he would be able to design his shoes to fit like no other on the market.


Andrew began to realize that the big shoe brands had it all wrong. Shoes should be built around the natural shape of the human foot, and not the other way around. This meant that a shoe should be widest at the forefoot and toes, while allowing for full flexibility and unrestricted movement.


After three years of research, countless hours of design and dozens of prototypes, Andrew’s unwavering focus finally paid off. In September 2011, Lems released its first product – the Primal. Though the company has come a long way since that original design, Andrew continues to study his art while staying true to his mission of making naturally fitting footwear that allows your feet the freedom to be just as nature intended."

Manufacturing and Sustainability:

"As a product that thrives most when used in nature, it is of vital importance to Lems to also promote the wellbeing of nature in everything we do. Sustainability is a driving force in every decision we make, from our packaging to our physical product. We promote sustainability in the following ways:

  • Vegan Materials: While all of our shoes are not 100% vegan, we aspire to use vegan materials as often as possible. We currently produce five fully vegan styles, and plan to continually increase that number.

  • Recycled Product: To combat the creation of new materials, we perpetually seek to integrate recycled materials into as many of our shoes as possible. The Chukka Canvas is our newest and most eco-friendly shoe!

  • Soles4Souls: "Soles4Souls turns unwanted shoes and clothing into opportunity, by keeping them from going to waste and putting them to good use - providing relief, creating jobs and empowering people to break the cycle of poverty." - Soles4Souls.org. Giving our shoes a second life with those who are most in need is one of the contributions we are most proud of. Not only do we donate unused pairs, but we encourage the Lems community to donate to this impactful nonprofit as well.

Everyday we work towards the mission of being a fully sustainable company, and are constantly in search of ways to further that goal. At Lems, we take full advantage of all that nature provides, and we feel it’s critical to return that favor." See more here.


Shipping and Returns:

  • Please note that during the holidays, we will continue to offer a 90-day return policy on all purchases!

  • Returns for your UNWORN shoes for a full refund on the retail price only, minus $8.00 for the return shipping label. Please note, shoes returned with any wear and tear, including dirt, scuffs, scratches and other signs of wear will not be refunded, exchanged, or credited and will be returned to the customer.

  • CLEARANCE SHOES WILL NOT BE ACCEPTED FOR RETURNS OR EXCHANGES.

  • Return shipping labels are only valid for US customers.

  • If you are an international customer, please request a return on our site (in the form below), and return your shoes to us at the address provided via the automated return confirmation email and return the shoes at your own cost.

For full return policy see here, and for shipping, see here.


First Impressions:

  • Vibrant colour

  • Neatly finished - quality throughout

  • Classic styling - including a checkered flannel lining

  • A bit stiff

  • Wide throughout, however the Primal 2 and Boulder feel as though they're wider

Sizing and Fit:

**Foot: 292mm x 110mm with widest part at the mid-foot. I'm normally an EU47 or US13 in most brands.**


As with many brands, the sizes between models can differ. I'm a US 13 in the Lems Primal 2, however I'm a US 14 in both the Lems Chukka and Boulder - I'm guessing that this could be attributed to the internal lining. My feet are 292mm in length, and with additional space, the nearest size in the size chart is a 29.9cm/US14, or 30.4cm/US15. Normally, with other brands, I would opt for something with 1-1.2cm, however I already have a pair of Lems Boulder, and was confident to try the same size - which worked out perfectly. Incredibly enough, the shoe has a good thumb widths space, which could mean that Lems are quite liberal in regards to their sizing measurements.


The volume of the shoe is quite generous throughout, however I feel as though the Toe-Box height is quite short, and could potentially be improved - as the material is quite stiff around there. The width is quite generous throughout also (110 mm at the widest point of the insole), and accommodates my foot with no issue whatsoever. In addition, the height of the Chukka could be worrisome for some however, as it may rub their ankle bones.

Performance:

The Chukka is a mid-height casual boot, with quite a robust sole. The sole isn't as flexible as other barefoot shoes, yet it still retains minimalist properties.


1. Upper and lining:

  • Quality-feel suede

  • Stitching throughout, and laminating to the sole is quite neat and consistent

  • Wide toe-box and mid-foot

  • Mid-High volume, however the toe-box height tapers a bit

  • No rough points inside the shoe, however the heel cap, and the rim of the ankle can be an issue for people - in case it rubs their ankle bones

  • The lining is a polyester x spandex, and is robust, yet soft

  • The insole is wide and removable. Underneath is a useable footbed, which seems to be made of a similar material to the lining

2. Sole:

  • Stack height is 13mm including insole, or 10mm without the insole. Not quite as minimalist or flexible as other barefoot shoes, yet still has flexibility

  • The same sole as the Mariner and Boulder. Average grip, yet I wouldn't recommend it for slippery surfaces

  • The sole is flat, however it slightly tapers - decreasing the size of your footprint

3. Weight and movement:

  • Surprisingly, the shoe is quite light for a boot, and at 289g, is comparable to most sneakers

  • With the sole thickness, higher upper, short toe-box height, and heel cap, it does limit movement somewhat. However, it is a boot, and I would only wear it for casual settings

Lems Chukka vs Lems Boulder Comparison:

Aside from obvious height differences, they are fairly identical throughout, except for the following:

  • Boulder has a waterproof version

  • Boulder has a higher Toe-box

  • Boulder has more toe-spring (not really noticeable)

  • Boulder has a more flexible upper

  • Boulder heel cap is more malleable

  • Boulder has warmer lining

  • Chukka sole tapers in, and decreases the size of footprint

  • Chukka sole is slightly harder and therefore more slippery

Technical Specifications:

Upper: 1.6mm ultra-soft suede

Lining: 90% polyester + 10% spandex

Outsole: 9.0mm LemsRubber™ (air-injection rubber)

Footbed: 3.5mm removable moisture wicking PU insole

Stack Height: 10.0mm (not including 3.0mm insole)

Drop: 0mm

Weight: 10.2oz/289g (size M10)

Available sizes: 3.5 Boys - 15 US

Price: $120 USD


Future Improvements:

  • Thinner/flexible sole

  • More flexible/minimalist upper

  • No heel cap

Where and how to wear:

I've only worn the Chukka with pants and jeans, however I'm sure they wouldn't be fine with shorts. They're versatile enough for any casual setting, as well as a casual business/semi-formal scenario. Lems also have additional colours/materials worth checking out.



Conclusion:

I imagine that die-hard barefoot enthusiasts would not be too interested in the Lems Chukka, but thats completely fine - there were times when I also wasn't accustomed to the stack height, heel cup and upper height. However, at $120 USD, they're a fairly inexpensive, quality manufactured boot, which serve many purposes unconstrained by barefoot ideals alone; as mentioned previously - they're a perfect shoe for: people transitioning, environments such as cold or rough terrain, sensitive feet, or for people just genuinely interested in their aesthetic - as it's rare to find a minimalist boot with a thicker sole.


Overall, if i was to compare them with my Lems Boulder - I would select the Boulder. I believe they have better flexibility, and are a more versatile shoe best suited for my own needs.


Click here to access the Lems website.



-TBSR, Alex




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Melbourne, Australia

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