If you love the look and functionality of Blundstones, but want something more comfortable – check out the Lems Chelsea. They are stylish, functional AND have a wide toe box and zero drop sole. What’s not to love?
After a thorough test, here is our review of the Lems Chelsea minimalist boots.
Lems Chelsea Review
Lems Chelsea boots are a rugged pull on boot with elastic panels and pull tabs on the front and back. Built on Lems’ widest sole shape, the Chelseas are my favorite Lems shoe to date!
- Leather Upper
- Microfiber lining
- Waterproof Option available
- 14.5mm thick w/ insole (11mm w/o)
- Available in sizes US 6.5W – 15M
- Two colorways:
- Cedar (not waterproof) – $150
- Espresso (waterproof) – $165
These boots, and all of Lems shoes, have unisex sizing, so there is no difference between men’s and women’s shoes. Now let’s get to the good stuff.
Why I Wear Lems Chelsea
It only takes trying on a pair of Lems Chelsea to notice they feel completely different from your typical chelsea boot. Here’s why.
1. Toe Box Shape – Lems Chelseas have an anatomically friendly shape to them that doesn’t squish the toes. Besides being critical for a pain-free fit, the wide toe box also supports foot health. Pointy toed shoes can contribute to foot issues like:
Now let’s see how my foot fits inside each of these shoes. Here are my bare feet in a relaxed standing position superimposed over Lems Chelseas and Blundstones.
All my toes fit inside the Lems, but in order to fit into the Blundstones my toes would have to squish together. Unfortunately many of our shoes do this to our toes.
2. Heel – Lems Chelsea boots are zero drop or totally flat, which supports better alignment and less pressure on my low back and pelvis. Heeled shoes push your hips forward, causing uneven stress on the spine.
3. Flexible Sole – Feet bend, shoes should too! It’s a lot easier to balance and move well if you are able to actually use your feet inside your shoes. And the motion also helps prevent stiffness in the foot.
4. Weight – Lems Chelsea boots weigh half as much as Blundstones. This one’s a no-brainer, lighter shoes are easier to wear!
Shoes like Lems Chelsea boots don’t interfere with my foot function – they let me keep living life in comfort without sacrificing on style or functionality. If given the choice, I will always choose Lems Chelsea boots over Blundstones.
Learn more about natural footwear and why it’s so important to me here.
What Lems Chelsea is Best For
The Lems Chelsea boot is a minimalist (or barefoot) shoe with a little more cushion than others. This makes them a good transition barefoot shoe. They’re also great if you want more protection from your environment, are dealing with foot pain, or spend long hours on hard floors. If you like the concept of a barefoot shoe, but want a little extra sole under your foot for any reason, Lems Chelseas are perfect.
I am wearing my Lems Chelseas casually. They work well in fall or spring temps, but with warm socks and a wool insole they have done me well in winter conditions as well.
They also work excellently as a rugged outdoor boot. In order to give you the best possible review, I recruited Nick to really put the Lems Chelseas to the test outdoors hunting, chopping wood, and hiking. Here is his experience.
Field Tested & Approved
“I’m Nick – homesteader, outdoorsman, and Battalion Chief for our local fire department. I put the waterproof Lems Chelsea boots through a lot and I am impressed; they can handle almost anything. I’ve worn them hunting, moving cow manure, cutting down trees, and for moderate hiking through the woods.
While I like the comfort of foot-shaped shoes, previously I had struggled to find a barefoot boot with good enough tread for my needs. I was really pleased that these Lems Chelsea boots have enough grip for everything except straight up mud. Shallow creeks, wet grass, and rain weren’t a problem at all. Even walking through fields of broken corn stalks (which can be pretty rough) was no problem thanks to the thicker protective sole. All while still being lightweight and flexible.
Since I like to keep things simple, I’ve been using the Waterproof Lems Chelsea as a replacement for several pairs of shoes – Keen hiking boots, ankle height Muck boots, and a pair of slip-on loafers that had seen better days. Yes, I even wore these as dress shoes! After cleaning them up a bit 😉
The leather has developed a nice patina, and I’ve worn little else since I got these! My footwear tends to be more about function than fashion, but the Lems Chelsea offers a great balance of both. I’m still on the hunt for a boot like these with a taller shaft and more aggressive tread, but in the meantime these are my new favorite shoes.”
Let’s talk for a minute about the soles on these minimalist boots. Lems Chelsea soles are made of injection blown rubber, meaning there is air mixed in so you get thickness without weight. The trade off is that less material means less durability. While I personally haven’t had an issue with the soles of my Lems breaking down prematurely (and it’s not something I have heard from other readers here), years of use will likely take its toll. Blundstones on the other hand, pretty sure those soles could survive a nuclear bomb.
But that’s not what I’m looking for in a shoe. While it might seem more costly to have to replace your boots sooner, ultimately the cost of poorly-fitting shoes could be more in the long run. My feet are worth a lot more to me than the soles on my shoes!
Caring for Lems Chelsea Boots
I have the Cedar Chelsea which is a light colored suede, so I sprayed them with Carbon Pro before wearing. This applies a waterproof coating that protects the color and texture of my boots without affecting the way they look. If they do get dirty I can easily brush it off once dry and then reapply the spray.
Nick wore his Espresso Chelseas without treating them beforehand. After they were good and filthy he cleaned them with a shoe brush and then some Bick 4 Cleaner & Conditioner.
Sizing & Fit Type
In our experience the Lems Chelsea boots fit:
- Mostly true to size, but you might go up 1/2 size if you have extra wide or high volume feet.
- Wide in the toe box
- Medium to high volume (remove insole for more space)
- Medium width in the ankle opening
- Plenty of vertical toe space
On Lems’ website they recommend ordering your usual size in the Cedar and 1/2 size up in the Espresso (because of the waterproof membrane). We both chose 1/2 size up from our usual and both are slightly loose on us. We appreciate the extra space for our wide feet but if we don’t wear thick socks with them they are big. So based on our experiences in both boots on both ends of the size spectrum, they run true to size.
If you have low volume feet like me you can use leg warmers or tongue pads to keep your foot from sliding around (find my fave low volume fit hacks and products here). Those tricks are lifesavers in chelsea boots where there is no adjustability!
Same Shoe, Different Foot
Nick’s feet measure 27.5cm long and 11cm wide and he normally wears a size US 11.5. He has an extra wide, sloped shape foot that is high volume. He has size 12 in his Lems Chelseas and they’re a little big, but perfect with thick socks.
My feet are 23.3cm long and 9.3 cm wide, and I normally wear a US 7.5 women’s or an EU 38. My feet are low volume and fan shaped. Lems Chelseas in a size 8 fit my wide toe splay, but are a little loose around my ankles and heels. If I had gotten a 7.5 I wouldn’t be able to wear thick socks with them in the winter, so I have no regrets!
Learn more about foot shapes here
Ordering From Lems Shoes
Lems Shoes is located in the USA and offers flat rate domestic shipping for $5.95. You can also order from Lems if you live abroad, with international shipping options based on location and weight. View the full list of countries available for shipping here.
If you want to shop closer to home, the following international Lems retailers carrying the Chelsea:
- Bprimal (Australia)
- Cool East Market (Canada)
- Mugavik Barefoot (Europe) – Will be in stock early next year. Use code ANYASREVIEWS for 5% off
Lems Chelsea Review Conclusion
The Chelsea boots from Lems have exceeded our expectations across the board. They are a dream to wear and fill an important role for foot-conscious people who need a functional shoe. I think the only thing that would make these shoes better is if they could be resoled so they really last forever!
27 thoughts on “Lems Chelsea Boots – Like Blundstones, But Better”
Thanks for this review Anya.
So excited to be able to get these through B Primal before too long!
We have been waiting for a boot suitable to work around my horses and paddocks, cutting firewood etc and for our daughter to work in on set all day lugging camera gear and props around.
I followed up with them and they literally JUST made them available for purchase on their site!
Be aware that the injection blown rubber cannot withstand heat at all! I got a pair of shoes recently where the sole shriveled up when I was warming my feet by a fire. Lem’s customer service was completely unsympathetic to the fact I had these boots for less than a month. They told me that “the shoes aren’t heat resistant” and it was “user error” so I can shove it essentially. They also said that people have issues leaving them I hot cars! For a boot that’s marketed as rugged outdoorsy I find this extremely dishonest and can’t believe they still produce shoes with this material.
Thanks for the tip on this Sean. I would really hope the soles could withstand some heat too; I’d guess that Lem’s choose to use this material to provide a more protective sole whilst retaining the most flex and barefoot feel possible. An interesting trade off!
Thanks Anya, I too have been looking for a Blundstones replacement boot to wear around the horses and paddocks, so very pleased to see how well these performed.
Hi Barbara, I bought these & the Lem’s Boulder boots to replace my Ariat waterproof lace up boots when outside with the horses and cows. I prefer the Chelsea over the Boulder & they have performed well. They aren’t as pretty as a nice pair of cowboy boots, but they sure feel better. They offer more protection should my foot be steeped on vs a tennis shoe, but probably less than what my Ariat, Justin’s or other cowboy boot brands offered. So far I am very pleased with these for the pasture and I am curious how long they will hold up. I did order up a full size from normal on the Chelsea. I’m thin socks they’re a little big but with regular to thick wool socks this winter it’s been just the right fit.
Thanks for your feedback on the Chelseas as I am keen to find a pull on boot with a bit more protection around the horses and in the sole on gravel/ rough ground.
But how did you get that picture of your foot inside the shoe?!
I took a picture of my bare feet standing on the ground, overlaid it on the shoe photo, removed the background, and then increased the transparency on Canva Pro 🙂
Thanks for a great review Anya and for getting Nick’s take on these; excellent to have both of your perspectives. I’ve been wanting a foot-friendly Blundstone replacement for years and these look pretty good. However when I wear shoes with a “breathable waterproof membrane” my feet and socks tend to get sweatier due to the restriction in breathability that a “breathable” waterproof membrane creates. That is never comfortable for me and can be terrible if it is cold outside. I would love to hear about Nick’s experience with temperature and moisture levels wearing the waterproof Chelsea’s, and how he thinks the boots might wear in warmer seasons.
I am currently leaning toward buying the suede version and applying a wax product like Otter Wax or SnoSeal. I have generally been happy with the water resistance of oiled/waxed leather boots, and I think the golden suede would darken beautifully when waxed. Yet I can’t deny that a waterproof membrane can be quite useful when conditions are truly soggy.
Lastly I am curious if you too feel that Lem’s leather uppers are a step down from a high quality full grain leather like you would find on a Redwing boot? I am tentatively disappointed that, with so many boxes checked by these Chelseas, the boots look to be made like Lem’s other boots, with somewhat thinner, cheaper leather uppers backed with polyester which is less durable than leather and lacks leather’s natural anti-funk properties. They are still some of the best chelsea work/romp boots I’ve seen to date, and I’m so glad you reviewed them!
I will check with Nick and see!
This is from Nick in response to your questions:
My feet do get a little warm if I am wearing them inside with thick socks but that is to be expected. When I am outside working in cold weather with thick socks they act just like any other boot.
I do agree that the leather on these boots is not in the same league as a regular work boot. I currently have been wearing leather pull-on steel toe work boots daily since 2006 and the leather on the LEM’s would not last as long at my place of employment.
I recently bought a pair of the waterproofs and was sploshing around in snow and slush very happily, staying completely dry. They seem to run to size for me, if ever so slightly snugger. But I expect all that leather to conform. The cushy soles make them easy to wear.
As someone with extra wide feet, I really wish shoe companies would give actual size measurements, instead of “order your usual size” or “our widest model”. After all my reading, I still don’t know if these would fit me. [22.4cm long, 9.3cm wide by wall & book method.]
Anya, I know you aren’t responsible for this, but if you have any influence, please let the shoe companies know!
Ironically I’ve heard a lot of shoe company owners express frustration with having actual measurements available because most people don’t understand how to use them. I think they’re really helpful for some people, but confusing for a lot of others. For example, people are always telling me how narrow Be Lenka’s shoes are because they measure their feet and compare it to the size chart and find that their foot is wider, but the measurements shown are not portraying the usable width in the shoe. It’s really a mixed bag!
I just got my Lems Chelsea boots and they’re uncomfortably tight on my 10.25” wide foot even after sizing up a full size (from a 9 to a 10).
What’s interesting is that they’re nearly identical in width and length (and from top down even appearance!) to my croc’s work shoes which are about the only shoes I can wear and yet the Chelsea’s hurt my feet (especially my moderate bunions).
I couldn’t figure out why the Chelsea’s hurt so much whereas my crocs don’t since the outsides are nearly identical but I think it’s because the Chelsea insole is actually “cupped” vs. the crocs which have a completely “flat” insole.
This spells a lot of discomfort for anybody who’s foot doesn’t fit inside of that raised “ledge” (think Birkenstocks) – the outer edges of my forefoot are being pressed upwards while the rest of the ball off my foot sinks into the “depression“.
Check your boots and you’ll notice a gentle upward slope along the entire outer perimeter of the insole – more evident if you take out the removable insole.
If Lem’s had a size chart I could’ve seen that my feet weren’t anywhere near being able to fit within the insole (let alone a “cupped” insole)…I pulled the insole out and stepped on it and my forefoot hangs over the edges by a good half inch.
The insole measurement is what’s crucial and every maker of shoes should make it available.
I’m widest at the ball of my foot, not at the toes, both because of a moderate bunion and mostly because my foot flares out a good half inch before diving back inward to my pinky toe.
I should’ve asked before buying since these are way too expensive not to be at least as comfortable as my croc’s.
For anyone with exceptionally wide feet, “Butterfly my world “ makes an extra wide (over 11”) that doesn’t cost a fortune. That may be my next stop.
Really frustrating trying to find cute, comfortable, reasonably priced shoes for exceptionally wide feet 😕
Liz, contact Lem’s directly and ask for the dimensions of the removable insole.
I’ve done this with a couple of other brands of shoes and they’ve all been great getting back to me with that info.
Too bad I didn’t do that before I ordered the Lem’s Chelsea boots I was so sure would fit my 10.25” width foot – not!!!
I can wear a size 9 croc moderately comfortably but a size 10 in the Lem’s waterproof Chelsea is pretty uncomfortable at my forefeet (the widest part of my foot). I have a somewhat narrow heel (especially compared to the width of my forefoot [duckfeet -lol] and my heel slides up and down with each step due to ordering a size up as suggested on Lem’s website for use in winter with thick socks which there’s no way I could wear as tight as they are at the forefoot but would probably help with the heel slippage! Can’t win here unfortunately.
Note that there’s also a gentle upward slope around the edge of these boots – a “cup” for your foot so to speak which I think makes these boots even less great for anyone’s wide foot that spreads beyond that “cup”. It’ll raise the outside edge of your foot up. Not good.
Thanks for this in depth review! Would these be a good option for farm work? Do you have any other recommendations for farm work?
I was so hopeful that the Chelsea would work for me, but I just can’t get them over my heel. I have a really high instep and have trouble pulling some boots on, and there was no way my foot was getting through that hole. The search continues for a waterproof boot that fits me.
I’ve had these boots since end of Nov. I continue to love them… I can wear them outside for some yard work (ok I don’t get them totally covered with mud) but they clean up nice enough to wear to church. And I went through a boot detox seriously where I would dread putting these on bc I was just “used” to that tired feeling you get while wearing normal boots but then I would be surprisingly reminded that oh these boots feel so good on and don’t make my feet tired and achy. Love them! And I ordered a full size up to wear thick socks (got slippers and only did half size larger for those) and found their shoe size guide quite helpful.
I’m currently on my second pair of LEMS Boulder waterproofs which I wear daily for farm work (I’m a large animal veterinarian) in both hot and cool conditions. Both have lasted over 12 months w it’s the sole wearing our before the leather. I cannot get this long out of a pair of Blundstones (I’m Aussie and have worn Blundstones since I was a teenager) since they moved their manufacturing off shore.
My Lems Chelsea waterproofs turned up this week, so will give further comment on them after a few months wear ! I’m expecting big things as I also have 2 pairs of Primal 2’s which have lasted exceptionally well.
Few months in and they are going well. Took a few weeks to break in (just like Blundstones). Great substitute, well
made, very comfortable for all day use (I regularly get 12-14000 steps in on varying surfaces in them over a 10-12 hr work day). If I was going to pick on anything, for outdoor working/pursuits they could do with more grip in wet/muddy conditions.
Lems really do need to get their sizing sorted though, I am a completely different size depending upon which model I purchase.
Overall though I am very satisfied with my purchase.
I LOVE my Lems waterproof Chelsea boots! I’ve been wearing them almost daily for a month in cold, wet, and slushy conditions. They’ve held up great during fieldwork and go with everything. The chocolate color is so pretty!
I can take them down into 20° weather if I’m moving around and wearing thick socks, but for anything colder, snowier, or less active, I have to switch to my foot-unfriendly winter boots. I ordered a full size up (9.5➡️10.5) and it’s perfect with thick socks, a little loose but not unbearable with thin socks. I totally recommend!
Speaking of winter boots—Anya, do you have plans to review the new Feelmax Kuuva 6s? I was excited to see that they widened the foot box in the new model. I tried the Xero Alpines and they were way too narrow for my fan-shaped feet. I lead winter snowshoeing programs and could really use a boot that’s beefier than (but still as wide as) the Lems Chelsea.
Thanks for all you do!
I don’t currently have the Kuuva 6 in my plans to review, but I will check them out. You might like the Sole Runner Transition Vario as well, they are a beefier winter boot with a wide toe box.
I just received my Lem’s waterproof Chelsea boots and I was pleasantly surprised how light they are! The leather isnt stiff and has excellent flex right out of the box. I have a 27cm long foot and usually buy 11 Woman’s, I took the advice and ordered a half size up. I wonder if I should return them for a half size down.. Wearing winter socks they are a dream fit! But I wonder if I can withstand the spaciousness of them in everyday socks. The real test will be a full days work when my feet swell, looking forward to giving them a spin! The only drawback so far, I wish the ankle opening was a little tighter!
I am new to zero drop shoes. Just got my first two pairs from Lems, Primal Zen and Boulder Summit. It seems that the Summit’s are going to be a little too narrow in the toe box and not sure I can get used to the high tops. I need a pair of boots that I can use for heavy duty gardening this summer and am wondering if the Chelsea boots would work okay for that. I have been doing regular foot exercises for about 6 months and breaking in CorrectToes. I am 68 and need to transition slowly so thought the Summits would be worth a try but after reading your very thorough review thought The Chelsea might be worth considering. What are your thoughts? I live in MN and am excited to see that you will be in MN with shoes in May! Signed up and plan to come!
We plan to have Chelsea boots at the try on even in May! I just pulled mine out again to wear today and man they are comfy. Both the Primal Zen and Boulder Summit have a slightly narrower sole than the Chelsea, but the sole thickness is similar. Boulder Summit also isn’t fully zero drop, it has about a 4mm heel rise. Personally I don’t think the Chelsea will be any harder to wear, they are a good transition shoe option.