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.
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!
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!