Lems Chelsea Boots – Like Blundstones, But Better

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A collage of the Lems Chelsea barefoot boot waterproof modeled outside in mud, dirt, and snow, showing it's flexibility and natural foot shape

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

A woman standing on her porch smiling at the camera wearing a sweater, coat, hat, and Lems Chelsea barefoot boots in Cedar

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!

Product Specs:

  • 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

A woman holding up two pairs of shoes, the Lems Chelsea barefoot boot with the text "wear this" in one hand and Blundstones chelsea boot with the text "not that" in the other hand

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:

A side by side comparison of the outsoles of two different shoes - the Lems Chelsea boots with an anatomical foot shape versus Blundstone Chelseas with a pointy toe

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.

a top down view of a pair of feet - left foot is wearing Lems Chelsea barefoot boot in Cedar with a bare foot super imposed to show the entire foot fits inside the shoe, right foot is wearing Blundstones chelsea with a bare foot superimposed over the top to show it does not fit inside the toe box

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.

A side by side image of a woman wearing zero drop Lems chelsea barefoot boots to show they support good alignment, versus the same woman wearing a pair of Blundstone boots that have an elevated heel which pushes her hips forwards causin her to bend at the low back

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.

A side by side comparison showing the flexibility of Lems Chelsea boots on the left, a hand is folding them up into a ball, and on the right Blundstones Chelsea boots are very stiff and can't bend

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

A close up side view of a pair of feet standing in snow wearing leg warmers and Lems Chelsea zero drop boots in Cedar suede leather

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

A cloes up of a pair of feet walking across a fallen log in a forest wearing Lems Chelsea Espresso waterproof barefoot boots

“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.

A man sitting in front of a pile of chopped wood wearing work pants, a flannel shirt, and Lems Chelsea Espresso waterproof barefoot boots

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 πŸ˜‰

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.”

Durability

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

a close up of a hand holding a dirty Lems Chelsea Espresso waterproof minimalist zero drop boot with a shoe brush cleaning off the dirst

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

a top down view of a pair of feet standing on concrete. One is wearing a Lems Chelsea boot the other is in a sock to show that the shoe matches the shape of the bare 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.

a top down view of a pair of feet standing on concrete. Left foot is wearing Lems Chelsea boots in Cedar, right foot is bare, showing that the boots have an anatomical foot shape

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:

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!

a top down view of a pair of feet standing on snow and grass wearing leg warmers and LEms Chelsea barefoot minimalist zero drop boots in Cedar

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40 thoughts on “Lems Chelsea Boots – Like Blundstones, But Better”

  1. 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 20Β° 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 (9.5➑️10.5) and it’s perfect with thick socks, a little loose but not unbearable with thin socks. I totally recommend!

    Speaking of winter bootsβ€”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!

    1. 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.

  2. 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!

  3. 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!

    1. 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.

  4. Thanks for your review! Definitely convinced me to get a pair (although they’re hard to find … not that many retailers in Canada!). Would it be ok to use the Carbon Pro spray on the waterproof Lem Chelseas for an extra layer or protection or do you think that’s unnecessary?

  5. I am a Canadian and i just wanna know how well these handle in the cold, as we get close to -20 degrees Celsius where i am in the winter. I am looking at the waterproof Chelsea boots.

    1. We are frequently at those temps and often lower in the winter here in Iowa and for me these are not super warm but manageable with a different insole (wool or sheepskin) and heavy wool socks. The thicker outsole does help, but the upper is only lightly insulated. Have you seen my article on the warmest barefoot winter boots for more tips/options?

  6. Hello. How is the sizing compared to Lems Primal 2? And is there room for thicker insoles? My problem is my right forefoot goes numb without shoes even on carpet and in “normal” shoes the little toe also feels curled and numb. Same problem if the shoe is too tight over the foot and the pressure from the sole or upper is still there when I lift my foot. So I need the shape of barefoot shoes, but more cushioning. I usually wear Topo. I’ve also had some Altras but some of them don’t have enough space over the toes. Finding safety shoes is impossible! The only two I have found with room for the little toe have a 15mm drop. Birkenstocks are too narrow and also rub my heels. Sorry for the rant but it’s just so frustrating that 99.9% of shoes have pointy toes! And that my employer thinks we should all wear safety shoes even when not working with heavy objects.

    1. The sizing is comparable to Lems Primal 2 in our experience, and the volume is high over the toes and the arch so you should have space for an extra insole unless you have a high arch and need all that space. Pull on boots are always harder than lace ups because you can’t adjust the fit, but the Chelsea is a good option for a lot of people who need all the space they can get plus a bit of cushion. I hope you can find some good options for your feet!

  7. Hi Anya!
    I was wondering if you have shared, or would share, a review on (cool) barefoot socks! I’m a fun sock girl, and I love to wear a pair of knit socks or patterned socks to top of a winter outfit and add some warmth. I’ve seen some of your fun thick patterned/wool type socks, and I would love to know where to look!

  8. Hello! These seem awesome, and I’m looking to buy a pair to replace my Blundstones. Ever since I bought a pair of Altra trail shoes in February, I’ve gradually come to realize that the rest of my shoes which didn’t use to cause me pain are now doing exactly that :/
    I’m curious- what is the reason the soles can’t be replaced? Is it down to the flexibility? To be honest, I don’t care about the sole flexibility so much – the zero-drop and wide toe-box are what are important to me.

    1. It’s the way they are made – the upper would get totally messed up in the process of removing the old sole. You could look at Conker shoes – they have a rugged, durable chelsea boot on a thicker sole that can be repaired and replaced repeatedly. And are zero drop and wide.

  9. Hi! First of all, thanks for all your reviews. They have helped me on my journey to finding the right shoes. I have the Boulder Boot Nylon and love them. I’ve been wanting a pair of Chelsea’s but wasn’t sure if they were easy to pull on like the Boulder? I have had multiple surgeries on my foot and it can be difficult to pull boots on if they don’t have any give.

    1. Hi Tara πŸ™‚ For the Chelsea you do have to be able to point your foot at least a little to get it into the shoe because it is a pull on with elastic paneling – the boulder you can undo the laces to open it up wider. They are not especially tight around the ankle and the elastic does stretch. For me they are fairly easy to slip into because my heels are thin and I have low arches, but for some with different foot types they are more difficult.

  10. I just received two pair of the Lems Chelsea boots, 7 1/2 and 8 1/2, but sadly they are not high enough volume for me. I have a wide foot and high arch, typically wear 7-7.5 and I purchased a 7.5 and an 8.5 hoping they would be suitable as the circumference around my midfoot which measures 24cm around just in front of my ankle. I could not get the 7 1/2 on over my midfoot. The 8 1/2 boot went on, but the top of the boot pressed down on my midfoot rendering them unsuitable, and this was with the innersole pulled out. Hopefully this helps someone in the same situation – back to the drawing board sadly. Toe box width was wonderful, and they are beautifully made boots (black/waterproof).

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Hi. I'm Anya.

Hi. I'm Anya.

I first discovered barefoot shoes after a long history of foot issues. By changing my footwear and strengthening my body I was able to completely transform my life. Anya’s Reviews is my way of sharing with the world that healthy feet are happy feet!

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