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New Launch: Erem Xerocole Desert Hiking Boots

Erem is a new brand with a new look, established by a father and son: Jeff Swartz (former CEO of Timberland, the company founded by his grandfather) and Noah Swartz, who developed his MBA muscles at Harvard. As third- and fourth-generation shoemakers, the duo used their passion for the desert to inspire their latest creation, using premium materials and a Biocircular ethos that brings their boots home in more ways than one.

Though the Xerocoles (pronounced Zee-Ra-Kohl) are intended for desert performance, they should do well in multiple terrain types. I live in a high-desert region characterized by rocky trails dominated by sandy soil. Though I love wearing my Chaco sandals or Keens when hiking, both have a tendency to slip, and I was in need of an actual hiking boot. Enter Erem.

I chose to break the Xerocoles in at ExPo West, knowing I would be on my feet all day, doing plenty of non-strenuous walking. At the end of an 11-hour day, my feet were surprisingly happy, due in part to the shock-absorbing cork footbed which provided ample cushioning and support. My legs, however, were not (happy), perhaps partially because each boot weighs just shy of 1.5 pounds. I know that is comparable to many other options in the industry, but it is more weight than my kicks usually run.

The materials breathe well; mesh canvas and reverse full-grain leather combine for ultimate comfort and rugged wearability (durability), with ample padding at the ankle and tongue. On the trail, the boots are sturdy without being stiff and move well with the foot. The rubber sole is just grippy enough without being overblown, made of 70 percent recycled materials, “and a proprietary, added biodegradability accelerator that enables biodegradation in 7 years or less.” Thankfully, there is no odor to the sole.

Many companies are trying to establish methods and means to be more environmentally conscious, but sometimes it feels like lip service. With Erem, the effort is authentic, and they’ve paired with Toxnot to keep them on course “to improve environmental compliance and transparency.” Supply chain accountability extends down to the last stitch and includes “leather tanned with plant-based, food-grade formulations that are grown, harvested, and processed sustainably; Tencel Lyocell fibers from sustainably managed forests, from trees that don’t require pesticides, fertilizers, or irrigation; [cork] insoles [made] from the production waste of cork stoppers, disks, and other products; and linen [thread] from the flax plant—a fast-growing renewable resource that requires few, if any, chemical pesticides and fertilizers during cultivation.” Further details on materials are divulged on the company’s website, illustrating their products’ “100 percent proven path back to nature.” Repairs are offered on Erem’s boots, as well as an upcycling program that will convert your worn boots (when ready) back into a brand-new pair.

Though I have only had them for about a month, I’ve taken these boots on several trails (and become used to their weight) and anticipate using my Xerosoles for many years before taking advantage of the renewal program, as they have so far exceeded my expectations in the performance arena. Aside from their functionality, I appreciate the boot’s vintage styling with a lace-up system that gives kudos to the shoemakers’ roots, while still maintaining a modern finish. The color of the Xerosoles and materials used embrace the dust and dirt of the desert, ensuring they will always look as good as they feel. Dust is often worn as a badge on our vehicles and gear, but I must confess, I appreciate a cleaner look.

The only forewarning I have to impart is to disregard the instructions on the website to size down a half size. I normally wear a size 8 to 8.5 (depending on the manufacturer), ordered an 8, and found the pair unbearably small. Size up. Available in men’s and women’s sizes.

$170 | eremlife.com

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A steadfast believer in the power of words, Tena can usually be found with her eyes turned toward some source of written knowledge, be it for pleasure (seeking details on her next adventure), sustenance (recipe or menu), or just because. Recognizing the value of spoken word as well (unless it is coming from her GPS, in which case, she is perfectly capable of getting lost on her own), Tena finds there is no substitute for confabulation. Refuge from the monotony of the everyday is found by immersing herself in her surroundings, whether in an exotic locale or her own backyard. Disconnecting from technology is one of Tena’s favorite things, and seeking solace in the great outdoors is a cure well taken.