Review: Erem Xerocole trekking boots in the desert


The equipment and clothing market is saturated with brands offering high-end products. So how do you prioritize the businesses you want to support? We like to focus on those who offer premium products and a sustainable model. One of those companies is Erem, a new brand of desert performance boots founded by fourth-generation shoemaker Noah Swartz and his father, the former owner and CEO of Timberland.

Erem’s founding principle is simple: equipment designed for the outdoors must not harm the planet. So they built the Xerocole boot with the low impact materials available. Most shoes are made by thermofusing plastics, according to Erem. The company therefore abandons plastics and manufactures its boots with bio-circular materials and construction. The boot features vegetable-tanned leathers, wood-based Tencel, cotton, cork and eco-friendly rubber made from 70% recycled material and a biodegradability accelerator. The upper and the insole use latex foam; water-based degradable adhesives; and linen thread.

Erem starts with certified sustainable raw materials and performs voluntary audits through its partnership with Toxnot to ensure it is moving in the right direction. The company further minimizes its footprint by encouraging customers to return the boots for repair. When the boots are too far apart, Erem rebroadcasts the recoverable components into new boots.

Durable specifications

The Xerocole boots are made of durable full grain leather with an integrated bumper and stitched sole. Heavy-duty brass hardware guides flat laces. Inside, the breathable wood-derived lyocell lining wicks away moisture to prevent blisters. The boots have a padded collar and a ¾ gusseted tongue to keep debris out.

At first glance, the boots look a bit heavy and warm. During the initial wear test, some seams were visible. But after a few days of breaking in, they relaxed, becoming comfortable all day long, even in the sweltering heat.

Although the upper is made of leather, they do not have a membrane and have a fabric tongue so they won’t trap moisture. Sweat escapes through the cuff and evaporates through the tongue.

We love the oversized webbing heel loop for pulling them on. The boot may be taller than what you would normally wear in a backpack, but we appreciated the extra support, as well as the flexibility in the Achilles heel and toe, which makes walking nice and comfortable. We were also impressed with the soles. They were adherent to rock and weren’t as prone to sliding over sand, rock, or other dangerous desert conditions.

Find inspiration in nature

If you’ve spent time in the desert and felt like it was a magical place, the founders of Erem are here with you. The wilderness is the landscape that inspired the founders to create a brand committed to constantly raising the bar for “eco-friendly” outdoor performance products.

“To solve the biggest challenges facing an increasingly hot and resource-poor planet, Erem looks to the wilderness for wisdom and innovation,” said co-founder Noah Swartz.

Erem plans to plant 1 million prickly pears with the proceeds from shoe sales. The prickly pear is a plant valued by native desert cultures for the fruit it produces. It is also a plant that has the potential to capture billions of pounds of carbon dioxide.

Erem is also the official Arizona Trail boot and pledges 1% of his profits to the Arizona Trail Association.

The name “Erem” is an acronym adapted from the ancient Greek word for desert. It stands for Exceptional, Responsible, Sustainable and Motivated, the product promise and the brand philosophy of the company.

Erem is launched with two models, the Canvas and Leather Xerocole ($ 169.99; eremlife.com) and the Leather Xerocole Expedition ($ 199.99; eremlife.com). The Expedition is larger with a shank for extra support and protection when carrying heavy loads. Xerocole canvas and leather are lighter and more breathable.


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