People love to call certain pieces of gear a “quiver of one.” I call bullshit. There’s no such thing. There’s no one ski that can handle all conditions equally. There’s no one mountain bike that tackles every trail perfectly. There’s no one pair of sunglasses equally suited for the Tour de France and dinner out. You get the point.
However, as design and outdoor-material technology gets better, we are approaching a point where one piece of gear can indeed do a lot of basic things pretty damn well, allowing you to declutter your garage, your closet, and your life. Case in point: the new Mesa shoes ($125) from Lems (also available in women’s), which sit at the intersection between a runner, a travel slipper, a water shoe, and a low-cut hiking boot.
The upper is made from a breathable, stretchy knit construction—similar to the one used in Nike’s Flyknit technology—that vents well on a hot day, dries fast after getting wet, and wraps your foot for immediate comfort. Lems also built in a wider-than-normal toe box, so there’s never any squish, even when your feet are swollen from a 12-hour day of traveling.
A TPU cage surrounds the midsection for added support, which is handy when scrambling over rocks. The medium-aggressive tread—matched with a cushioned EVA midsole—handles the chunky, variable, loose terrain you find on trail as well as cushions against the foot-busting asphalt of city streets. The sole is also flexible enough to bend in half, so the shoe packs well in a carry-on suitcase.
With all that functionality, the Mesa has quickly become my favorite everyday summer shoe. I wear it to work, out to lunch walks, on weekend hikes, and with my kiddos at the river, and it’ll be the only shoe I need for an upcoming weekend trip to California. The Mesa has replaced at least three other pairs I used to rotate through (flip-flops, hiking boots, and work shoes) and looks mostly new even after a couple beatings.
To be clear, I’m not kidding myself. The Mesa will not replace my favorite backpacking boot. Nor will it work for a marathon or a nice date with my wife. And yes, I will need to replace these shoes in a year if I wear them every single day. That said, I’m still a fan—and will buy a new pair next year— thanks to the simplicity it’s created in my life.