As someone who utilizes minimal/ barefoot shoes in my running, when Lems (a small American-run company, 100% family owned and based in Boulder) asked me to review the Lems Primal 2, I was eager to try it out. I am always looking for new foot-shaped, natural fitting shoes in a world of raised heels and pointy, cramped toe boxes.
Let’s start with fit. When I first slid my feet into these shoes, I was amazed how well they fit. Like a glove. Lems Natural-Shape™ last is foot shaped (similar to Altra, which may be more familiar) that provides ample room in the toe box for a natural toe splay.
The middle of the shoe wraps snugly, once tied, and are quite comfortable on your feet, for a minimal shoe. A zero-drop platform and 9.0mm stack height (not including the removable 3.0mm PU insole) give a lightly supported, barefoot feel.
The 8.0mm of LemsRubber™ (air-injection rubber) outsole is responsive, super flexible and gives a lot of ground feel, while still leaving you feeling protected. It gives a great ride on packed trail or pavement. While not aggressively lugged like a trail shoe, the Primal 2 was surprisingly stable through mud and snow. Even over rocks and some more technical terrain, I felt pretty confident. The 100% vegan upper, made from soft microfiber and a breathable, open-weave mesh, was also surprisingly durable and even when skimming a rock with the front of the shoe, I felt well protected. At 6.9 oz, these shoes are light and keep you agile like a ninja. I would recommend sticking to packed trail or pavement, unless you are used to running in barefoot shoes on more technical terrain.
I was impressed by the versatility of these shoes. Great for running, hiking, workouts at the gym, or just wearing casually – this shoe can handle it. They are stylish enough to wear with some casual clothes and can hold their own at the gym or on a run. This is great if you have to look presentable at the office or out with friends, but also want to get a work out in immediately before or after. They are also a great alternative to stuffing your foot into a narrow-toe box, high heeled sneaker when you aren’t training. That might be the biggest appeal to me. Other sneakers with a zero-drop and wide toe box don’t look great, with flashy patterns and colors, when you just want a simple shoe for every day activities.
There wasn’t much I didn’t like about this shoe. The laces could be slightly longer. I would love to see a version with a more aggressive outsole and upper, that is specifically made for trail running. Overall, I enjoyed running in these shoes and I will continue to utilize them as a supplement in my running, to increase my foot and lower leg strength. I’m not sure if I would take these out on an ultra-distance, techy trail, but for mostly packed trail, I am a fan. If you already do some barefoot running or love minimal footwear, I highly suggest you check the Primal 2 out.