Second Wind

Second Wind
"Run With Purpose!"

Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Product Review: Lems Primal 2 ultra-minimalist shoes

So, I just reviewed the Lems Nine2Five and now today I have the LemsPrimal 2 (in Cardinal).  

In the Nine2Five review I mentioned reviewing this company’s first ever shoe (under their “Stem” name) which was called the Primal Origins and now I get to review the 3rd gen model which, I’m pleased to say, has indeed stuck with its “origins”.

Four years ago (almost to the day) the first gen shoe was hitting preorders and now this 3rd gen shoe is available to the masses.  While the company has grown and evolved, their roots are the same, they’re still helmed by the same guy who dreamt it all up, and they’re making constant improvements without losing touch of who they started off to be. 

This Primal 2 shoe combines an incredibly light and super soft combination of microfiber and extremely breathable open-weave air-mesh (100% vegan) upper, their proprietary LemsRubber outsole (8.0mm), and a 100% MoistureWick mesh liner to create one of the lightest and most flexible shoes you will ever encounter.
Honestly… I struggle with using the word “flexible” because it just doesn’t quite do it justice.  Here’s what you need to know.  There is nothing to this shoe.  It weighs nothing (~6oz), has zero support, zero stability features, zero reinforcement, zero drop, zero (for all practical purposes) cushioning, zero, zero, zero.  Now, for some people, that will scare the heck out you – this shoe is not for you.  For those looking for true minimalism, no greater… less, can be found.  Honestly, without actually being barefoot, this is as close as you can get.  It’s like walking around in a house shoe designed to be used for anything you want.  Here’s what I mean:  yes, it’s ultraminimalist, yes it’s as close to 100% ground feel as you can get while wearing a shoe, yes it’s like a house shoe, BUT, due to the design and Lems sole, I have worn this shoe running, hiking, bouldering, working out, camping, on an Olympic lifting platform, to the grocery store, and everywhere else you can think of. 
The only limiting factor with this particular model is that the Crimson color is so dang cool that I want to baby the shoes so as to not mess them up!  Definitely the first “minimalist” shoe I’ve felt that way about – it reminds me of my old traditional shoe obsession where it was All about looks….  Seriously though, the red really does pop and makes a great fashion shoe.

One of my favorite details about this shoe is the soft and smooth (and reinforced) heel slide (as seen here in grey):

If you’re a technical trail runner and spend your time on jagged rocks and navigating through sharp gravel hidden underneath the leaves of your favorite blackdiamond mountain trail, these shoes probably aren’t for that purpose.  Think of it like this, because we’ve all conditioned our feet differently so, therefore, our barefeet can handle different things:  if you would do it completely barefoot, then these shoes will be Perfect for it!

I’ll conclude with this: 
After testing shoes from over 2 dozen different brands over the years (and dozens more models) I’ve come to a place where I can honestly say that Andrew and the crew at Lems would definitely make my top 3 shoe brands.


  1. what are your other top 3 shoe brands?

    1. Right now I would say Altra (trail running), Topo (gym/workout shoes), and Lems (Everything else: everyday shoes, everyday boots, work boots, dress shoes, etc).
      Russell Moccasin are amazing and by far the best boots, no question, BUT they are also extremely expensive and to me that puts them in a "non-standard" category

    2. cool thanks! i just purchased my first lems - nine2five and like them a bunch. i wish i could find a good minimal pair to wear with a suit (vivo makes some, but ive read mixed reviews).

      my fave are the merrell life excursion, which sadly they stopped shipping in the us. i was able to find a place in uk that would ship to us and just stocked up to replace by aging pair. the leather tough glove was a winner too, but merrell seems to be moving away from the lifesytle/casual in us and just focusing on the running shoes.

    3. For suits and true dress shoes my favorite is Tunefootwear.
      I have a pair of the "Ornament"

      and here's their lineup: