I’ve been a fan of Lems shoes for more than two years and have a pair of Trailhead shoes purchased in 2021 – see my review here. I have a bunion and have struggled with finding support and stability, while not squishing my feet in a narrow toe box. Thus, I’ve worn my trusty Trailhead shoes almost daily since purchase, and love the freedom and flexibility they provide.
For all these reasons, I’m excited to explore the Lems Primal lineup, which includes the Primal Pursuit, Primal Two, and Primal Zen. In this article we’ll cover the shoes’ features, materials and recommended uses. We also compare it to other Lems shoes like the Trailhead and Mesa.
- Lems zero drop shoes cater to those who want minimalist and naturally foot-shaped footwear.
- Zero-drop shoes have no elevation difference between the heel and forefoot, allowing for a more natural gait.
- The Primal Pursuit is a versatile zero drop shoe that can be worn for hiking, jogging and daily wear. However, because of the thick midsole, it feels closer to a hiking boot like the Lems Trailhead and is better suited for hiking than running.
About Lems Minimalist Shoes
Lems is a minimalist footwear brand with an emphasis on promoting foot health and natural foot function. The company creates shoes that incorporate a wide and spacious toe box to accommodate natural shape of a foot, allowing your toes to spread out as they should. This rethinking of traditional shoe architecture is targeted to people who have common foot and toe problems, such as hammertoes or crooked toes, as it encourages proper toe alignment.
Next, Lems shoes have a zero-drop design that places your heel and forefoot on the same level in order to promote a more natural and efficient gait. This, combined with the shoe’s low stack height, minimizes the risk of ankle sprains and enhances your movement.
The Lems shoe sole is designed to provide stable foot/ankle support while still allowing for ample tactile feedback, ensuring you stay connected to the ground beneath you.
Lems Primal Pursuit
- Hybrid of Primal 2 and Trailhead/Mesa
- Wide toe box
- Lightweight, weighing in at just 7.9 ounces.
- There are two vegan-friendly versions – the Orion Blu and Nocturnal Ninja, with no animal products used.
- Removable insole
- Suitable for runners of all experience levels
- Weather resistant
- Available in regular and wide sizes
- Sustainably made with recycled rubber and hemp
- Breathable PU synthetic (vegan) or suede mesh upper and perforated sole
- Moisture resistant polyester lining
- Daily wear
- Gym / Workout
- Trail running
Lems Primal 2
The Lems Primal 2 are the thinnest, smallest, and most flexible shoe from the Lems primal lineup. It’s a popular choice among both experienced minimalist shoe wearers and newcomers to foot-healthy footwear.
The Primal Two shoe has a very low stack height, which means it’s closer to the ground, giving wearers more ground feel when walking around all day.
- Thin, flexible sole for increased ground feel and natural foot movement
- Wide toe box for natural toe splay and comfort
- Zero-drop design for a more natural gait and posture
- Breathable for improved air circulation
- Removable insole for customization and comfort
- Upper: air mesh and synthetic materials
- Lining: Moisture-wicking fabric
- Insole: Removable PU insole
- Midsole: Lightweight injection-blown EVA
- Outsole: Durable rubber
- Casual everyday wear
- Light jogging
- Foot-healthy design with a wide toe box and zero-drop construction
- Lightweight and comfortable for extended wear
- Versatile for various activities and occasions
- Breathable materials keep feet cool and dry
- Removable insole allows for customization and orthotic compatibility
- Limited cushioning may not be suitable for those who prefer more padding
- Traction on the outsole may not be adequate for more technical trails or slippery surfaces
- The minimalist design may require an adjustment period for those new to barefoot-style shoes
Lems Primal Zen
The Primal Zen is a new shoe that Lems released in 2022. It is the next step up in terms of thickness and durability from the Primal Two. It has a stack height of 11 millimeters and is designed for everyday use. The Primal Zen offers a balance of minimalist and durable design for those who want to be comfortable and fashionable at the same time.
- Zero-drop design
- Wide toe box
- Soft microfiber
- Air mesh upper
- 9.5 mm air-injection rubber outsole
- Casual everyday wear
- Light workouts
- Light / moderate hiking
- Comfortable fit for daily wear
- Good starter shoe for people new to minimalist footwear
- Not intended for high-intensity sports or activities that require heavy support
- Has one of the widest fits and may not be good for people with narrow feet
How does the Primal Pursuit differ from the Primal Two and Primal Zen?
The primal lineup is meant to bridge the gap between the two types of shoes, offering a balance between minimalistic and durable construction.
- The Primal Pursuit is a thicker shoe, with a stack height of 14 millimeters.
- The shoe’s upper is more rugged and has tougher materials than the other two. This thickness provides an advantage for trail walking.
- The traction pattern on the Primal Pursuit is designed for outdoor activities, with three-millimeter lugs that offer excellent traction on different surfaces like dirt, rocks, and grass.
What are the health benefits and risks of Zero Drop shoes?
In this video, Dr. Andrew Schneider, a podiatrist based in Houston, Texas, gives us an in-depth look at zero-drop shoes, their benefits and potential downsides, and how they differ from traditional running shoes. from a podiatrist’s perspective.
As a podiatrist, Dr. Schneider has extensive knowledge and experience in diagnosing and treating foot and ankle problems. He is also a published author, with his book, “Why You Really Hurt: It All Starts In The Foot,” offering invaluable insights on how to manage and prevent foot pain. Dr. Schneider has a YouTube channel where he shares informative and engaging videos about foot care, footwear, and running.
Other scientific studies on zero drop shoes
A study published in the Journal of Sport and Health Science compared the biomechanics of running in minimalist shoes versus traditional running shoes. The study found that running in minimalist shoes like the Lems Primal Pursuit resulted in greater ankle plantarflexion, a more midfoot strike pattern, and reduced ground reaction force compared to traditional shoes (Lieberman et al., 2010).
Another study published in the Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research compared muscle activation patterns during squats in minimalist shoes versus traditional shoes. The study found that squatting in minimalist shoes like the Lems Primal Pursuit resulted in increased activation of the calf muscles and decreased activation of the quadriceps compared to traditional shoes (Escamilla et al., 2013).
A study published in the International Journal of Sports Medicine compared the effects of a minimalist shoe intervention on foot strength and function in recreational runners. The study found that runners who switched to minimalist shoes like the Lems Primal Pursuit experienced increased foot strength and improved balance compared to runners who continued using traditional shoes (Ridge et al., 2013).
Finally, a study published in the Journal of Sports Sciences compared the effects of minimalist shoes like the Lems Primal Pursuit versus cushioned shoes on running economy. The study found that runners who trained in minimalist shoes had greater improvements in running economy and efficiency compared to those who trained in cushioned shoes (Lieberman et al., 2014).
What is Lems shoe manufacturing process?
The company’s production process is designed to minimize waste and reduce its environmental impact. Shoes are made using a combination of traditional and modern techniques.
First, the manufacturing process begins with the cutting of the shoe’s upper, which is done using a die cutter or a computer-controlled laser. The upper is then sewn together using either a traditional stitch-and-turn method or a modern cementing technique. Lems uses a variety of materials for its uppers, including leather, mesh, and canvas.
After the upper is complete, the material is cut to fit the shape of the shoe. This is done using a proprietary last (a form that mimics the shape of the foot) to ensure a comfortable and natural fit. The last is made from a combination of wood and plastic, and is designed to last for thousands of uses.
Next in the process is the midsole, which is the part of the shoe that provides cushioning and support. Lems uses a variety of materials for its midsoles, including EVA foam, polyurethane, cork, rubber, Vibram, and TPU (thermoplastic polyurethane).
Finally, the outsole is created. This is the part of the shoe that comes into contact with the ground and provides traction.
Lems Shoes offers both waterproof and non-waterproof shoes, depending on the intended use. The company’s waterproof shoes are made using a variety of techniques, including Gore-Tex and eVent membranes.
Lems Shoes Safety Tips
Lems Shoes are designed to provide comfort and flexibility for natural movement, but as with any footwear, there are some warnings and disclaimers that you should be aware of:
- Some Lems shoes may not be suited for high-intensity sports or activities that require significant ankle and arch support, such as basketball, tennis, or hiking on technical terrain. These types of activities require specialized footwear, so make sure that your pair of Lems can support your physical requirements.
- Lems may not be appropriate for people with serious foot conditions or injuries. If you have any concerns, you should consult with a healthcare professional beforehand.
- The shoes are designed to fit snugly but comfortably, and should not be too tight or too loose. It is recommended that you measure your feet carefully and consult the size chart before finalizing your purchase.
What is Lems Warranty?
Backed by a 45-day satisfaction guarantee, with a one-year warranty on all Lems products.