Editor choice

best Sustainable Shoes of 2021: Lems Trailhead and Lems Primal 2

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Lems Shoes designs footwear with the health of your foot in mind. The company creates eco friendly shoes with sustainable materials, fitting the foot and allowing the wearer to move as if they were barefoot.

Lems Shoe Review

The Lems Primal 2 and Lems Trailhead V2 are two of their most popular shoe designs. We take a deep dive into each shoes features, benefits and customer reviews.

Lems Features and Benefits

1 – Natural shape toe box gives feet space for movement

All of Lems Shoes are designed with the foot’s natural shape in mind. Mirroring the foot’s natural shape benefits the body in several ways, including: 

  •  Increased foot strength 
  •  Natural foot strike landing 
  •  Reduced injuries 
  •  Quicker recovery time 
  •  Improved posture 

Natural foot-shaped shoes promote a healthier footstrike than traditional shoes, reducing the force and pressure on the foot when it lands on the ground. 

2 – Zero drop can improve posture and reduce spinal injuries

Zero drop shoes place your toes and heel on the same level, like they are when you’re barefoot. Traditional shoes elevate your heel above your toes so that you walk with your toes pointing downward.

The benefits of zero drop include: 

  •  Improved posture 
  •  Better alignment 
  •  Improved balance 
  •  More natural running gait 
  •  Better ankle mobility 

It’s not unusual for recurring running injuries to stop once you start wearing zero-drop eco friendly shoes. Because your feet remain in a straight line, it stays flat on the ground, correcting your posture and improving spinal alignment. 

3 – Shoes made with sustainable, eco-friendly materials

Lems using sustainable materials in both the physical product and its packaging. The company promotes sustainability in several ways, including using vegan materials whenever possible and incorporating recycled materials in as many shoes as possible.

Lems Primal 2

Price: $105

Among the various choices available for functional footwear, the Lems Primal 2 sustainable shoes stand out. The Primal 2 has stood the test of time thanks to its foot-friendly design, stylishness, and overall comfort. 

There is one style for women available in olive, black, slate, eclipse, brown and cloud colors and one style for men available in olive, black, slate, eclipse and brown.

Lems Primal 2 for Women

Lems Primal 2 Shoes for Men

Primal 2 Features

The retro-style Lems Primal 2 sports several beneficial features: 

1 – Wide Toe Box: These mostly vegan sneakers have the most generous toe box compared to traditional shoes. Not only does the Lems Primal 2 have a sufficiently wide forefoot for most feet, but it’s also shaped in a way that accommodates natural toe splay. In other words, the Primal 2’s toe box is as close to foot-shaped as we’ve ever seen, which is excellent for promoting optimal foot health.


2 – Zero-Drop Platform: The Primal 2 uses a zero-drop platform, meaning your foot rests on an even surface within the shoe and doesn’t use a toe spring or any heel elevation. These design choices are common in conventional footwear; their presence often leads to toe and foot problems.

3 – Lightweight: The Primal 2 is very light, allowing for a barefoot-like shoe wearing experience. Less joint impact and a more natural gait are the result of lightweight shoes like the Primal 2.

4 – Comfort: The Primal 2 is an extremely comfortable shoe due to its foot-friendly design and high-quality materials, which include soft microfiber, an open-weave mesh upper, and an air-injected rubber outsole.


5 – Flexible Sole: The Primal 2 features a flexible sole, which helps strengthens your foot with every step, providing it with the necessary tactile feedback to optimize your gait. In addition, the entire shoe is accommodating and flexible, using only sustainable materials.

What activities are the Primal 2 best for?

  1. Hiking
  2. Walking
  3. Forefront Running
  4. Orthopedic Support
  5. Casual Wear

The Lems Primal 2 vegan sneakers functions nicely in various scenarios, making it a great shoe to wear around town without losing comfort over the day.

Most people who wear the Primal 2 find they can walk in them for long distances and periods without experiencing the familiar discomfort and pain found from traditional walking shoes. Some users even rely on these vegan sneakers for athletic activities, including running. They’re broad, sustainable shoes with lots of versatility to offer its wearers. 

Lems Primal 2 Customer Reviews

“Barefoot shoes were the solution to my plantar fasciitis. My feet are stronger and in the years since I switched to barefoot shoes I haven’t had any recurrence of the painful plantar fasciitis.” — Mr. A.

“These are the most comfortable pair of shoes I have EVER worn. Toe box has so much room. I can comfortably wear my silicone toe spreaders for hours in these shoes.” — Jeff S. 

“They are really comfortable, they wear reasonably well, considering that I tend to get a pair and wear them almost every day.” — Zoey A.

Lems Trailhead V2

Price: $130 

The Lems Trailhead vegan hiking boots template is based on trails, but the company has achieved an unusual balance of style, minimalism, and durability in its design. These mostly vegan hiking boots will fit both on the trail and at the office. If you prefer a streamlined running feel with your hiking gear, then you’ll be more than comfortable in the Trailhead. 

There are three styles for men. The standard version comes in Stormy Night, Sage, Sequoia, Mercury Sunset, and Onyx colors. You can also get the Lems X REI Moonlit Moss or Lems X Huckleberry Khaki versions.

There is one style for women, which comes in Sequoia, Onyx, or Mercury Sunset. Each Trailhead is made with sustainable materials. 

Lems Trailhead Hiking Boots for men
Lems Trailhead for Women

Lems Trailhead V2 Benefits

If you’ve been searching for minimalist vegan hiking boots that you can take anywhere, Lems Trailhead V2 is the answer. These boots are made with air mesh, microfiber, and a rubber outsole, meaning you can take them on the trail and hit the city streets all in one day.

1 – Low Heel Drop and Natural Toe Box: With only 4 mm of drop, the Lems Trailhead naturally reduces heel-striking, allowing for healthier posture and a more natural gait. This drop in Lems Shoes is essential because it keeps your foot in a natural position even when you’re walking. Pair that with a broader toe box, and your foot will always move the way it evolved to when wearing these sustainable shoes.


2 – Firm Cushioning: One thing to note is that the Trailhead boots have a firm cushion to them. You can still “feel” the ground, but your soles and heels won’t complain when you wear these boots the entire day over long distances. It’s the best of both worlds; your foot develops pain and discomfort when it uses too soft a cushion.


3 – Retro Styling: Lems wanted to design a shoe that performed powerfully and still looked stylish in town, so the company took inspiration from running sneakers from the 1990s. 

Read here to learn more about the Lems Trailhead V2 for people with bunions and flat feet.

What activities are Lems Trailhead sneaker best for?

  • Cycling
  • Hiking
  • Walking
  • Trail Running
  • Casual

Lems Shoes are the perfect balance for people who enjoy casual mountain ventures. They look as stylish as a high-end boot, but they can also conquer the rockiest trails thanks to their durable soles and well-constructed structure. The Trailhead can do anything from cycling to hiking and walking. 

Lems Trailhead Customer Reviews

“I’ve worn these out of the box for a week straight, just to really test the hype. I was impressed at the fit, wide and comfy toe box and an overall fit and feel of a really sturdy shoe.” — Mark S.

“I consider these shoes to be a “50/50 trail-casual sneaker”. They are far more comfortable and durable than a trail runner as well as being more rugged than a pair of casual kicks.” — Sonny

“Lightweight, flexible, rugged and very attractive colors and design. Perfect for a variety of activities. I’ve honestly received a compliment on them every single time I’ve worn them out around people. Please don’t ever stop making these, I’ll be a trailhead customer for life!” — N.M.

Lems FAQs

1 – Do Lems shoes have arch support?

The concept behind Lems is that the strength of your feet and posture comes from naturally building strong foot muscles. Lems shoes provide a wide, flat and flexible platform that give your feet and toes freedom of movement and encourage natural muscle development.

Traditional arch support can weaken your feet because your feet don’t build strength on their own. It’s similar to using crutches rather than walking independently.

2 – Can you run in Lems?

The Primal 2 is well-suite for forefront running – an elite type of running style that emphasizes running with less impact to reduce injuries.

The Lems Primal 2 shoes have a functional fit that exactly fits the contour of the human foot and moves quickly where your foot bends when running, walking, and hiking.

3 – Do you wear socks with Lems?

Lems may be worn with or without socks, however the website suggests going sock-free. Bare feet work nicely with Lems because the shoes do not have raised seams.

About Lems

In 2008, Andrew Rademacher created Lems Shoes when he couldn’t stand looking for shoes that fit his natural foot shape. He learned both the art and science of shoemaking, studied pattern-making and shoe-fitting, and began designing shoes under 200 unlike any other on the market. 

After three years and dozens of prototypes, Andrew’s persistence paid off; Lems Shoes released the Primal in September 2011. Since then, Lems Shoes has continuously improved its sustainable shoes and released more vegan sneakers and vegan hiking boots. 

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