Lems vs Vivobarefoot: Which Minimalist Shoe is Better for Your Feet?

In this article, we'll explore the features, benefits, and differences between Lems vs Vivobarefoot, to help you make an informed decision about which minimalist shoes are right for you.
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Embarking on a journey toward better foot health and more natural movement? You might find yourself considering minimalist shoes. Two major players in this arena are Lems and Vivobarefoot. In this article, we’ll explore the features, benefits, and differences between these two leading brands, helping you make an informed decision about which minimalist shoes are right for you.

Understanding Minimalist Shoes

Minimalist shoes, also known as barefoot shoes, aim to recreate the sensation of walking or running barefoot. They typically have a zero drop (meaning there’s no height difference between the heel and the forefoot), a wide toe box for optimal toe splay, a flexible sole for natural foot movement, and minimal cushioning to enhance ground feel and proprioception. Advocates believe that minimalist shoes can improve foot health by promoting proper foot biomechanics and reducing the risk of injury.

Lems Shoes: Lightweight, Flexible, and Comfortable

Lems is a popular minimalist shoe brand known for its lightweight and flexible footwear. With models like the Lems Primal Pursuit and the Lems Boulder Boot, Lems offers a variety of options for those interested in minimalist shoes.

Key Features of Lems Shoes

  • Wide toe box: Lems shoes provide ample space for your toes to spread out and move freely, enhancing balance and stability.
  • Zero drop: The level heel-to-toe platform promotes a natural stride and improved posture.
  • Flexible sole: Lems shoes feature thin, flexible soles that allow your feet to bend and flex as they would when barefoot.

Vivobarefoot Shoes: Ultra-Thin, Grounded, and Sustainable

Vivobarefoot is another leading brand in the minimalist shoe market, offering ultra-thin soles for maximum ground feel and natural movement. With popular models like the Vivobarefoot Primus Lite and the Vivobarefoot Gobi II, this London-based company is a top choice for minimalist shoe enthusiasts.

Key Features of Vivobarefoot Shoes

  • Ultra-thin sole: Vivobarefoot shoes boast some of the thinnest soles in the market, providing maximum ground feel and proprioception.
  • Puncture-resistant sole: Despite their thinness, Vivobarefoot soles are puncture-resistant, offering protection from sharp objects on the ground.

Eco-friendly materials: Vivobarefoot uses sustainable materials like recycled PET in their shoes, as seen in their hiking shoes made from recycled materials.

Lems vs Vivobarefoot: Which One Is Right for You?

When comparing Lems and Vivobarefoot, consider the following factors:

  1. Ground feel: If maximum ground feel is your priority, Vivobarefoot’s ultra-thin soles may be the better choice.
  2. Cushioning: Lems shoes tend to have slightly more cushioning, making them a better option for those transitioning from traditional footwear.
  3. Durability: Both brands are known for durability, but Vivobarefoot’s puncture-resistant soles offer extra protection in rough terrain.
  4. Sustainability: If you value eco-friendliness, Vivobarefoot ‘s use of sustainable materials might sway your decision.

Ultimately, the choice between Lems and Vivobarefoot comes down to personal preference and specific needs. Here are some steps to help you make your decision:

  • Try on both brands: The best way to determine which shoes work for you is to try them on and see how they feel on your feet.
  • Consider your activities: Think about the types of activities you’ll be doing, such as walking, running, or hiking, and choose the shoes that best support those activities.
  • Ease into minimalist shoes: Transitioning to minimalist shoes can take time. Start by wearing them for short periods and gradually increase your usage to allow your feet and muscles to adjust.

Lems vs Vivobarefoot: Feature Comparison 

Durability and Materials

Both brands prioritize barefoot-like experiences, albeit with different approaches to materials and durability. Lems employs a blend of microfiber and air mesh, offering breathability and flexibility. Vivobarefoot, utilizes innovative materials such as recycled PET, a patented puncture-resistant sole, ethically-sourced leather, and natural rubber to craft their durable products.

Functionality

Lems, renowned for their “Natural Shape” design, encompasses a wider toe box and a zero-drop platform, facilitating natural foot movement and promoting proprioception. Vivobarefoot, conversely, emphasizes ultra-thin soles that grant heightened sensory feedback and flexibility, while still providing adequate protection.

Both brands offer functional designs for various activities, including trail running, hiking, and casual wear. Lems features the Trailhead and Boulder Boot, which cater to outdoor enthusiasts seeking lightweight, zero-drop footwear. Vivobarefoot’s portfolio includes the versatile Primus Trail and Tracker, designed for off-road adventures and challenging terrains. 

Ultimately, the choice between Lems and Vivobarefoot hinges on individual preferences, with Lems offering greater emphasis on natural foot shape and Vivobarefoot prioritizing sensory feedback and protection.

Price

Lems, generally speaking, is more budget-friendly, with prices ranging from $100 to $150 for most of their shoes. Vivobarefoot, by contrast, commands a higher price point, with products typically ranging from $140 to $200.

Sustainability

Sustainability, a growing concern in the footwear industry, is an arena in which Lems and Vivobarefoot display marked differences. Lems has not explicitly emphasized ecological considerations in their material sourcing and manufacturing. 

Vivobarefoot, however, positions itself as a leader in sustainable footwear, employing recycled PET, ethically-sourced leather, and eco-friendly rubber in their products. Additionally, Vivobarefoot’s commitment to reducing waste and fostering a circular economy is evident through their “ReVivo” program, which refurbishes and resells pre-owned shoes, extending the product lifecycle and reducing environmental impact.

In the sphere of sustainability, Vivobarefoot’s commitment to eco-friendly practices sets them apart from Lems and makes them a more attractive option for environmentally-conscious consumers.

Customer Reviews

Lems typically receives positive reviews for its comfortable fit, lightweight design, and natural foot shape, with customers appreciating the wide toe box and zero-drop profile (Runnerclick, n.d.; Trustpilot, n.d.). However, some customers have reported concerns regarding durability and limited style options. 

Vivobarefoot, on the other hand, garners praise for its ultra-thin soles, ground-feel, and commitment to sustainability (RunRepeat, n.d.; Trustpilot, n.d.). Nonetheless, criticisms include a higher price point and sizing inconsistencies.

Clinical Studies

Although direct comparative studies between these two brands are scarce, examining the broader research on minimalist and barefoot running shoes can provide valuable context.

While comprehensive clinical studies on Lems are limited, research in the field of minimalist footwear suggests that shoes with a zero-drop profile and wide toe box can reduce the risk of injury and improve foot function (Lieberman et al., 2010; Robbins & Gouw, 1991). These studies demonstrate the potential advantages of Lems’ design in promoting natural foot biomechanics and mitigating injury risk.

Vivobarefoot, with its ultra-thin soles and focus on sensory feedback, has been the subject of several clinical studies. A notable investigation conducted by the University of Liverpool (2016) revealed that Vivobarefoot shoes led to significant improvements in foot strength and arch function compared to traditional running shoes. Another study by (Hollander et al, 2017) found that minimalist footwear, like Vivobarefoot, may facilitate improvements in running form and gait efficiency.

It is essential to note that the available research on minimalist and barefoot shoes is not without limitations and inconsistencies. Some studies have reported a higher incidence of certain injuries, such as metatarsal stress fractures, among runners transitioning to minimalist footwear (Goss & Gross, 2012). Consequently, a gradual transition and proper adaptation to minimalist shoes are crucial to minimize potential risks.

Expert Opinions

Lems is often commended for its focus on natural foot shape and comfortable fit, which experts suggest may aid in promoting healthy foot biomechanics (OutdoorGearLab, n.d.). Conversely, Vivobarefoot is lauded for its balance between ground-feel and protection, alongside its dedication to sustainable materials and practices (GearJunkie, n.d.).

FAQs

What are minimalist shoes and why are they popular?

Minimalist shoes, also known as barefoot shoes, are lightweight footwear designed to mimic the natural feeling of walking or running barefoot. They have gained popularity due to their numerous benefits and the increasing interest in natural movement.

  • Minimalist shoes are lightweight and designed to provide a barefoot-like experience.
  • They have become popular due to their various benefits and the growing interest in natural movement.
  • These shoes aim to promote proper biomechanics and reduce the risk of injuries associated with conventional footwear.

Why do people wear minimalist shoes?

People wear minimalist shoes to allow their feet to move and flex more naturally, which can help strengthen the muscles in their feet and legs. This can improve foot and leg strength, overall balance, and posture.

How do minimalist shoes differ from regular shoes?

Minimalist shoes are distinct from conventional footwear in several aspects, including their structure, materials, and overall design philosophy. They aim to encourage proper biomechanics and improve foot strength.

  • Minimalist shoes typically have a low heel-to-toe drop, promoting a more natural foot strike.
  • They are made with lightweight, flexible materials that allow for greater freedom of movement and enhanced sensory feedback.
  • The design of minimalist shoes encourages the development of stronger, healthier feet by allowing them to function more naturally.