I’m always on the lookout for casual shoes which are handsome enough for many social scenarios, but designed with a footwear philosophy which correlates to my own minimalist leanings. Lems Primal 2 shoes do this.

The Lems Primal 2 shoes have a shape reminiscent of some Merrell shoes.

Never heard of Lems Shoes?

Briefly, before we review the shoe, it’s probably worth introducing Lems Shoes since we hadn’t heard of them. Based in Boulder, Colorado where diverse outdoor lifestyles are common, homegrown shoe innovator Lems is on the rise with fun, minimalistic shoes like the Primal 2.

I learned about Lems when the company reached out to Ruin Your Knees for a review of their Boulder Boot, this led us to discover and order a pair of the Primal 2s.

Lems Primal 2 Review

Lems describes the Primal 2 shoe as an ultra-minimalist, everyday shoe which we interpret as an active lifestyle shoe. It’s a versatile shoe meant for comfort and variety. Those looking for a specialized running, hiking or climbing shoe may want to look elsewhere, but we’ve found these shoes to be a blast and capable enough for many scenarios an “outdoorist” may end up in.

Primal 2 Features

  • Zero-drop
  • Ultra-lightweight
  • Wide toe box
  • Made of vegan materials (does this mean you can eat them?)

As Born to Run made famous, many of the shoes we wear are more like casts inhibiting our feet from their normal motion and flexibility. This over-protection can cause a negative chain reaction starting at the feet and moving up the body ranging from flat arches, weak achilles and calves, limited range of motion, knee pain, and back pain.

I spent some time transitioning to more minimalist shoes, even logging hundreds of trail miles in Vibram FiveFingers and can anecdotally confirm: carefully switching to minimalist shoes can help the feet, legs, knees and back. Lems buys into this lean philosophy, as do other upstart brands such as Altra.

The Lems Primal 2 shoe defies easy categorization.

The nice thing about the Lems Primal 2, since it is more of a casual all-around shoe, is the fact that most people can start wearing it right away without much need for transition time. I’ve found these shoes to fit the shape of my foot (normally a 2E) without being too roomy. Altras tend to feel loose and “slushy” due to a very wide toe box. Lems have a wide toe box, but not to the degree of feeling so unresponsive and lethargic.

These are supremely lightweight and flexible. The shoe and collar are soft and flexible with no hotspots or aggravating pain points. To demonstrate how lightweight the shoes are, the Lems website appears to show the shoes floating on water!

No hot spots or rubbing stands in sharp contrast to the Boulder Boots we tried which, unfortunately, had an uncomfortable collar to the point of rubbing the skin raw when tested on multiple hikes and for casual wear.

The Lems Primal 2 suffers from no such issues and the only slight criticism I found was the heel initially feeling a bit overbuilt and narrow which made me feel like I was more likely to heel strike. I wanted the heel to be a bit flatter and wider, but this may have more to do with my odd walking mechanics and less to do with the shoe. Plus, after wearing the shoes around a bit, I stopped noticing this sensation.

If you are looking for a comfortable, minimalist shoe which can look good in many situations and even handle some athletic feats, the Lems Primal 2 is an excellent option. When I’ve been wearing these shoes and then switch to another shoe, I miss the comfort and lightness of the Primal 2s.

There is a women’s version of the Lems Primal 2 as well as a men’s Lems Primal 2. The shoes appear to be near- if not precisely identical.