When I first spotted the Lems Trailhead, the concept of a minimalist, lifestyle hiking shoe intrigued me — so I reached out to the Boulder-based shoe upstart to see if we could test out the shoes. They generously sent a pair over, sweet!

After testing the shoes out for a couple weeks, I’m happy to say the genre-defying Trailhead delivers.

The perfect all around shoe?

The template for the Trailhead shoe is definitely a hiking one, but Lems has found an unusual balance of durability, style, and minimalism. These fit in on any trail but also many offices.

Take any feature on the shoe and consider: the lugs are aggressive and sturdy, but come in a stylish “gum” look. The laces are thick and durable, but speckled with a fun pattern. This balance holds true for all elements of the shoe, from the speckled heel effect to the textured and multi-toned materials.

Lems Trailhead - Perfect minimalist shoe?
A genre-defying shoe: stylish, minimalist, and rugged (dust on shoe is from use!).

As a person who goes shopping for clothes once every 2-3 years, and then buys a bunch of v-necks on Old Navy and calls it good — the Lems Trailhead put a smile on my face. I can just wear these shoes all the time and they’ll work.

Is the Lems Trailhead a good hiking shoe?

If your idea of a hiking shoe is a cast-like boot which can withstand hellacious nettles and surprise ankle strikes from rattlers, hiking in the Trailhead won’t be your cup of tea.

However, if you prefer a more streamlined running shoe feel with your hiking shoes, you can definitely hike comfortably in these. The heel-to-toe drop is about 4mm so they are nice and flat to the ground.

Lems Trailhead shoe lugs and sole

The sole has good grip and is thick enough to handle scrambling on rocks and terrain. Plus, the uppers are reasonably tough.

Would I use these as my primary hiking shoe? No.

Would I use these as my primary running shoe? No.

Would I wear these shoes all the time for lifestyle which might include hiking, running, work, and travel? Yes!

Trailhead v2 Shoe Fit

My shoe size is typically 14 wide (US). New Balance tends to work well for me and buying a normal size 14 width is rolling the dice, usually ending up in a return.

Lems takes an approach similar to Altra’s which allows for a roomier and more natural toe box. The size 14 Trailhead (no width) fits perfectly.

If you’ve had issues with narrow toe boxes, there’s a good chance you’ll like this shoe. I also haven’t noticed the to area being too roomy and “gushy” as Altras tend to feel on my foot.

Barefoot style hiking shoe

Minimal Cons

A potential downside with a jack of all trades shoe is the potential for being the master of none. The Trailhead wouldn’t be my primary hiking shoe, but it’s really a lifestyle shoe which is a category unto itself.

There’s a break-in period on the shoe collar: my left achilles gets a little raw walking around in these shoes, but not to the point of concern.

If you need a dialed, high performance shoe for traversing technical terrain with speed — don’t get the Trailhead. If you want a highly capable all purpose shoe with style, this is a good choice.

Lems Trailhead, RYK loves you.

I’m not sure we’ve ever given out a perfect score here at RYK, but this shoe comes close. The attention to detail shows and it’s great to see a smaller shoe company bring something fresh and fun.

At home on the trails and the streets, the Lems Trailhead v2 is a fantastic shoe — receiving the rare perfect score from RYK. Treat yourself or surprise another with these great shoes.