Episode 8: Lems Primal 2
Updated: Jul 20
The Lems Primal 2 is considered a cult classic amongst the barefoot community, and one of the most popular barefoot sneakers on the market. It excels in everyday use, has a wide toe box, is zero drop, and is the perfect companion when your feet need a bit of a rest, or for transitioning to more minimal barefoot shoes.
The Primal 2 is a unisex sneaker available in sizes ranging from 3 US, all the way up to 14 US, and has a range of colours to choose from:
· Slate (Grey with a gum sole)
· Eclipse (Navy with a white sole)
· Black (Black with a black sole)
· Brown (Brown with a gum sole)
· Teal (Discontinued)
· Purple (Discontinued)
· Cardinal Red (Discontinued)
· Shade (Discontinued)
· Frost (Discontinued)
· Sky (Discontinued)
Lems have a size guide available, however I opted to contact Lems and Bprimal.au to ensure that the right size was chosen. They suggested a size 48 (I’m a 47 in vivo), which has quite a bit of wiggle room. A 47.5 would be perfect for me, in my opinion.
I chose the slate, mainly because the combination of the grey along with the gum sole appealed to me, and I haven’t seen anything like it in the market. They’re available at $105 US, and ship worldwide.
In 2008, Lems’ creator, Andrew Rademacher, reached his end point searching for shoes that fit the natural shape of the foot. Starting out by dissecting his favorite running shoes and cutting out the extra, unnecessary material, Andrew decided to learn the art and science of shoemaking in his own way. He studied shoe fitting, last construction, and pattern making so that he would be able to design his shoes to fit like no other on the market.
Andrew began to realize that the big shoe brands had it all wrong. Shoes should be built around the natural shape of the human foot, and not the other way around. This meant that a shoe should be widest at the forefoot and toes, while allowing for full flexibility and unrestricted movement.
After three years of research, countless hours of design and dozens of prototypes, Andrew’s unwavering focus finally paid off. In September 2011, Lems released its first product – the Primal. Though the company has come a long way since that original design, Andrew continues to study his art while staying true to his mission of making naturally fitting footwear that allows your feet the freedom to be just as nature intended.
"If you can't find it on the market and no one's doing it, then you have to do it yourself." - Andrew Rademacher
Upon opening the box, it did give me a feel that the company wasn’t mainstream, for some reason… The shoe and the packaging weren’t as polished as most Vivo’s, but overall it still felt like it had exceptional quality.
The 3.5mm insole is removable, however the bed underneath it has exposed stitching and a cotton wool like fabric. The toe box is the widest amongst the shoes I own, and the insole is quite cushioned. Overall, they look similar to conventional shoes on the market, and look great with a vast array of outfits.
I’ve been wearing the Primal 2 without the insole, however I worry about the durability of the footbed. The shoe has quite some volume in it, which leads to my foot sliding around a bit.
The toe box is incredibly wide, and the mid foot has decent width to it. Compared to other barefoot shoes, the outsole is quite thick. The outsole is footshaped, not flat which can be a problem for some people.
· Upper: Super-soft microfiber + open-weave mesh (100% vegan)
· Lining: 100% moisture-wicking polyester
· Outsole: 8.0mm LemsRubber™ (air-injection rubber)
· Footbed: 3.5mm removable moisture wicking PU insole
· Stack Height: 9.0mm (not including 3.5mm footbed)
· Drop: 0.0mm (Zero Drop)
· Weight: 6.9oz/195g (size 43)
The Lems Primal 2 look great, and can be found at decent prices. I do have a bit of an issue with their large internal volume and heel width (which is subjective) but leads to slippage, their footbed quality, and their outsole stack height and feel – which is twice the thickness of most vivo’s, and the contour feels unnatural.
They do have their time and place I believe… They’re perfect for when my feet ache, and when I feel like I need more protection, and I believe they’re a good suggestion for people trying to transition.
Overall, they’re a staple in my collection. In the future however, I’d love to see Lems attempt to release a more minimal Primal 2, rather than the direction they’re heading at the moment (less minimal).