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Review: Lems Primal 2

In this review we take a look at the Primal 2 from Lems Shoes (Live Easy & Minimal).

Lems Shoes say:

“If lightweight (6.9oz), flexible, breathable, foot-shaped, and flat are all characteristics that you look for in footwear, then look no further than this shoe.”

We would have to agree with that statement completely, but seeing as we’re all about pakour, there’s a couple of other things to note.

Reviewers: Adriaan, Damien and Ted

Length of Testing: 3 – 6 monthsDSC_0857

Sizing*:

Mens – 40 to 46 in Lems Sizing
Womens – 37 to 43 in Lems Sizing

*the Lems website has a measurement graph to help you get the sizing right.

Weight: Approx. 195g @ size 43

Differential: 0mm (or thereabouts)

Colours:

Mens – Black shoe with black sole, slate shoe with tan sole, brown shoe with tan sole.
Womens – Black shoe with black sole, slate shoe with tan sole, brown shoe with tan sole, white shoe with white sole, blue shoe with grey sole.

Price:

$95 + 24.95 USD shipping as you have to buy online. Approximately $150 NZD all up (at the time of posting).

Score: 3/5

Design and Construction:

The Primal 2 is made using a “no-sewn construction”. The upper is made up of a 100% vegan Microsuede and open weave mesh. The sole is 8.0mm injection moulded LemsRubber™. Inside is lined with 100% moisture-wicking polyester and has a removable 3.0mm Moisture-wick foam insert. They are designed to be a minimalist shoe and so are flat with no excessive padding. The matte finish of the suede and the general shape and look of the shoe makes them easy to wear in almost any social situation – practitioners rejoice! When we find a great training shoe we often only want to wear that shoe and nothing else, but unfortunately some of our training shoes are incredibly garish and ugly – not so with the Primal 2. But they aren’t perfect. Enter, the laces. They look fine and fit in with the design, but the rounded shape and fabric used allows a standard knot to slip and come undone with relative ease – that’s bad news when you’re training. You will forever embrace the double-knot. The last thing to note is both a bonus and a detractor depending on your training environment. The open-weave mesh around the toe box lets in just about everything. That’s great when training on a hot day as you get plenty of airflow, but on a wet day or if you’re training near loose dirt, sand or stones your feet will either drown or get the black lung from dust inhalation.

Score: 4/5

Sensitivity:

With an 8.0mm sole they are a comfortable minimalist style shoe. You can feel the surfaces under your feet but there’s enough padding to take the harshness out of landing on sharp edges or stones. They have a removable insole which if removed improves sensitivity and tactile feel.  These would be good for anyone wanting to move towards a full minimalist shoe or anyone wanting a more comfortable shoe without the padding and toe constriction that most other shoes have.

Score: 4/5IMG_20140412_154056

Fit and Flexibility:

Straight out of the box these shoes are incredibly flexible. You can roll them into a ball and stuff them in your bag if you want to and you non-lace tiers will be happy, as these shoes are very easy to slip on and off without untying the laces. The upper is noticeably light and flexible when just standing and wiggling your toes the material moves effortlessly. As with most minimalist style shoes, they fit snug around the midfoot and heel with lots of wiggle room for the toes. The toe box allows the toes to splay naturally and if you go for extended periods of time barefoot, you shouldn’t have a problem wearing these (make sure you use the Lems sizing guide to get the right fit). When you’re used to the way these and other minimalist shoes fit, you’ll likely find them to be more comfortable than most of the shoes you’ve worn as your toes don’t get squashed even while running or landing with force. However, the sole (perhaps due to it’s large size or the way it’s attached to the upper) seems to move independently to your foot, rather than as part of it and if you have wide feet the upper will stretch away with the foot; there’s nothing internally to brace against.

Score: 3.5/5

Grip:

The sole is a made of their own formula they call Lemsrubber™ and is quite different to other sole materials. It takes a few days of wearing in to lose the slick outer rubber, marginally improving the grip. Once at this stage they grip okay, more so on smooth painted surfaces.

IMG_20140412_155111At a local spot there is a polished concrete wall that I have never had a pair of shoes grip to and these stick like glue. Even in the wet I found they have little to no grip loss on concrete. – Adriaan

I had no grip on the wet surfaces I trained on. There was so little friction that I felt like I was iceskating. – Ted

Score: 2.8/5

Durability:

The Lemsrubber™ compound is almost grainy and it doesn’t peel or rip off so much as disintegrate into a powder. It is a softer rubber though and shows signs of wear quite quickly. Their shelf-life will definitely depend on what type of training you do. Where arm jumps and wall-runs will kill them, light training will keep them around a lot longer. 

Score: 3/5

Maintenance:

The Lems website doesn’t specify any directions for care and maintenance but due to their make up not much sticks to them. A play in the rain and a night in the hot water closet should make them look like new. Those of you into resoling shoes are out of luck with these though. The shape and attachment of the sole to the rest of the shoe means it’s essentially holding the whole thing together making it pretty much impossible to fix without rebuilding the whole shoe.

DSC_0021

Final thoughts:

  • They’re the best looking shoe we’ve trained in! We’re always getting compliments.
  • Very comfortable shoe for the most part, but can lower your confidence when stability and control are required for take-offs and landings.
  • A great transitional shoe into barefoot or even thinner shoes. Practitioners not used to the fit and reduced thickness will need to ease into them.
  • The ventilation issue will be a toss up – it is both a blessing and a curse depending on where you’re training and in what season.
  • At the end of the day (due to fit, grip and wear) they’re more suited to casual wear with a chance of impromptu training and not as a dedicated training shoe.
  • We’d probably buy them for the comfort and look alone.

Overall Score: 3.3/5

Thanks to Brad and the team at Lems Shoes for sending us 3 pairs!

*Lems gave us with 3 different pairs of Primal 2 for us to keep and use for this review.

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