If you’re new to Lems or the Primal 2, you probably missed Justin’s earlier Primal review. In short, the Lems Primal 2 is a wonderful shoe for the barefoot casual market. It features a super breathable upper that is worlds above many other casual minimalist shoes, has a flexible 8mm sole with good ground feel, and good looks, especially in the new black and brown colorways. And if you are a minimalist runner looking to take your barefoot enjoyment to your everyday life, look no further than the Primal 2! Today I’ll be doing a review of the Primal 2 in black. Read on!

Overview

Here’s what Lems says about the Primal 2:
We here at Lems Shoes don’t always wear shoes, but when we do we choose the Primal2. If lightweight (6.9oz), flexible, breathable, foot-shaped, and flat are all characteristics that you look for in footwear, than look no further than this shoe. The Primal2 is assembled using a no-sewn construction, which allows the shoe to comfortably form to the natural shape of your foot. Lightweight microsuede and open-weave mesh, allow your foot increased airflow and better breathability. The low-profile 8.0mm LemsRubber sole brings you closer to the ground for a more natural stride. Our LemsLast design, with its natural foot shape, provides you with that Feelgood Fit that we pride ourselves on. So whether at work, walking the dog, or running errands, the Primal2 is certainly the ‘go to shoe’ for you.
Weight — 6.9 oz (size 9 US/41 Euro) Total Stack Height — 11mm via 8mm Lems rubber outsole + 3mm removable moisturewick insole. 8mm without the insole. Barefoot Scale — An excellent lifestyle and casual shoe for barefoot enthusiasts and newcomers alike! Pros —
  • Wide toe box
  • Lightweight
  • Well ventilated upper
  • Super flexible
  • Good ground feel
  • Casual looks
Cons —
  • 8mm sole could be a little thinner for even more ground feel
Testing Background — I wore the Lems Primal 2 for a couple of months and took them everywhere. I wore them to teach, running errands, some actual running, and enjoyed them whenever my feet needed to go somewhere. And here’s what they look like (also including photos of the grey!):

Sole

The sole in the Primal 2 is made entirely of LemsRubber™ injection rubber, which is airy, super flexible and lightweight. Unlike many other shoe manufacturers, this rubber compound by Lems is probably, mm per mm, the lightest and most flexible of any shoe sole on the market. Despite being 8mm thicker than most other casual shoes with thinner soles (6mm seems to be pretty typical), the Lems rubber is actually more flexible and bendy by comparison. It is extremely easy to twist the sole from any angle, squeeze the heel between two fingers, and flex the sole upwards, downwards, and side to side. The sole is slightly soft, but not squishy, and provides a good amount of protection, but without sacrificing ground feel. The sole is quite a miraculous material. I’ve enjoyed the Lems Boulder Boot (review) for over a year and they use the same rubber in both shoes (9mm in the Boulder boot versus 8mm in the Primal 2) and thank wonderfully light rubber compound allows the Boulder be one of the lightest boots on the market. The Primal 2 is equally lightweight at 6.9 ounces and I believe that Lems could shave off even more weight if they made the Primal 2 thinner—I would love to see what Lems could do with a 6mm or 5mm sole in future products. Surprisingly enough, the Primal 2’s 8mm sole gives plenty of ground feel. Small rocks and even some cracks in the sidewalk can be felt through this sole, which feels more like a 6mm sole than an 8mm sole. The ground feel is further enhanced if you take out the removable 3mm insole and feels very similar to the Bikila LS from Vibrams or the Vivobarefoot Dharma, Jay, and Ra, all of which are 6mm soles. Despite the “low-density” of the sole, I found them to be very durable. After many weeks of wearing the Primal 2 and an entire year of wearing the Boulder Boot in many wintery conditions, there is little to any wear to the rubber. It’s quite fantastic.

Fit and Materials

The upper of the Primal 2 is a vegan microfiber material and open-weave mesh around the sides and toe box that is very breathable. Even when walking around casually, you can actually feel a breeze coming in through the toe area for excellent ventilation. You can easily wear these casual without socks, if you would like to. The breathability of the uppers is so good that I would say that the Primal 2 is among the most ventilated shoes I’ve ever tested and I wish that Lems would make a formal running shoe with the same uppers as the Primal 2 and a thinner sole. Lems was smart to give all of their shoes a very wide toebox and my duck feet back plenty of room to splay and wiggle to my heart’s content. Just for kicks, I decided to take these “casual shoes” out for a run and I found that they performed admirably and could even double as jogging shoes in a pinch. This double-duty is comparable to the super thin Patagonia Advocates (and stitch versions) but the Lems rubber is far more durable than the Patagonia armadillo sole. Compared to Vivobarefoot’s casual shoes, the Lems Primal 2 does running far better with a more sensitive sole and better ventilation. If you need to make a mad dash for coffee, chase down a taxi, or weave through some pedestrian traffic, the Primal 2 will take you there each and every step of the way! As you can see in the photos, the Lems in black are very fetching with jeans and do not shout “I’m a barefoot shoe”, unlike some other casual offerings. They look great for brunch and drinks with friends. Despite the super ventilated upper, I actually found the Primal 2 to be fine for winter use. Granted, you won’t be trudging through snow in these shoes—save that for the Boulder boot—but my feet were warm enough for 10 degree weather (and lower) in Boston.

Durability

As I mentioned earlier, I have enjoyed a number of Lems shoes and they have all held up very well. For example, after wearing my Boulder Boots for two winters, they still show little wear. With the Primal 2, I have worn them for a couple of months and have been quite rough with them. However, all of my manic jumping and dashing has done nothing to the sole. The durability and “magic” of the Lems sole has continued to shine and impress. In terms of the uppers, they have shown zero signs of stray threads, tearing, or ripping. The shoes look good as new. The Boulder boots did start showing some strange stray fibers around the toe area after a year, but this is not the case with the Primal 2 shoes.

Summary (And coupon code!)

The Primal 2 is a excellent casual shoe for barefoot enthusiasts. With a seemingly magical Lems sole that is both durable and flexible, you will enjoy many adventures with this shoe. The super breathable upper is among the best in the industry and the durability is second to none. In a pinch, you can even make a mad dash for class, coffee, or chase after friends without any worry of the shoe getting in the way. With additional colors, the Primal is quite good-looking and a nice complement to Lems’ other shoe that can do slightly more formal duty—the Lems nine2five. The Primal 2 are a very functional wear everyday shoe that anyone can enjoy. There is a lot to appreciate in these shoes. If you’ve been itching to try them out, Andrew at Lems has given BirhdayShoes a coupon code that will run from today (February 12) to February 16 that will give you 20% off the MSRP of $95! The code is: PRIMAL2LUV (fitting for Valentine’s Day). Check them out! A huge thanks for Lems for sending me the Primal 2. We have always been a fan of them at birthdayshoes.com and look forward to many more reviews in the future!