Barefoot Shoes

Review Lems Mariner 2 (updated!) – Barefoot Boat Shoe

I love Lems Shoes. My 9to5s continue to be a staple in my closet.

Many months back (now) Andrew sent me a pair of the updated version of the Lems Mariner to test and review. Long-time readers might remember I had highly positive things to say about the…

I love Lems Shoes. My 9to5s continue to be a staple in my closet. Many months back (now) Andrew sent me a pair of the updated version of the Lems Mariner to test and review. Long-time readers might remember I had highly positive things to say about the Mariners three years back when I first reviewed them (here). Well, as much as I liked the Mariners then, the updated versions are even better. This review has been long-coming. Read on!

About the Lems Mariner

The Lems Mariner in Walnut
The Lems Mariner in Walnut
Here’s a product description about the Mariner straight from Lems:
The flexible, zero-drop outsole will bring you back down to sea level and if scuffing your skib is a concern, know that the sole is non-marking. Forget about any anchors dragging you down, because the Mariner 2’s lightweight form comes in at a mere 8.9oz. With those features you might assume we avoided quality materials, but think again, because our newly designed insole featuring a 1.0mm pigskin leather/4.0mm breathable open cell PU compliments our top quality 1.8mm leather upper so much that your barefoot funk will certainly be kept at bay
The Mariners have a stack height of (calculated) 14mm when it’s all said and done and a note on sizing, they tend to run small and/or you need to take care to pay attention to sizing on the Mariners when you order. My Vibram size is 43; my Vivo Barefoot size is 44; my US standard size is 10.5; and my Lems size is 45. Yea, so size up! Take a spin around the shoes via this photo gallery:

Barefoot feel and function

Lems Mariners are zero-drop and fat-boxed in the front; your toes have plenty of room to splay and there’s no arch support. These are the areas where they really showcase a barefoot-minded design. They’re also well-built for barefooted wear; probably 90% of my time in these shoes has been without socks. That said, they have a fairly substantial stack height. From the 9mm outsole and the 5mm insole, you get a stack height of 14mm, which is around double that of your more minimalist-soled Vivo Barefoot Drake (review). If you’re not all-in for ground feel, this is in no way a dealbeaker. Honestly, I don’t miss the ground feel and since I just made a comparison to the Drake, I’ll say that I choose my Mariners over my Drake (and just this past weekend tried the Drakes on and ended up wearing the Mariners, so there’s that). All in all, the Mariners are incredibly comfortable for all-day wear, which makes sense given their overall barefoot-minded design attributes.


While the leather of the old Mariners seemed fine to me, the updated Lems Mariner 2 next-leveled the experience. Basically, it’s full-grain leather with a wear-inspiring thickness of 1.8mm. Because it is full-grain, it has a premium look to it and breaks in how you’d expect leather to break in – you get creases and folds in places and it tends to take on character with age. I’ve worn them sockless with khaki shorts and a nice t-shirt or polo and I regularly wear them with chino pants (with or without socks) or jeans. They can be dressed up or down and paired with a variety of clothing. Perhaps the best personal accolade I can give the Mariners is that they made the cut for the shoes I wore at a family “photo shoot” way back in March of this year (told you this review was long-coming!). While these photos weren’t meant to showcase the shoes, you can see how they pair “dressed up” a bit:
Pretty solid, right? And yes, it’s a little ironic that I kept my shoes on by the creek in that one photo. I just didn’t want to get sand in my Mariners!


I liked the original Mariners three years ago and these new ones are even better. They’re made from quality materials, fit my feet wonderfully, I dig the aesthetics of the “boat shoe,” which is like a less pointy-looking Sperry Topsider. If I were to bottom line it, I’d say this: the Mariners are staying in my regular rotation of casual barefoot-minded footwear just like their cousins the Lems Nine2Five. There really aren’t many shoes that actually fit that statement, by the way. The Mariners run $105, which feels about right for the materials and quality of them. The Mariners come in two versions — the ones photoed here are Walnut and the other, lighter leather color called Sonora. If your interest is piqued, hop over to Lems’ website and you can read a slew of reviews from other wearers, most of which are glowing. Now how do I pick up that other colorway … Let me know if you have questions or comments below!

By Justin

Justin Owings is a deadlifting dad of three, working from Atlanta. When he's not chasing his three kids around, you'll find him trying to understand systems, risk, and human behavior.

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