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Lems Version 2 of the Trailhead is versatile and stylish

Lems Trailhead

I am a big fan of companies that listen to feedback from their customers and use it to actually make changes to products! That’s exactly what Lems did when outdoor enthusiasts let them know that their women’s Trailhead shoes were not quite perfect yet. 

I reviewed the first version of Lems Trailhead back in June. I enjoyed the shoe but did find it to be a bit narrow. A lot of Lems loyalists also found the shoes to be narrow, as well as stiff with its rock plate.

So, Lems took the shoes back to the drawing board. They redesigned them to make adjustments where needed while maintaining the functionality that attracted me to this shoe in the first place. The alterations range from practically non-noticeable removal of the bunion area overlay to ahhhhh-inspiring increases in toe box width (read the full list of changes HERE).  

One difference from the original Lems Trailhead design is that the lacing system. It used to have two loops, but Lems reduced it to one to release pressure on the top of the foot. I noticed that with this change, the tongue has a bit more tendency to shift to the side. By paying a bit of attention when lacing up, I can ensure it stays where it should.

They also widened the toebox, but if you have wide feet, these may still be too narrow for you. Even with the increased width in the toe box this shoe is narrower than others in Lems product line.

Flexibility has increased from the first design to the second with the removal of the rock plate. There is adequate tread and cushioning on both of the designs to provide comfort while trekking. The biggest difference is your foot feels more of the impact and terrain with the newer version. I would limit this shoe’s use to walking around town or for day hikes where the added flexibility increases comfort. I appreciate rock plates in my shoes for backpacking to minimize foot fatigue on longer multi-day hikes.

These shoes have become the workhorse of my footwear. They are comfortable for the mundane mile-long walk to school with the kids in the morning, and stylish enough for travel to far-off places where we are on our feet exploring all day long.

I recently took them on a four-mile hike in the foothills of Boulder, Colo. I was pleased with their grip on the sandstone boulders we climbed over. The onyx color does have a tendency to show dust after hikes. But, I can are easily restore them with a quick wipe down. They also pair as easily with leggings as they do jeans or even a casual dress.

Vivobarefoot Primus Lite II Bio truly ‘goes green’

Vivobarefoot Primus Lite II Bio
Vivobarefoot Primus Lite II Bio
Download on the Apple App StoreDownload on the Google Play Store

The hot trend in footwear over the last couple of years has been tied to the sustainability movement. Brand after brand are announcing new sustainable measures they are taking to help save the planet. You can now buy shoes made from plastic, ocean plastic, recycled shoes, or even from biomass.

But try as they might, I’m a big believer that the only sustainable shoe is a minimalist shoe. 

Over 20 billion pairs of shoes are produced annually. Because traditional shoes have a six to nine month, or 250-350 mile lifespan, it’s estimated that 300 million pairs ending up in landfills after they have been worn out.

Minimalist shoe brands, like Vivobarefoot, have always had a special place in my heart. One of the first reviews we published was of their Primus SG trail-running shoe. I’ve had them for almost a year, putting over 1,000 miles on them on trails, including 50K, 55K, and 50-mile ultramarathons. And they’re still holding up. Sure the lugs have worn down, but they are still my go-to shoe for trail running. I’ll probably continue wearing them until my toes start poking out of the bottom.

But that’s the difference between a minimalist shoe versus a modern shoe. When a modern shoe breaks down, it’s in the cushion and the arch support. Your feet are weaker in them, and they pick up on the discomfort a heckuva lot faster. With minimalist shoes, there’s next to nothing between you and the ground, and your feet are stronger. So, when it comes to wear and tear, the deciding factor to buy a new pair is usually how visible your toes are or the attractiveness of the next new thing.

The Next New Thing

Vivobarefoot is committed to sustainability. By 2020, their goal is to have 90 percent of their shoe materials made from sustainable material.

Vivobarefoot Primus Lite II Bio
Vivobarefoot Primus Lite II Bio

In July, Vivobarefoot sent me a pair of their Primus Lite II Bio, their most sustainably-made shoe, to review. At first glance, it’s not my typical style–it’s green. Not a cool, dark forest green like the Primus SG, but a bright green that lets your feet stand out wherever you are walking. They aren’t the type of shoes an introvert like myself typically wears because they are conversation starters. But it does allow me to geek out a bit, because these shoes have a pretty awesome story.

The Construction

Vivobarefoot first started making shoes with bio-based materials in 2017, when they created the Ultra Bloom, a shoe moulded from algae-based foam. They had discovered that the algae choking the world’s waterways could be repurposed into a foam material.

Vivobarefoot Primus Lite II Bio
Vivobarefoot Primus Lite II Bio

As chemical waste seeps into waterways, an algae forms. The algae releases toxins in the air that are harmful to humans and animals. It also depletes oxygen from the water and blocks sunlight, which negatively impacts marine ecosystems. By repurposing this algae, for every show they make, Vivobarefoot recirculates 57 gallons of clean water back into natural habitats and prevents the equivalent of 40 balloons full of CO2 being released into the Earth’s atmosphere.

But they didn’t stop there.

With the Primus Lite II Bio, they use a corn-based biopolymer made of yellow dent field corn called Susterra Propanediol. This material is made from glucose from field corn and is petroleum free and non-toxic. It also uses 52 percent less energy than other petroleum-based materials and causes 32 percent less greenhouse gas emissions.

So, you’re literally “going green” when you wear these shoes.

The Wear and Feel

Just like every other pair of Vivobarefoot shoes I’ve opened, it was easy to fall in love with them. These shoes quickly became my go-to shoes during the summer. I’d wear them to the office, on bike rides, running errands—essentially anytime that I didn’t want to wear sandals.

Vivobarefoot Primus Lite II Bio
Vivobarefoot Primus Lite II Bio

When packing for a week-long conference in Boston, I debated over which shoes I should pack, but ultimately decided to go all-in and just pack the Primus Lite II Bio.

I was happy I did. Boston is an amazingly-walkable city. From the time I landed at the airport till the time I left, I didn’t step foot in another vehicle (with the exception of a water taxi). At the conference I was on my feet a lot as well. Through it all, my feet were surprisingly comfortable. The materials breathed well, and there wasn’t a day where I got home and had to unpeel sweaty socks off my feet.

They are also part of Vivobarefoot’s active line, and while testing them, I have taken them on runs on the road, concrete sidewalks, and lightly graveled paths. They’ve held up well, allowing for ample ground-feel as any true minimalist shoe should. These were size 11, and with Vivobarefoot, I’ve found that they fit comfortably snug on the side while leaving plenty of room in the toe-box. Even with the extra room, I’ve never felt my foot slide in the shoe or have blisters form due to too much movement.

Vivobarefoot Primus Lite II Bio
Vivobarefoot Primus Lite II Bio

And the green coloring is surprisingly easy to style with your wardrobe and very modern looking.

Conclusion

It shouldn’t be a surprise that I love these shoes. It’s awesome to wear something that has such a strong sustainability message. I’m excited to see how Vivobarefoot continues to embrace their sustainability message and how it affects their lineup of shoes.

Please note that Vivobarefoot is an affiliate to Huck Adventures, and at no additional cost to you, Huck earns a commission if you decide to make a purchase after clicking through the links above. We appreciate your support!

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Xero Shoes Prio – Product Review

Xero Shoes Prio
Xero Shoes Prio

Two years ago, I had worn through another pair of minimalist shoes. I had only owned them for three months and my mileage wasn’t anywhere near where it is today. Also, I was living in Kansas City. Most of the terrain I was running on was pavement and sidewalks.

I needed another pair of minimalist shoes for running—ones that wouldn’t wear through. A big piece of why I ran in minimalist shoes was because of sustainability. In theory, and what should be practice, I should be able to run in minimalist shoes for two to three times the mileage modern shoes would get.

I was on the hunt.

Luckily, Steven Sashen of Xero Shoes was an internet marketing whiz and started serving me prospecting and retargeting ads based on my search queries. It was the first time I had heard of Xero Shoes, even though I was familiar with Steven’s first foray in minimalist footwear.

We had actually crossed paths on the internet several years earlier. Steven had started a company creating DIY huarache sandals called Invisible Shoes. His DIY kits were what had inspired me to visit a local cobbler with instructions to cut 4mm Vibram rubber into the shape of my feet.

Xero Shoes Prio

Xero Shoes Prio
Xero Shoes Prio

The particular shoes I kept seeing were the Xero Shoes Prio. They are a “performance” shoe made for running, cross fit training, or for everyday use. They are lightweight and flexible, allowing feet to flex, bend, and move naturally. 

The Sole

The Prio uses Xero Shoes’ 5.5mm FeelTrue rubber sole that’s featured on many of their products. One of the things that caught my eye, given my challenges with other minimalist shoes, was their 5,000 mile warranty. If you wear down the sole to 1mm at the heel or ball of the sole, they will replace the product at 60 percent off MSRP, plus shipping. Which is an amazing offer. Challenge accepted. 

Xero Shoes Prio
Xero Shoes Prio

I’ve logged over 500 miles on my Xero Shoes Prio and the soles have held up great. Only 4,500 more to go.

Traction on the sole has held up as well. The bottom of the shoe is covered with arrows pointing forward and backwards to provide traction whether you are moving uphill or downhill. They are deep enough to provide traction on gravel trails, but not enough for more technical terrain. 

The Build

The shoe is constructed with vegan-friendly materials. Even after running 500 miles in them, they’ve held up great.

Xero Shoes Prio
Xero Shoes Prio

The exterior has a huarache-inspired design—a nice throwback to Invisible Shoes—that is a functional part of the design, letting the wearer adjust for a more-perfect fit. It also has an adjustable instep strap so you can lock your foot in place while letting your toes move freely.

Conclusion

The Xero Shoes Prio was an amazing entry point into Xero Shoes. Since that first purchase, I’ve bought five different products. The sole is one of the most durable in the industry, and I’ve enjoyed every run in them.

Please note that Xero Shoes is an affiliate to Huck Adventures, and at no additional cost to you, Huck earns a commission if you decide to make a purchase after clicking through the links above. We appreciate your support!

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