Thursday, January 26, 2017

Cool and Casual Shoes II: Lems Primal 2, SOM SPL3, and Altra Desert Boot Review

Lems Primal 2

Altra Desert Boot

Ok... so, I'm guessing most of you don't wear running shoes ALL the time...  I'm guessing you spend a lot of time barefoot, in sandals etc.... But there are those times that a casual shoe is great to have.  I am bad about wearing my trail runners or huaraches most of the time when not barefoot.

BUT... I do think it's great to have some more casual styles of shoe..  for the weekends, walking, easy hiking etc.  And to that end, I have a review of three pretty different types of minimalist casual shoes.  Before I jump into the reviews though, I have to sheepishly admit that I've had the Lem's and SOM's for a very long time, and have been remiss in getting a review up, so my apologies to the great folks at those companies and thank you for your patience.

Ok... first up are the Lems Primal 2's.  Now.. if you can remember way back, I did a review of the original Primal back in October 2012.. which you can check out HERE.   Also, I did a review of their Boulder Boot, which you can see HERE. 

First and foremost, I love the Cardinal Red color!  Let me tell you.. these shoes stand out.. and in a good way! They are very similar to the original that I reviewed, but with a few changes.  Most noticeably is that the upper seems to have a little bit more structure, which is nice.  Weight wise, they are pretty much the same, coming in at 6.9 oz, but they feel much lighter on the foot.  And as with the original Primal, I could certainly run in these, but I love these as a casual shoe.  A terrific shaped toe box, and responsive 8mm air-injected rubber sole.  They come with a 3mm insole, but I removed those as I like the feel of the shoe without them.  Lem's have come a long way from when they originally started as Stems!  If you are looking for a comfortable casual and minimalist shoe.. you can't go wrong with Lems... check out all of their products here:

Next up, is the SPL-3 from SOM (Sense of Motion) Footwear. SOM is a cool, local Colorado company that was from the desire for a better shoe that didn't exist.  A little more than 2 years ago I tested the original SPL and you can read that review HERE.   Before I jump into the review, I have to let you know that SOM is gearing up to release some new stuff!  That being said, if you go to the website you will see that available sizes on the SPL-3 are limited.  BUT... my guess is that the new release will be even better, so take what you read here, and assume more improvements!

So of course, I had to compare the SPL-3 to the original SOM's I had.  As you can see the sole includes more reinforced stitching, but otherwise much of the same feel.  The BIG difference is that the SPL-3 was much lighter. I believe about a full ounce was shaved off between the two, but it sure feels like a lot more! 

Much like the original SPL, I found these shoes to be very comfortable, and probably one of the roomiest toe boxes I've seen.  These truly allow your feet to feel free, and they function as great casual hikers and every day shoes.  The traction is decent, and the water shedding upper is comfortable and durable.  

Anyway.. if this sounds good to you at all, I would highly recommend you visit their web page and sign up for the newsletter so that you know when the new release is out..  check them out here as well as follow them on Facebook by clicking HERE.

And to wrap up this Cool and Casual shoe review, is the Altra Desert Boot.  As you know, I've been testing out a variety of Altra shoes, and I do have more reviews to come.  But this is kind of a neat departure from their traditional road and trail running selection. 

Ok.. as I've noted on prior Altra reviews, some folks may not consider these true minimalist shoes, primarily based on the stack height.  The Desert Boot comes in at 28mm stack, but of course are zero drop, and have a nice foot shaped toe box.  What is interesting is that this boot is basically the Torin 1.5 (Road running shoe) for those of you familiar, but on top is a cool leather boot style upper.  And of course, being a Seattle Seahawks fan, I do love the blue, neon green, and gray color combination! But if thats not for you, you can get them in light gray or black.  

So, even though it's a thick stack, the shoes do bend somewhat, and overall they are very comfortable.  I don't mind a higher stack in a casual shoe, provided the upper is comfortable, which these are.  A little beefy at 10 oz, but again, not an issue for me for casual wear.  If you love Altra's, and are looking for a fun casual shoe, I think the Desert Boot is worth checking out! 

Ok!  Thanks as always for checking in.  Stay tuned as my New Year's resolution is to get caught up on reviews and stay that way!  So... more to come. 

Happy Trails!



  1. Love the look of the Lens! Like you I really like the look of the red.

  2. Between Lems and Som, which one do you recommend more? I'm referring to the foot comfort, and shape. Obviously not the colors!

  3. Nice Post! i was searching for women casual shoes and came across your blog post. Thanks for the great information.


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