Run Oregon is Kickin’ it in the Lems Mesa

A few months ago we reviewed a pair of shoes – the Trailhead – from Lems as part of their new Mountain-to-Town series. This series is bit of a newer venture that takes the lightweight and minimalistic approach and puts into into a more “standard” package with a slimmer toe box than the Lems Origins line.

Before talking about this new shoe – the Lems Mesa – I will acknowledge that this addition hasn’t been met without some resistance. Though this line adds shoes to their repertoire (and doesn’t replace any of their main styles), there has still been feedback that these stray from what people think they should be (zero-drop with an ultra roomy toe box). I will echo what I said in my previous review – Lems does not appear to be replacing any of their core line, nor are they trying to be sneaky about this style addition – there is clear information on both their website and in videos that highlight this change. It also opens the door to a wider array of shoe wearers and getting quality products out to the masses.

So all that aside, here is more about the Lems Mesa, releasing in June 2019. True to the series moniker, this is a nice mountain to town shoe option. It has a relatively pronounced outsole which should provide good traction on most easy to moderate hikes. However, I didn’t find it too bulky that it looked like anything other than a casual pair of shoes when out and about off the trails.

Speaking of the looks, there is a pretty understated classiness to these. There are a few color schemes (listed below), but the Carbon black option is very classy. I’m assuming this is done by design, as anything too flashy may get in the way of having this be a crossover option. It may not be as much of an issue to wear hiking shoes/boots in public in Oregon, but may be less than ideal in certain areas across the country.

It is light for a hiker (8.4 ounces for a women’s size 9), as well as flexible. It may be more rigid than those in the Lems Origin line, but it’s still packable and transportable. In fact, these are a great option to wear for travel, when you know you are gonna be taking in some light hiking or exploring and don’t necessarily want to pack an extra pair of footwear. In fact, I am headed to Southern & Central Oregon for a few days next week and plan on packing these as I have ambitions of tackling a few miles of Table Mountain in Medford, Moore Park in Klamath Falls, and Smith Rock in Bend during that timeframe – and these will be great to use on and off those trails while keeping my feet and my limited luggage space happy!

Company: Lems (Facebook)

  • Lems Mesa ($125)
    • Colors:
      • Carbon (black),
      • Forest (green),
      • Rosewood (burgundy/pink)
      • Coastal (blue)

More about Lems:

To us, it’s simple – shoes should be designed using the bare minimum. They should fit the foot’s anatomy, while allowing your feet to move like you’re wearing nothing at all.

In 2008, Lems’ creator, Andrew Rademacher, reached his end point searching for shoes that fit the natural shape of the foot. Starting out by dissecting his favorite running shoes and cutting out the extra, unnecessary material, Andrew decided to learn the art and science of shoemaking in his own way. He studied shoe fitting, last construction, and pattern making so that he would be able to design his shoes to fit like no other on the market.

Andrew began to realize that the big shoe brands had it all wrong. Shoes should be built around the natural shape of the human foot, and not the other way around. This meant that a shoe should be widest at the forefoot and toes, while allowing for full flexibility and unrestricted movement.

After three years of research, countless hours of design and dozens of prototypes, Andrew’s unwavering focus finally paid off. In September 2011, Lems released its first product – the Primal. Though the company has come a long way since that original design, Andrew continues to study his art while staying true to his mission of making naturally fitting footwear that allows your feet the freedom to be just as nature intended.

Thank you to Lems for providing us with a sample pair. Please read our transparency page for info on how we do our reviews.

About Matt Rasmussen (1612 Articles)
Matt Rasmussen lives in Keizer, Ore. with his wife and three daughters. He enjoys watching the Olympics, sampling craft beers, and all things Canada (he was born there). Matt was raised as a baseball player and officially transitioned over to running in 2010.

4 Comments on Run Oregon is Kickin’ it in the Lems Mesa

  1. “Lems does not appear to be replacing any of their core line, nor are they trying to be sneaky about this style addition”
    That isn’t the problem — the problem is that they aren’t making this line (or anything new) for the core customers that have brought them to where they are now. I would love to buy these classy new shoes, but wearing Lems for several years (I own 9 pairs–quite an investment!), my feet have spread too much to squeeze back into narrower shoes, and my toes, knees and back won’t tolerate a 4mm drop. Basically, Lems convinced me to switch to their minimal shoes, got me hooked, and now says I should go back to what I left behind if I want anything newer or more stylish (or, it appears, with the traction that their boots should have had).

    • I suppose there are two viewpoints on this, and I understand why long-term Lems runners feel neglected. On the flipside, I never would have tried Lems until these more “mainstream” versions came out. Now I love them.

  2. Can you comment on the fit of the Mesa vs the Trailhead, and maybe even vs the Primal2? I’m wearing the Primal2’s this very second and the toe box feels great for me, though the sole could use some extra padding for me. I’ve tried asking Lems for advice on fitting the Trailhead, and they basically said it wouuldn’t work for me based on my described foot size (8.5 4E, though primal 9’s work perfectly for me). I’m wondering if the Mesa will have a more relaxed fit in the toe box, or if it is just as narrow as the Trailhead? I’ve heard they are introducing a new version of the Trailhead with a slightly roomier toe box (which explains the clearance of their current Trailhead), and it sounds like the Mesa is on this modified last, but it still doesn’t sound like it’s as wide as the Primals.

  3. Just got these in the mail and I’m super disappointed. I’ve been living in my Primal 2’s for about and month and decided I should get another pair of lems to offset the wear. I knew that the Mesa was not going to be just like the Primals but I did not expect this far of a departure, this shoe fits like a mainstream tennis shoe with an even more dense sole. My feet free like they are suffocating! My other main shoe is a Altra TMP 1.5, I figured these would have a similar raised feel but I was very wrong. I get why the Mesa would get mainstream shoe buyers into Lems but I wish that was more clear before my order! Thanks for the review.

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