Leming Ancestral Footwear – Barefoot / Minimalist Shoe Review

There are two main type of barefoot / minimalist shoe wearers.

  1. There are the people who want the benefits of barefoot shoes without looking weird.
  2. And there are the people who thrive on people staring at their feet while they wiggle their Vibram-shod tootsies.

I fall firmly into the first camp.

While I am “unique” enough to be caught jogging outside in shorts during a snowy Canadian winter, I am not a fan of wearing minimalist shoes with street clothes.

They look weird.

Correction – they looked weird.

leming footwear 2 Leming Ancestral Footwear   Barefoot / Minimalist Shoe Review

 

Leming Footwear are the first truly barefoot / minimalist shoe that looks like a conventional “sneaker”.

And boy are me and my wife happy…she was sick and tired of me wearing my barefoot booties out with her in public.

But enough about me and my sartorial quirks….Here’s the review.

Review Criteria

  • Protection – If you’re not going to develop thick natural calluses by actually running barefoot, you need to wear a shoe that will protect you from the occasional sharp stone or chunk of glass.

The Leming sole is different than other barefoot / minimalist shoes.

While the market is moving towards thinner / puncture-proof sole materials, Leming employs a thicker (6 mm) sole made a 6mm thick air infused rubber that is supposed to replicate the elasticity of human skin.

leming sole Leming Ancestral Footwear   Barefoot / Minimalist Shoe Review

 

The result is a sole that provides unbelieveably good groundfeel, is super flexible, but may not be your best choice if you’re into trail running over rocky surfaces.

leming scrunched Leming Ancestral Footwear   Barefoot / Minimalist Shoe Review

 

With that being said, I decided to take them trail running over rocky surfaces….with the end result being a great run with no punctures – shoe or foot.

  • Proprioception – A bare foot provides immediate feedback to the surface it rests upon. A thick spongy sole…not so much. This can be crucial when it comes to avoiding ankle sprains and wiping out while trail running.

As I mentioned above, Lemings offer amazing groundfeel.

But unlike the sockwa G2s, this barefoot feel is achieved not through the thinnest of soles, but through the consistency of the sole material. It’s completely different from anything else on the market.

  • Natural Foot Movement – Does the shoe allow or prevent your foot from flexing & spreading in order to distribute the load uniformly over the entire foot. This analysis will address shoe width (especially the toe box), arch support, shock absorption, etc…

Lemings allows your foot to move, spread, scrunch as nature intended.

They also offer a great explanation of what nature had in mind. Enjoy your foot education.

stem shoedesign2 Leming Ancestral Footwear   Barefoot / Minimalist Shoe Review

  • Weight of the Shoe – Who wants a heavy, clunky shoe?

Lemings weighs 6.3 ounces…. or about 1/3 of a pound. Heavier than the Sockwas, lighter than a pair of Nike Frees.

  • The Drop – Most conventional running shoes raise the heel 22-24mm off the ground while lifting the front of the shoe only 10-15mm off the ground. This difference creates a forward leaning slope which changes your posture and leads to a heel-toe gait which leads a bunch of problems. Long story short, a flat shoe is more natural.

Lemings have a 0mm drop.

  • Shape of the Sole – As your foot spreads, does the protective sole continue to protect your foot from physical damage?

Lemings are built with an wide toe box and sole. This allow for a proper foot spread without stretching the fabric of the upper or oozing out beyond the width of the rubber sole.

  • Comfort – Do they feel good on your feet?

Super comfortable, with a barefoot feel equal to the Sockwa and superior to the Reebok.

Unlike most barefoot shoes, Lemings are comfortable whether you wear them with or without socks.

As an aside, due to the wide toe box of the Lemings, I found myself wiggling and scrunching my toes while wearing these shoes. Not sure why. It was kinda weird. Just though I would share.

  • Ease of Use – Are they easy to put on?

Yep – Also, I chose to wear socks with them. Can’t do that with all minimalist shoes.

  • Appearance – Do you look like a freak wearing them? Do you care?

They look like normal “sneakers”. When I showed them off to people, I had to draw attention to the wide toebox.

  • Ventilation – Vibrams are notoriously stinky shoes…what about the Lemings?

So far so good. The Lemings combination of faux-suede and mesh let my sweaty feet breathe during runs & workouts.

  • Durability – Will they stand up to some pounding?

So far, so good. If they wear poorly, I will update this post

  • Price -

$89.99 USD – Same price as the Reeboks, $20 more than the Kigos, $40 more than the Sockwas and $25 less than the Lunas.

  • Application – Is the shoe applicable for everyday use, running, sports, yoga, weight lifting, water sports, beach sports, etc?

Lemings are the most versatile barefoot / minimalist shoes that I have tested. Great for athletics & great for sitting on a patio watching the girls walk by.

Conclusion

Like all barefoot shoes, your decision to buy this shoe should come down to application.

  • Lemings are a true minimalist shoe
  • They are also the most fashion friendly minimalist shoe on the market
  • The price is reasonable

But what about you?

  • What kind of shoe are you looking for?
  • What is the application?
  • Do Lemings fit that application?..
Doug Robb is a personal trainer, a fitness blogger and author, a competitive athlete, a social media nerd and a student of nutrition and exercise science. Since 2008, Doug has brought his real-world experience online via his health & fitness blog, Health Habits.

4 Comments

  1. Pingback: Skora - The Absolute Best Barefoot Running Shoe

  2. Pingback: Barefoot / Minimalist Shoe Review

  3. Jeannine

    October 14, 2012 at 7:01 pm

    Were you able to find these in Canada? I’ve been wearing Merrel Pace Glove ( I love them!) as a casual shoe for over a year now, and these look like a nice change.

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