Vivobarefoot vs Lems: Which Shoe Brand is King?

What is Vivobarefoot?   

A minimalist running shoe company makes Vivobarefoot shoes. The technology was invented by Tim Brennan and further developed by the British shoe company Terra Plana. The shoes are made to provide the best biomechanics and posture, commonly associated with walking with no shoes on.

They provide you with a feeling of being as close to the ground as possible without actually walking barefoot. They are designed in different styles to fit different wearers for varying terrains. For example, you can get Vivobarefoot shoes for hiking or your day-to-day business. Walking through the city can be super tiring if you are in bulky shoes. Barefoot shoes have made a name for themselves in this area. 

They are very lightweight and hence make for great city walking shoes.

The technology used for these shoes, allows the shoe to mimic the natural shape and they also provide minimal cushioning. This way you get maximum sensory feedback.

If you like walking barefoot, or perhaps you have now heard enough about the benefits of going barefoot, or maybe you have now been turned and would like to try out something with a great reputation in this department, then Vivobarefoot shoes are the shoes for you.

What are Lems?

Lem’s creator, Andrew Rademacher set to work in 2008, creating a shoe that he believed would mould to the human foot more than the ones currently on the market.

Lems were designed and made to fit snug around the human foot so that the wearer gets the feeling of walking as close to the ground as possible.

Lems made the shoes by starting with the shoes he liked but were not giving him the right support. He then stripped away the extra material that he deemed unnecessary and remained with the bare essentials. 

It is from this structure that he began to build up what he saw as necessary in a good minimalist shoe. Using modern technology o shoe design and fitting, he began to work on the shoe to rival current shoes on the market.

Lems, are made to follow the natural design of your foot. Rademacher believed the perfect minimalist shoe did not exist yet and so he decided to make his own.

The first pair of Lems was released onto the market in 2011. The shoes have not been around for too long however they are constantly being developed.

Products Overview

The more a shoe allows your feet to move around naturally, the healthier they are for your feet. People who spend a lot of time on their feet are always on the lookout for good minimalist shoes. Lems and Vivobarefoot shoes are amongst the top picks.

They are both minimalist shoes however they have some differences that make people choose one pair over the other. The unique characteristics set them apart.

Let us have flexible soles, but they still have some padding. Some have found the running shoe style from Lems to be a bit narrow. Vivobarefoot shoes come in a wider variety of shoes; however, they have been known to have a narrower toe box.

Running Shoe Picks

Vivobarefoot Primus Lite

Vivobarefoot Primus Lite

The idea behind the Primus Lite was to create a shoe that would be the latest move mention that could possibly be made.

There is no way to categorically say that this is the lightest movement you that on the market. However, one can safely say that these shoes are pretty light.

I cannot think of many other shoes that I have tried on that matches up to these shoes as far as how lightweight and malleable they feel on your feet.

These are the sort of shoes that you would put on and forget that they are on your feet. And that is exactly what the manufacturers after when we build something like this. This is the ethos of the brand.

As with other shoes from this brand, this allows your feet to have a natural movement without being hindered by the structural resistance. It allows you to feel the ground as you walk on it.

By this, I mean that your sensory feedback is heightened. You also find that these shoes have no-sew construction. This means they are no stitches to fall apart due to use.

As a result, you have a pair of shoes that is durable flexible and general minimal design. It goes without saying that the shoes are highly breathable. They are made out of recycled PET mesh.

How cool is that? You probably know without me having to say that it keeps your feet cool. The outsoles are non-marking. They are thin and durable.

You will also be happy to find that no animals with all the products were used in manufacturing this you, which makes it suitable for vegans.

Lems Mesa

Lems had an emphasis on creating a shoe that would be their most durable one thus far. And this is what birthed the Mesa. It features a mesh lining that will keep your feet cool as you go about your run.

It allows your feet to keep your natural shape within the shoes. There is less pressure to conform to the design of the shoe.

Your foot can be itself. Unlike the Vivobarefoot, this shoe comes with a 4 mm drop platform. The barefoot shoe has zero drop. Having said that, the drop is quite subtle and looks flat from the side.

It is built to allow you to maintain full balance. You’ll be happy to find that these shoes are very quick to dry so if you’re caught in the rain it isn’t quite the tragedy.

The tread of the shoes is made to take on the rough terrain as well as pavements. It allows you to just go where you want to go without having to worry about the condition of the shoes afterwards.

You will also be happy to find that these shoes are quite lightweight. That is something that they share with the ones above them. They’re incredibly flexible so you can actually roll the shoe into a ball.

Well, perhaps not a proper ball, but you can roll it. There is a sock lining stretching within the shoe. The midsole is EVA. They are also vegan-friendly.

Hiking Boots Picks

Vivobarefoot Men’s Tracker FG M Leather Walking Shoe 

Vivobarefoot Men's Tracker FG

If you’re all are but you are leather your love the tracker FG. These are beautiful hiking boots that feature high-quality leather upper material. It is a boot that is designed to take on wild tough and rough terrain.

To ensure that this is not much of a problem the soles are from groundsels. It is further enhanced by ensuring that the boots are also waterproof. They have a waterproof lining.

And for the colder days, you’ll be happy to find that they are thermal lined to keep your feet comfortable when the temperature drops. When you look at the soles you see that they are 3 mm lugs underneath them.

These provide you with sufficient traction for all sorts of surfaces that you may find yourself walking on. That means you are okay when you’re on a rocky landscape as well as on the trail. The mesh lining is made out of recycled RPET. 

And to help you further when he gets cold you have thermal insoles included. If this is not sufficient you can also remove this insole replace it with the one that you would like. Chances are you will not get to the point this is a darn good insole.

These boots can be used throughout the year. They are up for the cold or hot weather and not confined to just those two conditions. They are 360 waterproof and have a breathable membrane.

Are you concerned about general wear tear as all of us would be? These shoes come with high resistance to abrasion. The lugs underneath the shoes are multidirectional which provides you with a lot of traction as well as your ability.

Lems Waterproof Boulder Boot

The waterproof boulder boot is a worthy contender. When you first look at it I have no doubt that someone will like or immediately dislike the style it’s one of those styles.

It may strike you as being somewhat formal. However such is its versatility. This is a boot that you could probably pull off underneath some semi-formal clothing as well as out on a hike.

That is not something that can be said for a lot of hiking boots. The version that you see today is the second iteration of a previous one. It has been upgraded to include features that are received great feedback.

One of these changes is the zero-drop platform. While it isn’t quite barefoot, it provides you with a flat surface to walk on. It is actually surprisingly flexible for a shoe that looks the way it does.

You also be happy to find that these shoes are waterproof. That means you don’t have to ponder a lot why are you out on your walk or go around ponds try and avoid all sorts of small puddles of water.

It saves you a lot of time and effort to enjoy the reason why you’re out there. The leather upper of the shoe is oiled.

This is full-grain leather. They have gone out of their way to treat it with to be water repellent. So not only is it waterproof, but it is also water repellent.

There are additional steps are you could take to ensure that you further enhance these features. The tongue of the boot is quite in the snug fit it’s what they described as the gusseted tongue. It provides good protection for the elements. 

Formal Shoe Picks

Lems Nine2Five

It might just be me but don’t we all love shoes I can fit into both a formal situation as well as a casual one. Enter the Nine2Five. These are boots that are designed to carry the foot is a natural shape.

They are lightweight and made out of full-grain leather on the upper part of them. You’ll also be happy to find that the outer part of the shoes is very flexible. It allows your feet to move the way you want them to.

This is not something that we find with a lot of formal shoes. They tend to be quite sturdy and rigid. This is what most will call an Oxford shoe.

It has a toe cap that ensures that your toes are well protected during your commute or if you just want to run around the office.

In the event of getting a knock or someone stepping on your toes, these ensure that it is not as painful. This is an out so that is made out of injection moulded rubber. This is what allows the shoes to remain lightweight.

We must not forget to mention that they also zero drop. Which means your shoes do not make you stand slightly on your toes. Your feet are allowed to stay flat on the ground the way nature intense them to.

There is no elevation which means no pain and of course no complaints. We obviously cannot guarantee the “no complaints” part, it differs from one individual to another.

The tall box of these she was quite wide which allows your toes to stretch deliberately without having to be tightly restricted.

Vivobarefoot Men’s Ra Ii-m 

Vivobarefoot Men's Ra Ii-m

As formal shoes go, the vivobarefoot is a worthwhile contender. It is a stylish Oxford lace-up shoe that is made out of while to hide leather. You will love the fact that this you can slip these into formal situations as well as the more casual ones.

They could almost pass as a running shoe because of just how comfortable they are.

When you put them on you will notice that your feet remain uninhibited in the movement this is due to how flexible the shoes are. They are also quite breathable.

The one concern that everyone has is the sole. All I know is that it is comfortable. People worried that it may not provide enough protection for you for underfoot. Contrary to this believe it does a great job.

The finish of the shoe makes it easy to pack away and carry places with you. The manufacturer has scarred the wild to hide leather used to make the shoes. It’s such a lovely finish.

The insoles are of a removable cock insole. They provide you with antibacterial protection. As the word removable would’ve already given away, you can replace them if you don’t fancy them.

Vivobarefoot has a wide range of other insoles that you can choose from.

Comparison Criteria

We take a look at the two footwear brands and see what makes each one unique and why people choose a certain brand over another.

Each brand has different lines that it carries and they are all marketed to suit different people. We compare and contrast these lines and see why one is picked over another if at all.

General Pricing Comparison

Lems and Vivo barefoot shoes are generally within the same price range. The difference comes in the exact type of shoe that you want to buy.

Hiking boots are priced differently from everyday walking shoes, for example. Vivobarefoot trackers are much pricier than their Lems counterparts. 

General Quality Comparison

Both shoes are generally made with the end goal of having the wearer walk as close to the ground as possible. Vivobarefoot is known for its high quality in shoes especially hiking. Meanwhile, Lems are better known for their sturdy construction.

General Durability Comparison

Lems have a great reputation for making shoes with sturdy construction. However, Vivobarefoot comes highly recommended for the rugged trails of hikes.

They are made of much thicker and stronger leather, which makes them a winner in the durability department. However, this depends on the type of shoe you get. Some reviewers have voted against Vivobarefoot for gym shoes.

General Design Comparison

Taste is generally more subjective than hard facts. Some prefer the way Lems look, whilst others feel Vivobarefoot design takes the cake. 

Key Features of each brand

Each brand has its key characteristics. Vivobarefoot shoes have a patented barefoot sole. It is flexible and 3mm thin. They are flexible and have an abrasive resistant TPU and puncture-resistant Duratex layer.

They have an antibacterial lining as well as a removable insole. The insole is made to adjust to your foot’s natural shape.

Vivobarefoot shoes are flexible. The foot keeps its ability of natural movement. They also have a flat sole with no heel whatsoever, this helps promote a correct posture. The correct posture is encouraged, with the heel being in a neutral position. 

Proprioception is our sense of body movement and orientation. Around 70% of this feedback originates from pressure receptors in the soles of our feet.

The patented VIVOBAREFOOT sole is 3mm thin and allows for maximal sensory feedback to get back to the brain.

Vivobarefoot shoes are also great in that they have a good width. They allow your toes to fully spread out with no restrictions. These shoes also offer the most protection against the elements of the weather and the terrain you are walking on. 

Vivobarefoot shoes also come in a large assortment of shoes for every occasion and time of day. This means you are spoilt for choice.

Lems shoes have a wide toe box and a low stack height. They also have a zero-drop platform and a lightweight weight design. You will find that Lems have air injected rubber outsoles and they are travel-friendly. You can easily pack them. 

Both shoes are made to enhance ground feel and proprioception.

Pros and Cons of each brand

Vivobarefoot Pros

  • The process in which they are made is vegan-friendly 
  • They are flexible
  • They come in a wide variety of shoes
  • They allow your toes to spread out with no restrictions fully.

Vivobarefoot Cons

  • They can be quite pricey
  • Some reviews say gym shoes are not durable.

Lems Pros

  • They are easy to pack
  • They have a low stack height
  • They are lightweight
  • They are flexible.

Lems Cons

  • Some of the shoes have a slight heel, which may defeat the purpose of getting a minimalist shoe. 
  • Some critics were not happy with its cotton lining as it absorbs sweat and may take a while to dry completely.


Both Lems and Vivobarefoot are minimalist shoes. At the end of the day, it is more about your preference and what will suit your lifestyle.

You must check the exact shoe you want to buy and go by the reviews for that particular pair. They will guide you and help you understand your shoe better. Ultimately the decision is yours.

Hi there. This is Clare. Dave and I manage this site. We are outdoor enthusiasts. Most of the content is about products that we love using or have researched.
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