I wear exclusively Lems for my casual and work shoes (Boulder Boot and Nine2Five), and I also own the Primal 2 so I like minimal shoes. However I really appreciate the effort Lems put into making a durable and affordable hiking shoe, even though it's immediately obvious that they are not truly minimal. I had been looking for a "minimal inspired" hiking shoe for some time. Thanks for taking the time to explain your design process as well.
I wear 45's in my other Lems shoes and the 11 Trailhead fit perfectly. The quality and durability is impressive for a new shoe design, especially one that is rather different than the other products. I really appreciate how rugged they are - it is always an option to go hiking in my nice all-leather Boulder Boot or Nine2Five but I believe that the rocks, roots and mud on the trail would have damaged the leather and I didn't want that. And frankly for hiking I wanted more support than the other Lems shoes provide, even if that meant wearing a different shoe style for a while. Although not truly minimal, the Trailhead shares several key principles and in my opinion it does it's job perfectly for a reasonable price.
I’ve been a Boulder Boot fan for years, and regularly wear Nine2Fives when I need to dress up a notch. I’ve also switched over to zero-drop for my running shoes so I was skeptical about Lems new footbed and 4mm drop on the Trailhead. But they won me over in just a couple days and now they’re my go-to shoe (even over the Boulder Boot!). For two main reasons:
First, I love the look. Lems seemed to realize that whatever they did with this shoe, it was never going to look sleek and minimal, so they embraced the size and shape. The retro-sneaker style doesn’t exactly hide the fact that these are rugged shoes, but it does make me feel like I can wear them in more situations.
And that’s the second reason: Versatility. The Trailhead bills itself as “mountain to town” shoe and it really is. The sole and construction have held up to some moderately heavy hikes since I bought my first pair a few months ago. I feel completely comfortable taking them on my upcoming backpacking trip. Since the Trailhead is a lowtop shoe, it doesn’t feel as heavy and clunky when you’re just running to the grocery store or stopping for a beer after a light hike.
Overall, the Trailhead is just a really great all-purpose shoe. It’s built well, can take a beating, and will look good at the end of the day.