Category Archives: Product Reviews

Lems Nine2Five Review – Office Shoes for the Adventurer

A Little Background

For many years, I didn’t pay much attention to what I put on my feet.  I’d go to the shoe store, find an inexpensive pair of shoes my size, and make them work.  However, a couple years ago when I started running, that began to change.  When you run or even hike for several miles, all the little annoyances about your shoes become magnified. That place where the shoes used to rub a bit now becomes a blister. The snug fit around your toes means you’ll lose toenails as they impact the sides and top of your shoes thousands of times during your run.

My Shoe Criteria

Everybody’s feet and running style are different, and that means different shoes are right for different people.  For me, there are two things I look for in every pair of shoes I buy.

The first criteria is no heel-to-toe drop.  That means the heel is the same distance from the floor (or ground) as the forefoot area.  For some reason, shoe manufacturers for years have made shoes with heels higher than the toe.  For me, zero drop shoes just feel better, and put my body in a more natural alignment, the same as if I was barefoot.

The second criteria is a wide toe box. If you take a look at a typical shoe, you’ll see that the toe area is rather pointed when compared to the shape of your foot.  Why?  Perhaps it is for aesthetics.  A pointed shoe looks a bit more sleek than one shaped like a foot. But when I’m running 10 miles at a time and don’t want to lose toenails, function is bit more important than how a shoe looks.

When it comes to running shoes, there are only a handful of companies that make shoes that meet those criteria.  Some of the names that come to mind are Altra, Vibram, and Carson footwear. So far, all my running shoes are from Altra.  However, once I wore zero-drop, wide toe box shoes for running, I did not want to wear anything else anywhere.  So what to do about shoes for church and the office? Some of the previously mentioned companies have a small selection of non-running shoes, but none that suited my taste.

Meet the Nine2Five

But then I found Lems Shoes.  They make a line of zero-drop, wide-toe-box shoes for a variety of uses.  They do not make running shoes, although a few people have reported using their Primal 2 shoes for running. What sets Lems apart, in my opinion, is their sense of style. Their shoes are made with comfort in mind, but they manage to make them look good as well. Lems was kind enough to send me a pair of their Nine2Five shoes to review.


Lems Shoes have their own sizing system, so translation is necessary. Their website lists Lems size 43 as equivalent to US 9-9.5, and size 44 as equivalent to US 10-10.5.  My dilemma was that I wear 9.5 in some brands of shoes and 10 in others, so I tried a size 44.  They were much too large, so I exchanged for a size 43, which fit me perfectly.

Quality & Durability

It is hard to know how a one-month-old pair of shoes will last over time, but these look like they are well-made and durable. The upper is made entirely of full-grain leather and is double stitched together.


When it comes to comfort, I got what I expected. The wide toe box and zero drop sole made my feet feel instantly at home.  The shoes have a minimalist feel as well, weighing only 8.6 ounces. The sole is flexible to allow your feet do what they while still providing adequate protection against any rough surface you might be walking over. Unlike my TUNEfootware boat shoes I sometimes wear to the office, the Nine2Five shoes do have a small amount of padding. However, they do not have a soft and cushy feeling, which I frankly do not care for.


If you’re looking for shoes with lots of support, lots of padding, and a traditional restrictive fit, then the Nine2Fives are not for you.  On the other hand, if you want natural-fitting shoes that allow your feet to work the way they are designed while still providing protection and style, then head over to and get yourself a pair of Lems.

Altra Instinct 3.0 vs One 2.5

When I first considered purchasing a pair of Altra running shoes, I was pretty confused over all of the different styles and versions available.  After some head scratching, I eventually purchased a pair of Instinct 3.0s, and a few months later, added a pair of One 2.5s.  I still do not have a complete knowledge of the entire Altra product line, but now that I have a couple hundred miles in each of these shoes, it is time to share what I know so far.

You can think of this as two reviews in one. I will take look at what both shoes have in common, what differences they have, and then share my final thoughts.


Zero heal-to-toe drop

Altra Instinct 3.0

There are two things that all Altra shoes have in common.  First, they no heel-to-toe drop.  Altra calls this common feature “zero-drop”.  The vast majority of shoes on the market have a heel that is quit a bit higher than the forefoot, or toe, area.  I don’t know all the reasons why shoes are made this way.  There has been a consensus for a long time amount health professionals that high-heeled shoes typically worn by women aren’t good for you.  Yet almost every shoe on the planet has a heel at least a little higher than the two. Altra’s philosophy is that the foot works best when it is in it’s natural position, which is flat.  For that reason, all of Altra’s shoe are “zero-drop”.

Wide toe box

The second feature in common amount all Altra shoes is what they call the “foot-shape toe box”.  Basically, its a wide, roomy space at the front of your foot so your toes don’t get squeezed.   It gives the shoes a boxy look that some people criticize as being kind of ugly. The shoes aren’t sleek and pointed.  They are basically shaped like feet, which is a good thing even if it means they are not pretty.


The other thing the Instinct and the One have in common is that they are both neutral shoes.  They have cushioning, but arch support is fairly minimal, which is right for most runners out there.



Altra One 2.5

Altra has several cushioning levels: light, moderate, high and max. The Instinct has moderate cushioning, and the One has light cushioning.  The difference is enough that you notice it, but my legs and feet typically don’t feel any different after running with these shoes.  I’ve run a half marathon in the Ones and wouldn’t be afraid to run a full marathon in them.


The first things you’ll notice about the Ones is that they are very light.  They weigh in at 6.6 ounces, where the Instincts come in at 8.1 ounces.  The fabric on the top of Ones is also very thin – there is no insulation whatsoever, in case that matters to you.

Other differences

The One has a wider toe box than the Instinct.  My Instincts felt roomy until I starting use the Ones.  Now the Instincts feel a bit cramp.  The One is also a more flexible shoe than Instinct, giving you a better feel for the ground.  I like that feeling on the road, but if I’m on a trail where there might be some large pebbles, I’d rather be running in Instincts.  Of course, for trail running, neither of these shoes are the best choice because neither have a large amount of tread.  One of Altra’s Trail running shoes would be a better choice for that.

The One has one design flaw: the grooves in the sole pick up pebbles. This happens in almost every run I do with them.  This really doesn’t cause any issues at all when I’m running.  But I always be careful when I’m finished to make sure there are not stuck pebbles before I go indoors.  I don’t like to leave pebbles laying around in the house or scratch the floor.

Final Thoughts

I like both pairs of shoes, but if I had to chose one or the other, I would pick the Ones.  They are the most comfortable shoe I’ve every put my foot into.  They are my favorite shoe for road running and my favorite for everyday use and walking.  But I like to change things up so I don’t run in the same shoe every day.  I still wear my Instincts from time to time, especially if my feet are feeling a bit sore from the previous one.

Regardless of which one you choose, you’ll be getting Altra’s zero drop, wide toe box goodness; both of which I find it very uncomfortable to do without.



How to attach a trout net to your fishing vest

Recently I purchased a trout net to use when I go fly fishing.    My former net worked well for some purposes, but for catch-and-release trout fishing, it was wasn’t so good.   It was rather bulky, was made of aluminum which made clanking noises from time to time, and it was not very gentle on the fish.  I ended up purchasing a Promar LN-208 Landing Net on Amazon. The next question was: how would I attach the net to my fishing vest? After trying unsuccessfully to use the supplied lanyard to attach it in a practical manner, I finally decided to go a different route and purchased a Magnetic Net Holder . I was little concerned about the magnet being strong enough, but once I actually attached my net with the device, I knew it would do the job. No amount of jumping up and down or moving about will cause the net to come loose. It is also strong enough that when you’re through using the net you simply put the handle behind your head and the magnet “finds” the other side and clips firmly into place. I’ve made a YouTube Video that demonstrates this process. I’ve also used the net in my first Fly Fishing Video as well.

One end of the net holder attaches with a split ring and the other end with a snap hook. The question is, which end goes where?  The product photo showed it with the snap hook attached to the vest.  That allows you to easily move the net to another garment without having to mess with detaching a split ring.  However, in my case I was more concerned with being able to switch to another net easily, so I put the snap hook on the net side and use the split ring to attach the holder to my vest.

Fishing Gear of 2015

I often get comments on my Youtube videos asking about my fishing gear. So I’ve decided to give you a run-down of the rods and reels in my arsenal this year.

I’ll start with a photo of them, and then fill you in on the details of each one.

rods and reels

From left to right:

1. Shakespeare Micro Underspin Rod and Reel Combo.  This is a great rod for the kids, but I enjoy using it as well.  The underspin reel is like a spincast reel but has a lever instead of a button. This makes it work more similar to a spinning reel than a spincast. The 4′ 6″ ultra-light rod is great for battling even the smallest of fish.

2. This is an aging ultra-light rod (not sure of the make and model at the moment, although I might give it a closer inspection later) with a Zebco 202 spincast reel. It seems that Zebco used the 202 model number on a wide variety of reels. Some of those were very low quality, others were not so bad. This reel is in the not-so-bad category. It has a smooth drag and casts great.

3. This is a Shakespeare Contender spinning reel on a Shakespeare Excursion spinning rod. The reel had been part of a combo but the rod fell victim to a car door and had to be replaced. For small fish, this is my favorite rig. I spool it with 4 lb test monofilament line and it allows long, smooth casts. It’s pure joy to use.

4. This spinning rod is a hand-me-down rod from my older brother. It is about 7 feet in length but was longer before it also feel victim to a car door. I added a new tip and it still works great even if the tip is a bit stiffer than it should be. The reel is a Quantum Optix size 20 spinning reel.

5. This is a Zebco 7-foot Hawg Seeker Spinning Combo that a buddy of mine picked up for me at a garage sale. My son Landry uses this rig when we are targeting catfish.

6. This rod is a 7-foot Zebco Catfish Fighter. I’ve had it for several years and am very pleased. It is not an expensive rod, but it seems to be great quality for the price. The reel is an old Shakespeare that came from a Shakespeare/Ugly Stick combo. I managed to break the original rod pulling it off a snag, so I replaced it with the Catfish Fighter.

7. Last, but not least, is my 9-foot Zebco Catfish Fighter with a Okuma Avenger ABF 50 Bait Feeder Reel. This is my best catfish rig. The extra length adds 30 to 50 feet of distance to my casts vs the 7-foot version. I’d like to say I’ve battled lots of 30-pound flathead catfish with this rig, but I cannot. The largest I’ve caught to date with it is 10 pounds. This summer seems like the perfect time to change that. 🙂

Crosman 760 Pumpmaster BB gun

Landry holding Crosman 760 BB gun

Landry holding his Crosman 760 BB gun

Today my seven-year-old son Landry unwrapped his first real gun – a Crosman 760 Pumpmaster BB/Pellet gun.  It looks a lot like the one I had when I was young, with a few differences.  First it is all black, instead of the wood-grain look of the one I had.  Also, it comes with a scope which can be mounted and used instead of the iron sights.  I didn’t know which was the best for learning to shoot, but since he was having some trouble understanding how to line up the iron sights, I decided to start with a scope.  After a short time getting it sighted in, it seems to do the job well.

The gun seems pretty sturdy.  It’s made out of plastic but has a solid feel unlike some of the BB guns I’ve used in the past.  I did have a problem with the stock becoming loose after a short time of using the gun, but a large Phillips-head screw on the bottom of the stock lets you tighten that up if needed.  It’s been a few weeks since I did that and it hasn’t come loose again. Landry is enjoying it and has become pretty accurate, hitting a pop can from across the large room in our basement every time.  Click on the video to see the gun in action.