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 www.lemsshoes.com and get yourself a pair of Lems.