Hiking Gear

The Lems Mesa: A Versatile, Packable, Minimalist Hiking Shoe

September 21, 2019
Lems Mesa Minimalist Hiking Shoe

Searching for a versatile, lightweight minimalist hiking shoe that’s perfect for adventures both at home and on the road? Then look no further than the Lems Mesa.

Growing up in Arizona, our main outdoor activities were swimming in the summer and hiking all of the other months. Even though I’ve been hiking for a long time, I feel like I haven’t figured out what gear I really love until recently.  

I know rugged terrain calls for the toughness of a deeply grooved tread, and extra padding is needed when you’re carrying a heavy load on a backpacking trip. But there are so many scenarios where traditional hiking boots still felt like overkill to me, so I started researching minimalist and barefoot hiking shoes earlier this year.

One of the best shoe brands out there I found making minimalist hiking shoes was Lems. Lems started by making barefoot running and hiking shoes, and has expanded its line to include minimalist hiking shoes with a bit more padding and traction. Lems recently released a new shoe called the Mesa in their line of mountain-to-town hiking shoes. I was excited to try them out and share my review with you here!

Hiking through Muir Woods with the new Lems Mesa, a Minimalist Hiking Shoe

Note: This post contains affiliate links. This means if you click on one of them, we may receive a small commission at no additional cost to you. For more information, read our full disclosure.

There were five things I wanted my new pair of minimalist hiking shoes to be: comfortable, lightweight, durable, a simple, clean design, and versatile.


Comfort always comes first when I’m looking for a shoe now. I’ve had far too many shoes that I thought looked cute or seemed technically good, but they hardly ever ended up leaving my closest because they pinched my toes or gave me blisters. Lems started out by making barefoot shoes (the Lems Primal); barefoot shoes follow the natural shape of the feet with a wide toe box, have a zero-drop heel, and a thin, flexible sole.  

The Mesas have a bit thicker of a sole which puts them more at a minimalist shoe than a true barefoot shoe, but this also means they are better equipped to handle more rugged terrain. There is enough padding in the Mesas that I’ve never felt any discomfort whether I’m running or walking on asphalt or a dirt trail.

The toe box is wide (no squished toes!) and the shoes are still really flexible.  

As far as sizing goes, I’m typically a women’s size 7, but needed to go a half size up in these. Aaron has a different Lems shoe, the Trailhead, and his typical size was the right fit. The Trailhead and the Mesa both use the mountain-to-town outsole, so I’m assuming the sizing of both shoes is the same.

➳ Read next: 9 Versatile Hiking Shoes Perfect for Travel

Lems Mesa Minimalist Hiking Shoe - top of shoe and bottom tread


The men’s Mesa weighs 9.8 oz, while the women’s model weighs 8.4 oz. Traditional hiking boots can often times weigh three times this amount!

I don’t want to feel like I’m literally dragging my feet from heavy hiking shoes. A good portion on the uppers on the Mesa is knit mesh. It feels durable, but breathable, and my feet haven’t gotten hot and sweaty on the trail. These shoes are also supposed to be quick drying. I haven’t stepped through any streams or puddles yet, but I’m sure that time will come.


While heavy hiking boots can be excessive some trails, a good minimalist hiking shoe shouldn’t be totally beat up after a few uses. The mesh on Lems Mesa is reinforced with a TPU frame overlay on the sides and a coating around the toe box. I’m impressed by the amount of traction and grip on this shoe – the solid rubber outsoles are much more in line with a hardcore hiking shoe than a lightweight sneaker. The materials and quality of this shoe seem to be in line with the $125 price tag. These shoes still look great after several hikes, but I’m planning on updating this review a few months down the line to report how they’re holding up.

Lems Mesa Minimalist Hiking Shoe Review

Simple, clean design

Even when I’m hiking, I’d like a shoe with a simple, clean design. Some brands seem to think the crazier the colors or the more types of materials mean a shoe is more hardcore or rugged. I’ve not found this to be the case, and am happy there’s a company like Lems out there that shares the aesthetic appeal of simplicity. I opted for the coastal blue, which has a nice pop with the darker yellow laces. The Lems Mesa also comes in carbon (black), forest (green), and rosewood (dark purple – women’s only).

Hiking through Muir Woods with the new Lems Mesa, a Minimalist Hiking Shoe


We often hike while we’re traveling, so I wanted a minimalist hiking shoe that was versatile. I typically try to avoid checking a bag which means packing light. Instead of bringing a shoe for each different occasion, I needed a shoe that could function well in a lot of different environments. This shoe is part of what Lems calls its mountain-to-town collection, meaning it can easily make the transition from trails to city streets. The fact that this shoe is lightweight and has such a simple design makes it versatile enough to use throughout most of our travels. The weight and flexibility also make the Mesa a great packable hiking shoe, though I’d just as easily wear it through the airport.  

Since getting the Lems Mesa, they’ve become my go-to shoe for hikes, walks around the block, and all the little things in between.  

Shop Women’s Mesa /// Shop Men’s Mesa

Searching for a versatile, minimalist hiking shoe that's perfect for adventures both at home and on the road? Then look no further than the Lems Mesa. #minimalistshoes #minimalisthikingshoes


9 Versatile Hiking Shoes Perfect for Travel

The Best Winter Hiking Pants for Women: Water-resistant, Breathable and Comfortable

Hiking with the Ergobaby Omni 360 Cool Air Mesh Baby Carrier

8 Cute (and Functional) Backpacks for Kids and Toddlers

Minimalist Hiking Shoes - The Lems Mesa and the Lems Trailhead

We love our Lems! Lems Mesa (L) and Lems Trailhead (R)


You Might Also Like


  • Reply A Backpacking Guide to Alice Lake in Idaho’s Sawtooth Wilderness October 17, 2019 at 2:42 pm

    […] even snowing on the hike out), so I wore waterproof hiking boots. I’d wished I’d opted for these Lems Mesa hiking shoes because they’re so light and flexible while still being super sturdy. Aaron wore the Lems […]

  • Reply The Best Winter Hiking Pants for Women: Water-resistant, breathable and comfortable November 1, 2019 at 7:59 pm

    […] The Lems Mesa: A Versatile, Packable, Minimalist Hiking Shoe […]

  • Reply 9 Minimalist Hiking Shoes Perfect for Travel March 1, 2020 at 9:34 pm

    […] Lem’s also makes a few other shoes we’re fans of, including a waterproof version of their super packable Boulder Boot which is great for winter, and the Lems Mesa, an awesome summer hiking shoe. You can click on over to read our review of the Lems Mesa here. […]

  • Reply Scott March 15, 2020 at 1:34 pm

    It’s been a some months since this review, how are they holding up?

    • Reply nomanbefore March 17, 2020 at 3:04 pm

      These Lems are great! I wear them pretty often but they still don’t show a lot of wear. They’re really comfortable, easy to wash out, and the traction is great!

  • Reply 11 Best Tucson Hiking Trails March 18, 2020 at 10:19 pm

    […] For the hikes that include a lot of creek crossings, I recommend Chacos or Keen sandals. These are my go-to hiking shoes because they’re super comfortable, have great grip, and dry quickly. […]

  • Reply Best Sustainable Outdoor Clothing Brands for Eco-Conscious Adventurers March 30, 2020 at 10:28 pm

    […] I’ve been converting my closet to more sustainable clothing, like this merino wool shirt from Outdoor Voices, crop pants from Toad&Co made of bluesign approved nylon, and vegan minimalist hiking shoes from Lems. […]

  • Reply 8 Casual Barefoot Shoes (That are Comfortable and Stylish) July 8, 2020 at 4:47 pm

    […] were my first foray into minimalist shoes when I started wearing the Mesas, a minimalist hiking shoe. Most of their shoes are geared towards the outdoors, but the Chukkas are a great option if […]

  • Reply Practical Gift Guide for Hikers: the 11 Best Gifts for Hikers November 8, 2020 at 11:02 pm

    […] Read my full review of the Lems Mesa here. […]

  • Leave a Reply

    This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.