Barefoot in Arizona Blog Review

Posted by Andrew Rademacher on 10/8/2012

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This is a recent review by John, from the blog 'Barefoot in Arizona'. Check out what he has to say about the Primal Origins...
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Another Review from Bdayshoes

Posted by Administrator on 1/12/2012

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If you don't know Justin Owings, he's the owner of  He's the one that gets all the future VFF styles before everyone else.  Read what he thinks of Stem Footwear:  "Recently, Tim reviewed the men's Stem Footwear Primal Origins shoe. Tim's take was pretty positive and for good reason: Stem Footwear is manufacturing an exciting product that has been making waves in the "barefoot" or minimalist shoes movement for its comfort and overall foot friendliness. That they fit a niche of a foot-healthy shoe for casual wear (and even running for some), makes them all the more attractive for consideration as an addition to your min-shod closet...Stem is getting a good bit of press here on BirthdayShoes and while I've pointed out a few nits above in this review, my overall take on these shoes is glowingly positive: if you're looking for a casual mono-toed barefoot/minimalist shoe, the Stems are worth serious consideration."
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Posted by Andrew Rademacher on 1/4/2012

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I've been in touch with Justin Owings, founder of since January 2011.  His site arguably has the largest minimalist shoe follower base of the entire inter-webs.  Back in May he did a review and youtube video of our prototypes.  It was responsible for gathering much of our initial steam.  About two months ago I sent Tim, one of his colleagues, one of our final production shoes.  After several weeks of testing he released his impressions.  Read it here 
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Levi's Review of STEM Primal Origins

Posted by on 6/3/2011

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Today we have the darkhorse of this review series:  a shoe called “Primal Origins” from a brand new company (these shoes don’t even exist yet but are available for pre-order now) STEM Footwear.

I had never heard of these shoes, nor had I heard of the company “Stem” before.  However, as I started to research them, everything I could find I liked and decided to give it a shot.  My assumption was that I would review a concept shoe and provide feedback for a ton of tweaks and that maybe in a year or 2, after several revisions, they might be someone putting out a decent shoe, who knows.  I was wrong.  Dead wrong.
First impressions weren’t good, they weren’t great, they were “oh my gosh what am I holding and how did I get this” kind of great.  The shoes had a pink sock liner (yes, I said pink) and were about a size to a size and ½ too big, and yet I Loved them.

The look fantastic, like a really nice pair of casual dock shoes that you would buy at any nice retailer.  Then you pick them up and they weigh virtually nothing (6 oz) and feel like they have no solid substance at all.  Here’s a summary of what I found and my conclusions at the end of testing.

  • As stated, the shoes look great – best looking (obviously opinion based here) minimalist shoe I’ve seen.
  • Very light weight (coming in at a stated 6 oz)
  • The lace system is wide and non-binding and ends in a zip cord type “cinch” (like on a rucksack) instead of tying.  This was actually one thing I wasn’t a big fan of (preference) and I actually cut the cinch off and just converted them into a traditional tie lace.  To me it hung down too far (dangled) but I would imagine that part of that was from the shoes being so big on me.
  • The shoes are cool (temperature wise), vented well, and didn’t cause undue sweat.  I did not get them wet, now that I think about it, so can’t emphatically comment on that but the fact that the upper is vented and there is no insole tells me they would be at home pretty well with water.
  • Flexibility, flexibility, flexibility.  The flexibility was honestly second to none.  Though the sole feels solid and showed no sign of wear during my testing, it moves like a sock – not a single spot of solidity to be found
  • Great toebox:  the shoes are wide throughout with great room in the toebox for toe splay (completely rounded front end – no point).
  • These shoes had a ground feel that, for me, was second to none in a shoe.  Let’s face it, all of the above is great, but ground feel is what sells me and most minimalist minded shoe patrons.  The ground feel is simply superb, by the far the best I’ve had in a shoe.

So I tried these shoes expecting nothing from them, the sock-liner was baby pink (“lavender” as the box said), and they were a size to a size and ½ too big for me, and yet they are a “best of” in this review series already, hands down.  My shoes, er hat, off to the guys at Stem… this sample that they sent me, not even a production shoe yet, is absolutely superb.  Well done, A+

- Levi

Author of "Second Wind: the running coach you never had but always needed"
On amazon   On Barnes and Noble   On Books a Million
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Posted by on 5/17/2011

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Justin Owings of did a nice review of his sample pair of Stems.   Click Here for the full review.
Have you heard about Stem Footwear?  They are a new minimalist footwear company birthed out of a need for more foot friendly shoes — a.k.a. shoes that have a good sized toe-box, are neutral from heel to toe, and aren't so heavily cushioned that all feeling of the ground is lost.  These are, at minimal, some of the main, most important criteria. Shoes that let your feet be feet.    - Justin Owings
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Sneak Peek by Tina on Living Barefoot Radio

Posted by on 2/16/2011

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Tina Dubois, a writer for the Living Barefoot Radio Show got the opportunity to try out STEM's and gave her opinion on their site  Here are some of her words.  To read the full article click Sneak Peek:

"STEM Footwear, a new company on the minimalist footwear block, was extremely generous with us by providing two pairs of their pre-production samples of the STEM Primal Origins line: one women’s and one men’s. My first impression was undoubtedly WOW!"

"I was told to expect this shoe to be ‘light’ but after handling it, I was blown away. The shoe, in a men’s size 9.5 weighs 5 ¾ ounces on my scale (the company reports them at 6.3 ounces but I weigh all received review shoes on this scale so it’s an acceptable comparison for me). Usually I weigh shoes that are much smaller than this at a comparable weight, so I can’t wait to see what the shoe in my size weighs, that being women’s size 8."
"The sole is absolutely the most flexible of the full-uppered minimalist shoes to date. It easily folds in every direction, even upside down and twisted around, with very little effort. Although it is 6 mm thick, it feels much thinner because of its extreme malleability. It also feels uniform in height across the length."
"The upper is simply amazing. It is so soft against skin this shoe could easily be worn without socks. The vamp is made with breathable mesh so there should be no worry about overly sweaty feet. The upper is made with no stiff construction and yet reforms to its original shape after twisting the shoe in every direction conceivable. This shoe is so comfortable it feels a lot more like a slipper than it does a lifestyle shoe."  quotes by Tina Dubois

Check out The Living Barefoot Show and listen to one of their interviews of the some of the intriguing players in the Barefoot and Minimalist Movement.
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Review by

Posted by on 2/12/2011

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The following is a review written by Nicholas, author of

I first ran across STEM Footwear last year after I read the “The World is Flat… if You Are a Foot” by Dr. Mark Cucuzzella of Two Rivers Treads and Andrew Rademacher of STEM. I had been in touch with Andrew since then and they finally delivered their first Origins samples at the Winter Outdoor Retailer Show last month. And I’m very fortunate to receive a STEM Primal Origins in my shoe size to wear test last week.
The first impression I have is: the shoe is so light, soft, and super-flexible! I have never worn a pair of shoes like this ever. It feels like a hybrid of a glove, slipper (as in ballet), and martial arts shoe, with the best of each rolled into one. And it became an instant recovery and wellness shoe for me.
The shoe is completely collapsible so I had to test it out. I rolled the shoe up from toe to heel in addition to twisting it left and right along the heel-to-toe axis – amazing flexibility. And it unrolled back to it normal shape flawlessly – no visible wrinkles or permanent folds remained.
The shoe weighed in at 6.2 ounces on my digital scales. But it sure feels lighter than that.
The outsole is a thin 6mm and allows even better ground feel than my VFF KSO! The air injection rubber used replicates skin elasticity (replicates the physical properties of human skin) and this technology is new and unique – I’m sure Andrew is patenting it
The uppers is made of a breathable air mesh and the shoe is designed to be worn without socks. No worries about sweaty feet. Worried about the toe box? The soft uppers and wide toe box accommodated my 2E wide feet with compression recovery socks – it has room to spare! The natural foot shape fit with a wide toe box makes the shoe complete.
The lacing system is comprised of a quick-release draw chord so you can put on or take off your shoes quickly and easily. This is actually better the easy slip-on like those on the New Balance Minimus Wellness or Zoot Ultra Speed because with the chord, you can get a better midfoot wrap and support. Tighten or loosen the laces depending on the activity you are performing.
There are no inserts and the stitching is seamless for barefoot wear. After walking for over 10 miles in the first two in these shoes, they do feel like an extension of your feet! I’ve since put in a lot more miles

There is no noticeable toe spring visible and if there is, the shoe is so soft and flexible that your toes have nothing to fight against. Your toes will splay and flex without restrictions.

Some closeups on the attention to details in the heel and uppers.
Here’s a video giving you a better view of the shoe than flat photographs. I took it while un-boxing the shoes.
STEM shoes also proudly incorporate the 3 R’s (Reduce, Recycle, Reuse) when it comes to being green and eco-conscious.  And they started decreasing their eco-footprint with reducing – less wasted material, less excess scrap, and elimination of unnecessary material altogether. They don’t use any leather (go vegan!) but only natural grown fibers.

Who are these shoes for?

It’s for everyone who wants to get back to their roots and feel the ground again. We have weakened our feet over time with traditional shoes and thus losing touch with one of our vital senses – proprioception, the outsole-to-insole-to brain sensory feedback system. STEM believes that by strengthening the muscles in your feet, you are inadvertently strengthening your entire body.

If you need a casual or recovery shoe and you’re ready to feel the ground, then the STEM Origins line of shoes is for you. Ground feel is much better in my Primal Origins than in my VFF KSO. And walking with VFF KSO is not comfortable at all for long distances especially hilly asphalt and concrete – it’s more of a joyful feeling when I walk with my Primal Origins. For those who are not used to walking barefoot, you will feel the ground more than you will ever feel. By increasing sensation to all 200,000 nerve endings in your feet, you enhance sensory perception and improve circulation.

The STEM Origins has definitely proven itself to be an ultra-minimalist shoe. STEM Origins line has 5 colorways models planned for Fall 2011 with a August 1 delivery date. For Women’s (sizes EU36-41), the Primal Origins in Frost Grey, and Survival Origins in Earth Brown and Lavender. For Men’s (size EU41-47), the Primal Origins in Slate Grey, Survival Origins in Earth Brown and Khaki, and Natural Origins in Moss Green. They are already taking pre-orders so you might get your order in early!

You can also find STEM Origins in a store in the future – it will be displayed with other sandals and casual shoes in a hook on an end cap or on a wall.

For those with super-wide feet or those with toes that are linear (many toes line up horizontally), you might want to size up by a half size. Notice the tip of the shoe curves in a little.
Get back to your roots and feel the ground again with STEM Origins.

*Product provided by STEM Footwear (MSRP $85).

If you have a product you’d like reviewed, contact me at
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