Levi's Review of STEM Primal Origins

Posted by Andrew Rademacher on 6/3/2011 to Shoe Reviews
I had never heard of these shoes, nor had I heard of the company â€Å“Stemâ€Â 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 werenâ€â„¢t good, they werenâ€â„¢t great, they were â€Å“oh my gosh what am I holding and how did I get thisâ€Â 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.  Hereâ€â„¢s a summary of what I found and my conclusions at the end of testing.

  • As stated, the shoes look great â€â€œ best looking (obviously opinion based here) minimalist shoe Iâ€â„¢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 â€Å“cinchâ€Â (like on a rucksack) instead of tying.  This was actually one thing I wasnâ€â„¢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 didnâ€â„¢t cause undue sweat.  I did not get them wet, now that I think about it, so canâ€â„¢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 â€â€œ 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 â€â€œ no point).
  • These shoes had a ground feel that, for me, was second to none in a shoe.  Letâ€â„¢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 Iâ€â„¢ve had in a shoe.

So I tried these shoes expecting nothing from them, the sock-liner was baby pink (â€Å“lavenderâ€Â as the box said), and they were a size to a size and ½ too big for me, and yet they are a â€Å“best ofâ€Â in this review series already, hands down.  My shoes, er hat, off to the guys at Stemâ€Â¦ 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"
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Date 9/23/2011 11:24:02 PM
Ken Ng
Aloha Stem team! Took my Primals for a spin today(got'em yesterday) and after an hour and forty minute run thru Santa Monica, Venice and Mar Vista (it was beautiful in LA) I give the Primals 5 WOWS! I've been barefoot since Spring '09 but every once in a while shoes are needed (stop snickering) even here. These are the shoes I will use until I stop running. As close to barefoot as possible. These are the best running shoes I've ever used and I've been running for 38 years. Mahalo nui loa,Ken Bar
Date 9/26/2011 12:05:55 AM
ok, for the 2 folks who have given a review.... what does the arch feel like? Is there any arch support?
Date 9/26/2011 9:40:09 AM
Andrew Rademacher
The arch is unlike anything currently in the marketplace. There is absolutely no arch suppport, however the first time you try it on it may feel a little snug in the arch area, because the material wraps up underneath the arch. This area is designed to stretch with wear, and the sole will flex with the natural movement of your foot's arch.
Date 10/17/2011 5:12:00 PM
Date 10/26/2011 10:59:02 AM
Lee Denton
Review of Stem Primal Origins: To begin with I am a older barefoot jogger, not a runner. When I can not go barefoot I am normally very happy with my Vivobarefoot Terra Plaina shoes but the sole is too slick for hiking. I find even EE width hiking shoes and boots too narrow and uncomfortable, not to mention stiff and heavy. I ordered the Stem shoes with the hope that they would be comfortable for hiking and have a grippe enough sole for steep rocky mountain trails. I was not disappointed. I h
Date 10/26/2011 11:00:51 AM
Lee Denton
ave used them on three hikes so far and they exceeded my expectations. They are the most comfortable shoes I own on or off the trail. I have not slipped once on steep loose rocky trails. The soles are so soft that they seem to just wrap around the rocks and do not slip. I do not know how they would perform on wet ground or leaves. The ground feel is very good and they are so light and flexible that I almost feel I am barefoot.
Date 11/13/2011 2:42:04 PM
Great light weight shoe. The grip is incredible and by far the most comfortable shoe I have put on my feet. Five out of five stars. Give them a shot!
Date 1/13/2013
Lizette Smith
They have all the amazing footwear. They have all the quality. Pretty impressive!

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