Ok, so I have to take a little break from my personal story and write a little review on my newest pair of minimalist shoes. I recently bought a pair of Stem Footwear, Survival Origins in a women’s size 39, (US size 8-8.5).
(Color is Earth Brown)
I decided to by these shoes for daily wear. I wanted a pair of minimalist shoes that looked more like a regular shoe (sometimes VFF’s don’t go with every outfit). I wear these to go to the store and just to walk around town in. So far they are very comfortable and have a great minimalist feel. I still think my Vibram Five Fingers offer the best “virtual barefoot” feel, but these come in close second. I would definitely rate them above my Merrell’s; they are much more flexible and the toe box is just a slight bit roomier.
I was a little concerned about what size to order. Seeing that Stem is not available nationwide in retail stores (yet), I was worried that I wouldn’t get the right size the first time without being able to try them on. I followed their sizing guide on www.Stemfootwear.com and it was very accurate for me. In a non-running shoe I wear from a 7.5 to an 8 and in a running shoe a 8 to 8.5. I decided on the 39’s which is the US size 8 to 8.5. It fit just right. Not too big, plenty of room in the toe box, and my heel stayed right in place, no slipping out. The web site states that the shoes run small and to order them a 1/2 size bigger. My mother was also planning on ordering a pair and wasn’t too sure what size to order, so she called Stem and they were more then happy to help her decide on a size. She wears a size 6 in her everyday shoes, and she was planning on wearing them with Smartwool socks, so the gentleman at Stem advised her to order a size 38, which is a US size 7 to 7.5.
I have worn them with and without socks. Without socks, they felt ok. The inside was a tad bit scratchy in a few places where the seams came together but other then that it felt fine. When I do wear them with sock, I wear them with Injinji toe socks. They feel wonderful with the toe socks. My Injinji’s are a very thin sock, so they don’t take up a lot of room, but if you plan on wearing something like a Smartwool sock or a thicker sock, I would advise sizing up 1/2 on the shoe itself. I think if I were to wear my Smartwool running socks with them, they would fit more snuggly, which then is defeating the barefoot, light, free, feel.
I really like them for their style. They look great with jeans and I’m sure I will wear them with shorts as well. The rich Earth Brown was my favorite color but they also come in a Frost Grey which is called the Primal Origins (the only difference between the two names is their color). I also like that they came with a standard style shoe lace and not the tether pull style lace that was shown on their prototype pair.
All and all I really like my Stem Survival Origins shoes and would recommend them as a good minimalist shoe. They are a great shoe for everyday use. I have not run in them, and honestly don’t plan on using them to run in. I have read reviews from people who have run and hiked in them and loved it. The website doesn’t really state that they are for running and when my mother called them, customer service told her as well, that they are not really designed for running. I guess it will be up to the individual to decide that.