By Nicole Gauthier
Stem footwear is a recent entry into what is becoming an ever more competitive arena of minimalist product. Stem footwear has come out of the gate strong however—perhaps stronger than any other company’s initial offering. They have produced a sporty, ultra-light, ultra comfortable, and ultra minimal shoe that is sure to become the favourite of many in short order.
These are wonderfully comfortable. The foot is welcomed to a soft interior well suited to a bare foot. The shoe is amazingly light—weighing less than almost any other shoe tested. The last is flexible and thin and transmits the ground well.
These are well suited for the average foot with considerable flexibility for those with wide feet. There is ample toe room and a good width overall. Those with very narrow feet may find these shoes a little bit wide.
The sole is made of air-injected rubber. This thin material is grippy, thin, and incredibly flexible in all directions. The lightly lugged surface provides great grip for daily tasks including wet surfaces.
This is perhaps the most flexible sole we have ever tested. So flexible, in fact, that the shoe can be rolled up along its width or its length and with the outsole facing in or out.
This is one of the lightest shoe we have ever tested and it’s noticeable. Putting these shoes on is like putting on socks more than putting on shoes.
Support / Insole
There is no arch support. While the shoe is anatomically correct, there is no considerable curvature in the arch. The insole is stitched into the shoe and is covered with the same soft material that lines the entirety of the interior with only a very small amount of cushioning for comfort.
Ground transmission is excellent with small details in terrain easily discernable under foot. This is a great example of balance between minimalist qualities and a reasonable level of protection and comfort.
The outsole is slightly lugged. The outsole material is grippy to the point of almost feeling sticky. The grip is maintained even on slick, wet surfaces.
While there are a number of large vents on the outsole, these provide only a small amount of ventilation. These are warm shoes best suited for cold feet or cooler climates.
Quality of Materials / Manufacturing
Construction quality is impeccable. No defects in workmanship could be found. This is a significant achievement considering this is a brand new company with a first run of product.
These are lifestyle shoes appropriate for casual wear. Color choices tend towards organic neutral colors. Interesting organic details emboss the sides. While there is a pink and grey offering, more feminine colors could be an asset for female customers.
The upper is not water resistant. The mesh allowed water in easily while raining.
Stem Footwear shoes fit true to size for an average width foot. The extreme flexibility of these shoes should easily and comfortably accommodate feet of wider widths.
The MSRP is $89.99. This is very reasonable for a minimalist shoe, although a little pricy for a casual sneaker style shoe. These are well-made shoes that should provide years of use.
There is no break-in period for Stem shoes. As with any shoe, we believe that they should be comfortable right out of the box.
Really this is our one complaint. Despite the mesh, these shoes do not breathe well. This does, however, make them suitable for cooler weather or cold feet.
These are ultra-comfortable casual lifestyle shoes suitable for daily use. These are not designed for running or high intensity sports, however, users may find them suitable for those tasks as well.
Stem footwear has produced an excellent casual shoe that is comfortable, stylish, and a perfectly balanced minimalist shoe. They are exceptionally light and more flexible than almost all other minimalist offerings. Considering the serious competition in this category and the quality with which they have released the first offering, this is a very exciting and commendable achievement. We are very excited to watch the success of Stem. Retailers would be crazy not to buy into this excellent product.
To learn more about Stem Footwear and to find out where to buy Stem shoes, please visit the Stem website.
As you read our reviews, please keep in mind that our reviewers review shoes in terms of their suitability for those looking to find the highest quality minimalist shoe products. All reviews are as factual as possible. In an effort to be transparent and ethical, we will point out any defects found, even if these do not affect the usability of the product. Not all defects will be present in final production shoes as we are sometimes offered “seconds” or pre-release products in an effort to provide you with reviews in a timely manor. In the event that serious issues are found with a review sample we will give every opportunity for the manufacturer to replace to explain the review samples before the final review is released. We never accept payments for reviews. We do not guarantee a good review for any products sent to us. We do not review products that do not claim to be minimalist or “barefoot like” unless we receive a significant number of requests from readers or listeners.
Should you have any questions about our review process or would like your product reviewed on our site, please do not hesitate to contact us using our contact page.
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