Outdoors

Gost Barefoots get medieval with chainmail barefoot shoes

Gost PaleoBarefoots
Gost PaleoBarefoots
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PaleoBarefoots allow you to feel the water
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PaleoBarefoots allow you to feel the water
PaleoBarefoots provide better tactile feedback
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PaleoBarefoots provide better tactile feedback
PaleoBarefoots are designed for off-road running and walking
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PaleoBarefoots are designed for off-road running and walking
Feel the soil
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Feel the soil
PaleoBarefoots come in several styles
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PaleoBarefoots come in several styles
PaleoBarefoots are made in Germany
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PaleoBarefoots are made in Germany
PaleoBarefoots were designed to put your feet in touch with nature
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PaleoBarefoots were designed to put your feet in touch with nature
The chainmail protects from sharp objects
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The chainmail protects from sharp objects
Wearers can feel water, temperature and other elements
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Wearers can feel water, temperature and other elements
PaleoBarefoots secure with a simple lacing system
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PaleoBarefoots secure with a simple lacing system
PaleoBarefoots secure with a simple lacing system
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PaleoBarefoots secure with a simple lacing system
Gost PaleoBarefoots
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Gost PaleoBarefoots

At times, the barefoot shoe movement has played out like an all-out unleashing of designers' unbridled creativity. We've seen foam feet, ruggedized socks, foot condoms, half shoes and every other type of foot-suit imaginable. Now we add one that goes beyond our wildest imaginings: chainmail foot sleeves.

Gost-Barefoots separates the idea of "barefoot shoes" from the idea of "minimalist shoes," two terms often used interchangeably. Minimalist shoes (i.e. those offered by most other manufacturers) use more traditional shoe design elements in creating an artificial environment aimed at imitating the feeling of going barefoot. While they do strip away material, they still put relatively stiff cushioning between the foot and the ground.

"Barefoot or minimalist shoes have a completely different purpose, as these shoes continue to protect from dirt, temperature variations, humidity and water," the German company explains on its website. "But exactly those are the factors that make our feet strong and healthy."

Inspired by a natural paleolithic diet, Gost's managing director Jörg Peitzker pursued his belief that feet were meant to interact with their environment unimpeded by footwear. He believes that because the feet contain many nerve endings, they are an important part of our sensory system that has been nullified by stifling modern footwear.

Peitzker first tried the most natural approach, ripping footwear off completely and running around on naked feet. It didn't take long for him to realize that his feet weren't quite up to the task of running over raw, wild ground – not without significant risk of pain and injury. When he turned his attention toward existing barefoot shoes, he found them all to be too restrictive, not availing the feet the opportunity to provide the sensory feedback he sought.

Peitzger got to work on a more "environmentally open" design that lets your feet feel the surface, temperature, humidity level, etc. while still affording full protection from cuts, scrapes and other injuries. In searching for fabrics, Peitzger found the combination of properties he was looking for in the chainmail most commonly thought of in relation to the Middle Ages, but also used in modern-day applications like butcher gloves.

The stainless steel chain mail is strong, durable and flexible, allowing the feet to feel temperature, moisture and ground contours. Considering chainmail can protect from meat-slicing butcher's blades and medieval swords, it can presumably offer plenty of protection from the rocks, roots and broken glass that runners or hikers may encounter on a given journey. With nothing but chainmail on your feet, you can run with more confidence through all types of environments and still feel the grass, soil or sand below.

PaleoBarefoots are made in Germany
PaleoBarefoots are made in Germany

Metal booties don't necessarily sound very comfortable, but Gost says that the chainmail construction is smooth against the skin. They're designed for natural environments, such as trail and beach running, not roads or man-made surfaces.

PaleoBarefoots come in several different styles, starting at around €200 (about US$260). Gost sells them online and delivers to "all countries." While the price is rather steep for a pair of shoes, Gost claims that PaleoBarefoots are durable enough to "last a lifetime."

PaleoBarefoots are an interesting test of just how big the market for minimalist footwear is. They fill the gap between more traditional barefoot styles like Vibram FiveFingers and going completely barefoot, but is that a gap that really needs filling? We've watched enough Discovery Channel to know that people can travel over all kinds of harsh terrain completely barefoot, so is a chainmail shoe really necessary? Peitzger himself admits that the PaleoBarefoots are purpose-built for only off-road use, so wearers will want to wear separate shoes to travel to their off-road running destinations. It seems that buyers will get minimal use out of their $260 shoes.

The PaleoBarefoots do offer an intriguing combination of foot protection and natural, barely-there design. They definitely appear lighter and more "barefoot-like" than other barefoot designs and still offer protection from the sharp, nasty hazards that threaten to slice naked feet.

Source: Gost Barefoots via Gear Junkie

23 comments
mooseman
Interesting and very cool-looking, but I'm pretty sure you'd get rubbed raw at the back of your leg (at the top of your heel).
Slowburn
re; mooseman Until you develop the firmer skin.
Joe Apperson
Step on a cactus... "Tis but a scratch!"
Bob Flint
Hummm, maybe get them magnetized, and they could collect all sorts of hidden treasures?? No mention of actual weight, I wonder how ones tan line would fare as well?
Vince Pack
At some point, won't someone simply develop a spray-on rubber sole for our feet? I have to wonder if a chain mail shoe would really offer any substantial protection from the really nasty stuff - splinters, glass shards, um ELECTRICITY? Hot pavement seems like a potential problem, too. Once they heat up to the temperature of hot asphalt, you'll have to remove them until they cool. Still, it's cool to see crazy innovation!
Rt1583
"interact with their environment unimpeded by footwear" Correct me if I'm wrong but these chain mail footies, socks or whatever you want to call them are still footwear.
yrag
Why so expensive? I see chain mail butcher gloves on line for $50-$60. The shape of these fingered gloves is much more intricate to make than a simple slipper shape.
Bill Bennett
thanks yrag, you got it right
Tom Hirschmann
Damn it people! Just run completely barefoot already! I tried the vibrams and minimus and free runs and a bunch of other crap and then finally just tried running barefoot. Just kick off your shoes and find a decent trail to run. I run completely barefoot on pavement also now and have never enjoyed running more or ran futher/faster!
Takis
I don't think you'd enjoy walking in the wilds of south Texas with these. Too many different plants with long, hard spines to which cactus spines would be soft and painless by comparison.