Foot in Armor? Chainmail Running Shoes now a Reality

Until I glanced down at the mesh shoes on my feet I’d never before thought much about chainmail beyond renaissance festivals or Shark Week on the Discovery Channel.

Yet the metal cloth was now swishing against the ground on my feet thanks to the work of Gost, a German company that takes minimalist running in a very weird direction.

chainmail shoes.jpg

Stainless-steel mesh (chainmail) shoes by Germany’s Gost

The shoes, called the PaleoBarefoots, go for a cool $250 a pair. They are made in Germany, constructed of thousands of tiny, interlinked stainless-steel rings.

Holy chrome-moly is right. But Gost claims its medieval shoes can improve barefoot-style running and biomechanics because chainmail gives a “tactile sensation of the ground.”

Like it did for knights, the material also protects from sharp objects. This includes daggers and swords, though trail runners more often might find the Gost footwear protecting from rocks and sharp sticks.

chainmail shoe.jpg

Steel slippers cinch onto the foot

I pulled on a pair for a few minutes last month while visiting a shoe designer in Boulder. He’d picked up the PaleoBarefoots for his company’s research and development purposes, not necessarily for running in foot armor through the woods.

My first observation? A swishing noise of metal as I moved brought to mind a Monty Python movie.

Then upon walking a few steps the texture of the chainmail felt abrasive on my foot. The metal fabric neither flexed nor felt soft as I trotted around.

A company tag line is “remember sensation,” which is hard not to do while your feet are being squeezed and raked by thousands of tiny metal rings.

metal fabric.jpg

Chainmail close up

My verdict? With so much excellent minimal-oriented running footwear on the market there is really no room for questionable designs. The Gost concept, while unique, takes the idea of minimalist running too far. The middle ages can have their shoes back.

—Sean McCoy covered another strange minimalist shoe in his recent review, “A Flap of rubber and some Cord: Meet the Xero Shoe.”

Posted by Peter Wentzel - 12/31/2012 02:17 PM

My initial thought was “Why?” I don’t think you will see many of these on the trail. Nice honest review.

Posted by Terin - 12/31/2012 06:26 PM

Just FYI, nobody wore chainmail shoes in the middle ages, or the Stone Age (which is where the prefix Paleo comes from). Any benefit these shoes purport to deliver are purely modern invention. If you want to return to the stone age, wrap your feet in leather stuffed with grass.

Posted by Mep - 01/02/2013 12:08 PM

Very strange… I have hair on top of my feet, and I can only imagine this would yank them right out…

Posted by Debbie - 01/02/2013 01:02 PM

Would like to try these out but would not think of paying that sort of money for them.
debbie

Posted by Jörg Peitzker - 01/02/2013 02:07 PM

Steven from XERO shoes got the Paleos from us. Obviously he now uses the opportunity – with an undeserved bad review at the PlaeoBarefoots – to catch attention for his XERO shoes. After his personal statement, he’s never has been outdoors (natural soil, mud and water – that’s where they belong) with our shoes.

Besides of that the statements are the opposit of honest, they also are completely wrong. Anyone who has once worn them on natural ground, no longer will waive. Don’t believe my words – read the reviews on our site.

For us it quite looks like that some guys start to fear the first barefoot shoes with real barefoot-feeling. BTW, they do not yank out hairs ;) … Regards Jörg.

Posted by Orestes Paz - 01/02/2013 04:18 PM

Well said Jörg!

Posted by SDRunner - 01/04/2013 05:19 PM

It’s a shame that you weren’t able to have a little more time with the Paleo Barefoots – admittedly, the first time you wear them, it is a little strange and you do need to play with the lacing etc to get a comfortable fit. They are METAL (not like Iron Maiden, but actual steel…though they are a bit Metal too), so they don’t stretch nor give in the way a normal shoe does – therefore sizing is really important. When you buy a pair, you’ll be asked a lot of detailed measurements that will ensure you get a good fit. It sounds to me like those you tried weren’t just a good fit. Personally, I found the process of getting used to Paleo’s very rewarding, and I now really enjoy wearing them. I have two types, DELINDA and the new PRONATIV – personally, I like the first a little more, just because I’m more used to the lacing system. Anyway, for a pretty comprehensive and honest review, by me, please do have a look at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ssuDcuu9eOA
I think anyone who enjoys barefoot running and is willing to give it some time to get used to this will find that Paleo Barefoots are enjoyable to use and do really protect you from the sorts of hazards you might encounter. They might not be instantly gratifying in that ‘pulling them on for a few minutes’ will not give you the real experience, but given time and a little patience, you will start to love them as much as I do.

Posted by Nyah - 01/07/2013 02:01 PM

Useless.

Posted by Gard - 01/11/2013 02:59 AM

Good to have in a lightning storm.

Posted by BarefootFR - 01/11/2013 11:27 PM

Well! Nothing better than running bare… Protection will come with time and mileage. And it is cheaper!!!

Posted by James - 01/13/2013 05:36 PM

If they hadn’t been so expensive, I would have bought a pair; they are really cool looking.

Posted by Corey - 03/26/2013 07:03 PM

Hilarious shoes! And I thought the Vibrams looked strange. Its all about the New Balance for me! http://www.newbalancevancouver.ca

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