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.
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.
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.
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.”