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Minimalist, Chainmail Shoes Take Cue From Medieval Design

Chainmail shoes for running and walking protect wearers from cuts and punctures while providing a barefoot feel.

Libby Garrett
Libby Garrett on January 9, 2013. @libby_garrett

Gost PaleoBarefoots are a design alternative to minimalist shoes made from stainless steel chainmail and a nylon lace pull. Designed for use in natural environments (such as trail walks and beach running, not roads or sidewalks), the shoes let wearers feel and navigate the natural world while protecting feet from rocks, roots and broken glass.

Chainmail — the same material used by butchers to protect them from fast moving blades, as well as samurai and medieval armor that guards against slashing blows and blade penetration — is durable enough to last a lifetime and, reportedly, smooth against the skin.

The following brief video shows how the stainless steel mesh allows feet to get dirty, wet, feel surface level temperatures and flex at the midfoot across varying contours:

After decades of wearing increasingly high-tech shoes, some people (notably runners) have begun questioning the purpose and effectiveness of contemporary shoe design. In response, minimalist shoes try to get as close to barefoot conditions as possible while protecting wearers from punctures, cuts and infection.  Mimicking early forms of simple footwear such as sandals and moccasins, minimalist shoe design takes an about-turn from the walking and running shoe industry that touts pumped up cushioning, elevated heels, added stability and pronation control.

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Backing the emerging niche interest in minimalist shoes, a Harvard study, led by Professor Daniel Liberman published in Nature in January 2010, examines how barefoot runners and running-shoe clad runners cope with the impact of the foot colliding with the ground’s surface.  The study found that barefoot runners run differently than runners wearing shoes.  Where barefoot runners most often land on the fore-foot or mid-foot before bringing down the heel, running shoe-runners more commonly strike with the heel, rolling the foot forward to launch off the toes.

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Like other minimalist shoe designs (such as the Vibram FiveFingers), Gost PaleoBarefoots promise greater skin protection than calluses are able to provide completely barefoot runners, and have a similar thin outsole design, low heel-to-toe drop, lightweight construction and flexible sole that twists naturally from the center to the midfoot.

Open in design, however, PaleoBarefoots deliver greater sensation of the surrounding environment.  Wearers feel sand and dirt textures, dryness and wetness, temperature variation and humidity.

Starting at €178 (approximately US$230), PaleoBarefoots are available in three different models and come with a lifetime guarantee on the stainless steel mesh.

Click through for more images of these fascinating shoes:

 

Gost PaleoBarefoots

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