I was pleased to hear from Jörg Peitzker of GoST Paleo Barefoots following my Wish-Lust review, and after being in touch for quite some time, and doing some editing, discussion and interplay on their forums (go check it out...).
I was fortunate enough to have a pair sent to me all the way from Germany to Australia. (This was a Herculean undertaking in it's own right).
Now, it is important to get this right out there first up. Measure, measure, measure!
There is no give to steel! If you don;t measure it right, they will not fit, and will and can not "wear in and stretch to fit" Luckily, I did just this.
The second key element to these amazing shoes is, they take some time to get used to. Both the feel and the wearing of the Paleo's takes a little getting used to, mostly due to the texture of the maile on the ground, but also the absolute absence of padding.
Fortunately, I have experience in bare feet, moccasins and camp-slippers, so adjusting was a quick process.
The shoes themselves are very comfortable, mine fit well, not too open, not too tight. The elastic cord closure that weaves through the top of the shoe had a tendency to pinch a little, but once adjusted (and acclimatised) it gave me no further issues. I may have lost a few hairs, but I was never aiming to be a Hobbit ...
So, I tried out my Paleos on a variety of settings, from seaweed and shell encrusted rocks, to hot sand, overgrown garden beds and in the Australian bush.
One thing I found was that they really did protect my feet from incidental stabbings. They also became pretty much forgotten once on, as long as I kept an awareness of the terrain changes in urban environments, (which is to say the polished floors of shopping malls, tiled floors and big stonework flooring in train stations) the world was my oyster.
I walked over broken glass, hot asphalt, mounds of shells and piles of branches. Not a single scratch. The fine links of the maile kept almost everything out, but obviously not everything. I found that the occasional spike of hay, or prickle made it through to give me a poke, but that was the extent of it. Sand and grit can make it's way into the shoes and if it's large enough, it stays. A tad annoying, but a good fit should eliminate most of this.
As well as being very comfortable completely bare, much like a continual massage, there are three sets of accessories that also come to assist in your comfort when the conditions require it.
I took the Paleo's out running a few times in different conditions: along the beach, in parks, and in the bush, and occasionally I have felt the need to give myself some extra protection, and that's where these come in. Originally they shipped with the black neoprene socklette shown here, which act both to pad the top of the foot, and add a little warmth in cold conditions.
I'm wearing the Ankle-socks here which are a large, but felt really tight, but gave me the most protection. The wraparound ankle-sleeves were more difficult to get fitted, but in fact were a lot more comfortable, mostly because they adjusted to my foot and added padding where I needed it.
One thing I can say is that they leave your feet filthy, especially in an urban setting, where road-crud works its way everywhere, into my skin, my toe nails, everywhere. This however, pales into obscurity when you look at this. Those two round contusions are ring-maile wounds!
I was chopping firewood in my Paleos at ConFest and was hit with wood-shrapnel in my right big toe knuckle, and left toe side. This would have ruined my weekend if i'd been barefoot, and unpleasant if booted too. the rings may have caused this little wound, but saved me from serious bruising or mangling. All in a package that balls up and sits in a pocket when not needed.
I was so very impressed! I wear mine a lot, any time I get the chance. I get a lot of attention out on the street, at festivals, around the house and out shopping. I think they have significant wilderness applications, and survival options. These appear to be indestructible. Indestructible is a real asset in the event of a disaster, as is reliability. The Paleo shoes are comfortable, rugged, and fit any natural surface (barring polished artificial surfaces).
I am glad to have these in my kit.
Slippery polished stone floors