Proalp Contact S2 – a barefoot hiking boot that, in addition to quality materials and a sole with excellent traction, offers you a number of customizations to make this shoe fit you perfectly.

You may not have heard much about the barefoot brand Proalp, but this is a brand that should definitely not go unnoticed. Proalp is located in our small country Slovenia, in the heart of the Slovenian Alps, in a place with a long tradition of shoemaking. Proalp’s employees have a wealth of experience in the production of top quality shoes.

Their range includes both barefoot and non-barefoot models. Barefoot footwear has been available for several years already and during that time they have expanded their range to include many models covering all seasons.

In August 2021, I had the honour to visit their production site, to learn about their work process and the creation of barefoot shoes. I also had the opportunity to try their new barefoot Contact S2 model, which was developed specifically for hiking. The owner of the company loves both mountains and barefoot shoes, so this shoe combines all the qualities that such a specific shoe needs.

Their barefoot hiking bots have also been tested by mountain guides on demanding terrain in the high mountains, confirming their excellent quality and good traction even on the most difficult terrain, while also highlighting all the benefits of a barefoot shoe in the mountains (better contact with the ground, lower centre of gravity of the foot due to the thin sole, etc.).

Disclaimer: I received one pair of shoes as a gift for a review, the other pair I bought myself. As always, all opinions expressed here are my own and I do not receive any compensation if you decide to buy them.

1. General

  • Brand: Proalp
  • Model: Contact S2
  • Colour: grey and blue
  • Tested on: woman, medium-wide feet, 26.3 cm long and 10 cm wide, low instep, skinny ankles with narrow heel, fin-shaped foot (see my how to measure guide and foot type) – wearing size 41 1/2 (women’s model)
  • Tested on: boy, medium wide feet, 23.5 cm long and 8.6 cm wide, low instep, skinny ankles with narrow heel – wearing size 1/2 (women’s model)

| Made in EU | Adults | Leather, microfiber | Shipped Worldwide |

2. Material characteristics

2.1 Upper

Proalp doesn’t compromise on the materials used in their shoes, which is why you’ll only find premium materials here. Their materials are carefully and thoughtfully selected according to the type of shoe and the intended use.

Developed for hiking, the Contact S2 uses a slightly sturdier leather that can withstand the tougher terrain in the mountains. Most Contact S2 colours are made from suede leather, which has proven to be extremely durable, but it is also possible to choose smooth leather. For an extra charge, they can also make a vegan version in microfibre.

For myself and my son, I chose a blue and grey model made from a combination of smooth and suede leather. The suede leather has proved to be extremely hard-wearing and durable.

The easiest way to clean larger dirt is to use a dry sponge for suede and then wipe the shoe with a damp cloth. My grey model has been tested in the hills several times and cleaned for photography, my son’s model is new and has not been worn yet.

The thongue is not gusseted and I do not miss that.

The shoes open wide and the laces slide neatly through the eyelets. The laces do not untie while walking, which is very important to me for a hiking boot. The top eyelets are replaced by speed hooks to make it easier to put on and take off the shoes.

A velcro strap is added to the top of the shoe to further secure your foot. The shoe can also be made without the extra strap if you wish.

Despite the higher height of the shoe, ankle movement is not severely restricted. Of course, minimal restriction is always present in a shoe model like this, but the Proalp model is one of the softest and least restrictive I have tried.

2.2 Lining

The shoes are lined with leather, but a warmer version with a wool felt lining can also be made on your request. All hiking boots also come with an insole made from a blend of organic wool and hemp, which can be used on colder days.

The insole also take away some of the volume, so if you use an insole, I would recommend a half-size bigger shoes, unless you have a narrower foot.

2.3 Sole

The Contact S2 model features a robust Vibram outsole with a deeper lugs that offers good traction on even the toughest terrain.

The side of the sole is slightly elevated, giving the bottom of the shoe extra protection from dirt on the ground. Despite the ‘walled’ design of the sole, the side rubber is soft enough to extend to either side and not feel stiff and restrictive.

Despite the deeper tread on the sole, the shoes are soft and flexible in all directions.

See also the video for a close-up.

3. Sizing information

3.1 Length

The Proalp Contact S2 hiking shoes are available from size 36 to size 47 in two widths (‘women’s’ and ‘men’s’).

Their sizing chart does not list the internal length of the shoe, but the recommended foot length for each size. To get the actual inside length of the shoe, 12 mm must be added to the written value (e.g. the inside length of a size 38 is 255 mm, the recommended foot length for this size according to the chart is 243 mm).

They are available in half sizes, so it’s much easier to adjust your optimum space in front of your toes. And because they’re also available in two widths, there’s an even wider range of feet to suit.

©Proalp

With my foot length of 26.3 cm, I wear a size 41 1/2, which has an inner length of 27.8 cm. Inner lengths correspond to the values given in the size chart.

Despite the increased space in front of the toes, the shoes look small on the foot, which I like. Good fixation of the shoe ensures enough space in front of the toes even when walking downhill (my toes don’t touch the front of the shoe!). This length is optimal for me.

See post How much space do we need in shoes if you want to know more about that.

3.2. Toebox shape & width

Proalp shoes have a stronger slope towards the pinky toe and therefore fit best to foot types 1 and 5. However, when I visited them I expressed a wish for a slight change in the shape of the toe area, so my model and my son’s have already been adjusted. The models in the picture do not have such a strong slope, which suits other foot types better.

They can make the same adjustment for you too (at no extra charge), but you must specify the desired change in a note to your order. Their standard shape also has a slight taper at the big toe, so be sure to specify in the note that you also want a perfectly straight line for your big toe. This change is necessary if you want your big toe to be able to be placed in its natural position.

More about different foot types you can read in my post What is my Foot Type?

All Proalp models are available in two different widths and are designated as ‘female’ and ‘male’ models. The only difference between them is the width at the toe area and heel.

Women’s models are best suited for medium wide feet. Both models pictured are female. The width of my size 41 1/2 model according to the chart is 9,8 cm, the width of my foot is 10 cm. I still have plenty of width in the shoe available if I wear the shoes without an insole (there is also enough width with thicker toe socks).

If you have wider feet, I recommend choosing a men’s model that is suitable for wide feet but not extra wide. You can always get some extra width by choosing a larger size too. Proalp also offers an additional widening of the shoe in case you have a pronounced bone due to hallux valgus.

The shoes also come with a wool insole that can be removed if necessary. I prefer to wear the shoes without the insole, but I recommend using the insole in case you don’t want such an intense ground feeling or just need some extra insulation in the shoe.

For me, shoes with an insole in the chosen size are already snug. In particular, I notice a tighter fit in the circumference over the ball of the foot and not so much in the width itself. If you are going to wear shoes with an insole, take this into account when choosing your size (choose a half size bigger shoe or choose a wider model).

3.3. Fit around the instep, heel and ankle

Proalp models are suitable for feet with lower and average height of the instep and skinny and average wide ankle and heels. Women’s models fix very well on narrower ankles and heels and will not be suitable for feet that are very voluminous. In case you need more volume, I recommend choosing the men’s models, but even these will not be suitable for feet with extra high volume.

If you have a high instep, I recommend contacting them for a customization.

The sole narrows in the midfoot, so the design will not be ideal for people with a wider midfoot or for people with flat feet.

4. Comfort

The Proalp Contact S2 has proven to be an extremely comfortable hiking shoe. They did not cause me any problems during my hikes. They are easy to put on, the laces slide elegantly through the eyeltes and do not untie, the leather is soft, the shoes breathe so the foot does not sweat, the foot does not slide forward when walking downhill and the sole responds perfectly to the ground. I have no complaints.

5. Water-resistance and warmth

The shoes do not have a waterproof membrane built in, but they still resist moisture well and do not get wet on first contact with rain or wet grass. Of course, you can also waterproof them for extra water repellency.

The model in the review is suitable for wearing from spring to autumn, and comes with a wool insole that can be used on colder days. Proalp can also line the shoe with a warmer felt lining for an extra charge.

6. How and when to wear them?

The Proalp Contact S2 is specifically developed for hiking. It is suitable for both easier and more difficult hiking trails.

Although barefoot shoes such as the Proalp Contact S2 model are also suitable for the mountains, I would like to remind you at this point that only those who have healthy and strong feet and who have been wearing barefoot shoes for a long time in their everyday life too can wear barefoot shoes in the mountains. Don’t choose hiking boots for mountains as your first barefoot shoe. You should only take them on more challenging terrain when you are sure that your feet are sufficiently adapted to barefoot footwear. Keep your trips to the mountains safe.

7. Price & where to buy

You can buy Proalp barefoot shoes on their official website. Proalp also sells non-barefoot footwear, so make sure you look at the correct models. The price for the Contact S2 model is 162€.

8. Shipping info

Proalp ships worldwide, with shipping costs depending on the country of shipment. The shipping costs are calculated during the order process. For EU, the shipping cost are from 8€ to 14€.

9. To sum up

Two different widths, the possibility to adjust the toebox shape, the extension of the sole at the hallux valgus, the possibility to choose any colour, half sizes, quality materials and the list just goes on.

The Proalp Contact S2 is an excellent hiking boot and for me one of the top choices in this category. If you like to spend your free time in the hills and you need a shoe that gives you space for toes, but also offers enough protection on more challenging terrain, this model is definitely worth a try.