Paleo Cosplay? Archaeologist Tests Homemade Neolithic Gear in Scandinavia

Experimental archaeologist Markus Klek is having a blast walking around Sweden in Stone Age gear.

The “Nordic Walkabout 2024” is Klek’s dirt-under-the-fingernails effort to better understand neolithic gear design. The plan: build a kit from traditional materials like reindeer parts and stone flints, then see how it fares against the Swedish winter.

“The idea is to test the equipment and see how traveling was possible during the Stone Age,” Klek said during a livestream leading up to the attempt.

Klek’s loadout is simple. A sled, snowshoes, a coat, and boots highlight the list.

The German researcher calls his work and concept Paläotechnik. His focal areas include traditional methods of treating animal skins, like tanning with fats and smoke. He builds some of his “archaeotechnical” products to test in the field, and some for purposes like museum props.


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Is Klek crazy? Your opinion probably depends on your confidence in his garment construction skills. Researchers found in 2020 that clothing made from natural materials like reindeer hide prevents the human body from cooling better than modern analogs, according to the Polar Journal.

Klek didn’t just jump into the deep end with both feet. He’s sunk “countless” hours into constructing his gear, which he then tested at home in the Black Forest.

He’s especially happy with his toboggan. He hewed the narrow, birchwood sled with period-appropriate tools like polished stone axes. It weighs just two kilograms.


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Call it a labor of love.

“It took me a few years to decide, ‘Ok, let’s test it with a trip like this,’” Klek said in the livestream. The video features a segment labeled “Don’t try this at home.”

shirtless man in animal skin clothing in wintry mountains

Photo: Markus Klek


His first Instagram report from the field reflected satisfaction.

“I am in great spirits,” Klek said — despite frozen boots in the morning.

Sam Anderson

Sam Anderson spent his 20s as an adventure rock climber, scampering throughout the western U.S., Mexico, and Thailand to scope out prime stone and great stories. Life on the road gradually transformed into a seat behind the keyboard, where he acted as a founding writer of the AllGear Digital Newsroom and earned 1,500+ bylines in four years on topics from pro rock climbing to slingshots and scientific breakthroughs.