When I started running more than 2 miles in a session, I noticed that the skin between my toes started to get raw and irritated. I found that my feet were perspiring and the moisture was causing the between skin to soften between my toes. Since my toes rub the irritation eventually lead to rupturing of the skin on my 2nd toe. My skin peeled and later formed a callus, as things continued other areas between toes started to feel raw as well.
I didn’t really ever have problems with sweating feet; it’s something that we were always kept conscious of in the military as one of the worst things you could, We called it jungle rot; get that and you’re done.
I move from the ‘Champion Sport’ brand of sock back to the Puma brand. That seemed to help but the problem was still there.
Then one afternoon I was watching a documentary (I have this thing for documentaries) titled “Desert Runners”, it’s about these people who run four 250K ultramarathon’s in deserts around the world. During one of the rest periods the runners took off their shoes and most had their feet where covered in bloody or puss filled blisters; it was truly delicious (not) but there was this one woman runner who when she pulled off her shoe and socks didn’t have or didn’t look to have any blisters at all. I noticed that she was using toe socks; it’s just one of those things that’s so odd to see you can’t miss it.
Now I’ve seen toe socks, my wife had some but those were just corny themed Christmas socks that made you laugh. I took the remote and reversed the video so I could get a better look at the socks. I was able to make out the brand (somewhat) and noted the design, I grabbed my laptop and did a search on runners toe socks and quite quickly discovered the sock she was using were manufactured by a company called Injinji; pronounced In-gin-gee according to their ‘frequently asked questions’ (FAQ.)
Reading their web page was interesting, I’m not going to say I agree with everything but it was educational and enlightening nonetheless. I had no clue that wicking type socks even existed let alone ones with toes. I learned new terms like ‘toe splay’ and others that would spike curiosity in my brain and have me spending endless hours wasting time traversing the internet in search of the raw truth or at least some facsimiles of truth for things read that tickled my brain; as I have said before, like a fish shinny things distract me from the task at hand.
In looking for reviews on the Injinji sock I did find a few, however, those reviews didn’t really say anything that I had not already read in the Injinji website, as a matter of fact most of the gibberish written was just the Injinji website information regurgitated and reformatted by the blogger. Not much different from the food a mother eagle would regurgitate for their young to feed on. You would think that if you were going to review a product you would do more then try them on or maybe run one time in them. None of the blog/reviews I read had anything such as how well the wear or how they fit after washing, test cases or even did they live up to the hype! Nope most of the blog reviews were pretty much pointless and a waste of time to read. But read I did…. Sigh…
I decided that the best way to find out was to buy some myself and try them out, but I wasn’t ready to commit to $15.00 plus $7.00 shipping ($22.00) for a pair of socks online that I couldn’t see firsthand and there is the fact that I’m a touch and feel kind of shopper anyhow; so I decided that a trip across town to Road Runner Sports was warranted, besides I love wasting time browsing and looking at all the eye candy in the store (merchandise not females just to define what I mean by eye candy.)
So after a couple weeks of procrastination and a few days for Christmas my lovely wife, son and I drove 21 miles from our house to Road Runner Sports. Some $19.09 US dollars and 45 minutes later I was home with my very own pair of Injinji Performance 2.0 Trail Midweight socks. It was somewhere between opening the sock package and the reader of my blog asking me to let him know how the toe socks worked that I decided I would do a review and post it to my blog. Besides I thought, I couldn’t really find a down to earth, nuts and bolts review of these socks worth the digital bits they are comprised of.
I decided that I would use the socks for more than a week under different running scenarios; cold, hot, cross country, concrete & asphalt, beach running, etc… and in different shoes types and models e.g. running neutral/stability, casual work shoes and no shoes around the house on hardwood floors. Because I only have one pair of these socks I washed them every day by hand and line dried them. The care instructions indicate machine wash and line dry; no bleach and don’t dry clean (do people dry clean socks? Oops shiny things). I felt by doing this it would provide the best possible analysis and you the reader the best review possible. But at the same time since I only have the Performance 2.0 Trail Midweight socks to review so this is only valid for them; you’re still pretty much on your own for the other styles.
I didn’t chose the Performance 2.0 Trail Midweight socks type because of any in-depth research on all of the different models offered by Injinji I chose the sock based only on my perception; since I was only going to buy one pair I wanted a sock that would fit ‘generally’ into all of my activities. Since I like to do allot of off the pavement type activities (Injinji defines these as Trail) I chose a thicker sock. Looking back on that decision I now think that I should have picked a lighter sock; there were some scenarios where the heavy sock was not the best choice, which I’ll get into later. The design of the socks seem pretty much the same the differences seems to me in style, weight (thickness) and materials for instance the socks I chose are;
- Performance 2.0 Trail Midweight: 39% Coolmax Polyester, 58% Nylon Polyamid, 3% Lycra
Other models indicated these materials to be:
- Performance 2.0 Run Original Weight Thin Cushioning: 29% Coolmax Polyester, 68% Nylon Polyamid, 3% Lycra
- Performance 2.0 Run Original Weight Moderate Interface: 56% Coolmax Polyester, 39% Nylon Polyamid, 5% Lycra
- Performance 2.0 Run Lightweight Ultra-Thin Interface: 67% Coolmax Polyester, 28% Nylon Polyamid, 5% Lycra
For some reason Injinji has omitted this information from their website, at least I wasn’t able to find it, I just happened to notice the differences when I was selecting the socks in the store. You would think it would be data that should be available when you view the details of the sock when viewing at them on their website. It would be interesting to see what the difference in ‘wicking’ and moisture retention is between these mixtures of materials. Which brings me to a couple of other items that you should be aware of because it will affect the sock sizing and the review and how it relates to you for fit and feel.
If you go to the store to buy a pair of these socks, it’s ‘seems’ pretty straight forward. The socks come in small, medium and large and on each package in the upper left and corner it shows what range of foot size each will support. For instance the Men’s Medium is size 8 to 10.5 so since my foot is a 10.5 I would naturally select a medium sock. WELL, not really. In the FAQ that exact question is asked. The response was “If your foot lies in between two sizes, we recommend sizing up to the next size, i.e. 11 or Large.” Now that would be nice to know if you are buying these sock at the store but no where other than the FAQ is this fact mentioned; not on the packaging and not in the sizing chart on their website.
When considering what sock you are going to buy you will need to take into consideration the design of the shoe you are going to wear them with. I didn’t even think about this when I chose the Performance 2.0 Trail Midweight. At work I will either wear a casual or dress shoe; I didn’t test the Performance 2.0 Trail Midweight in a dress shoe; somehow I didn’t think I could get away with lime green uppers with Stacy Adams black wingtip shoes and Wool dress slacks, but did try them with my 5.11 Pursuit Worker Oxford these are great shoes and normally I have plenty of space for my toes with normal socks, keep in mind that I always buy my shoes a half size larger so although I wear a Men’s 10.5, I buy size 11.
I found that with the Performance 2.0 Trail Midweight my big toes and mostly little toes are pushed out against the sides of the shoes which causing chaffing. Part of the design of the Performance Midweight sock is to provide additional padding at the heel and toes this additional padding is what is causing this problem as its taking up the extra toe space in the shoe, so you can imagine the trouble I would have been in had I wore a 10.5 inch shoe. However, I don’t think this would be an issue using the original or light weight Performance 2.0 Run sock the material is much thinner. Now this isn’t a big problem for me because I didn’t buy the Performance 2.0 Trail Midweight socks to wear with my work shoes, I bought them primarily for running. But I needed to see how the Performance 2.0 Trail Midweight performed being worn all day, I do as much walking as I do sitting so I put allot of mileage on my feet at work; typically I walk 4 to 5 miles per day the campus where I work is massive and I’m constantly walking from building to building, so for me not to include work as part of my testing would be amiss.
I had a similar problem with my Saucony Grid Speed running shoes, the design of the shoes have a very narrow forefoot that really hugs your feet wearing normal socks; with the Performance 2.0 Trail Midweight it pushed my toes into the sides not so much that it hurt when I ran, but enough to make them a little uncomfortable. With a thinner toe sock like the Performance 2.0 Run Lightweight Ultra-Thin I think it would be perfect or going up one size larger on the shoe might help.
Okay so with that out of the way, it’s time to get to the Nitti Gritty. When you remove the socks from the packaging the first thing that will, or should catch your attention is the heel of the sock. Now maybe it’s just the way the sock is folded in the packaging but the heel of the sock looks much more defined than the typical running sock you see in the store. The sock itself when laid next to a regular sock of the same style (e.g. crew cut, ankle cut, etc…) angles down far less than a conventional sock. The elastic in the sock seems well engineered as well, it felt firm but not tight like allot of socks do. As a matter of fact even after wearing them at work all day I didn’t have the elastic mark around my ankle I would have from the other sock I’ve worn. Once getting my toes in the toe sections of the socks was entertaining to say the least, as time went on I either got better at doing it or the sock liked my feet. I’ll tell you this right off, I have never in the 55 years I have lived on this earth have had a sock that fit on my feet this good. It may sound passé but these socks ‘fit like a glove’. The sock seemed to hug my foot there wasn’t a loose section of material at any part except maybe at the very tip of the toes which too seemed to disappear after you wore them for a while.
Even moving your foot around, bending and contorting your toes didn’t produce any loose material; the sock seems to move with your skin. When slipping into any of my shoes even tight fitting ones the socks didn’t bunch up or have any noticeable creases or folds that are common with the typical sports sock.
Walking around the house in them, every day after runs, on our bamboo flooring was comfortable, seemingly natural and as a byproduct of design the sock are great for wearing with flip flops your toes fit seamlessly between Y-shaped strap . I was over joyed to be able to transition from the house out into the yard with such little effort, Ooh the joy of not having to force my feet into the filp flop jabbing, stabbing and finagling with my sock to get them on my feet. That alone seemed almost worth the cost; you see we don’t wear shoes in our house.
For most of the events the performance of the socks was much the same. With the exception of the 5.11 Pursuit Worker Oxford and my Saucony Grid Speed shoes; the fit in my other three other Saucony running shoes which are three different stability shoes models was spectacular. My feet didn’t slide around in the sock like the tended to do in the low cut Champion Sport’s and they didn’t slide around in at the ball of my foot like my Puma socks do even in my running shoes that are really wide in the forefoot section of the shoes. So pre-run fit and comfort wise in a running shoe this sock was fantastic. So to start with I’ll discuss those items that I made note of under each condition and each shoe.
Other than the issues I mention when wearing the Performance 2.0 Trail Midweight sock with my 5.11 Pursuit Worker Oxford the sock performed well, these shoes do not breathe at all and my feet do perspire in them. Though-out the day I logged more than 3 miles, my feet got hot so the Injinji socks were no different than other socks in this instance. When I got home and removed my shoes the socks were moist just like the Hanes crew sock (75% cotton/21% polyester/2% natural latex rubber/2% other fibers) but when I removed them my feet were LESS moist so the Injinji did what help keep the moisture away from my feet better than the sock I normally wear with the 5.11 shoes.
The first time I ran in these socks, I was using my Saucony Grid Speed shoes that feature a lightweight upper shell that’s really breathable. I was running mid-morning and it was still cold outside around 50 degrees. My toes got really cold in the toe socks which they never did in my Puma Crew socks. At first I thought; oh this is not good but as I thought more about it during the run I realized that because my toes were getting cold that meant that the socks were actually doing what they were supposed to, keeping my feet cool. I ran a little over 3.86 miles on mixed media, concrete mostly, black top and dirt. I did about .70 of a mile cool down walk back to my house and when I got home removed my shoes and my feet were nice and dry. The only problems I had were what I had mention prior about the toe crowding.
Between January 2 and 8, I did a total of 4 runs that totaled 16.54 miles I ran these miles in three different models of Saucony ‘stability’ running shoes. The runs were all on the same media type as the first run. The stability shoes all have a much wider forefoot area than the neutral shoes I wore on the first run so I had no toe crowding, the run was really comfortable. I did notice a large difference you rolled onto my toes during the run, I could tell that my toe were further apart and acted slightly different than normal. I guess the best way to describe it is my toes didn’t feel like they were rolling in sequence big to little toe, it felt as though the toes were all rolling at the same time, sort of like it was more balanced; I’m at a loss on how to better explain it but the bottom line is it felt better. I hadn’t noticed this in the neutral running shoe because of the toe crowding.
On January 9, 2015, I did a 4.26 mile cross country run which was 4 laps around this park; packed dirt, loose dirt, thick but cut grass and hills with packed and loose dirt. Much of the results were the same as the other runs but I wanted to do the cross country run to see how much, if any, my feet might slide around in the socks because of all the different terrain. I was using my Saucony Tornado 6 ‘stability’ running shoes for this run simply because of all the shoes they are the ones with the thickest and widest soles and I like to wear them for cross country running. I noticed no shifting or sliding of my feet in the socks; I really had thought the socks would hurt my feet between my toes at the web when I ran down hill, I thought that my feet would slide forward in the sock and pull into the web between the toes. I was surprised when they didn’t. So like the other runs, the performance of the socks was great, allot better than the normal socks because on occasion the material of the Puma and Champion Sport sock pulled into my toes when I ran down the steep hill.
So the last run in my test was at the beach, I loaded up my wife and son and headed out to Imperial Beach. Beach runs are never fun but I needed to find out if the socks lived up to Injinji’s claim “A double elastic cuff and mesh top lock keep dirt and debris out while allowing your foot to breathe.” I wasn’t able to run at the water’s edge as most of that section had a steep incline and the surf was rough chasing me up and down the beach; I ended up with 90 percent of my run on the dry loose sand. I have never had a sock that didn’t leave my feet sandy after a beach run. Just doesn’t happen. If the sand didn’t get in through the top of the sock at the cuff then it worked its way through the socks material and stuck to your feet. The same would hold true for the Injinji socks, once home I emptied the sand out of my shoes, there were at least two tablespoons of sand retrieved from my shoes. On removal of my socks I found sand stuck to the bottom of my feet and between my toes. In Injinji’s defense I don’t think when they made the above claim they took into consideration sand. In other trail run conditions I never had any debris get into my socks so for that their statement holds true. I wouldn’t however recommend these socks if you are going to run at the beach, not because they wouldn’t work as a great running/trail sock but because they are a major pain in the butt to clean once the sand gets in them and around the toes. No socks are fun to clean after a beach run but because of the toes these are much harder to clean.
The final result……..
These are by far the best socks I have ever run in and Injinji has made a believer out of me. The Performance 2.0 Trail Midweight sock lived up to every statement made on their website and packaging, less running in the sand. I washed these sock eight times by hand and lined dried them; they have held up well, they show that they have been worn but they show no actual degradation in the material, no fraying of the treads, and the color seems to have not faded. These socks did bleed when I first washed them so you might want to consider that when you machine wash them the first time.
As long as you match the sock you buy to the activity that you intend to use them for and your socks to the shoes you have, then you can’t go wrong with these socks. Pay attention to the space at the forefoot of the shoes you intend to use with these socks, even better use the Injinji toe socks when you are buying you next shoes this way you are sure to have a sock and shoe match.
Price is the only factor; for me buying a bunch is out of my budget so I don’t know that I will use them for everyday running all the time until I have bought a number of them over time. Since I run 6 days a week (most of the time) I would need 6 pairs at $15.00 (plus tax) I would have to spend more than $90.00. One or two pairs won’t do it, honestly having to wash the single pair I have every day was a royal pain (but it did it just for you.) But, if you can afford it I would say go for it. Your feet will be all the more happy for it.
All in All I give these a positive FIVE TOES rating! I only wish that I had the funds to buy the other styles so I could have given you a better review. But at $15.00 for Trail and $12:00 Run per pair it was cost prohibitive for me. So I will, as I have the opportunity, update this review when I’m able to purchase and try different styles of Injinji sock, but don’t hold your breath it will be awhile before I can absorb the cost. I think, actually, the next pair I buy will not before me at all; I want to purchase the Injinji Boot Original Weight OTC. My daughter and son are serving in the US Army; their feet take a beating out in the field getting blisters and all, it will be great if these help them.
PS: I will be wearing Injinji socks in my 2016 Disney Goofy Runs in 4 days a 5K, 10K, Half and Full Marathon.