Shoes & Gear

Fear Not the Toesocks

Fear Not the Toesocks

Not Just For Hippies

You’ve probably seen someone strolling through the airport security line wearing them with sandals. Perhaps you even saw your ‘hippie’ friend walking around with the knee-high-rainbow-striped-variety. What’s up with those crazy socks that look like gloves for your feet?! Even my kids say they make my toes look like sausages. :)

Just as Vibram® cornered the market with those funny looking ‘barefoot’ shoes, Injinji© has become the undisputed leader for the funny looking socks you wear with them…not to mention a sponsor of major endurance athletes around the world. It should also be noted that while toesocks found a partner in Vibram® 5 Fingers, they were in fact brought to market long before Vibram® and can be worm with any type of shoe. While I never bought into the Vibram® 5 Finger craze, I did buy some toesocks (just to see…) and have been using Injinji© socks for over 3 years now. Countless miles running, cycling and racing have proven to me that Injinji’s© are by far one of the best performing socks out there for runners.

Yes, I have religion for Injinji© socks and am a huge fan.

Yet many runners and endurance athletes (perhaps like yourself) are still satisfied with the normal-mash-all-your-toes-together-socks. BORING! Like any other piece of equipment you might research though, it’s very easy to get overwhelmed with all the styles, names and technical jargon that ultimately confuses you and sends you running back (pun intended!) to those normal socks and brands you’re used to.

Well, fear not the toesocks.

This article will guide you through the basics of Injinji© socks and make some recommendations in the hopes you too are looking for piggy-independence and a blister-free run.

The Ba-socks (Basics)

Injinji© provides a lot of variety to choose from. As you can see, the various heights of the socks are made to accommodate different kinds of shoes, activities and fashion senses.

Crew

Quarter

Mini-crew

Micro/No-show



Aside from making sure the height matches your activity, the most important characteristic in my opinion is the weight (thickness) of each type of sock. The right toesock must be the combination of style (e.g., height) and weight (it would be silly to buy a no-show lightweight sock for hiking boots, right?!)

The biggest incentive for switching to toesocks is the overall reduction/elimination of blisters. These socks are literally like gloves for your feet and truly prevent the bunching and movement of fabric when your feet sweat, get wet or get dirty. I have personally worn Injinji’s© for hundreds of training miles and my last 5 ultra-marathons (from 50k to 100M) and had only a couple hotspots/minor blisters throughout those races.

Let’s talk about the differences with each of Injinji’s© toesock categories (sorry, yoga socks are not reviewed in this article).

Performance Category

One of the reasons I like the socks in this category is that they are multi-purpose. You can use them as every day socks or running socks to better justify the $10-$16 price tag. They are all made from a combination of Coolmax® (enhanced polyester), Nylon and Lycra to ensure sweat wicks and your feet stay cool and comfortable. I personally find the lightweight and original weight too thin. You can see in the picture to the right, the lightweight is a looser mesh that does not give the feet much cushion. The lack of elastic throughout the sock also causes it to lose shape more quickly and create additional bunching, rubbing and friction in the heel and arch.

My recommendations in this category are below:

Everyday Walking Road Running Trail Running Hiking
Lightweight Yes Yes Yes No* No*
Original weight Yes Yes Yes No* No*
Mid-Weight Yes Yes Yes Yes No*

*For these activities, using the lightweight and/or original weight socks as a liner beneath a more robust normal sock would be perfectly reasonable.


In my opinion, the mid-weight sock (my favorite) is the right balance of comfort, durability and padding for runners. The upper is thin, has the right amount of compression and breathes really well. The bottom is thicker which provides more padding and cushion over runs of most any distance. Overall, this sock stays put – preventing blisters, keeping them cool and providing just enough cushion for a good ride in both trail and road shoes. I have however noted that narrower shoes do not work well with the mid-weight sock – the lightweight style cuts down on the bulk. Just make sure to try each style with your particular shoe(s).

Outdoor Category

There are only a couple differences between this category and the Performance category. For starters, rather than using Coolmax®, this category uses Injini’s© NuWool™ technology. Their website calls it an ‘ultra-fine seasonal yarn’ made from the combination of Merino wool and the best man-made fiber technology. The other difference is that none of the outdoor socks come in the mid-weight style.

The Good – These socks are incredibly soft and comfortable, keep your feet cool and also deal with water (i.e., water crossings) quite well.  The crew and quarter height are great for both hiking and trail running shoes when gaiters are required.

The Not-So-Good – These socks wear incredibly fast. I found that with my shoes and insoles, the socks would rub right under the arch and cause the wool to bunch up and rub off over the course of several months. I would know when they were shot because I’d start to get a blister under my arch.

Blisters Be Gone!

Some folks have said that their feet/toes are not the right size for toe socks. This can be true so make sure to hit your local running store to try them on first. Switching to toe socks takes time to get used to just like any other new piece of gear.

Do they will take a little longer to put on? Yes…

Do they feel a little strange at first? Of course.

Will I start craving magic brownies and a hookah? Probably not.

But if you could make one simply change for to your wardrobe for $16 and virtually eliminate blisters from your feet and have one less thing to worry about, wouldn’t that be worth it?

So go on…give ‘em a chance. None of your piggies want blisters. Give them the independence they need with Injini’s© and you’re sure to enjoy blister-free running and a few strange looks at the airport.

Check out all the latest styles at www.Injinji.com.



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This post was written by:

- who has written 11 posts on Trail Running Club.


I'm your average age-grouper who loves to participate in endurance events of all kinds. Armed only with determination and the desire to achieve, I am a self-coached athlete who has completed marathons, triathlons and ultra-marathons over the last 8 years. I am constantly striving to find balance with my training and the many obligations that come with being a supportive husband, a reliable father and a successful business professional.

Never a podium-seeker, I'm driven by my own goals and the hope that what I accomplish inspires others to try something they never thought possible.

My accomplishments include:
• Numerous 50K-100K finishes
• 2010 Ironman Arizona finisher
• Black Hills 100 finisher
• Lean Horse 100 (sub-24) finisher
• Mogollon Monster 100 finisher


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