The SNEWSÂ® team first got wind of this company several years ago, but it took us a while to muster up the desire to put what essentially amounts to gloves on our feet. After all, many of us have worn or seen those silly rainbow toe socks folks used to wear back in the hippie '70s. Cute? Maybe. Comfortable? Not really. Â
Still, being testers of gear, and because we had immense curiosity about this company with a funny name and even funnier-looking socks, we ordered up a few pair to put into the testing pipeline. We'd also begun hearing from running and outdoor comrades who were wearing them. Several members of our team spent winters slogging mile after mile on muddy and sloppy trails in Northern California all in the name of training for ultras -- we're still trying to get them to seek counseling, but that's another story. With two pair of willing and able feet just aching to try the mini-crew and crew socks, we hit the trail to figure out what all the fuss was about.
Without a doubt, what makes the Injinji story unique are socks that act like gloves for the feet -- each toe is isolated in its own little pocket of fabric.
We'll admit our testers first slid their feet tentatively into the socks, relatively certain they weren't going to like the feel. But being open-minded, they stuck with it. First, they just don't slide on like regular socks do, but, then again, gloves don't slip on like mittens either. The first time you put on these socks, you may wrestle a bit since you have to guide each toe into its proper toe pocket, although once you are used to the adventure, it's really quite easy. Once the socks are on, it feels a bit strange at first, to be honest. Suddenly, toes that were used to snuggling next to one another are separated by thin layers of fabric; however, that sensation quickly dissipates within literally minutes of heading out and you totally forget there is anything different on your feet. The theory behind the toe pockets is that the more opportunities your skin has to rub together using traditional socks, the more opportunity you have for blisters, chafing, calluses and other irritation.
Praise be to the sock gods, because even when feet were soggy from miles of dancing across streams and tip-toeing through muddy slop masquerading as a trail, our testers had not one blister, not one sore spot and not even one screaming toe nail. One of our testers, who's found that socks can create pressure on his toes as they slip and tighten down over the course of a long run, noticed that thanks to the toe pockets, there was no more pressure, no more black nails, no more pain. And another tester, who usually gets a blister where a couple of toes tend to overlap and rub on the very long (very sick) runs, found that nope, that didn't happen this year. And another tester, who always seems to get a blister on easy and short walk-jogs, is suddenly free of between-toe blisters. Hallelujah!
However, not all is perfect in this potential sock Nirvana. Perhaps because you have to put the same sock on the same foot in the same way each time, and perhaps because the socks fit like a glove, all the wear spots are consistent. Both of our testers found their pairs of socks wearing thin far more quickly in certain spots than any other sock they had ever used.
One tester found a hole appearing in the big toe of the left foot after 320 miles of once-weekly wear on runs ranging from 10 to 25 miles over only about five months. Granted, this is pretty hard-core use. But there are competitors' socks occupying a favored place in the sock drawer that have many more miles on them after a number of years (not months) that show little or no appreciable wear spots, so this could be a gripe.
Still, if someone has a problem with irritations and blisters, a little less durability (i.e., the need to spend more on socks) could be the trade-off for a lot more foot comfort. We were really quite sad to see that hole since we knew there was no way to save the socks that had become quite a favored pair.
SNEWSÂ® Rating: 4 hands clapping (1 to 5 hands clapping possible, with 5 clapping hands representing functional and design perfection)
Suggested Retail: Mini-crew, $12; crew, $14
For more information:www.injinji.com or call 888-465-4654