Injinji Performance 2.0 Review: The only pair of socks you will ever need
As big a shoe fanatic as I am, I’ve never really paid much attention to socks. I‘ve essentially lived by three basic sock rules:
- You had to match the colour of your socks to your shoes and pants,
- Sport socks were better for exercising than the ones you wore to work, and
- Unless you were Michael Jackson, white socks were only for the gym bag (if ever worn at all)…
Lately, I’ve been a bit more lenient on Rule no. 1 and some random sock designs have made their way into my closet 🙂
But, even though I followed the rules, I suffered from a unique problem – my feet had the tendency to chow right through socks. No matter how often I trimmed my talons; how new the pair was; or whether they were thick hiking or rugby socks, holes would eventually appear. I was the sock destroyer
When I began running, I realised the importance of more technical socks. The further and longer I ran, the more the ones I had didn’t work for me. Blisters, moist feet and just general unhappy feet were all resolved by improved sock choices. But, still my toes would not be denied and eventually they would poke through.
Recently, I heard about Injinji socks from other bloggers. Many ultra-distance trail runners swear by them for multi-stage races. I started my search, but came up short. Until I found a tweet from Graeme Saggers about them locally:
Just bought myself some @injinji socks as a little “to G from G” Christmas gift
— Graeme Saggers (@Orelando_G) December 23, 2014
So I dashed out and got a couple of pairs for me and one for the wife to test out the hype.
In 2013, Injinji introduced the Performance 2.0 version of their toesocks. The line includes versions for Run, Trail, Compression, Sport, Liner, and Yoga and there are three different weights depending on the cushioning that you get with each sock (Light, Original and Midweight).
So let’s get into it.
The Look and Feel
By definition, toesocks are weird. If you can get over that obstacle, then you will love these guys!
They take a couple of seconds longer to pull on compared to normal socks – so make sure that you have some time to properly align each piggy with their correct toe pockets.
What I found amazing was that the seams are almost invisible. Each toe is wrapped in the moisture wicking COOLMAX XtraLife fabric which provides a nice layer between toes. The material fits your foot snuggly, without feeling heavy at all.
The first time you wear them they look slightly ill-fitting. However, during the course of the run, they mould to your feet. By the time you take off your shoes, each sock has formed perfectly around each toe and ultimately your entire foot.
But, before I get ahead of myself, let’s get into the run test.
Out in the field
When I initially wore the socks, I found it weird to be able to wriggle my toes freely while wearing socks. Your toes feel much less constrained and are able to use the space in the toebox of your shoes much more effectively.
With each step, you feel the natural splay of each toe in your shoe. The enhanced grip and feel really adds to the running experience in a very natural way. After a couple hundred metres, I felt extremely comfortable in them.
The Run sock was really light and provided an almost invisible layer. My feet remained cool the entire time on the road as they usually tend to get really hot – sometimes even resulting in a burning sensation underfoot. Throughout the run, the Injinji’s kept my feet cool and dry which is excellent for those long races and training sessions.
The Trail sock was thicker and provides more cushioning underfoot which I really enjoyed during the run. The higher elastic cuff of the Mini-Crew design keeps dirt out of the sock which is really handy. I am usually a fan of the No-Show style of sock, but I didn’t mind the cuff sticking out of the Trail sock – it’s functional 🙂
With each toe individually encased, I had no blisters between my toes after long runs. I tend to suffer from blisters between my toes rather than on my heels or arches. Also, after each run my feet were dry and comfortable so I felt like I could always go a bit further.
Living with the socks
I’m sure there is one question you all dying to know the answer to:
“Did your toes break through the socks?”
The answer is No.
Well, for the cash you fork out on these socks, I actually didn’t expect anything less. But, it’s still comforting knowing that the quality of these socks is really right up there.
I even went as far as taking the ultra-thin Run socks on a Lions Head summit. Even with the steep downhill’s and sudden jarring stops, the socks made it through unscathed.
They are also machine washable! Many fancy socks need to be hand washed or warm water washed etc. This makes living with the Injinji’s so much easier.
However, I think the golden rule of do not wear this with flip-flops should still be applied for everyone’s sake.
What are my alternatives?
There are not many performance toe-socks out there (especially available in South Africa), but First Ascent does provide their 5 toe running sock which I am yet to test.
Once I got over that initial weirdness of wearing toesocks, Injinji’s skyrocketed right to the top of my sock list. I have been using them for all long runs and they will be my go-to socks for any races in the future.
My wife is a big fan as well. She has suffered with terrible blisters after long runs for a number of years. After switching to her Injinji Runs, her issues were reduced significantly and she now enjoys longer runs in a lot more comfort.
Yes, they are a bit pricey at R150 to R180 for the pairs that I tested. But, I cannot stress how much they will benefit your running experience when you use them – so the price actually becomes a non-issue.
I have tried many performance socks from various reputable brands, but once you try Injinji you will be thoroughly impressed. Go get a pair and you can thank me later.
Spoiler Alert: this year each of my Trail Bokkie mates will be receiving a pair for their birthday 🙂
If I have left out anything in particular that you may think is a critical feature/experience that you’ve had with Injinji socks, please feel free to comment below.