Do you ever wonder if its just a gimmick when a sports company offers an alternative for women?
Earlier this year, Injinji released their Womens-Specific range of toe socks. They claim that these lightweight no show toe socks ‘better accommodate the female foot’ and offer ‘increased heel-to-toe stretch’. There is a two-way stretch through the mid-point of the arch to provide better compression through the female foot, and the toe pockets have been re-designed for a ‘better, snugger fit’. It all sounds great – but is it marketing-speak or can these socks cut the mustard?
Earlier this month, we asked one of our super-customers to compare the new ladies-specific Injinji Performance 2.0 Lightweight No Show Women’s Toe Socks to the existing unisex toe socks. We like open, honest, and candid reviews (see this one from last month) and welcome criticism and feedback. We’re not all about sales, sales, sales; we care about our customers so its important to get an unbiased review from customers just like you… So without further ado, here’s Cath’s review.
Injinji Performance 2.0 Lightweight No Show Women’s Toe Socks – A Review
I have to admit to being a bit sceptical when I was asked to review Injinji’s women’s socks to see how they compare to unisex toe socks. I wear both ToeToe and Injinji toe socks on a regular basis and have never noticed a major problem with wearing a sock which wasn’t specifically designed for girls. I run almost exclusively in Vibram FiveFingers, usually with a lightweight liner.
My first impression when I took the socks out of the packet was that I liked the funky pattern (not that anyone’s going to see it once I’ve got my shoes on!) but that the fabric felt quite thick, especially for a sock described as “lightweight” with “ultra-thin” cushioning.
Getting the sock on was easy – the toes and heel fit in the right place first time with no need for adjustment. This is where I sometimes have issues with unisex socks – the toes tend to be a bit long and I have to tug on them to get them to fit snugly. Oddly, the ribbed band which is meant to support the arch sat too high on my foot but this didn’t cause any discomfort or chafing. The thick feel of the fabric was noticeable between the toes but overall, the sock felt snug – it hugged my foot without being constrictive.
As soon as I donned my Fivefingers, I completely forgot the socks were there – just what I demand of a toe sock. I’m always a bit wary of socks described as “no show” in case they’re too short and don’t protect my ankle from the cuff of my shoe, but these socks are a perfect length – they do show over the top of both FiveFingers and “normal” shoes but this doesn’t bother me as I prefer the protection this provides.
While running, the socks stayed in place perfectly, felt comfortable and prevented the blisters I get if I run without socks.
The initial test run was a 4-miler on a cool Spring morning, and the socks kept my feet nice and warm, which makes me wonder how they will hold up to Summer conditions. However, when I got home I discovered just how good the “moisture management” properties are – the socks were damp on the outside but when I took them off, my feet were totally dry. In comparison, after a similar run, both my ToeToes and my feet feel damp.
Overall, I liked these socks. I was surprised to find that the women’s socks do fit better than the unisex version and was very impressed with the wicking properties. In Summer, I would probably continue to use my ToeToes – even though they don’t wick as well as the Injinjis; they’re much thinner and cooler so I would expect my feet to sweat less in them. However, this particular Injinji sock looks set to become a favourite in the cooler months and if there were a thinner version it could well become the only sock in my drawer.
So… by the sounds of it, the Injinji Women’s-Specific toe socks do exactly what we expect.
We’re seeing a massive shift in the barefoot shoes that people are buying. The days are getting shorter, it’s colder, it’s wetter, and its windier. People are seeking out the best Vibram FiveFingers for winter – and we’re here to help you find the perfect choice.
In case you don’t want to read the whole article, we’ve made it easy for you to pick out the best shoe depending on what activity you’re likely to use the shoes for most:
Vibram Fivefingers have some excellent styles that are designed for use in colder weather and challenging terrain, but there are two sole types that stand out as the most winter-proof; the Trek sole, and the Spyridon sole (aka the Vibram XS Trek compound).
The ICETREK Sole
The ICETREK sole is unique to the Bikila Evo WP. Built on the same style / shape of sole as the original Bikila Evo, except the sole on the WP is made from Vibram’s patented ICETREK technology. Not only has this rubber compound been granted full marks by Vibram for its durability, it is “developed to grant the best grip on very cold, iced, or snowy surfaces, VIBRAM® Icetrek allows you to move, work, and live safely on mountains and in cold areas.”
The ‘Trek’ Sole
The Trek sole can be found on the following styles:
With a maximum sole thickness of just 7.5mm the Trek sole is very minimal – but in comparison to some of its peers (EL-X 3.5mm, Seeya 3.5mm) it is more ‘built up’, thus giving less ‘barefoot feel’ (aka proprioception / feedback).
The extra sole depth comes in the form of tread. The lugs on the Trek sole are strategically placed to provide extra grip where it is needed, giving you confidence when running on the trails. The extra sole thickness means the Trek sole is less flexible than other Vibram styles.
The Vibram XS Trek Compound Sole
The Vibram XS Trek Compound Sole is found on the Spyridon MR.
The Spyridon MR sole is more minimal than the Trek sole with a maximum sole thickness of just 4mm. The sole features multi-directional tread designed to provide traction and stability when you need it most. The Spyridon MR sole is also much more flexible than the Trek sole, and you can easily roll and flex the sole.
A Look At The Shoes
Bikila Evo WP: The ONLY Waterproof ‘barefoot’ shoe
The Bikila Evo WP was released in November 2014 and has created quite a stir. For year, barefoot runners have been calling out for a shoe that is genuinely waterproof, and now we have it.
This shoe features a triple fastening mechanism: A concealed quick-lace system, a full zipper, and a Velcro across the top. The upper fabric is 100% waterproof, the zipper has taped seams, and the ICETREK sole is super-grippy in snow and ice. Despite the wealth of features, the Bikila Evo WP is also extremely lightweight. Its baffling how a shoe so good, so comprehensive, can remain so low on weight.
The Trek Sport is one of Vibram FiveFingers’ most popular styles. The black/charcoal colourway is arguably more ‘socially acceptable’ and less conspicuous than some of Vibram’s more brighter, vibrant styles. The upper is exactly the same as the KSO (Keep Stuff Out) style, and the Trek Sport style and colour is exactly the same for both men and women.
Because the upper fabric completely covers the foot to just below the ankle, it provides warmth and does a great job of preventing any objects (gravel, sand, mud) from getting inside the five-toe shoe. The mesh ensures the feet can breathe and the Velcro fastening is a God-send when your fingers are cold; simply pull and stick – no fumbling with numb fingers to lace-up your shoes!
What is the Trek Sport best for?
These are all reasons that make the classic Trek Sport an ideal choice if you are looking for a shoe that will perform in:
Trek Sport Sandal: Great for trails in milder weather
Vibram released the Trek Sport Sandal in 2013 to very favourable reviews. While the original Trek Sport is great for hitting the trails when the weather is cooler, muddier, and the terrain looser – The Trek Sport Sandal will serve you better when it is warmer, and when the terrain is more hard-packed.
That said – You can provide extra warmth and protection by adding a pair of Injinji toe socks.
More a shoe than a sandal, The Trek Sport Sandal features vents on each side of the shoe providing incredible breathability. The upper fabric is extremely durable and comfortable.
While the Trek Sport is a Velcro-only style, the Sandal is lace-only (LS) and comes fitted with Vibram’s brilliant Quick-Lace system as standard plus a spare pair of conventional laces, giving you the choice of how you lace your Sandal.
What is the Trek Sport Sandal best for?
The Trek Sport Sandal is certainly less of a winter shoe than the Trek Sport, but is equally as versatile, making it a popular choice for the following activities when the weather is fairer:
The Lontra was the original winter barefoot running shoe – before the Bikila Evo WP was released.. The upper is water-resistant (but not waterproof), and is more padded than any other style, providing thermal qualities to keep your feet warm when it gets cold.
The Lontra features a multi-layer laminate upper with fully taped seams, providing insulation and water resistance. The micro pile fleece liner is soft against the skin while helping wick perspiration away from the foot. Other features include: a neoprene heel cuff to keep out snow and debris, a reinforced hook and loop closure for a snug and secure fit; and reflective surfaces for safety at night. The 4mm EVA midsole provides insulation from frozen surfaces, and the TC-1 Dura outsole provides traction, durability and superior plating protection.
The Lontra feels slightly over-sized, and I suspect it was designed this way to provide extra space inside the shoe to give the wearer the option of wearing toe socks for extra warmth and comfort.
You may also find the Lontra to be less breathable than other styles. This is arguably a fair trade-off given the water resistance element.
The upper fabric is only slightly water resistant (not as much as the Lontra). Like the Trek Sport and the Lontra, your foot is fully covered giving excellent protection against loose objects when running and preventing things such as stones, gravel and mud from entering the shoe.
The ‘MR’ in the name actually stands for Mud Runner and the shoe was designed for off-road, muddy pursuits; the grippy sole akin to that of a mountain bike tyre.
What is the Spyridon best for?
As such, the Spyridon MR will serve you well if you want a winter shoe that still has maximum barefoot feel, whilst still performs well in:
It has to be said that the most important aspect of keeping warm in a ‘barefoot’ shoe is not so much in the shoe itself, but in the socks you wear underneath. Without socks, your feet are really going to feel the cold. If you want to continue running and training outside in the colder months, don’t forget your socks!
If you’re looking for a pair of Vibram Fivefingers for general use, for road running and for a bit of everything, there is no better product than the Bikila Evo WP. Unparalleled grip, waterproof, and the look amazing!
I personally find the Lontra to be a little too ‘clumpy’, heavy, and rigid. When I run in the Lontra, I lose all-important ‘barefoot feel’ (also known as proprioception, ground-feel, or feedback) and I notice that my running form suffers.
The Trek Sport and Trek Sport Sandal are two of my favourite shoes. Excellent handling, great for long distance, top breathability: I personally cannot find any faults with these shoes, though some may argue that the Trek sole is too thick at 7.5mm). I would argue that the tread depth is essential for all trail running / trekking enthusiasts.
The Spyridon MR, while being a very attractive shoe with what looks to be a very ‘grippy’ sole, I find it to lack the appropriate grip when the conditions get very wet. I also find that the Spyridon MR does not provide the level of breathability that is essential in a running shoe.
It goes without saying that in winter, a pair of socks can make a difference between a great run, and a downright hideous one. It’s so important to keep the blood flowing in your feet, so make sure you keep your feet warm and comfortable. As soon as you lose feeling in your feet, how do you know if your technique is correct? …You don’t!
A pair of socks will go a long way to keep you dry, warm, and most importantly, running naturally. Specialist running shoes with individual toe pockets require specialist socks with toe pockets. Luckily, we have the best toe socks on the market… Injinji toe socks.
Wearing Original Weight Injinji socks under your Vibrams will have a greater impact. If you Vibrams are currently quite close-fitting (i.e, your toes graze the end of your shoe), then the added material from the Original Weight socks will probably be too much, and could cause ill-fitting inside the shoe. This of course, will have a knock-on effect to your running performance and comfort.
Most people will find that, if you are usually a size 43 in a KSO, a size 43 Lontra will feel a little oversized, meaning you could easily accommodate a pair of Original Weight socks inside.
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