Let’s talk about socks. When it comes to wearing them with Vibrams, some people love them and some people hate them. I’m in the “love” camp, and always wear socks when running. I find it keeps me from getting blisters when I’m running more than 5 miles or so and it keeps my shoes from getting smelly too fast. Just about the only time I don’t wear socks with Vibrams is if I’m doing a short gym/weight workout.
Currently there aren’t many manufacturers catering to the toe sock crowd. A quick search on Zappos brings up Injinji and Smartwool and apparently Fila also makes toed socks for their Skele-toes lineup. One last manufacturer that has been around for several years, but that I had only recently heard of, is ToeSox.
ToeSox makes a variety of products; their lineup includes socks with and without toes (think “fingerless” gloves) as well as socks with sticky dots on the bottom to provide grip when doing yoga. Interestingly, they even make a 5-toed sandal! Unfortunately I can’t tell from the website if it has a zero-drop heel.
In this review we’ll be taking a look at the Ultralite Crew and Ankle cut socks that are meant to be used with running, cycling and climbing shoes. The Ultralite series is the thinnest of ToeSox’s offerings, as they also make Light Weight (meant for general all-around use) and Medium Weight socks (intended for hiking and trails).
ToeSox — Materials, Colors & Sizing
ToeSox uses what they call Perf Dry yarn in these socks, which is a wicking synthetic fiber. For comparison, they feel quite similar to Injinji’s thinnest Lightweight sock. The Perf Dry is soft and comfortable against the skin and the Ultralites stretch and are easy to pull on. I’ve found that the Original Weight Injinji’s can require quite a bit of pulling to get them on until you’ve gotten them broken in over time (the Injinji Lightweights don’t seem to have this problem).
The ToeSox Crew cut comes in four colors: black, white, grey and royal blue. If you want to go nuts, the Ankle cut has a grand total of nine colors: black, white, grey, royal blue, pink, yellow, green, red and purple!
As for sizing, the Ultralites come in standard sizes of Small, Medium, Large and XLarge. As a side note, the Light Weight and Medium Weight ToeSox come in XSmall and XXSmall as well, so there are some options for kids too!
These socks appear to be pretty standard with the exception of center band which ToeSox refers to as the arch band. According to their marketing, the arch band is a “4cm arch support band that anchors the sock to the foot and relaxes the fascia by compressing it.” In practice, I could tell that they were just a bit more snug around the middle of the foot than Injinji socks, but in a side by side comparison when walking, running or working out at the gym, I couldn’t tell much a difference.
The top band is intentionally made a bit taller to keep the socks in place and not sagging down your leg. I have pretty large “cankles” so this isn’t normally a problem for me. I was pleased to find that they aren’t overly tight and don’t dig into my skin or leave too much of a ring after I take them off.
One last thing on fit—I have pretty stubby toes and the toe length in these socks seemed to be just right. Your takeaway should be that if you have extraordinarily long toes, you might consider sizing up.
With any sports attire or gear, the most important criteria for me is that I’m not actually aware that I have it on. When you’re running a marathon or are in the middle of an 8-hour bike ride the last think you want to be thinking about is chafing or ill fitting clothes.
So how’d they do? I put the Ultralites to a head-to-head comparison with Injinji’s similar Lightweight socks in a side by side test, running on the treadmill, lifting weights and running stairs. The thin material kept things cool enough, they felt comfortable the whole time, and I didn’t experience any rubbing or hotspots. The Injinji’s may be just a little more sheer when stretched, but the difference is quite negligible.
If you’re the type that likes wearing socks with Vibrams then the ToeSox Ultralite series is definitely an option worth checking out as an alternative to Injinji’s Lightweight socks. With a similar fabric weight and comparable comfort/performance, having a choice is never a bad thing, right?
I’m a big fan of compression gear and Injinji’s compression socks rank among my favorites in terms of tight fit and durability. Based on what I’ve seen from the Ultralite lineup, I’d love to see an compression sock from ToeSox.
ToeSox Ultralite Crew and Ankle socks can be purchased from the ToeSox online store for $11 and $10, respectively — and thanks to a promo code ToeSox has offered BirthdayShoes readers you can get 15% off your purchase of socks in teh UltraSport collection — simply enter BirthdayShoes at checkout! This offer will be good until 10/31/2012.