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Reviews > Clothing > Socks > Injinji Outdoor Series Socks > Test Report by Ben Mansfield

Injinji Outdoor Series Socks



Initial Report Field Report Long Term Report
5 November 2009 12 January 2010 9 March 2010


Injinji Outdoor Series Socks

Injinji Outdoor Series Socks
(Photo Courtesy of Injinji)



Reviewer Profile
Name:Ben Mansfield
Age:32
Gender:Male
Height:6' 0" (1.8 m)
Weight:165 lbs (75 kg)
E-mail Address:benmansfield27 AT gmail DOT com
City, State, Country:North Ridgeville, Ohio, USA


Backpacking Background

Over the past 15 years or so, I've tried to average at least one weekend trip per month year round, primarily in Pennsylvania, West Virginia, and Virginia. During the last 8 years, I've tried to take a week long trip somewhere further, but still usually in the eastern US. I consider myself a mid-weight hiker, preferring some luxury to an ultralight load. I am also an avid fly fisherman, mountain & road biker, and snow skier, and enjoy sailing my homemade dinghy.





Initial Report

5 November 2009

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Product Information

Socks.  With Toes.

Socks. With Toes.

Manufacturer:Injinji
Model:Outdoor Series
Manufacturer URL:www.injinji.com
Year of Manufacture:2009
MSRP:US $16.00

Product Description

Injinji makes socks. For a company to be that specialized means that their product has to be not only unique in the market but also actually solve a problem that other products don't. How can a company do this with just socks? Toe socks. That's right, the socks have individual little pockets for each of my toes. The thought process here is that by individually wrapping each of my toes in its own happy little cocoon, I'll gain all sorts of benefits not realized via traditional "mitten-style" socks. Injinji claims that these benefits include the prevention of blisters as well as allowing my feet to work as designed - providing added dexterity and stability, leading to proper balance and overall happier feet.

Injinji makes a number of different models, but all share the individual toe design. The outdoor series socks that I'm wearing are a blend comprised primarily (70%) of Nüwool (a Merino Wool and man-made fiber hybrid) and 25% Nylon, with the remainder being Lycra. The only seams on the socks are barely perceivable ones at the tip of each toe as well as along the sides of my heels. I was initially worried about this but thus far it has been a non-issue. The seams are truly flat and I can't feel any of them when I'm wearing the socks, even if I wear them with shoes that are too tight.

Injinji double-layered cuff and label

Injinji's double-layered cuff and sewn-in label

The Injinji socks have a double layered cuff at the top of each sock, with a sewn in label displaying the Injinji logo. Incidentally, the Injinji website was kind enough to explain the origin of the name, and help me pronounce it (In-gin-ji). The manufacturer claims that this "Dual Welt Band" helps not only with comfort, but also with keeping the socks in place - preventing them from sliding down as the day wears on. Based on my limited experience wearing them so far, this is indeed true - they seem to stay in place relatively well.

My feet are size 11 US, and though one foot is slightly larger than the other, they are close enough that no special handling is required. I also have generally long toes - my wife claims I have 20 fingers. I'm one of those people who can pick stuff up with their toes, and I once pinched my sister with my toes so hard that it left a mark. I'm not sure that it's relevant to the performance of these socks, but I feel better getting that off of my chest. According to the Injinji website as well as the product packaging, I'm a sock size large, and they do fit very well, despite my feet being at the low end of the size range.

The Outdoor series socks come in a few different colors - Forest, Slate, and Blue, as well as two lengths - crew length and quarter length. I'm testing the longer crew length socks in the slate color (though I'd call it pretty much just black).

The Outdoor Series sock packaging and the Injinji website both have instructions on sizing, fitting, and wearing toesocks. The product packaging also details care instructions - machine wash warm, line dry, no bleach, no ironing, no dry cleaning. I didn't see a warranty anywhere, and I guess I don't really expect it for socks. I was pleasantly surprised, however, to see direct contact information on the Injinji website for pretty much anyone at the company I'd ever want to contact (CEO included).

 

 

Initial Impressions

These socks are pretty neat. When I first put them on, I was able to get my toes into their little individual homes pretty easily - easier, actually, than I anticipated. Turns out it was pretty much beginners luck, because the next day I tried again (but with a clean pair) and it took a little more effort. Effort here is relative though, and in the end it is pretty easy to get these socks on. Injinji even describes the process and indicates that it may take 10 - 20 seconds longer than normal socks, and I'd say that's probably accurate. The recommended method, and the one that works best for me, is to start the socks onto my feet partway and get each toe in place, then finish pulling the toesocks up the rest of the way.

The feel of the toesocks is a unique sensation to be sure. At first I noticed having each toe individually wrapped and I didn't think that the feeling would go away. In the end, though, when I actually stopped thinking about the socks and writing this report, they disappeared from my conscious mind. It does take me a few minutes to get used to them after putting them on, but in the few days since they've arrived I've worn them around a bit (including to work for a few full days) and I generally don't notice them after a while. They're a little thinner than a lot of my hiking socks, but that may not be a bad thing depending on how well they support and keep my feet warm and dry. I think if they were much thicker the added material between my toes would be noticeable, and I'm not sure I'd like that.

I'm really looking forward to putting some trail days on these socks. I've suffered in the past from blisters between my toes, and my feet can probably be described as being on the sweaty side, so I'll be really interested to see how well they work, especially as the weather changes from Fall to Winter and eventually to Spring, bringing on a variety of temperatures and lots of wet days.

 




Field Report

12 January 2010

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Field Conditions

I've had the opportunity to wear these socks on a lot of occasions - I wear a pair at least once a week to work or around town in addition to the hiking and backpacking I've done with these socks. With the holidays I've managed to get out on a weekend overnight trip only once, but I have been able to spend about six additional days on the trails in local parks and recreation areas. When I day hike I do carry a backpack with extra layers, lunch, water, some safety gear, and the like; my day-hiking pack weight is usually in the 15 pound (7 kg) range, so these days approximate overnight backpacking reasonably well.

Injinji keeping my feet warm on a cold day

Injinji Outdoor Series Socks kept each and
every individual little toe warm on a cold day...

My part of the world has had a pretty cold winter so far, and as a result I have been able to test out the Injinji socks in cool, cold, and frigid temperatures, through snow, ice, rain, and even the occasional dry days. I spent the majority of my day hikes in the Cuyahoga Valley National Park (CVNP), which ranges from down around 700 ft (210 m) to up over 1200 ft (360 m) in elevation. The coldest day I was out there was 16 F (-9 C) with sustained wind at about 20 mph (32 kph) and gusts up to 60 mph (96 kph). Of course, the wind and temperature I experienced varied quite a bit as I hiked in and out of the valley. The warmest day I hiked in the CVNP with the Injinji socks was around 45 F (7 C) and little wind or precipitation.

My overnight trip was to the Allegheny National Forest in November (before the hills came alive with deer and deer hunters as they always do toward the end of November), where the weather was absolutely wonderful, no precipitation and temperatures ranging from lows around 32 F (0 C) at night to highs of almost 60 F (15 C) during the warmest day.

For each and every one of these hikes, I've worn the Injinji socks alone inside my boots, which are a well-broken in, mid-cut, Gore-Tex lined model.

 

Field Observations

Through all the miles I've walked in the Injinji socks, I don't really have any fit or performance issues. I have remained blister free, I find the socks relatively easy to put on, and they are showing no signs of wear despite probably a dozen or more washings.

Happy Feet

Day hiking with the Injinji socks
in the Cuyahoga Valley National Park

Because these socks work more like gloves than mittens, I do find that my toes feel a little bit colder if I am standing around, but are just fine if I'm actually hiking or moving around. I don't experience this with normal "mitten" style socks, but I do sometimes experience blisters or sweaty feet with traditional socks - both of which I've happily avoided with the Injinji socks.

I've also noticed that the Injinji socks seem to stay a little fresher than traditional socks. I'm not sure why, perhaps the socks wick and dissipate my sweat, perhaps the Nüwool does something special, or perhaps my feet just don't smell anymore, but I can wear the socks an extra time or two without suffering from stinky feet.

The "Dual Welt Band" seems to work quite well - The socks stay in place throughout the day. It does, however, leave a little bit of an impression on my ankle where it sits all day, but I get this with other tight-fitting socks as well. The other thing I expected but have not experienced is deformation of the toes. The socks are more or less the same shape when I take them off at the end of the day as they were when I put them on in the morning.

Care is pretty simple. I wash the socks with my normal laundry, and I usually remember to lay or hang them to dry. I have, however, put the toesocks in the dryer on more than one occasion to no ill effect.

 



Long Term Report

9 March 2010

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Long Term Observations

I've continued to wear the Injinji Outdoor Series socks through the winter and continue to appreciate them on overnights and day hikes alike. In total I have worn these socks on the trail for about ten days (probably a little over 100 miles / 160 kilometers) in addition to countless days of wearing them to work and around town. My toes still feel a little cold if I'm just laying around, though with the weather warming I don't anticipate this to continue as much.

I haven't noticed any thin spots, unraveling threads, or other durability concerns. The socks still maintain their original shape quite well, and haven't stretched out despite my freakishly long toes. They are a snap to care for - I just put then in with the rest of my laundry and they get washed and dried alongside everything else I wear. I initially complied with the care instructions and laid them out to dry, but have gotten lazy recently and now just throw them in the dryer with everything else. I have not noticed any shrinking or other adverse results.

Summary

What can I say about these socks? Injinji has definitely delivered on the whole "thinking outside the box" thing with their whole line of toesocks, and the Outdoor Series has surpassed my expectations for comfort and dryness. I definitely have another angle to consider when shopping for hiking socks. I have not had any blisters while wearing the socks. My feet have remained dry and therefore warm throughout all my testing.

Key Features
Areas for Improvement
  • Blister-free feet
  • Dry feet
  • Socks stay up all day, and do not deform throughout the day
  • Takes a few minutes to get used to the individual toe sensation
  • Toes have gotten cold if I'm not actively moving around
  • I would like to thank Injinji and BackpackGearTest.org for the opportunity to test these crazy Outdoor series toesocks.



    Read more reviews of Injinji gear
    Read more gear reviews by Ben Mansfield

    Reviews > Clothing > Socks > Injinji Outdoor Series Socks > Test Report by Ben Mansfield



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