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Reviews > Clothing > Socks > Injinji Tetratsok Liner > Owner Review by Ray Estrella

Injinji Liner Socks
By Raymond Estrella
OWNER REVIEW

November 01, 2010

TESTER INFORMATION

NAME: Raymond Estrella
EMAIL: rayestrellaAThotmailDOTcom
AGE: 50
LOCATION: North Western Minnesota, USA
GENDER: M
HEIGHT: 6' 3" (1.91 m)
WEIGHT: 215 lb (97.50 kg)

I have been backpacking for over 30 years, all over California, plus many western states and Minnesota. I hike year-round in all weather, and average 500+ miles (800+ km) per year. I make a point of using lightweight gear, and smaller volume packs. Doubting I can ever be truly UL, I try to be as near to it as I can yet still be comfortable. I start early and hike hard so as to enjoy the afternoons exploring/chilling. I usually take a freestanding tent and enjoy hot meals at night. If not hiking solo I am usually with my brother-in-law Dave or my twin children.

The Product

Courtesy of InjinjiManufacturer: Injinji
Web site: http://www.injinji.com
Product: Mini Crew Liner Sock
Year manufactured: 2010
MSRP: US $10.00
Size reviewed: Medium (Men's 8 - 10.5, Women's 9 - 11.5 US)
Other sizes available: Small, Large and Extra Large
Color reviewed: Heather Gray (also available in Black)
Weight listed: N/A
Actual weight: 0.8 oz (23 g)

Quick & Dirty, Nitty Gritty

The Injinji liner socks are very light and thin socks that work quite well to transfer moisture and eliminate friction. They work OK for odor control but seem to wear fast with my hard-charging style of hiking. They also let me play This Little Piggy in my tent… Please read on for the details.

Product Description

Lotsa liners


The Injinji Mini Crew Liner sock (hereafter called the liner or sock) is a very thin liner sock (or "tetratsok" as Injinji calls them) with something different from all the other liner socks I have. Well five things different to be accurate. That is the toe sleeves each one has.

Injinji does not call them toe sleeves though. They call it an Anatomical Interface System. Here is their explanation of it. The "Anatomical Interface System (AIS) is engineered to separate your toes with a thin, anti-friction membrane that is both lightweight and breathable. Seamless in construction, the tetratsok forms to every contour of your foot. This allows for true restriction free movement from your heel to five toes, encourages healthy circulation, and eliminates skin on skin contact between your toes to prevent blisters from developing." I will discuss this later in the review.

The liners are made from Invista's COOLMAX fabric to the tune of 75%. 22% is listed as nylon with the final 3% being Lycra. The material is soft and is noticeably cushion-ey feeling even as thin as it is.

Looking at the construction of these socks amazes me. The liners are made with a two-ply weave. There are no seams on the socks at all. The individual toes are seamless, coming right from the body of the sock. And the body has no seams even where it forms the heel pocket. Even where the top turns inside and down to form a 1/2 in (13 mm) dual-layered welt band (to help keep them up) it has only been attached to the inside of the sock. There is nothing on the sock to put any pressure on my feet. Here is a shot of them on my high-arched duck feet. (Quack)

This little piggie went to market...


A red sewn-on label sits on the outer side of each sock. I say the outside because if it is positioned to the inside of my ankle I will have a heck of a time getting them on. This is because the socks have to be made Right and Left to make the anatomically correct toes work.

The liners come about 2 in (5 cm) up on my ankle. The material is quite stretchy and I can force them up higher if I wanted to. (But I never want to…)

The package recommends washing them cold and air drying. I have done so the entire time.

Note: The picture shows that I have both the Crew and Mini Crew liners. As I got them this past summer all my boot use was already done for the year. All late spring, summer, and fall I have been hiking in trail runners and have only used the mini crews. I may amend this review next year after using the full length liners with boots this winter should the findings warrant it.

Field Conditions

I have been wearing the Injinji Mini Crew Liner socks since June (2010) and have worn them on every trip but one until the time of this writing. This has encompassed 23 days of hiking and 262 miles (422 km) traveled wearing them.

I have worn them as far north as Itasca State Park in Minnesota, and as far south as Cleveland National Forest in southern California. They have been in Yosemite, Kings Canyon and Sequoia National Parks along with many other State Parks and Wilderness areas. Elevations have ranged from near sea-level to over 11,000 ft (3350 m) in temps from freezing to over 100 F (38 C).

They have been worn in the rain and even hiking across and through rivers. But mostly they were worn on beautiful sunny California days.

Observations

I have been using liner socks since 1978, the year that I switched from cotton to wool socks. At first I used the liner socks to protect my feet and ankles from the rough, coarse, horribly itchy wool socks that were available to me at the time. After I started using them I found how well they worked to cut down on the incidence of blisters, both by adding an extra layer to absorb friction and by wicking moisture away to keep my skin from softening.

I pretty much have stuck with the same brand though for many years now. But because of getting a pair of Vibram Fivefingers KSO Treks I was made aware of the offering from Injinji, the only socks that can be worn with them. While looking into the socks I found the liners and really liked the idea behind having each toe protected. It made a lot of sense to me so I decided to try them out.

I always take two pair of socks and liners with me on multi-day trips so I can rinse them out each day. But on day hikes I obviously just need the one pair. When I first started using the Injinji liners I marked one pair with a permanent marker to keep them straight. I did this so that I could focus more on one pair to really accelerate the wear data. The unmarked pair was always the pair I wore on day hikes, and was the pair I would start in so as to end up with two days use on a three-day trip. So the unmarked pair has about 14 or 15 days of use.

Putting on the Injinji liners takes a bit of getting used to. I can't just pull them on fast. I need to carefully put them on, making sure to line up each toe. It is easy to have my toes slip into the wrong sleeve.

Once on I cover them with a lightweight mini crew wool hiking sock. I have worn this combo with trail runners like the Oboz Hardscrabble (see review), the North Face Hedgehog, Montrail Flow and Montrail Wildwood. They have even been worn by themselves with the Fivefinger Treks like this picture on the San Gabriel River.

Gorlla feet over the river


I have found the liners to work very well. They wick moisture away from my foot better than any liners I can remember. Two of my trips saw me crossing rivers and streams so many times that it just did not make sense to stop to put on my water shoes, so I just wore what I was hiking in. Even after almost 5 hours of in-and-out of water hiking when I got to camp I did not have "prune feet" as the wicking action of the liners in conjunction with some good sock and a fast draining shoe moved the moisture out quickly. Here's a shot of some water torture in The San Gabriel River.

Where's the trail?


I really love the fact that these come in this short length. I do not like wearing long socks with my trail runners and it looks funny to have long liners sticking out of my short socks. As far as I know the Injinji mini crew liners are the only short liners available at this time.

One thing I have always had a problem with when using synthetic liner socks is odor control. Many of my old ones flat reek at the end of a day's hiking. I have to say that I was surprised by the COOLMAX material. Injinji says that they fight odor but do not say how it is achieved, whether by an anti-microbial treatment or something built into the material. What ever it is it works pretty well. I get some retained foot funk but nothing like most other liners I have used. That said they are not as good at it as my long-time favorite liners or wool.

What they are much better at is the fit department. They have no seams at all and it really shows. (Hmm, or doesn't show…) I know that I have gotten pressure spots from my liners wadding up in a pair of too-tight shoes. This has never happened with the Injinjis and I think with the design it would be just about impossible to do. There is just no loose material to gather. I have not had a single blister this summer, even with some crazy long distance, major gain days with a 30 lb (13.6 kg) pack on in Yosemite.
Holy hole, Batman
The only beef I have with them is that they seem to wear quickly. At the heel and ball of my feet the liners are getting very thin. I can see my skin through the material, but they have not gotten a hole there yet.

Where I am getting holes is between the toes as can be seen to the right. And frankly I may be to blame for much of it. To keep from having to turn the socks right-side out when washing them (which is time consuming working each little toe sleeve back out) I normally pull the tip of each toe to get it off. I keep working my way across my toes until they all come off, then I pull it from my foot.

Looking at it now I think I may have been stressing the spot where the toes meet the body. With my long liners this coming winter, and with some new mini-crews that I will buy before next spring, I am going to carefully slide the liners off much like removing a surgical glove. If this proves to make them last longer I definitely will add an amendment to the review. (And kick myself for being lazy…)

I have rinsed the liners out every afternoon while hiking. They dry quite fast and are actually ready to wear the next morning should I only want to carry one pair. But I like to put a clean pair on when I go to bed to keep the inside of my bags and quilts free of sweat and/or oils. And as light as they are I sure don't mind carrying an extra pair.

I am going to keep wearing these liners (or new ones of the same style) as I really like the way they work. I think they are going to be my new favorite liner socks.

Ray Estrella
I measure happiness with an altimeter.

This report was created with the BackpackGearTest.org Report Writer Version 1.5 Copyright 2010. All rights reserved.

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