Injinji Lightweight Crew

Injinji Lightweight Mini-Crew
Reviewed by Coy Starnes
Socks provided by Injinji for testing purposes
Injinji Lightweight Crew

The Injinji Lightweight Crew

First of all, this sock is a toesock. Think glove sock and you are on the right track because each toe has its own, shall we say, pocket it fits in.  According to Ininji, this translates into better performance by allowing the foot to perform naturally and freely inside any shoe, much like going barefoot.  Injinja says a toesock is more like wearing a glove while regular socks are more like a mitten, so while regular socks are warmer, the toe socks allow for more dexterity.  They also claim that having each toe in its own compartment helps eliminate hotspots, blisters, moisture buildup and transfer of fungal conditions. I never have given it much thought but it actually makes sense.   Here is the website description of the sock I am testing.  BTW, this sock retails for $12.

“The Outdoor Series Lightweight Toesock™ is designed to offer a sleek and ultra thin interface for performance in any shoe, climate and terrain. The high-knit count enables the thin fiber to remain durable. The Outdoor Series is engineered with Injinji´s patented AIS: Technology™ and built with Nüwool that helps prevent odor and controls temperature which keeps feet dry and comfortable.
They go on to list the following benefits.

• Proper Toe Alignment
• Superior Moisture Management
• Better Posture, Better Balance
• Blister and Hotspot Prevention
• Tactile Feel

* Engineered w/ AIS technology and constructed with:
* 58% NüWool™
* 38% Nylon
* 4% Lycra®

I will also add that the care instructions are to machine wash in warm water, line dry, do not bleach, do not iron and do not dry clean.  Also, this particular sock only comes in black.

Trying them on
I am testing a large. The fit guide says this is for men’s US size 11-13.  I wear a 11.5 in most shoes and boots.  The seem to fit just about perfect except for my little toe which I will explain in a bit.  I found they do take a little more time to put on than regular socks.  The FAQ page says to expect 10 to 20 seconds longer but I’d say more like a minute. Perhaps my big belly slowed me down a little.  Anyways, they are fairly easy to get on.  I did notice that my smallest toe (I’d call it my 5th toe) did not want to go inside its compartment and once inside did not fill it out like the rest.  My little toe is not all that short compared to the rest of my toes, but it seems like these socks are shaped for someone with a foot where the little toe starts further towards the front of the foot than mine do.

Trying them out
I have worn them on one 15 mile bike ride so far.  I really did not notice them after the first few minutes. I had on a pair of my summer shoes which are white and made with an open mesh. These shoes are also a little on the small side but the thinness of the Injinji Lightweight socks really helped them not feel too tight.   We have been experiencing a record setting heat wave so I was able to judge the moisture management a little.  I rode early in the morning but it was still 85 F when I left and 93 F by the time I got home about 2 hours later.   They do seem to work quite well and I do think they helped my overall foot comfort by keeping my toes separated inside my shoe.

I will have more to say after I get some more miles (especially while hiking) in these socks but so far I am liking them a lot, other than the fact that they are a little difficult to put on.  Stay tuned for further updates within the next month or so.
Update: August 9, 2012

Since getting the Injinji Lightweight Mini-Crew socks about 6 weeks ago I have worn them at least twice and sometimes three times a week, so I estimate I have around 15 days total in them so far.  I even wore them 2 days in a row once to test the socks ability to handle odor.  The weather during the month of July was exceptionally hot but it has cooled down quite a bit in the past couple of weeks with highs only in the low to mid 90’s F.  Anyways, they are holding up rather well so far, and they passed the odor test with driving (halfway between flying and walking)  colors.  In other words, there was some odor after wearing them all day, but it was not bad, and much better than my cotton and or synthetic socks smell.  The next morning I could barely detect any odor, but by that afternoon they smelled a little stronger than they did on the previous afternoon.

I usually wore them on days I planned to do a long walk in the woods but also wore them to town and around the house a few times.  I still find that I’m kind of slow getting them on but once I get them on I really do like the performance.  I’ve hiked up to 6 miles (twice) and 3 or 4 miles several other times.  I also wore them on several more bike rides, once in my new Vibram Fivefinger (VFF) Bilika shoes and the other times in my tennis shoes.

I’m not sure if these socks have prevented any blisters but I experienced absolutely no discomfort while wearing them.  As I just mentioned, I did buy some VIbram Fivefinger shoes and logged most of my hiking mileage in the socks while wearing them.  It is almost like Fivefinger shoes and the Injinji socks were made for each other.  As a matter of fact, if you go to the Vibram Fivefinger home page and look under accessories, the Injinji socks are listed.  Here are the socks in the new shoes.

As seen in the photo, I obviously got me feet wet, but by the time I got back home (about an hour later) my shoes, socks and feet were almost dry.  I continued to wear them for another hour just piddling around the house and yard and they were completely dry.  However, what I truly appreciated was that even as I was walking in the water (other than that it felt like ice water…) and for the first several minutes after getting out, I noticed absolutely no difference in how my feet felt compared to walking in dry shoes and socks.  I’m not sure if the Injinji socks or the Fivefinger shoes were the cause of my unexpected comfort in wet shoes but I know that my hiking boots and even some of my tennis shoes feel weird on my feet when soaked.  I found the socks just felt good on my feet no matter which shoes I had on.  I think it speaks volumes that I bought another pair of Injinji socks (the Outdoor Trail) shortly after this hike.  I haven’t worn the new pair of socks yet as I wanted to really put these through as much use as possible during the testing time period.  Turns out, it was a good thing I did, because I was able to compare them in new condition with the Mini-Crew’s I am testing.

I followed the care instructions to the letter, washing the socks in warm water only and letting them air dry.  However, after just a little over a dozen washings the socks have shrunk.  I actually noticed it before buying the new pair of similar Injinji socks, but once I held them beside my Lightweight Mini-Crew’s it was even more obvious how much they had shrunk. However, the shrinking has not really seemed to make any difference in the performance of the socks but I do think they are a little harder to get on now.  I was actually thinking this might get easier as I broke them in…LOL.  However, since my new pair is also a wool blend, I think I’ll forgo washing them in warm water and perhaps even just hand wash from now on.   That’s all for now, but I will close with a couple of pictures of the old and new sock.  BTW, since the new one is a regular Crew and the old one is a Mini-Crew, I held them at the heel to evenly match them.

Final Update: Sept 21, 2012

Injinji Lightweight Mini Crew on a paddling trip

Despite the shrinking, I have continued to wear the Injinji Lightweight Mini-Crew socks about twice a week. I don’t think they have shrunk anymore.  I did wear them 2 days straight once more during the test, included an overnight in my hammock.  I put them on on a Thursday morning as I got ready for a canoeing trip in Mississippi.  I was wearing a different pair of FiveFingers this time because I recently bought some Sprints for water use.  Anyways, I drove to Montgomery Al to pick up another guy and then we both drove on over and camped on Black Creek for the night so we could be at the canoe outfitter early Friday morning.  After sleeping in the socks I then wore them all day while canoeing, and again, I don’t know if it was the socks or not, but my feet felt fine even thought they stayed wet for about 12 hours straight until I took them off at bedtime that night.  I basically went barefooted the next 2 days because I found I was getting too much sand in my shoes and even some inside the socks. I know this because after taking them off that evening I took them down to the river for a quick rinse and thought I had them pretty clean.  I hung them on my hammock ridge-line overnight to dry and then packed them away for the remainder of the trip. A few days later I was going to wear them on a hike to the holler and as I put them on I noticed they still had some sand on the inside.  I turned them inside out and shook them really well and all the sand was easily dislodged from the socks.

The socks are still in fairly good shape but there is a little piling taking place around the heel area.  Surprisingly, it is more above the heel, but I guess this is where the most rubbing takes  place when wearing them in shoes.  I also recently got a pair of Spenco Cold Snap shoes and have been wearing the Lightweight Mini-Crew socks in those.  The shoes fit me great except that they are very tight across the top of my foot and I can tell a big difference in how they feel when wearing a thicker pair of socks.

Summary
The Injinji Lightweight Mini-Crew socks are fantastic for my Five Finger shoes.  They are great for snug fitting shoes. They or fine for normal shoes too, but it is not as obvious of an advantage over regular socks. There could be something to the claim that they help prevent the transfer of fungal conditions but I have not worn these socks exclusively during the testing period.  I can say I have not experienced any Athletes Foot during the past few months.  I do get a case every now and then but I think it is more in the winter when I wear shoes all the time.  I do go barefoot a lot in the summer.  I am glad I was able to test them because I’m not sure I would have ever thought to wear them otherwise.  Now I have 2 pairs and will be buying more as I wear those out.

This concludes my testing of the Injinji Lightweight Mini-Crew toe socks.  My thanks to Injinji and 4alloutdoors for this opportunity.

About the Author

I am from northeast Alabama where I spend a lot of my time divided among several hobbies that include  backpacking and dayhiking, canoeing and kayaking, and just getting out enjoying nature.

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