Amazon HOLIDAY SALE: Save 25% off shoe purchases with code 25OFFSHOES
Running Warehouse: Great prices on closeout shoes! View men's and women's selections.

Running Sock Reviews: injinji, Swiftwick, and Wrightsock

swiftwickIn a perfect world I wouldn’t wear socks when I run. When at all possible, I do prefer to go sockless, but shoes that allow me to do this without developing blisters are few and far between. What’s more, winter is around the corner, and socks become something of a necessity to help break the chill, though even on exceedingly cold days I prefer to avoid thick socks as they tend to be constricting, and reducing blood flo to and from the foot can be worse than just going sockless. So, much as I might not like it, a good pair of socks holds a definite place of distinction in my array of running gear.

Over the past six months I’ve received samples of running socks from three different companies: injinji, Swiftwick, and Wrightsock. All are slightly different in approach, and all make excellent socks that are among the first that I grab when I slide open my sock drawer. Below are some brief reviews (not as much to say about a sock as compared to a shoe!) and recommendations of socks from these companies.


Injinji

injinji_lightweight_noshow_grayI’ve reviewed injinji socks previously here on Runblogger, and my experience with them has been uniformly positive. The separated toe design is one of the best out there when it comes to the prevention of toe blisters, and this is the only type of sock that I own that is wearable in Vibram Fivefingers shoes. One of the issues that one can run into when trying to wear socks with Fivefingers is that fit can be tricky since the Fivefingers can be snug fitting on their own.

Enter the injinji Performance Series Lightweight No-Show Toesock. This sock is similar in design to more traditional injinji socks in that it has the separated toes, but it is made of an ultrathin mix of CoolMax, Lycra, and Nylon fibers. It is noticeably thinner than traditional injinjis, and is probably one of the thinnest pairs of socks in my collection. This makes it ideal for use in Vibrams if one should desire to use them for that purpose, and they are great for when you just want a thin layer between your foot and your shoe to help prevent blistering. My only concern with a sock as thin as this is durability, but I can’t yet comment on that as I have not had them for long enough at this point to see any breakdown. Another great product from injinji.

For more information on injinji running socks, visit the injinji webpage.


Swiftwick

swiftwick-zero-pursuitWhen I was out in Boulder attending the Newton Running retailers summit back in August my friend Tom from TR Treads in WV was raving to me about Swiftwick running socks. As we were standing in the hotel lobby, he pulled out his cell phone and called a rep from Swiftwick and asked him to send me a few pairs to try out. To be honest, I had never heard of the company before, but Tom indicated that they specialize in compression socks, and I’ve generally had positive experiences with compression socks.

Aspire_special_ft_pg_webSwiftwick sent me three pairs of socks: the Pursuit (picture above and to the left), the Aspire, and the Vibe (pictured to the right). All are high quality socks – very impressive – and all are made in the USA (Tennessee to be exact). One of the things that is immediately apparent – and this is a major point that Swiftwick advertises – is the tight weave of the socks. I don’t know a whole lot about knitting, but they are knitted at 200 needles, which I guess is a good thing as it’s supposedly the highest knit density found in a sock. The compression provided by these socks is subtle, but they are comfortable and they don’t squeeze my toes together. Of the three pairs they sent, I particularly like the merino wool Pursuit and the more traditional athletic style Vibe. Given it’s slightly heavier weight, I suspect that the Pursuits will see heavy use this winter, and I have to admit a slight soft spot for anything made out of merino wool – just wish it wasn’t so expensive!

For more on Swiftwick running socks, visit the Swiftwick webpage.


Wrightsock

Wrightsock Coolmesh IIThough all of these socks are excellent, I’ve saved the best for last. It’s rare that I see something in a sock that I find truly innovative. One could argue that injinji’s toesocks are at least unique, but it wasn’t until I tried out Wrightsock’s double-layer design that I truly felt that I’d tried something completely new and different. The double-layer socks from Wrightsock are essentially a sock inside of a sock – there is a very thin internal sock and a more substantial external sock, and they are sewn together so that you don’t really realize that there are two layers until you put them on. The effect of having two layers is that the internal layer hugs your foot, and because it is separate from the external layer, it can slide around relative to the external fabric. Hard to describe in words (see photo below), but the net effect is that these socks do a phenomenal job of reducing friction and blistering. The closest thing I can compare them to are the old sockliners I used to wear inside of wool socks when I went hiking.

Wrightsock Merino TRLOf the socks that they sent to me, my favorites are the Coolmesh II (photo above) and Merino TRL (photo to the right – did I mention that I like Merino wool?), though you really can’t go wrong with any of Wrightsock’s double–layer socks. They do also make more typical single-layer socks called Wrightones, and these are equally high-quality, but the double-layer socks have really spoiled me. Like Swiftwick, Wrightsocks are manufactured in the USA, and I expect that durability will be very good.

Below is an image that shows the double-layer design better than I can describe it:

wright_sock_double-layer

For more on Wrightsock running socks, visit the Wrightsock webpage.

Running Warehouse: Great prices on closeout shoes! View men's and women's selections.
Amazon.com: 25% or more off clearance running shoes - click here to view current selection.
Trivllage: Save 18% on run, swim, and cycle gear. Use Code: RBTri18.

Recent Posts By Category: Running Shoe Reviews | Running Gear Reviews | Running Science

About Peter Larson

This post was authored by Peter Larson. Pete is a recovering academic who currently works as an exercise physiologist, running coach, and writer. He's also a father of three and a fanatical runner with a bit of a shoe obsession. In addition to writing and editing this site, he is co-author of the book Tread Lightly, and writes a personal blog called The Blogologist. Follow Pete on Twitter, Facebook, Google+, and via email.

Comments

  1. scwilbanks says:

    An old running buddy of mine now works for swiftwick and after hearing so much about them, I bought two pair of the vibes.  Far and away the best running socks I’ve ever had.  They are so thin and breathe so well!

    Smith

  2. MplsMikey says:

    I’ll have to try some Swiftwicks… there aren’t many retailers that carry them around here (Twin Cities, MN), but I’ll find a pair somewhere.

    If you love merino wool so much, I’m surprised you haven’t tried Smartwool.  That’s kind of their thing.  I’ve also liked Fitsok.  I totally agree that Wrightsocks are awesome.  I need to pick up some of the wool ones for winter.

    • Pete Larson says:

      I’ve worn Smartwool probably for longer than any other running socks, just don’t think I’ve written about them here before. They make good stuff, but my dog just ate my favorite pair. Icebreaker is another good one – found a couple of pairs super cheap at TJ Maxx.

      Pete

      • Aaron Mailey says:

        Ahhh the old dog ate my ….. trick. Likely story!! haha

        • Pete Larson says:

          A good excuse to buy more socks :) Maybe I should pour a bit of bacon grease on old shoes that I don’t like….good excuse to buy new ones!

      • Timtakach says:

        I just picked up a new pair of Smartwool socks that are toe socks (like the injinji)!! They are very nice, high quality socks….and for me, the pinky toe fits a little better than the injinji.
        -Tim

        • Pete Larson says:

          Haven’t seen those yet – how thick are they?

          • Timtakach says:

            The new smartwool socks that I bought are thin…but REALLY comfortable. Here is a link from smartwool:

            link to smartwool.com

            I think my favorites, though, are the performance mid-weight socks from injinji:

            link to injinji.com

            I love toe-socks. They help with moisture control and blistering, which have been perennial issues for me…that now I can control!

  3. Love Swiftwick socks and they are truly my favorite.  SockGeek.com in Austin turned me onto them, and I will not buy anything else now.  

  4. Jasonstandard says:

    Thanks for the tip Pete, just got the Coolmesh 2 Wrightsock and I love them. They get top billing over my previous favorite, the Asics Nimbus Classic Tab socks.

  5. Levente Dorogi says:

    Hi Peter,

    Here in Europe maybe we can get Injinjies but not the other two. We are big fan of X-socks, they are made with thin silver lining for extra durability. The good thing is that you can register every single sock on their website for a 2 years of guarantee, and if you abuse it before you can send it back for an exchange. They are the priciest socks, but definitely worth it.
    link to x-socks.com

  6. hi pete,

    i carry the injinji socks and the liner does break down pretty quickly with washing and drying.  keeping them out of the dryer helps, but they still are fairly delicate at the ends of the toes.  i normally recommend our customers go with the original weight sock for durability, but do push the liner for tight fitting VFF’s.  we like the injinji socks for regular wear as the slightly extra toe separation can’t hurt foot function.

    have received samples of the swiftwick in the past and the tight weave didn’t feel like it moved moisture as well on my feet as other brands.  they may have improved that in the year or so since i last tested them.

    no experience with the wright socks.

    thanks, as always for the informative posts.

    eric johnson, manager
    the starting block
    springfield, mo

    • Pete Larson says:

      Thanks for confirming what I thought – unless the plan is to use them with Vibrams, going with the standard weight injinjis probably makes sense. My local shoe store carries Wrightsocks, but I had never tried them due to price – I’m a cheapskate when it comes to socks, most of my collection is Target C9, which actually are pretty decent.

      • MplsMikey says:

        Wrightsocks may cost more, but they last a really long time (I have had a few pairs for at least three years… although I don’t run as many miles as you do, so your results might vary)

  7. RunTraveler says:

    Ah… like I needed a new injinji sock to be addicted to. ;)
    But thanks for the review – I haven’t tried the performance series yet. I’ll have to add those to my letter to Santa Claus.

  8. I love Injinjis. I have not been a fan of toe socks, because they separate my toes too much. This was always an unnatural feel to me, but the Injinjis are thin enough so that my toes are not in an unnatural position.

Speak Your Mind

*