08 July 2008

bikefix Exclusive Review: Injinji Performance Tetrasoks

Because we can. I imagine that this simple statement goes a long way toward answering the resounding "why?" that comes when people see these Injinji foot gloves. Erm, toe socks. Injinji compare standard socks to "foot mittens" claiming that they reduce toe dexterity, increase heat and moisture buildup and skin-on-skin friction (all of which are considered Bad Things). So, with the goal of combating these evils, the company has taken advantage of modern knitting technology to build a technical version of the novelty socks that swept the country's junior high schools several years back.

The Performance Terasoks I've been using on and off for almost a year were a gift for someone who knows about my love of all things weird and different. I've worn them casually, for running, for hiking and while riding and have to admit- I think that they're cool. Not because of any real performance benefit, but mostly because of how they look padding around the house without shoes on. Because we're a bike site, though, I'll focus on how they work on the bike.

Because most riding shoes at this point are pretty darn stiff, the Injinji's don't really allow the rider to make much use of their toe dexterity (though I imagine monkeys would love them). While it can take a while (for socks) to pull them on and get the toes in the right spots, they have a nice cozy feel. Inside snug cycling shoes, though, the extra 8 fabric thicknesses can be a bit much, though my Shimanos have enough space in the toe box that things don't get uncomfortable. Contrary to Injinji's claims and despite a fabric that is 70% Coolmax, I feel that the Tetrasok's actually run a bit warmer than normal cycling socks. I have the feeling that this might be the result of having less volume available for air circulation and while it's good to pull moisture from between the toes, it really doesn't have anywhere to go from there. For warm rides with lots of stream crossings, though, they can be nice, without the heat of a full-on wool sock. They're certainly a bit thin for winter use, though. One big advantage, from my perspective, is the complete lack of any toe seams, which can be annoying in any sock (Sock Guy's seem to bug me the most)- if you're particularly irritable in that respect, they might be worth seeking out.

Regardless of their claimed technical merits or my comments above, I bet that most folks will have decided if they would want a pair after seeing the first photo. Me, I think that they're neat and different. They're neither at the top or the bottom of the sock drawer and do see regular use. After probably 20 wearings and washings, they're in fine shape, with no unexpected wear, despite their complexity. They're available at REI (among other places) for $12, which seems to be the going rate for cycling socks these days.



btw: “Injinji“ is pronounced (In-gin-ji) and is an African term which describes when a drumming circle reaches a climax, the peak in the performance, when all of the participants are at one with the rhythm, when everyone hits a stride and there is unison among all. Quasi-science meets quasi-spiritualism. Somehow, I still like 'em.


Matt said...

Where did you find the hairy monkey to pose with the sock?

bikefix said...

You know, as I get older, I just get harrier. Sadly, it's in my blood. What I really is need a woman who'll wax my back...