When you pay $38 for a pair of socks--that's $19 per foot, excluding tax--they had better be something special. The EX-Celerator Socks from Injinji Footwear, which have individual toe slots and an over-the-calf compression fit, do indeed qualify as special.
Putting them on is a task. The compression legging, made of a
calf-squeezing nylon/Lycra fiber blend, is a tight fit. Add Injinji's
patented "five-toe-sleeve technology," where each piggy has to be
wiggled into place, and pulling on a pair is no fast feat.
But once adjusted and on, the socks feel great. They fit like no other sock I have worn, hugging toes, feet, ankles, and calves like a second skin.
There is an adjustment period to getting accustomed to the feeling of your toes separated. But on a run or hike, you forget about the "foot gloves" below after a few minutes on the go.
Injinji, which sells a line of toe-socks, touts the toe separation as preventing common foot problems like blisters, hotspots, moisture build-up, and "fungal conditions."
In my test, including running and hiking in the EX-Celerator socks, the fabric-between-the-toes fit did noticeably prevent rubbing. However, I do not commonly get blisters between my toes, so I couldn't
assess the socks' effectiveness in that area.
The second technology story with this sock, the compression leg, is marketed as "fueling circulation to promote faster muscle recovery and prevent fatigue during and after exercise."
Compression socks are a trend in fitness circles. In the past month, two coaches have recommended a compression sock to me for recovery after hard workouts as well as for long plane trips to aid in circulation.
With the EX-Celerators, the socks' fabric tube has a "graduated compression," which uses a Lycra fabric that meets "the correct levels of compression throughout the shaft of the sock, allowing for gradually decreasing compression going up the sock," according to the company.
Injinji touts the compression legging as a feature to decrease swelling and add a feeling of increased energy while working out. To me, it seemed like a slight advantage. The socks fit fine and squeezed subtly on the calves, adding a feeling of support.
Wearing the socks while running--my calves compressed, toes separated and free--I could almost see the point of spending $19 on each foot.
--Stephen Regenold writes about outdoors gear at www.gearjunkie.com.