Here it is the post you’ve all been waiting for! Go on admit it you’re amongst friends. Every runner knows, or should know (I still see people running in all sorts and in fact consider Lorraine Gersitz who ran the Orange Curtain 50K and won wearing Crocs! So it just goes to show that I know absolutely nothing about what I am talking about) the importance of having good shoes but we often ignore the base layer; the sock. For the past couple of years I have been rotating a half dozen or so pairs of Reebok socks, 1800 miles later with nearly 500 miles on dusty trails they are all pretty much dead. I have also thrown into the mix a pair of Injinji socks, which come in a practical brown color, although I did run the LA Marathon in a nice white pair which I picked up at the expo along with a pair of Injinji gloves, which you’ll have to wait until next winter for a write up on unless we get a cold snap! The great thing about Injinji’s is the individual toe fit the downside is that they are pretty thin, actually they are very thin with no on the sole cushioning, now I am not a huge guy (6’1” 170ish) but I’m not a 120lb Kenyan either and a little cushioning is always welcome! So the quest was on for a pair of socks that could meet the following demands:
~Some cushioning; cushioning is good on those long long runs
~Good fit; to minimize hot spots and blisters, these are bad
~Wicking; who wants toasty toes or worse hot sweaty feet!
~Snugness; support to your foot actually minimizes fatigue, you knew that right?
~Sensible color; white socks and trail running are not a good mix, no siree not even Oxyclean works on Cali dust
An article in Runners World gave me a good head start on where to look, so I had a rummage around the internet and based on what I liked the sound of paid a trip to a few local stores to “feel the quality”, to be honest there were some that I discounted straight away based on the field trip, this left me with two that I couldn’t go hands on with; Darn Toughs Back Roads and Bridgedale X-Hale Speed Demon I couldn’t get the Bridgedales in my size and color choice, I was disappointed as I really wanted a pair of socks called "Speed Demon", I ordered two pairs of the equally inventively named Darn Tough Back Road (Cushion) from Amazon.com. In addition to having a pretty cool name "Darn Tough" they obviously have a large marketing department as they boast the following unique selling features:
~A high density cushioning on foot bottom (I have to confess to not knowing that my feet had bottoms; soles yes but bottoms, well who knew!) but the high density thing sounds like it came straight off the space shuttle
~An invisible seam on the toes, have a look you can see it, it's just there and
~They are made from merino wool so they are soft, which is good because my feet are really quite delicate!
So they are technical, have a sense of humor and are gentle; my kind of footwear.
Now when you look at a sock it’s smaller than your foot and I have a little test for socks, call me anal retentive, it’s ok I am, but if you put a pair on and take them off and put them on again they should feel as snug as the first time, the Darn Toughs do, for reference the Injinjis do as well but they're just not as snug. I trail tested the Darn Toughs on my last run long run, a 20 miler, some three weeks ago and they preformed flawlessly, no hot spots, in fact my feet were darn cool, snug, supported and cushioned, smiley, happy feet you might say.
I have to admit they are not the cheapest, $30.00 for two pairs plus S&H, socks out there and I don’t know how long they will last or how quickly I will get bored of “air” drying them or forget to pick them out of the wet pile of clothes before they get thrown in the dryer (being wool they will be prone to shrinkage; never a good thing!), but they have my won my sole, at least for now. Now talking of shrinkage…