Injinji Performance 2.0 Socks Review

Injinji Performance 2.0 Trail SocksInjinji toesocks. You know, the toe wranglers. The socks that make your toes look like wriggly, colored sausages. The socks that garner attention from everyone, anywhere.

When it comes to running and other outdoor play, two types of folks can benefit most from these lil’ buggers: people who get toe blisters and/or the people who could use a little space between their toes for better foot function.

Let me begin by saying that if you are one of those people who doesn’t get blisters on your toes (or elsewhere on your feet), I hate you. Just kidding. Sort of. In his book Fixing Your Feet, Jon Vonhof (An aside, if you’re an ultrarunner, backpacker, fastpacker, hiker, speed mountaineer, or adventure racer, this book will change your outdoor life.) says that the trifecta of heat, friction, and moisture, when present for an extended period of time, is the root cause of all foot blisters.

Injinji toesocks have been around for years, but the company is releasing their Performance 2.0 line in early 2013. While their toesocks have always endeavored to eliminate or reduce all three sides of the blister triangle via their fabric type and toe-encasing design, Performance 2.0 socks add models with more fabric choices, new features, and different lengths that allow you to wear the right sock for your needs in specific environmental conditions. The Performance 2.0 line also introduces a wild array of colors that many folks will find aesthetically pleasing.

The Performance 2.0 Line Summary

The Performance 2.0 line includes six sock categories: Run, Trail, Compression, Sport, Liner, and Yoga. This review focuses on the sock categories that are most applicable to runners – Run, Trail, and Compression. Here are the available models in these categories:

Performance 2.0 Run
Socks in the Run category are organized into three weights: lightweight, original weight, and midweight. All Performance 2.0 Run socks are made of a blend COOLMAX XtraLife (the time-proven, moisture-wicking fiber that here includes strands of CORDURA for increased durability) and Nuwool (Injinji’s own Merino wool) fibers. The midweight sock additionally offers midfoot and heel padding. Each sock weight is presented in two lock lengths, mini-crew and no-show.

Performance 2.0 Trail
Injinji’s Trail socks are all midweight socks with midfoot and heel padding. They’re made of COOLMAX XtraLife and come in mini-crew and micro lengths.

Ex-celerator 2.0
The Ex-celerator 2.0, Injinji’s new compression sock, is made of LYCRA Energy, which is basically LYCRA with graduated compression. As a compression sock, it comes in over-the-calf length only.

Biggest Changes in the Performance 2.0 Line

Those who are familiar with Injinjis will find a couple notable changes and upgrades in the Performance 2.0 line. Let’s start with the most obvious: color. Injinji began its life offering socks in black, brown, and white, then later expanded into gray, pink, green, and a couple blue shades with their Performance line. With Performance 2.0, we see even more colors and color combinations. If you like bright, Injinji now has it. And, don’t worry, the socks still come in those traditional colors, too.

The crew-length socks of Injinji yore are now gone, and the cuff of all the sock models has been upgraded with extra elasticity. The Trail socks have a double cuff.

Injinji Performance 2.0 Trail sock - cuff

Injinji Performance 2.0 Trail sock’s double cuff.

Injinji has been experimenting with wool in what was called the Outdoor category of socks in their Performance line, but now it shoes up in all the Performance 2.0 Run socks.

Also, all of the Run, Trail, and Compression sock models offer a mesh top, from about the crease between the top of the foot and the lower leg to about the start of the metatarsals, with a wider weave that’s designed to offer greater heat and moisture transfer away from the foot.

Finally, a band of light compression runs around the foot, via a tighter fiber weave, and under the arch. This band is meant to deliver a teensy bit of support to the arch and to help keep the sock in place on the foot.

Performance 2.0 Fabrics Review

Most “technical” socks these days are focused on reducing via fabric the heat and moisture that builds up around an athlete’s foot. There are a lot of fabrics, natural, human-made, and a combination of both, that seem to do the trick for certain people. Some love wool, while others can get away with cotton. I’ve been at this outdoor thing a while – I went on my first backpacking trip and ran my first marathon when I was 18 – and here’s what I’ve learned about sock fabric and feet: wear what works for you. Every foot is different in terms of the amount of heat and moisture it produces in a given environment and, even more, every foot can tolerate a variable amount of heat and moisture before it starts to blister.

With the Performance 2.0 line’s Run, Trail, and Compression socks, you’ve got three fabric choices: the combo of  COOLMAX XtraLife and Nuwool in the Run socks, COOLMAX XtraLife in the Trail socks, and LYCRA Energy in the Compression socks.

As such, the socks all feel a little different afoot. My favorite material among these three is hands-down the COOLMAX XtraLife/Nuwool blend found in the Run socks. Wool, wool, wool, we outdoorsy folk love wool’s functionality in terms of its ability to wick moisture and retain heat even when sopping wet. This fabric blend, though only partly made of wool, still behaves like it. My internal body temperature runs cold and my feet favor wool-blended socks when conditions are cool and wet because my feet don’t begin to feel like hard cement blocks I have to lug around.

As temperatures increase, the less sock I want around my feet. I found each of the three Run sock weights, lightweight, original weight, and midweight, to have applicability in variable temperatures. I notice a distinct lack of sock volume in the lightweight Run socks; they have a whisper-y, almost-not-there quality about them.

If you’re like me and have been wearing Injinji socks for years, you might notice that the Trail socks, which are made of COOLMAX XtraLife, can, when paired with a smooth insole, can feel a little slippery underfoot. I wear a couple different kinds of after-market insoles, and had a bit of sock-against-insole slippage when running downhill with certain insoles and the Performance 2.0 Trail sock. But, my foot quickly adapted to and wasn’t bothered by this. In fact, a couple runs later, I had forgotten all about it until I looked back at my review notes.

I’m a huge fan of compression socks in general, so I love the Ex-celerator 2.0 concept and these socks work for me in a variety of workout conditions. Their graduated compression is noticeable but also noticeably less compressive than other compression-sock models made by other companies. Finally, I cared for their LYCRA Energy fabric the least when it was wet, as I found my feet and lower legs feeling colder than the rest of my body. This late fall and early winter, I’ve taken to doing my speed workouts on the gym treadmill because the out-of-doors is turning snowy and icy, and I’m almost always wearing my Ex-celerator 2.0’s there.

Performance 2.0 Features Review

First and foremost, I have to sing hurrahs and high praises for the both the new cuffs and the arch-support bands. Hurrah and high praise, for these are far and away the best Performance 2.0 upgrades! I’ve been an Injinji fan and wearer for years (Though not exclusively as it’s my foot manifesto to wear lots of different kinds of socks under the premise that exposure to variable conditions will condition my foot to better tolerate variability. Take it or leave it, it seems to mostly work for me.), since I received my first then-peculiar-looking-to-me pair in the race-schwag bag of one of my first ultras. I’ve long loved them for their ability to encase toes and, thus, eliminate toe friction – My toes are long and aligned closely with each other, and this combination provides for lots of toe-blister opportunities – so I’ve tolerated their less-awesome, now-historical aspects.

Historically, previous Injinji sock iterations have sagged and slumped on my feet and those of a number of people with whom I’ve spoken. In wearing the older-model Injinji socks for hours and days (Yes, days. I wear my socks for multiple days between washings as long as they aren’t terribly dirty.), I experienced their temporary structural breakdown. That is, they stretched out and, as a result, sagged and moved on the foot until they were washed and dried again. However, the improved cuffs and arch-support band create a stable and unmoving ride. Really good stuff, Injinji, your users asked and you answered.

Injinji Performance 2.0 Trail Socks - side

A side view of the Injinji Performance 2.0 Trail Sock showing the cuff and arch-support band.

In concept, I like the mesh tops of all the Run, Trail, and Compression socks for moisture and heat transfer, but I haven’t yet tested the socks beyond a two-hour run in about 90F and high-humidity conditions. I’m planning to wear the original weight Performance 2.0 Run socks to the 2013 Marathon des Sables, a pretty darn hot race and, thus, an excellent test of the mesh top.

Next, I want to give props to the Injinji peeps for the addition of padding in the Performance 2.0 Run midweight socks as well as the Trail socks. The padding just plain feels delightful and even better at the end of an ultramarathon-distance run when my biomechanics begin to falter and my feet come down a little harder than they probably should. I’d love to see a padded midfoot and heel in the other socks of the Performance 2.0 line, too, but I also understand that Injinji has to offer diversity for other foot needs.

In Conclusion

As I said earlier, I have long toes that lay in contact with each other unless I’m doing yoga or running on a technical trail where my toes are spread apart and gripping at the ground or my shoe for balance. Wearing toesocks does two things for me: eliminates toe-contact points and further encourages me to spread out my toes when I’m running. When it comes to Injinji toesocks, the proof is in the dang pudding: I’ve still never had a blister in them.

Meghan Hicks

is iRunFar.com's Senior Editor, the author of 'Where the Road Ends: A Guide to Trail Running,' and a Contributing Editor at Trail Runner magazine. The converted road runner finished her first ultramarathon in 2006 and loves using running to visit the world's wildest places. For more information on Meghan and her adventures, please visit her personal website.

There are 39 comments

  1. Alex Pashley

    Love the 2.0!!!

    I am one of those who used to suffer through blisters in between my toes from long runs. These things were life savers. The 2.0's cuff is a little higher and tighter than previous pairs I have had, and I love it. the perfect trail sock for me.

  2. Kurt

    Great to see this review. I've long-hated the ease with which muck could get into my socks, so I'm looking forward to the new cuff. I still have toenails, and find the Injinjis often break down quite quickly where the top of the big toe beats against the shoe on steep downhills. The original Performance lasted about 50 miles. Do you get the impression that there's enough Cordura in the weave to actually improve this weakness?

    1. Tyler

      I am with you; I may not be a fast runner, but man can I wear a hole into the big toe of my socks quickly. Since Injinjis are a "footed" sock, meaning you can only wear it on one side, they I get 1/2 the life out of them as other socks since only one foot tends to get the hole and I just switch feet, but can't with the toe socks. I like Injinjis and hope they don't wear out as fast, but I am still searching for a sock I can't puncture even with always cropped toe nails.

      1. MS

        Meghan mentions John's book and one of the ideas out of his booked which has helped me is taping the tips of your toes with Kinseo tape (on runs over 50k I usually apply tincture benzoin to help the tape stick longer) and then putting Injinjis on. I usually cut a piece of tape the width of the toe and about an inch long so you can run the tape from the base of your toe nail forward over the nail, front of toe and end up a 1/4" under the toe.

        By doing this you'll be surprised how long the "lighweight" version will last (I've done a 100 and a couple 50 milers in the same pair since the tape protects the socks.

        I usually use the Injinjis "lighweight" version as a liner and then put a pair of Drymax light trail socks on over them. Both manufacturers say not to do this (for wicking reasons) but it seems to keep me blister free …

        1. Jeff Faulkner

          Thank you for this tip, I will give it a shot this weekend. I wear out socks like there's no tomorrow by putting holes where my big toes rub the shoe.

  3. Mia

    I got a pair of Injinjis through a Coolmax promo offered to my running team, and I love them! I sometimes get toe blisters, so if conditions are wet and I'm going long, then I put on the toe socks. But as a vegan, I'm disappointed that they're incorporating wool into their basic Run line, and I wouldn't get them for that reason. I hope the original weight ones aren't phased out for a while!

    1. Josh

      Mia –

      Although potentially stressful, shearing is not harmful to sheep. Modern species of sheep require shearing to maintain their health, actually. Don't shear them, and they don't do well. Older and more "primitive" species such as Icelandic, will rub their wool off on trees and fenceposts if you don't shear them. In other words, that wool needs to come off, one way or another.

      Josh

          1. Charles

            I think – in all fairness – you should verify your accusation BEFORE posting it here. Ask Injinji about the source of their wool. You have made them guilty from the get go without true knowledge. Be fair.

  4. Seamus Foy

    Megan, do you have a sense of durability yet? I love Injinjis, but they are expensive, and I seem to tear through them very quickly. They break down much faster than any other socks I've owned.

  5. Meghan Hicks

    Hi all,

    Thanks for the comments. I've been testing the Performance 2.0 line for a little over three months. All of my socks are pre-production models, meaning that they were created for the in-company and at-large testers before the line's mass production.

    I have no idea how many miles I've put in each pair, but I've had one toe blowout, the big toe of one a lightweight Run model (the ones made of a blend of COOLMAX XtraLife and Nuwool). In consultation with Injinji after this blowout, they indicated that durability is something they were actively addressing as they approached their first mass production of the Performance 2.0 line. How that will play out, I don't know.

    The 2.0 line has an insanely improved fit. If you wore the midweight/padded interface socks in the Performance line, the fit I got out of those socks is comparable to what I'm getting out of all the socks in the 2.0 line. I think the fit alone will decrease blowout risk because feet and socks are moving more in line with each other.

    I don't think I can yet say whether or not the Cordura in the COOLMAX XtraLife fabric is making the socks more durable. The biggest result of the Cordura I notice is that the feel, both on my feet and in my hands, is a little more slippery/smooth. Will a little less friction between the fabric and everything else slow the wear-out factor, I wonder?

    Someone else has already mentioned Jon Vonhof's toe-taping trick for wearing Injinjis. It's obviously not ideal, but it does work.

    Happy running and thanks for commenting.

  6. Mike Papageorge

    All hail the "Performance Lightweight". I rarely get blisters, but in stage races and b2b's it can happen. The Performance Lightweight under a normal sock handles the problem.

    Also nice in a pair of Sense.

  7. Tina Ingle

    Always enjoy seeing our fabric being incorporated into such high-quality products. The blend of moisture-wicking fabric and durable CORDURA® fabric will help make these socks a runner's dream!

    CORDURA(R) Brand

    Account Manager

  8. Katie

    I used a single pair of the new Trail 2.0 socks for the duration of Western States this year. Due to the interesting weather situation, my feet were wet the entire time. 0 blisters, 0 hotspots, 0 problems. Loved that the collar fit tight enough to keep out debris, as I never wear gaiters and my feet are super narrow, so I usually get a bunch of crap back in the heel. Not the case with the new trail socks – freaking LOVE them.

    Also wore a single pair of new Excelerators for the duration of Ozark Trail 100 – a very rocky, rooty and technical course. Feet were, again, wet for basically the entire race, and I was sliding around on the trail like crazy. 0 blisters. Also loved that the compression was not too extreme, as other compression products have become too tight in later stages of races (where lower extremities are beginning to sausage) and caused pain or blisters. I like to have a longer sock for cold weather, and these were total $.

    As for durability, both pairs of socks are still kicking and used every weekend. I have had them each for over 6 months and don't have a single hole or worn out spot – pretty awesome. I used to get holes in the toes of the old performance socks after a few long wears, but they seem to have completely solved this problem, which is obviously, a big win for us all!

  9. mike

    I always wished Injinji would sell socks in multicolored packs. i.e. red on right foot and blue on left foot. I'm tired of reaching into my sock drawer and pulling out 12 right socks in a row before I find a lefty. Need a quicker way to identify which is which.

    Don't really need to make the whole socks different colors. They have that little red Injinji tag at the top (I guess it's white now). They could easily make that a different color on each side without compromising the aesthetics of the socks.

  10. Colin Hardie

    Looking for a pair of socks that will perform well in the heat of the desert. I am taking part in this years MDS and have heard lots of good reports about these socks (albeit liner socks with another pair of normal socks over the top). Can anyone recommend what I should be looking at to prevent blisters in extremely hot conditions?

    Cheers.

  11. Injinji

    Thanks to all for the comments and feedback! We know many of you would love to give a pair of 2.0 a try for yourself to feel the difference. We'll send out 1 sample to the first person in each size to comment on this post (1 Small winner, 1 Medium winner, 1 Large winner). We'd love to get your personal stories and experiences with the new product.

    Keep an eye out for lots of new upcoming changes with Injinji, including a new website in the weeks to come!

  12. Meghan Hicks

    Colin,

    Thanks for your comment. I've run Marathon des Sables three times and will be running it again this year. Perhaps we'll get to meet in the Sahara!

    I'm sorry to say that there is no perfect sock for "extremely hot conditions." I've seen it all out there in the desert, in terms of what sock/shoe/gaiter combinations do and don't work for people. For example, one US runner always wears Smartwool socks and he never gets a single blister whereas Smartwool socks would leave another person literally crippled with blisters.

    The trick is to figure out what works best for you and your feet in your training and preparation races. It's obviously a challenge to mimic the conditions that we will find in the Sahara in terms of heat. But, the long training runs we do will simulate our time-on-feet and training with wet socks and shoes will also help as you are sure to nearly soak your socks and shoes with sweat while each day while running the MdS. Test out socks in your training and see which ones do and don't work for your feet.

    As an aside, I will be wearing Injinjis (just one pair, not as liners) at the 2013 Marathon des Sables, as I am prone to toe blisters (and this toe-sock-style minimizes friction between toes). I will be wearing them in combination with taping a few toes that still manage to blister up no matter what I do as well as putting a dose of foot powder into my socks for further sweat absorption at the start of each stage. I have found this trifecta set-up is my best way of minimizing blisters on my feet during the extreme conditions of the MdS.

    I can't emphasize enough: we're all different, so test your feet in your training to see what works for you.

    See you out there!

  13. Kyle

    I had a set of the light weight sox I loved how they felt, for the two times I wore them before they blew out at the big toe. I hope these would last longer but am not sure I really want to pay to try.

  14. Ozmeister

    Any reason why the Trail version doesn't use NuWool? Seems like the long distance trail folks would appreciate the tempreture regulating features more.

  15. Colin Hardie

    Congrats Meghan on a superb win at this years MDS.It was a good one wasnt it? Sock choice for me was good…Drymax Max Pro….. worked well throughout. My first…and probably last MDS but loved ever minute!!!!

  16. MS

    I was one of the lucky ones that got a free pair to try in exchange for a review.

    So I have tried them on all types of runs including speedwork, long road runs, trail runs up to 50k. I've put about 250 miles on the pair and they are still in great shape. They don't seem to wick moisture as well as Drymax but I haven't had blister issues even though my feet are moist when I take them off. You have to be careful to wash them in cold water and not dry them in the dryer (I accidentally washed them in warm water once and they were a bit difficult to get on for the next run). I will definitely buy the "regular weight" version in the future for my road running and the "light weight" version in the future to serve as a liner for my Drymax trail socks for use on 20+ mile trail runs.

  17. Toeknee

    Injinji socks are made in China. I don't think they obligate their suppliers to commit to Organic or Sustainable practices for their wool.

  18. Chris

    I don’t know… I am not blister prone, but on 20 mile+ runs, my pinky toes tend rub against my fourth toe a bit too much. Haven’t had any blisters, but just got some friction. I’ve used vaseline in marathons, so I’m just looking for something for longer distances that lessen the need for vaseline.

    I Normally run in synthetic asics or new balance run socks.

    I got my first pair on Injinjis last weekend (performance run lightweight) …
    Ran a 23:00 5K in Kinvara 3s with them and felt they were pretty good. Or at least that I didn’t notice them at all and had no issues. Of course, 23:00 isn’t much.

    I ran 13.5 miles in the Injinjis and Brooks Transcend (have 3 15 milers in the Transcends with no issues)
    by mile 4 by right pinky toe was screaming. Had to stop, take my shoes of and try to adjust the socks. Not sure what I was planning to do, since the little toe was just snug in the pocket, but I tugged it out, shook it around and put it back on. Most of the remaining run was tolerable, but I knew I had a big one brewing.

    Getting home, I pulled my little little sausages out of their pockets to find a big red blister inside my left pinky toe. My first blister in 2.5 years! I find it hard to believe it could be operator error…

    I’ll give’em another try in a few weeks once this bad boy goes down, but I’m officially leery. *sigh*

    1. markcarey

      Chris, I used to have the same pinky toe issue, with any sock I wore. It turns out the cause was my shoes, not the socks. Most running shoes have a narrow toe box (the Kinarva and Transcend included) that is more narrow that your foot actually is. The result is that your toes get squeezed together by the shoe, which causes the issue. Since I switched to running in the Merrell Bare Access line, which have a wide toe box, problem solved. Altra shoes are also known for their wide toe box, though I haven't yet run in them.

  19. @JSTootell

    I work at a running store, so I decided to try a pair for A. My personal benefit (duh), and B. Help sell them. I was disappointed to find holes in the toes after my second run (17 miles total). I returned them for another pair, but Trail version. I prefer thin socks due to the desert weather I run in. My other running socks have lasted too long.

  20. Georgia Shanley

    I am a keen runner and after a friend’s recommendation of the support offered by running socks to runners I purchased Injinji Running Socks.
    After spending a significant amount of money on just two pairs after the first wear my toe is swollen and each toe has multiple blisters.
    Worst purchase ever!!!

  21. Mike

    I really like the low cut, lightweight version of these socks. Just enough padding underfoot but still cool. They go great in my Vibram Five Fingers (I can’t really run anymore, but I like wearing my VFF’s when it’s too cold for sandals). I also find with the black socks that I can fool people into thinking I am wearing VFF’s and just be in the socks! Great to visit the mall or go to a movie once in a while, so long as I don’t have to walk too far on pavement as that wrecks the socks fast. I like them in regular runner too as my toes have freedom to move around and help balance. and though I COULD wear them with sandals I try not to…unless I really feel like wearing flip flops to the mall in winter!

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