Anti-Blister Sock Reviews
I trained all summer running and riding a bike and had no problems. Most of my runs were in the 4-6 mile range, occasionally around 7. However, when I signed up to run the Atlanta Half Marathon I realized that I would have to add some much longer runs to my training. I started my long weekend runs at 8 and built up to over 13 mile training runs. After I got the mileage over 10 at any one point however, I started to get blisters on my feet. I have tried putting band aids on the hot spots, Buying a half size smaller shoes, and moving away from cotton socks to thin, moisture wicking running socks. Nothing has helped. What’s worse is that the blisters are like a whack-a-mole game. Every time I get an area solved, they come back somewhere else. So I went online and started to look for solutions. Everything I read said to get better socks but it seemed that there were a bunch of different types of socks out there. Thus, I went to Amazon and bought a pair of three different styles of “anti-blister” type socks to see if anything would work.
What I know had not worked for me is the Salomon XA Raid Running Socks. This was the first pair of “Running Socks” I tried before I started to have a problem with blisters. They are a thin, form fitting sock made of 48% polypropylene/30% polyamide/20% Tactel nylon/2% elastane. Each foot is designed differently so they are marked for the left and right feet. There is a minimal amount of padding on the bottom. However, I continued to use them as the blisters started to appear and they didn’t slow the growth of them at all. In fact, for a while I thought they were the cause of my problems. I don’t think that anymore, but I certainly do not use them for long runs anymore. 5 miles or less for these is all my feet can handle in them.
Knowing all of this, in the three days I could barely walk, much less run, after the Atlanta Half Marathon I went to the modern source of all solutions to problems: the internet. After reading about 10 different articles about how to prevent the blisters I narrowed my options down to three different pairs of socks for testing. Each sock is designed differently to combat blisters. I did 6 test runs with two different socks on. That way I could compare and contrast each sock’s performance in the same conditions.
1) Wrightsock Anti-Blister Double Layer Running II Quarter Sock ($9.56 on Amazon) Were you ever told to wear two pairs of socks at the same time to break in your shoes and prevent blisters? The Wrightsock is designed to mimic that experience by having two individual layers in each sock. The difference is that the layers are stitched together to prevent problems with seams not lining up right or anything else that made that old adage more of a problem than a solution. Both layers are thin so they don’t feel any bulkier than a pair of cotton socks. The also look like normal socks as well which may be important if you are not a fan of tons of color sticking up from your shoes. The Wrightsock also offers a no blisters guarantee.
When I first put them on I was impressed at how tight they fit and how there didn’t seem to be any difference in their thickness from a standard pair of one layer socks. After three runs in them they have been an excellent sock for blister prevention. Sometimes I can feel my feet move a bit leading to some hotness but when I take them off, I have not found a blister yet. In my smaller shoes they are still comfortable and not too thick. In my larger shoes when my feet move around a bit, they keep the skin safe. Really great socks.
2) Bridgedale Xhale Speed Demon Socks ($12.76 on Amazon) The Speed Demon sock is designed as a standard running sock but the anti-blister device they use is something called “Double Loop Cushioning”. The also have a 23% merino wool content in the sock which is designed to minimize odors and speed the movement of moisture from the skin. They have padding on the heel and the balls of the feet as well as a different weave on the toes that is really smooth. These came with a 3 year durability guarantee.
When I first put them on I was having flashbacks to the Salomon socks but as I ran in them they really did well. I had no blister issues with them and really never noticed I was wearing them. These will stay in my rotation for a while. I do think they will really excel when the weather warms up since the only real thick parts of the socks are the cushioned areas on the bottom of the socks. As a triathlete, these will also be easier and quicker to put on in transition than the Wrightsocks since there is only one layer to put on smoothly. These socks worked out great for me as well.
3) Injnji Performance Lightweight Mini-Crew Toesocks ($10 on Amazon) The Injnji was the hardest pair of socks for me to pull the trigger on purchasing. These are socks with individual toe sections. Thus: Toesocks. I have not gotten into the toe shoe movement and thus wasn’t even aware that these socks existed. However, reading reviews on Amazon it appears these are huge with the Toe Shoe community and runners who swear the individual toes prevent blisters better than “mitten” type socks.
When I first put them on I noticed that the sleeve for the pinky toe was much longer than my toe but all the others fit nicely. Once I pulled the socks down though, the fit was tight across all of the toes. There are no seams on the toes either. Unfortunately, these were a complete failure for me. I think they would be better for someone whose blister problems were between their toes but that is not my issue. Everywhere else on the foot they are just a thin pair of socks and they really offered me little protection from blisters where I get them. On a 10.7 mile run I ended up with a large blister between my big toe and the ball of my foot while wearing these and that’s exactly the situation I was trying to prevent. These will be retired and given away sine they don’t accomplish for me what I needed them to.
In the end, I’ll toss the Injnji Toe Socks and keep the other two. Wrightsocks will be my sock of choice for long runs, especially in the winter, and for longer road races. The Speed Demon will be my sock of choice for triathlons and summer running. Both worked great to prevent the blister issues I was having and will serve well for different running events.
Allen Leonard is an athlete, father and educator in Fayetteville, GA. You can follow him on Twitter @bigaluga98.