A few weeks ago, Feetures generously offered me their compression socks to review. I was quite intrigued – I’ve never tried compression socks, but have heard a ton from other runners and scientific research that they really help performance and recovery. Still, I warned Feetures that they’d be subject to my standard review policy: I won’t promise to post a positive review, but would write my honest opinion, take-it-or-leave-it. They were confident enough in their product to send me the socks anyway… and I really liked them!
Let’s face it, I have never been the most high-tech person with my running gear. I’ve always known the importance of good sneakers, but the rest of my outfit has been all over the place. When I first started running with a goal to run one mile, I drove my car around the neighborhood until the odometer read one mile, and used that as my benchmark. To time myself, I would hit play on my (1st gen) iPod and then add up the lengths of the songs when I got home to figure out how long I had been going. And for my apparel, I honestly wore three-for-$10 cotton Hanes sports bras until well after I completed my 50 state marathons.
How times have changed! I now consider a good sports bra paramount to my long distnance running comfort, and get excited about new fancy models. Since discovering Athleta, I’ve also started keeping up with general workout clothing trends, and have ditched my dorky fuel belt in favor of skirts and shirt with tons of pockets. But socks are one area that I hadn’t yet upgraded from basic to fancy… would the Feetures really do anything?
I tried out the Feetures Elite Light Cushion No Show Tab, first just in Flywheel and Crowbar Cardio classes. While I’m honestly not a huge fan of the neon colors (despite the fact that I realize they are incredibly trendy for all kinds of running gear), I liked the low-cut top of the socks and found them easy to get on and off. I loved the extra cushioning for comfort, and was pleased that they didn’t seem to add any bulk that made either my sneakers or my spin shoes difficult to put on. (Maybe that’s true of all cushioned socks, but I was concerned beforehand.) They definitely felt slightly snugger on my feet than regular socks, but they weren’t too constricting, and I found the extra snugness totally comfortable.
Since they passed muster in my regular workouts, I then put them to the ultimate test: a full marathon. On trails. In the pouring rain. When I had a black tie event that would require me to be in strappy heels all night long. I was trusting these socks with a lot, and I hoped they wouldn’t let me down!
Well, the Feetures Elites served me quite well – despite going over some rocky terrain and getting a ton of sand, dirt, and gravel in my shoes (oh, so that’s why trail runners wear gaiters), I pulled off my sneakers and Feetures to find that I had not even one blister. Amazing! Clearly this material is both cushioning and extremely moisture-wicking, and I later tested this theory in full when I washed my muddy socks in the bathroom sink and found that they dried completely in just a few hours. Overall, I really liked these, and would definitely consider buying them in some other colors. (The white-with-pink-accents might be a little more my style, but I won’t stop wearing my orange ones either. They’re socks, they don’t really show!)
After showering and getting cleaned up, I also took the opportunity to test out the Feetures Elite Light Compression Sock, Knee High. These are the compression socks that I’ve see so many of my friends wearing during races and afterward, and I was really curious to give them a try. Would they help me prevent soreness and allow me to stay on my feet through a night of dancing in heels?
I didn’t get to put the socks on until several hours post-race, since I didn’t want to get them near my muddy feet until I had cleaned up, so I can’t claim to have gotten the full benefits. (Although I was wearing the No Show Tab socks up until I donned the Knee Highs, so I guess that was full-time foot compression). However, I will say that my legs weren’t even the slightest bit sore that night, despite the hilly course I had made them traverse for five hours. The socks were kind of tough to get on and off, because they were so tight, but once on, they were perfectly comfy. They were a bit tall on me, coming just above the knee, but I rolled them down a bit and found that worked just fine, so they should work whether you’re tall or short. But after all that trouble, honestly, I loved them. The best way I can describe the feeling is like nice little hugs for my calves – sweet! Strange as it may be, I’ve actually been sleeping in them every night since then (good thing I am traveling and don’t have anyone to see), since they’re soft and comforting without being thick or hot. I might just become a convert!
All that said, Feetures aren’t cheap – at $15 for the No Show Tab style and $50 for the Knee Highs, they’re much more than I typically spend on socks. (I do get athletic-specific wicking socks, but I’m not loyal to any particular brand and I generally look for sales that make them run around $15 for a three-pack.) Honestly, I can’t decide if they’re worth it. I generally don’t have sock problems, aside from a few blisters after marathons, but I’m not sure if it’s worth $15 a pair to me to avoid those instead of just sucking it up, lancing the blisters, and slapping on some Neosporin and a Bandaid.
Fortunately, some of you won’t have to pay the price, because Feetures has offered to send three readers a free pair of the same No Show Tab Style socks that I tried! They come in a variety of sizes and colors, so even if you’re picky about neon like I am, you’re sure to find one to suit your style.
To enter, leave a comment telling me what you think of performance socks. Are they worth a higher price point, or do you stick with the three-for-$15 basic ones like I used to use? Bonus extra entry if you tweet about the entry using this link, and then leave a separate comment letting me know that you did so.
Edit: WOW, all your comments have totally sold me on performance socks. I will definitely be buying more Feetures!
Contest will run through Wednesday April 3 at 6pm ET, at which time winners will be chosen by random drawing. Winners will be announced on this page (if you leave your email/Twitter handle, I’m also happy to notify you that way), and they will have one week to email me in order to claim their prize. Contest entry is open to all residents of the US and Canada.
#49 – insearchofoz / March 28, 2013 at 4:34 PM
#72 – Ashley @ Running Bun / April 1, 2013 at 10:41 AM
#21 – Runner Leana / March 28, 2013 at 9:57 AM
Please email me at laura at 50by25 dot com to collect your prize.
Note: Feetures provided me with product samples for testing, but I received no other compensation for this review, nor was I pressured to write a positive review. All opinions expressed in this review are my own.