Name: G Series
Color Options: G3 – Olive, Black, Brown, Red all with Grey Sole
G2 – Red, Columbia (light blue), Cobalt, Grey, Purple, Pink, Olive with Black Sole
Weight: 2.4 oz (depending on size)
Drop: omm from heel to toe
Stack Height: 1.2mm
Before I jump into my review, I want to start off by saying that I hesitate to call the Sockwa a shoe, because it really is more of a sock! Its 1.2mm stack height means that there is almost nothing in between your bare foot and the ground, making it a powerful tool in the arsenal of both beginner and experienced barefoot runners. The Sockwa provides just enough protection for your feet to keep them safe from anything harmful you might step on, but without compromising the barefoot feel and movement of your feet. This makes it a great shoe for experienced barefoot runners who may need a little extra protection from time to time (cuts happen!). It is also a fantastic option for beginners whose feet aren’t quite strong enough to go completely barefoot, yet. The Sockwa will not allow them to “cheat” at all in regard to their form, as some transitional or more cushioned minimalist shoe options might.
With my above “disclaimer” in place, I would like to say that my experience with Sockwa has been a fantastic one. My thinnest shoe, prior to the Sockwa, was the Vibram FiveFingers SeeYa and although the SeeYa is very thin (at 5mm), the Sockwa is the first shoe I have been in that completely mimics the feeling of running barefoot. To top it off, the simplistic design, wide range of colors, durability, and comfort are top notch with this shoe. Remember back when you were a kid, and would run outside in your socks, followed by your mother yelling “PUT YOUR SHOES ON”? The Sockwa gives you the ability to do what your mother always told you not to!
As I said before, picture running in socks. That is the easiest way I can think to explain what the performance of this shoe is like. Considering I am normally a minimalist shoe person rather than a barefoot runner, the feeling of running in Sockwas took some to get used to. During a 5k run in the Sockwas, I found myself thinking more about the ground and my form than ever before. With every stride and every foot strike, a Sockwa owner will find themselves paying closer attention to rocks, nails, glass, trash, or any other obstacles that may be in their path. The Sockwa even helped with my form by forcing me to be lighter on my feet and smarter with my foot strike.
I should mention that the shoe is designed in such a way that your toes might feel a little restricted when you first put it on. When simply standing or sitting, the vamp does wrap around your toes, much like a sock, but this quickly changes as soon as you hit the pavement. The outsole wraps slightly up the side of the neoprene vamp, so as you begin to run, the sole flattens out and allows for your toes to splay out naturally.
Besides running, Sockwas have some other fantastic uses. While on our honeymoon in Costa Rica, Meagan and I brought many different pairs of shoes, and my Sockwas made two appearances that I thought would be worth mentioning in this review. The first use of the Sockwa was during our plane ride. I found the Sockwa to be great for going through security, considering they are very easy to slip on and off, and while on the plane, because they are lightweight, making them comfortable to sleep in. By the end of the long flight from Wisconsin to Costa Rica, however, I found the shoe to be transferring heat so well from the warm floor of the plane that my feet got rather hot and sweaty, a feeling similar to when your socks get sweaty inside of your shoes. It is hard to blame Sockwa for this, considering they set out to make an extremely thin shoe with great ground feedback, but, unfortunately, the breathability of the uppers does not seem to be able to keep up with the heat flow up through the sole and my own body heat. I found that wearing the Sockwas for an extended period of time outside of running ends up turning them into a pot of foot stew (sorry for the visual). Their second appearance was during one of our many beach visits. For those of you who have been to Costa Rica, you may be very familiar with the rocky beaches. The Sockwas were not only helpful for comfort in this case, but they also offered a ton of grip on wet rocks and did stay comfortable when out of the water because of how quickly they dry.
Sockwa is says that their shoes are “Crushable, Washable, Durable, and built for different size and shaped feet”, and I couldn’t agree more. Not only can you fit these shoes into any pocket of your carry-on (or even your actual pocket if you really wanted to), but the things ship in a USPS First Class envelope! The neoprene is very easy to wash and the TPU plastic is not only simple to clean, but is extremely durable. People are being quoted as saying that after a few hundred miles they aren’t seeing ANY wear or tear of the tread. Although I haven’t put over a hundred miles on my Sockwas, I also suspect that they will last for a long time.
I, for one, feel that the aesthetics of the Sockwa are difficult to gauge. I would argue that my feelings about this shoe are similar to how I feel about the Vibram FiveFingers, because although they look awkward at first, they quickly grow on you. Part of me wishes I had the entire line from Olive to Red, with both grey and black soles, so I could match it with everything I own, but unfortunately that isn’t in the Technically Running budget! It also isn’t in the cards with Sockwa, because they are rolling these things off the shelves and shipping them out faster than you can say TPU!
Sockwa started its business in beach soccer, and soon after its customers got ahold of the Playa, they immediately needed more. This led Sockwa to make some miraculous innovations, including the design of a TPU plastic sole that is durable, washable, crushable, and outrageously thin. The Sockwa is a minimalist running shoe designed for barefoot runners and I would recommend it to both beginner and experienced barefooters!
Steve is an Executive Recruiter at Robert Half Executive Search in Madison, WI with a business degree in Information Systems and E-Commerce from the University of Toledo. Steve loves spending his time away from work; running, gaming, watching movies, checking out new social networking tools/sites/start-ups and blogging.