Price: 55 EUR ($70 USD) plus shipping from Europe
Width: Stretch in fabric would accommodate narrow to wide feet
Sole Thickness: 2 mm (at the most)
Weight: 1.25 ounces or 34 grams
Insole: Not applicable
Sizing: 38-39 and 42-43
Category: Toe sock suitable for outdoors
Kevlar Toe Socks for the Outdoors
Have you ever wanted to be as close to barefoot as you could get but still have a little bit of cut-resistance for sole of your feet? The solution to that problem is the Swiss Barefoot Company’s Swiss Protection Sock or Sockette (SPS), depending on the height of the sock you prefer. The SPS is a Kevlar-knit sock with a welded polyester bobble sole, for added grip suitable for most outdoor terrains. They feel as close to barefooting as you can get, because you’re not wearing a shoe, with just a bit of protection from sharp edges. They’re pretty much perfect for people who wish they could go barefoot but are afraid of getting cut or are working on toughening their tender soles.
Comfort & Fit
The SPS is one of the most comfortable outdoor footwear options I’ve had the pleasure of reviewing yet. I do love the feeling of toe socks, so this was no surprise to me. The Kevlar knit is a little thicker than your average toe sock (ie, Injinji) but still smooth against the skin. The polyester grip on the sole is completely unobtrusive to the feel of the sock other than the added grip on surfaces. The material stretches just enough for a form-fitting, not bunching feeling all around my foot and between my toes. The articulated heel makes for a close fit around the heel area and around the ankle. As the SPS is made of stretchy material, they will fit a wide range of foot widths from narrow to wide. There is limited sizing at the moment but they stretch up to 2 cm so will still fit most small to average feet. Larger sizes are rumoured to become available in the near future.
You probably wouldn’t want to try to fit these into a shoe, but that would totally defeat the purpose of the SPS. These are, after all, toe socks for the outdoors.
Barefoot Feel & Function
There is no better barefoot feel while wearing the SPS but barefoot itself. While test wearing them, I tried one bare foot and one with the SPS and found the only difference in feeling was that the SPS-wearing foot felt less sharp edges than the bare foot. Outside, I walked on grass, 1” gravel, concrete, asphalt, wood chips, shale, and dirt and found that I was much more comfortable with the SPS-protected foot than with my tender bare foot. Inside, I walked on tile, wood, carpet, and linoleum and enjoyed the added grip the PVC laminated sole provided. My foot can function as naturally as it does bare but with just a bit of protection from sharp edges. These are particularly ideal for me as I would love to spend more time barefoot outdoors but don’t want to spend a considerably long time toughening up my tender soles during the 3-4 months of barefoot-friendly weather we have here in Canada.
The SPS is made of a combination of Kevlar (50%), polyester (32%), cotton (10%), and spandex (8%). The material breathes quite well and my feet were never hot in them, even indoors, while providing some warmth from the outdoor elements. Water did go right through the material but after stepping on wet ground, they dried very quickly. They are easily cleaned in cold water through the washing machine (I’d recommend a gentle cycle) and air dried.
The sole of the SPS is reinforced with PVC laminated to the bottom of the sock. The PVC provides a considerable amount of grip for the sock, especially compared the thread alone. The total thickness of the outsole is probably close to 2 mm. There is considerable stretch in the material allowing the foot to move and function naturally. As the SPS is a sock and not a shoe, there is obviously no arch support.
There were no manufacturing defects in the review pair of socks. There was the odd long thread that was easily shortened with scissors. For a sock, this product is going to be extremely durable as the material is thick and made of a Kevlar, polyester, cotton blend. If you use the sock as intended by the manufacturer, meaning “outdoors on soft ground”, the SPS should last quite a while. If you use the SPS on surfaces not intended for their use, including tarmac, you will reduce the life of the sock and wear the PVC reinforcement of the sole area.
The SPS is currently available in a short Sockette version and a long Sock version (review coming soon by a guest reviewer). Both are currently available in a yellow and black thread, which is mentioned on the manufacturer’s website as a production limitation with the use of Kevlar because it is difficult to dye. However, in the latest newsletter from The Swiss Barefoot Company (link provided here), the manufacturer mentions that they are working on an all black version as well as some new colours, as a new Kevlar dyeing process has been discovered, which may be coming soon in 2013.
While walking in my Sockettes, my neighbour immediately noticed that I was walking around in ‘stocking feet’ so your lack of shoes may get noticed, although, probably as much as if you were actually barefoot.
The SPS is the perfect product for people who want the best barefoot feel but could use the reassurance of a little bit of cut-resistance and feel a minimal shoe is too much protection. The SPS is designed for outdoor use on soft ground including grass, sand, and dirt and not for hard surfaces including tarmac or especially sharp and rocky terrain. The SPS is advertised as ‘cut-resistant’ not ‘cut-proof’. They will provide protection from feeling sharp objects and cuts on the bottom of your feet compared to shoes but they are not shoes, so it is unrealistic to expect them to behave like shoes. They are perfectly suitable for walking on sandy beaches, forest paths, gardens, and water sports. I think they would be an excellent product for those hardcore barefooters who could use a little bit of foot protection from snow, ice, and colder temperatures in the winter as well.
If comparing the price of the SPS to a regular sock, they are wildly expensive at $70 USD (not including shipping). Compared to most minimal shoes, however, they are priced at the low end of most brands. The SPS is far more than a sock but not a minimal shoe. Price is definitely a limiting factor with regard to the SPS.
In the time I’ve been wear-testing the SPS, I’ve really come to appreciate their uniqueness and benefits as a minimal shoe reviewer and want-to-spend-more-time barefooter. Living in Canada, there is such a short barefoot season that the soles of my feet are quite tender. I’ve often wished there was a product that was more than a sock but less than a shoe and the SPS exactly fits that description. They are comfortable, form-fitting, breathable, easy to care for socks but offer far more protection than a regular sock with their Kevlar, cut-resistant thread and PVC laminated sole. This product will appeal to people who want to spend more time barefoot but are afraid of cutting the bottoms of their feet and for those hardcore barefooters who might want the smallest amount of protection from sharper terrains or colder/hotter surface temperatures. The SPS has far better ground feel than any minimal shoe with a true outsole because the outsole is fabric with tiny plastic nubs melded to it. The only difference I felt between barefoot and the SPS, is that sharp objects were far more comfortable to manage.
For more information about The Swiss Barefoot Company’s Swiss Protection Sockette, you can check out their website.
Originally posted on LivingBarefoot.info