By Guest Reviewer – Dave Gilbertson
Kevlar Toe Socks for the Outdoors
The Swiss Barefoot Company’s Swiss Protection Socks (SPS) have the feel of a thick pair of socks with the cut-protection from Kevlar and PVC in the sole. For the individual looking for the most barefoot feel, the SPS may be the item for you. To wear these out in public might look either really cool or kind of odd depending on the rest of your kit. If you don’t mind looking like you forgot to bring your shoes and really don’t care, read on!
Price: 59 EUR ($76 USD) plus shipping from Europe
Width: Stretch in fabric would accommodate narrow to wide feet
Sole Thickness: 2 mm (at the most)
Insole: Not applicable
Sizing: 38-39, 42-47
Category: Toe sock suitable for outdoors
Comfort & Fit
The SPS is a comfortable sock. The interior is soft and seamless with no bunching of material. The fit on my narrow foot was comfortably snug throughout the heel, mid-foot, and individual toes. The knitted material does have some circumferential stretch that I expect would accommodate a variety of foot widths. During vigorous movement I was surprised that there was very little migration of the sock.
Barefoot Feel & Function
I have pansy feet and for any surface but grass or sand I tend to pick my way barefoot down a pebble beach like it’s hot coals. In my experience, the sock mutes the edge off of the sharp edge of stones more than 50%. There is little by way of impact absorption and the sole is pliable so, there is good proprioceptive feel for my foot’s contact with the ground. It’s not likely that weight wise you’ll get much lighter than a sock or a more natural movement for your foot short of going barefoot.
The sole is 50% Kevlar, 32% polyester, 8% spandex, 10% cotton and the polyester nubbed sole is pliable and gives the most minimalist feel I’ve had to date. The SPS is as advertised: enough protection to walk or run for short distances on “soft ground including dirt roads, forest trails, sandy beach, gardens, water sports, board sports, swimming (average protective against shells, coral, rocks)”. The sole is a Kevlar blend in a weave which makes the socks puncture-resistant but NOT absolutely puncture-proof. Being a “Curious George”, I took a fork from the drawer to test the sole of the socks’ integrity. It took quite a push to get a small fraction of one tine of the fork through after testing multiple areas. I’d recommend not running on thorns or other pointy objects. There’s a small amount of protection via insulation from the ground or cold rocks. Don’t expect water resistance from a knitted item. The amount of protection is accurately demonstrated in the promotional video. The guy running on the rocks is still watching carefully where to place his feet!
Breathability was excellent. Poor water resistance was expected as it is a knitted material.
Grip was good on snow, but I should have tested them in the daylight so that my neighbours could watch the lunatic running down the street in the frickin’ cold in just socks! There was good grip on grass, stones, concrete and asphalt, but mud is a problem for any footwear, or footless wear for that matter. Indoors, the socks nicely gripped the laminate floors, wood, tile and carpet.
The materials and finish of the product appear to be excellent. I noted that the wear of the material is good over several weeks of use, but I can’t imagine them lasting as long as a Vibram FiveFingers-like product with a full rubber sole.
Wearing these out in public might look odd, but if you’re in an unconventional mood, go with that feeling. Presently, the socks are available in a yellow/black blend, 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.
The SPSs are for use where you might encounter occasional glass or sharp edges but might otherwise go barefoot.
It appears that the socks are only available from the company website and, although returns are possible, there is the hassle factor of not trying the product before purchase. The materials and the finished product are excellent, but at an advertised price of $76 CND, I feel the price is too much for a pair of socks.
The SPSs are no ordinary socks and appear to be well made. Despite the workmanship, I do question the long term durability of this product relative to similarly priced minimalist footwear. I feel the SPS would likely appeal to a small group of minimalist enthusiast with $76 burning a hole in their pocket.
For more information about the Swiss Protection Sock, you can check out The Swiss Barefoot Company’s website.
About the Author
Dave Gilbertson is an accomplished natural runner with extensive experience in minimalist footwear both while running and in daily life. Dave is a physiotherapist by day and an avid runner by night and weekend. He has podium-finished in his age group in many 5 Peaks Trail Running Series races as well as participated in multiple Sinisher 7 Relay teams.