As a barefoot/minimalist runner, I run over 85% of my miles barefoot. I am very particular about any “shoes” that I wear for a run. In extreme weather (hot or cold), I will run in huaraches. For very rugged trails or gravel levees I might wear Vibram KSOs. The Sockwa G2 offers something in-between.
When the Sockwa G2s arrived, my first thought was that they were basically water shoes. One of my co-workers that I train with runs in water shoes. Her shoes and the ones I examined in the local mega-store have fairly thick, inflexible soles. Water shoes are difficult to fold in half. The Sockwas can be rolled into a small tube. There is also a noticeable weight difference.
The first evening I had them, I wore them around the house. They are very comfortable. They quite literally feel like you are wearing socks. I made sure to trim my toenails. Because of the snug fit, I was concerned that any sharp nails might wear quickly on the neoprene uppers.
The G2 has a ultra-thin 1.2 mm TPU sole. (For comparison, my huaraches are 4 mm.) The snug neoprene uppers offer some protection from debris that might be kicked up on the road or trail. The top of the shoe has a breathable spandex-type material.
Like the name implies, the Sockwa G2 fits like a sock. It is snug, but very comfortable. Due to the ultra-thin sole, the shoe is extremely flexible. I was concerned that the snugness of the upper material would inhibit toe splay. However, during my runs my feet did not feel restrained.
The foot bed has a very thin layer of neoprene material. It is cushy, but not overly padded.
First Test Run:
I took the G2s out for their first trial on a 10-mile morning training run. My intention was to only wear them for about a mile. They turned out to be so lightweight and comfortable that they stayed on for the first four miles. At that point, I felt a slight hot spot developing on the tops of my two smallest toes on my right foot. I removed them for 2 miles and then I tried them again for another mile. Another light hot spot developed under the inside ball of my right foot. So, I figured that was enough for their first trial.
A couple days following the first run, I took them out for a 4-mile night run. I wanted to determine the cause of the “hot spot” issue. I started out with a quick mile (7:45 pace – fast for me). Next I did 2 miles very easy (12-minute pace). I closed out the run with another fast mile. Not once did I sense a hot spot developing anywhere on either foot. It appears that the initial “hot spot” issue on my toes could have been from some rubbing against the stitching toward the outside of the shoe. However, there were no issues on this and subsequent runs with the stitching.
In addition to my first two runs, I took them out several more times on runs as well as wearing them for an afternoon at work. They provided protection from warm/hot asphalt on an 80-degree California afternoon. You can feel the warmth of the asphalt or concrete through the soles. The G2s are very comfortable to wear at work if nobody minds you wearing moccasin/sock-like shoes.
The G2s can give a slight measure of protection from chip-seal asphalt. The chip-seal that these were tested on was pretty horrific and barely tolerable in bare feet. Since the Sockwas have excellent ground feel, you definitely feel the gravel. However, the shoes give some relief from the really sharp stuff.
I did receive one blister on the ball of my foot during testing. However, in all fairness, I must state that the blister developed after I finished running a barefoot half marathon. I had gone back to run some friends to the finish during the last mile. The G2s had gotten wet and my feet were already slightly tender.
Ultra-thin, flexible sole
Overall, I feel that the Sockwa G2 is an excellent addition to a barefoot/minimalist runner’s arsenal of shoes. They allow for excellent ground feel and are extremely flexible – both musts for a barefoot runner. The G2s offer a thin layer of protection from general abrasions during road running.
If you are a regular road-runner who is looking for minimal protection from the surface and are not satisfied by the weight of other minimalist options, you will likely be pleased with the Sockwa G2. For those who are not ready or able to make the barefoot leap, this might be just the to get that maximum barefoot-feel without being truly barefoot.