Sockwa G3 Review

Discussion in 'Product Reviews' started by Phil Hart, May 27, 2013.

  1. Phil Hart Barefooters
    1. North Carolina

    Member Since:
    Aug 13, 2010
    Message Count:
    943
    "I won it - it's a major award!"

    As the randomly chosen winner of the "test my shoes" giveaway on the Gear and Footwear forum, I got a pair of these to test from David Zasloff (company founder).

    I was a little skeptical at first, as I had tried running in water shoes before and was not impressed.

    These are not your typical water shoes. Of course at $49 regularly (on sale as of this writing for $29, which is a pretty darned good deal), they shouldn't be.

    IMG_3269[1].JPG

    They look a little flat on their own, as they weigh darned near nothing and have no structure other than the minor shape retention provided by the sole itself, which is only 1.2 mm thick. The shoes weigh in (size 12) at about 7 ounces per pair according to my kitchen scale, which is reasonably accurate. Of course, they are zero-drop, as any self-respecting minimalist shoe must be.

    Speaking of the sole, I'm not sure what the material is, but it seems very similar to the Vibram rubber so many minimal shoe soles are made of, but it's not marked at Vibram, so I'm assuming it is a proprietary material. Whatever it is, it's extraordinarily tough and durable. I've put a little over 100 miles on this pair (I machine washed and air-dried them before these pictures, as they were pretty sweaty before that wash), and I can discern no measurable sole wear.

    IMG_3270[1].JPG

    There's a little dirt/staining on them at the ball and heel, as you can see even though I'm no photographer, but there seems to be no wear. I've run them on asphalt, concrete, grass and dirt, and over glass pieces - on purpose, as I wanted to know how tough they were - with no punctures or cuts on the soles.

    IMG_3274[1].JPG
    For those of you new to the BRS site, here's the obligatory photo of "look how small and flexible they are" rolled up view.

    The Sockwa gurus recommend that you get a size based on their measurement process on their website. I followed that process precisely and got a pair initially that were too small for me to run in comfortably by 1 full size. That could be just because I'm unusual, because these were designed more for beach activities, or because I like a little more space for my toes to move. But I was getting hotspots (pre-blisters) due to rubbing on my toes before I hit 2 miles on my first run in size 11s. So I contacted David and he sent me a pair of size 12s.

    IMG_3271[1].JPG
    I lifted my big toes so you can see them sticking up; I have just a smidgen of empty space left between my longest toe (second, next to the big toe) and the end.

    The sizing process on the website had all of my toes touching the front of the shoe when at rest, even slightly being pressed to curl under just a tad bit. So my preference as a runner is to follow their process and add 1 size, with the caveat that this may not work the same for you depending on your preference. As to width, I have very wide feet and have had no problem at all with these shoes accommodating the width of my foot.

    With the size 12, I had no problems whatsoever with blistering of any sort, even when wearing these without socks. That innocuous statement may just fly right over your head, but it caught my attention, as these are the first shoes I've ever been able to run in without socks (and without blistering) in 30 years. Woohoo!

    IMG_3272[1].JPG
    The shoes are extremely flexible, with the upper being a two-thicknesses material (see the picture above): the part attached to the soles and rising all around to and throughout the collar and to the seam around the upper part of the front of the shoe is a light-neoprene-like material inside and nylon outside, with the neoprene stopping at the collar/seam, leaving on the stretchy nylon on the top of your foot. The collar fits snugly but not too tightly, holding the shoe in place very well and keeping stuff out like the Vibram KSOs.

    In summary, I'll give my overall impression and TJ's suggested scale of giving each area a rating of 1 to 5 out of 5 stars:

    Ground Feel - 5
    Zero Drop - 5
    Flexibility - 5
    Toe Box - 5
    Weight - 5
    Comfort - 5
    Fit - 5
    Traction - 5
    Durability - 5
    Performance - 4 (by design, these are not heavy trail runners, so they can't handle some of what I do by virtue of doing so many other things well)
    Cross Training - 5
    Design - 5
    Aesthetic - 4 (they're not beautiful, but no minimal shoe I've found really is; that said, there is a certain appeal to the clean, smooth lines of these space-age water socks)

    These are fast becoming my go-to shoes for when I need an extremely minimal shoe. They are what I had hoped - but was disappointed in - the Altra Adams would be for me as a runner. The regular $49 price point is a bit steep, but on sale at $29 I'll be buying a second pair (in a less shocking color than this test pair blandly described as "olive" color that David chose for me, in order to suit my personal taste better).

    As a rescue shoe, they are lighter than any VFFs I've seen, and they require a simple slip-on in seconds versus the slower "ease your foot forward and align each toe" process the VFFs require of me.

    For a rougher trail, I'll still go with VFF Bikilas, which have thicker outer lugs that protect me better from rough rocks and roots and other nasty surprises. But these are a great shoe and a great value at $29.

    My thanks to David and TJ/The BRS for giving me the opportunity to test these out and find some excellent new shoes for when I can't go barefoot.

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    Hobbit, Bill Brushey, Darkand and 4 others like this.
  2. Bill B Barefooters

    Member Since:
    Dec 28, 2012
    Message Count:
    204
    Damn! Just went to their website and checked their sizing charts. My foot measures 12" which equates to a M13, but if I add a extra inch, I'm SOL, as 13 is their biggest.

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  3. Phil Hart Barefooters
    1. North Carolina

    Member Since:
    Aug 13, 2010
    Message Count:
    943
    Bill:

    Check out the website, and contact them before you give up. They are pretty good at working with customers and may have a solution for you.

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    Bill Brushey likes this.
  4. mokaman Chapter Presidents
    1. Georgia

    Member Since:
    Apr 3, 2010
    Message Count:
    1,126
    Those look pretty light...I had the originals without the rubber on the bottom and have wondered how the newer version worked. I could see these as something to wear before a race to keep your feet warm then take them off at the start of a race. What size do you wear in Vibrams or other minshoes?

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  5. Phil Hart Barefooters
    1. North Carolina

    Member Since:
    Aug 13, 2010
    Message Count:
    943
    Moka:
    I wear a 43 in KSOs, a 44 in Bikilas. The soles on these things are even tougher than Vibram based on my experience with them, only slightly more flexible. That's why I use the slightly stiffer Bikilas (with their outsole lugs) to run on the rougher, heavy-gravelled tank trails at Fort Bragg. Those big old hand-sharpened 2-3" gravel mini-boulders hurt even through the Bikilas, and the KSOs just won't take me over them without stone bruising to my soles. But for road running or rescue shoes (or start-of-race slippers) these are great, particularly when on sale for $29. Did the originals have only a nylon/neoprene sole? I'm just having a hard time imagining these without a rubber sole, as even my scuba boots have a rubber sole - neoprene and nylon just won't stand repeated ground contact and abrasion.

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  6. Barefoot TJ Administrator
    1. Nomad
    2. Presidents

    Member Since:
    Mar 5, 2010
    Message Count:
    16,248
    Thanks for the thorough report, Phil. I think you did them justice. :)

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    Phil Hart likes this.
  7. Bill B Barefooters

    Member Since:
    Dec 28, 2012
    Message Count:
    204
    Contacted them, and they tell me a M13 will fit. They say they offer free shipping, but I don't know if that applies to Canada.

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  8. mokaman Chapter Presidents
    1. Georgia

    Member Since:
    Apr 3, 2010
    Message Count:
    1,126
    I would have to get the size 12's, the website doesn't show anything above size 11 though.

    I did run in the original all neoprene Sockwa...they lasted about 5 - 6 miles trail running before holes started showing up. They are similar to my kayaking socks...both are great to wear as socks with watershoes when its around freezing and heavy rain... work like a wetsuit.

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    Phil Hart likes this.
  9. Phil Hart Barefooters
    1. North Carolina

    Member Since:
    Aug 13, 2010
    Message Count:
    943
    You'll be very pleased with this outsole. It's showing significantly less wear than even my KSOs' tough-as-nails Vibram sole.

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