Thursday, May 23, 2024

Creepers Merino Toe Socks Review

Article by Mike Postaski 

Creepers Merino Toe Socks ($17-$18 USD)


Mike P: Creepers socks came onto my radar as many things do - via ads on social media. Yes, the algorithms have me pegged..  But I wasn’t immediately interested as there’s lots of ads for cheap pseudo-brand running gear all over the place. What made me really take notice was when I saw that Phil Gore and Sam Harvey have been using them for their backyard ultras. In case you’re not sure what a Backyard Ultra is - the bottom line is that those two have run 100+ hours, 400+ miles, over the course of 4+ days. If these are the socks they’re using, that should pique your interest. It sure did mine!

Creepers as a company is essentially a one-man-band operation based out of New Zealand. The owner Shaun Clark does all the product design and testing himself, and of course he has some elite Backyard Ultra athletes to lean on for help with that!

I’m not new to toe socks, I’ve long been a fan and have been using a toe-sock setup for nearly all of my ultra distance races - especially 50 miles and above. My go-to setup is Injini’s liner sock + a Wrightsock ultra thin liner on top. But on a day-to-day training basis, I hadn’t been running in toe socks. Not because I don’t want to - actually I’m just not a fan of Injinji’s materials. This is completely subjective here, but I just find their standard weight socks a bit rough. They have nicer midweight and ultra cushion socks, but I find those too thick. For me, they just haven’t hit the sweet spot where I would want to wear them for daily runs.

[Toe socks + foot shaped toebox - always a good pairing]

Enter Creepers - they use a thin merino wool based blend. Merino wool is appealing to me as they definitely have properties that work really well out on the trails - wicking sweat & not absorbing moisture, keeping the feet dry. I have some really nice Smartwool socks that have lasted a long time. I have long wished that I could have that exact sock in a toe sock version. Do Creepers socks fit that description?

Fit, Sizing, Details

Mike P: I’m a size US 9.5-10.0 so I went with size Large which they have listed as covering the size range US 9.5 - 11.5. It’s a perfect fit for me generally, and more importantly - in toe length. Creepers seem to use slightly longer toe lengths, which I find works much better. Each toe wraps well, all the way, or very close to the base of each toe. Note: they’ve started rolling out a version 2.0 with a 2mm shorter little toe. I actually did notice in my initial V1 samples that the pinky was slightly loose, so a nice fix there.

[Version 2.0, in a sweet royal blue]

Here are some details from Creepers regarding the new 2.0 version:
50% merino, 45% nylon/polyamide, 5% elastane

Heel reinforcing 1cm higher

4mm shorter little toe

Lab tested 2-3x more durability than V1

The material is absolutely thinner and softer than typical merino socks you might have tried. The softness is especially noticeable compared to other merino socks that I’ve tried. Typically with merino, you have to just accept some level of “scratchiness” as a tradeoff for the benefits of the material itself. That’s not the case here, or at least it has been greatly minimized to the point of being hardly noticeable. They of course feel different on foot if you’re not used to wearing merino. The wicking properties leave your feet consistently drier, eliminating that effect of your sweaty foot sticking to the inside of the sock. 

Another plus for me is the length of the Crew Length. They hit just at the base of my calf which is how a crew should fit. Another gripe I had with the other brand is that their crew length socks are way too high - reaching almost midway up my calves. For one thing, this looks weird, and more importantly, it causes the sock to slide down and bunch up. The Creepers crew has a solid elastic cuff, which just works - no slipping. 

Performance & Conclusions

[Even a great fit in Vaporflys. The Morning Glory color is a great style match too!]

Mike P: As far as judging performance, the general benefits of wearing toe socks go without saying, but I’ll quickly say them anyway. #1 Eliminate friction between the toes - both from sweat as well as any trail grit that does get into your shoes. #2 More effectively wick sweat from the toes to begin with, since the toes are separated #3 Fill up volume if needed for a better fit within a shoe toebox. This last one can also be a con depending on the volume of your foot and the volume of the toebox of the shoes you’re using.

For me, it’s been a no-brainer to use Creepers anytime I run in Topo or Altra. It just makes sense that with the added toebox space, it feels better to be able to “wiggle” the toes. I sometimes like to wear them even with “regular” toebox shoes - I find that the added volume of the sock allows me to slightly loosen the lower lacing, sometimes giving a more comfortable fit. I even ran a mostly dirt half marathon in Vaporflys + the Creepers Morning Glory style. It was a somewhat hot day, and a very hard effort - I was firstly surprised how well they fit inside the Vaporfly, and secondly the temperature regulation was great. I never had any sensation of sweaty feet, which could have been problematic given the final 4.5M descent at -7% grade.

[Topo + Creepers = Great Match]

On the run, the fit has been excellent - no issues or irritations whatsoever with any seams. The seams around the heel are very smooth and those around the toes are especially smooth - no pinch points or corners anywhere. They’re essentially unnoticeable, once on the run. I also have no issues with the individual toes twisting or rotating. As mentioned earlier, toe length for me is spot on - so no issues with “short” toe coverage - i.e. no gaps at the base of the toes.

Durability is a major part of the performance equation with any merino sock, especially those on the thinner, softer side - as these are. So far, I have been impressed with durability and have had no issues at all with any of the socks. There is some light pilling, which is to be expected, but after the initial period, I haven’t noticed any extraordinary wear. Like I said, they’ve been heavy in my rotation based on a lot of testing and running in shoes such as: Topo Pursuit 2, Specter, Cyclone 2, Ultraventure 4, Altra Timp 5, Experience Wild, plus others. I’ve been using them regularly just like any other sock in my bin and have not noticed any wear issues.

I’m happy to have discovered and been able to test out Creepers socks. Creepers as a company is essentially a one-man-band operation based out of New Zealand. The owner Shaun Clark does all the product design and testing himself, and of course he has some elite Backyard Ultra athletes to lean on for help with that. The quality of the product speaks for itself, and I’d say it does provide a unique feature set in the market. Every runner should have a good toe sock in their drawer - I recommend you give Creepers a try. 

Creepers Merino Socks are available from Creepers HERE

Free Shipping on orders of more than $40 USD

Mike Postaski currently focuses on long mountainous ultras - anywhere from 50K up to his favorite - 100M. 5'10", 138 lbs, midfoot/forefoot striker - he typically averages 70 mpw (mostly on trails), ramping up to 100+ mpw during race buildups. A recent 2:39 road marathoner, his easy running pace ranges from 7:30 - 9:00/mi. From 2022-23 Mike has won the Standhope 100M, IMTUF 100M, and Scout Mountain 100M trail ultras. He also set a CR of 123.74M at the Pulse Endurance Runs 24H and completed the Boise Trails Challenge on foot in 3 days 13 hours, besting the previous record by 7 hours. Mike's shoe preferences lean towards firmer, dense cushioning, and shoes with narrower profiles. He prefers extra forefoot space, especially for long ultras, and he strongly dislikes pointy toe boxes.

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Comments and Questions Welcome Below! Please let us know mileage, paces, race distances, and current preferred shoes

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Jeff said...

I have 3 pairs of the Creepers crew length. I’ve only had them for a few weeks so not sure about durability. They are butter when put them on, super smooth. So smooth they can slide a bit, but the sliding goes away after one wash. I wear size 14 and the Creepers XL fit great, better than other toe socks. I find the X-0toes are short overall and Injinji lightweight are ok but ultra models are short especially in the toes as you pointed out. I’ve worn these in NB Rebel 4, Altra Wild and Hoka Speedgoat 5 wide and they’ve been perfect in these shoes. Did a 29 miler with lots of climbing and zero issues.

Mike P said...

I forgot to mention I also tried XOtoes a while ago - didn't like the material, it was a bit too harsh and felt rough on the foot. The Creepers softness is really the big feature. As long as durability holds up (which it has so far for me), it's really a great sock.