LTR - Injinji Mini-Crews - Ray Estrella
- Hi Curt,
I need to post this now as I am leaving in a few days to take the kids to CA for two weeks. The HTML may be found here:
In Minnesota I have worn the Injini mini-crew on 5 two and three-day backpacking trips. Most were on or near the North Country Trail in the Chippewa National Forest. Two were cut short by massive flooding that made me return to the car to try to find drier sections. One 3-day trip was spent at Lake Bronson and Old Mill State parks, the last was in Smokey Hills State Forest where the picture below was taking at Elbow Lake.
A couple new states got added to my hiking list also. I went to North Dakota for an overnighter at Lake Sakakawea State Park (note spelling) which is the western terminus of the North Country Trail. I hiked 6 mi (10 km) of the NCT and another 4 mi (6 km) of trails in the park itself. It was hot and muggy, 81 F for a high and only 67 F for a low (27 - 19 C) with 76% humidity. It sprinkled during the night.
The next three days (two nights) were spent hiking on the Maah Daah Hey Trail in Sully Creek State Park, Theodore Roosevelt National Park South Unit, and the Little Missouri National Grasslands, along with the Petrified Forest South Trail in the Teddy R. It too was very hot with temps from 92 down to 55 F (33 - 13 C) and humidity of 68%.
Then I drove to my friend and fellow BGT tester Richard Lyon's place in Bozeman Montana. He picked a couple day hikes in the Bridger Mountains for us to go on. The first was the Trail Creek Cabin trail, and the next day we climbed the highest mountain in the Bridger's, 9700 ft (2960 m) Sacajawea Peak (named after the same native American woman, different spelling), my first summit of the year. The temps were pretty warm 91 and 95 F (33-35 C) in town although it would have been a little cooler at the elevations we were at.
Over the course of the Long Term Report period I have had to still limit my use of the Injinji mini-crews to just the right sock. But my distances are up, getting as many as 12 mi (19 km) per day, but the average has been about 6 mi (10 km) per day. This is a picture from the longest day as I head up the trail along the river (on the other side of the trees) in Lake Bronson State Park. By the way, no vehicles use this trail, that is what mountain bikes do. (Just sayin' )
While we don't normally do comparisons I have been forced to do so wearing one crew length compression sock and the one Injinji mini-crew. (I look like the old man that can no longer dress myself.) As my daily distances go higher I started getting blisters on the compression sock-clad foot. The Injinji foot has not had as much as a warm spot develop, which just continues the streak as I have never had a blister using any of my other pairs either.
I spent three backpacking trips in areas of major flooding after some huge storms hit the north-central and north-eastern parts of the state. In fact the trip with the kids to the North Shore saw us just make it out two days before a storm dropped 10+ in (26+ cm) of rain on Duluth and the area we had just been. Adding in our normal 2-3 rain falls per week to ground unable to absorb the moisture it got meant very wet trails for me over the next few weeks. Even at places I was turned back because water so deep I couldn't see the trail I still was soaked getting to those points. Here is a shot at one of the North Country Trail access points near the Boy River.
The best (worst?) example was a day at the Goose Lake Hunter Trail system. This loop-backpacking trip utilized the North Country Trail (regular hiking trails), the Woodtick Trail (glorified dirt road) and the Goose Lake Hunter Trails. These are wide trails made by cutting the trees from the path and then clearing deadfall and mowing the brush down at least once a year. They normally only get used in the fall but I have found they make a good way to do loop-hikes. The problem was that this year the Forest Service had too much on their plate to do any clearing and cutting so they were a mess. Plus as I found out they were under water. I just couldn't see it as it was so over-grown, the brush was past my waist in places. All told I went nine soggy miles (14 km) that day before I could stop for camp and put on dry socks. The Injinji's made a noticeable difference in protecting my wet toes compared to my left foot that had the toes rubbing each other all day.
Another great example was a day on the Maah Daah Hey Trail in Sully Creek State Park and the Little Missouri National Grasslands. This was a hot 11 mi (18 km) day that I knew had a river crossing, but was not really sure where. (The Ranger Station turned out to be the Ranger's own cabin and he had no maps or other information of any kind for sale or free, hmm). It turned out that it was about a half-mile in to my day's hike! So I had wet shoes right from the get-go there too. But since I was not getting my feet wet further the Injinjis wicked away the moisture very well and my foot was actually dry by the time I made it back to camp. The other foot was moisture-wrinkled and getting a blister on the heel when I peeled off the compression sock. Here is a shot of the Injinji crossing the Little Missouri River. Do you see it? ;-)
Interesting note: the post visible at the left side of the picture is one of the thick Maah Daah Hey Trail markers. Even though they are 6x6 in (15x15 cm) thick and buried deep the bison (buffalo) still break them as I found when I passed piles of extras along the trail. Thank you to whoever replaces them as it would be a hard trail to follow at times without them.
I have done my mini-crew-as-a-liner trick too. The only shoes I can wear right now are my loosest fitting ones because the damaged foot is still huge. (And may be for the rest of my life they say.) This means that the right foot has too much room without a thicker sock. So I have just been adding a thin wool sock over the mini-crew which works great. When I do this my feet are actually drier at the end of the day as the absorbent wool sock pulls the moisture that the mini-crew does such a good job of wicking to the surface.
I just about can't tell the difference between the old and new socks now. Both are very stained and the newer one is shrinking to the size of the first one. That is OK as it still stretches to fit when I wear it.
The odor problem is much more noticeable as I have been getting longer trips in. Trying to get as much hiking in as possible I spent a half-day on the trail before driving to my friend's place. As Minnesota is a no-shoes-in-the-house state (but not California where I grew up) I removed my shoes as soon as I came in so as not to insult. Ha! I had to beg a shower immediately before his huge dog buried me as a piece of carrion. (Hi Babar.) I really wish they could work more with wool or imbedded silver in their socks. It would make a product I already like a lot so much better.
Well that is the end of this review. While the test is over my use of the Injinji is not. I expect to be playing This Little Piggy while in the field in the future. My Thanks to Injinji and BackpackGearTest.org for allowing me participate. I leave with a shot of my best day of the year, at the top of Sacajawea, my first peak in a long time.