Barring combat boots, I think I’ve gone through every phase of gym footwear. I’ve done the running shoe, the middle-of-the-road cross-trainer, the clunky lifting shoe, even the five-finger toe shoe during a dark and unsartorial period in my life. But no matter what, I always end up back in my socks after ditching a clunky sole or clunky gimmick in exchange for the foot stability and comfort of a little pocket of cotton.
Maybe the guys behind Pedestal Footwear (one of whom has contributed to Men’s Journal) were in the same boat. Either way, their barefoot training sock, now in its second iteration, was an improvement on my ankle-biter socks. The toe and heel are made of a durable material that feels like ultra-coarse sandpaper, the sole is covered in a grippy, triangular-tread (because socks get slippery and disgusting when they’re sweaty), the upper cloth fits snugly around the sides and tops of the feet, and it has a sporty aesthetic that says technical gear, not weekend-lounging tube socks.
Throughout a heavy, sweaty workout, I felt like I was centered and firmly planted on the floor, and I didn’t have any kind of slippage like I do with shoes or sweaty socks. Maybe most important, I never felt like I wasted power between my legs and the floor by wearing a thick, spongy sole. I could focus on how my body wanted to move through an exercise, instead of worrying about my feet sliding around the inside of a shoe or just sliding out from under me.
I can't speak to how the socks respond to running (mostly because I hate running), but whether or not you go in for barefoot- or primal-training philosophy, it’s worth spending some time lifting with minimal equipment on your feet to see how your body responds when it isn't cooped up inside a shoe. If you enjoy the new freedom, these socks are the upgrade you need. [pedestalfootware.com; $29]