I’m going barefoot this summer and I decided to take the Barefoot Company’s FYF Socks along for the journey and thoroughly review them. From gardening and fishing to bumming around the house and hitting the beach, these are the results of my experience with FYF socks.
As part of this in-depth FYF socks review I’ll answer plenty of questions about these nifty inventions.
For me, summer=barefoot. As a kid, Huck Finn had nothing on me. I was barefoot every day as soon a school was out and so were all my friends( I lived in Africa). My feet became very calloused. I could run across burning sand, scale walls, and walk on hot tin roofs.
Even then, I would suffer occasional wounds from glass or sharp stones. Now that I’m older, my feet are much softer, and I’m (ahem) heavier, my gravel driveways feel like 10,000 miles of shattered glass.
I stumbled across FYF socks during research for this blog. Wellrigged.com is devoted to the toughest and most durable products on earth. Naturally, I was instantly intrigued with the concept of barefoot socks that were tough enough to withstand outdoor use.
What’s in this FYF Socks Review?
- Full Video Review
- Barefoot Company Overview
- Features of FYF Socks
- Uses for FYF Socks
- Test Results
- Bottom Line
1. Full Video Review
2. Company Overview: The Barefoot Company
I usually don’t review younger companies on WellRigged.com mainly because quality and durability is best proven over the long haul. I’ve made an exception for the Barefoot Company(2011) on the grounds that that the Barefoot Company practically invented this super-tough category.
It’s not that I think FYF socks will last forever. The co-founder, Philippe Bachinger, made it clear to me that they make no lifetime claims. Still the sheer possibility of a super-tough sock that can withstand extended outdoor is a testament to modern technological advancement in materials.
These are socks not shoes they only provide a few millimetres between your foot and the dirt. Certain product categories, such as this one, will likely never be true “buy it for life” products, yet they have an unprecedented degree of toughness. Its the shear toughness of the invention that drove me to do this review.
Technology has just begun to make this category possible. As time goes on the concept will continue to mature. Free Your Feet (FYF) socks are actually the third generation that the Barefoot Company has produced. The original was called the Swiss Protection Sock(SPS). The SPS was made from Kevlar and the FYF’s now use an even tougher fibre called Dyneema.
The Barefoot Company ran a successful Kickstarter campaign back in 2015 to fund production of their new Dyneema FYF model. It took less than a month to raise the capital they needed and they were off to the races.
The super tough protective socks were the brain-child of Dr. Dieter Hesch(A biology prof) and Philippe Bachinger( a Kite surfer). They recognized that a shoed foot is actually quite handicapped in many situations while a completely bare foot is easily susceptible to injury.
I almost lost a fight with a large spitting cobra in West Africa because I wasn’t barefoot. It was muddy and was wearing flip flops. As the cobra struck at me, my flip flops kept suctioning to the mud and keeping me from dodging the snake. It was a scary moment. As soon as I kicked off my flip flops though I was able quickly gain the upper hand and “deal with him.” (He was after my chickens)
Generally speaking, bare feet offer far better agility and adaptability on difficult terrain. The Barefoot socks is a product designed to unleash the natural agility and balance of bare feet while offering protection against common injury.
3. Features of FYF Socks
This is the magic material that allows these socks to survive the outdoors. Dyneema is a proprietary Polyethylene fibre produced by a Dutch company called DSM. DSM describes Dyneema as follows:
“Dyneema® is a super-strong fiber. Available in white and as Black Dyneema®, it is made from Ultra High Molecular Weight Polyethylene (UHMWPE) and offers maximum strength with minimum weight.”
I don’t know what all that means, except that its freaking tough stuff. Dyneema is use in armoured vehicles, military aircraft, armoured VIP limos, commercial fishing nets and cut resistant gloves. It’s also used in place of steel cables and chains for heavy industries like offshore oil and marine applications.
Dyneema is 15 times stronger than steel when stretched. It’s apparantly the strongest fibre currently available.
FYF socks are 46.5% Dyneema. In a very real sense it’s body armour for your feet. The feel is very natural, similar to a wool sock, but not scratchy. The fabric flexes well and breaths nicely. The socks are not puncture proof. Their greatest protection is against abrasions and cuts.
Toe Sock Design
FYF wouldn’t be true barefoot socks if your toes were restricted like traditional socks. The toe sock is designed like a glove for our feet. Its more than a comfort thing. Its about having more freedom, balance and toe dexterity. Unrestricted use of your toes means huge improvements in balance and agility.
The added freedom allows you to really feel the terrain and adapt to varying conditions on the fly. This increased ability to feel the terrain allows for more precise judgment of traction limits in sports applications. Climbers would also find it helpful especially when engaging difficult footholds.
The full flexion of my toes was really helpful while I was fishing and allowed me to feel the stream bed when I couldn’t see the bottom. My toes could be my “eyes” when the water was rushing around my feet. I also felt more sure footed than with sandals or boots because my feet could form to the contours of the stream bed to provide a firmer footing.
Unlike traditional sock designs, the FYF’s seams run along the perimeter of the entire foot including toes. I believe this is key for durability simply because no seams are exposed to contact with the ground thereby reducing wear and tear. A traditional sock design would fail prematurely due to the seams contacting the ground.
The seams on FYFs also are very subtle. They remind me of the Darn Tough Socks I reviewed a while back. Both companies have a way of constructing their socks without the typical ridges associated with seams.
The entire foot bed of FYFs have small grip dots which help deliver better traction on slippery surfaces. For indoor use, I didn’t note any scuffing or marks on my hardwood floors either.
The grip dots don’t seem to hold on for long and its something I’m sure the Barefoot Company is working to improve. They came off the big toe after a day on the beach. I think their helpful but not necessary in most contexts.
Hi Peak: Over the ankle there’s no hiding the bold Swiss cross emblazoned against red. I’d highly recommend these for any water sports. The extra cuff length really keep the sock securely in place.
Low Tide: low cut and understated, these guys can hide in your shoes until you want to hit the trail or get some gardening done. For the minimalist.
4. Uses for FYF Socks
I think FYF Socks are great in quite a few applications, but during the course of this FYF socks review I’ve realized there are some things these socks are not designed for. These socks are designed for soft-surface outdoor use not hard surface use. Based on my experience, and the Barefoot Company here some usage recommendations.
Don’t Use FYF’s For:
- Running or walking on pavement, gravel or abrasive surfaces. You will wear them out prematurely. Dyneema is tough but it will not stand up to barefoot jogging on sidewalks etc.
- Avoid Surfing on boards with rough sanded surfaces.
- Although the Barefoot Company does list running as a use, I think it would significantly shorten the life of the FYF socks. If you use FYF’s for barefoot running, you’ll definitely gain a competitive advantage but you’ll need to replace them fairly regularly.
- Gardening: Perfect for regular yard work.
- The Beach: (My favorite use) these things are way better than water shoes. Grab sea shells with your toes, don’t sweat the sharp ones, avoid burning hot sand on sunny days and soften the discomfort of gravel underfoot.
- Fishing: A great alternative to water shoes, boots or waders.
- Outdoor games: Ultimate Frisbee, pickup football, soccer.
- Climbing: Complex footholds just got a whole lot easier
- Water ski (barefoot ski maybe?)
- Martial arts
- Hyper-miling footwear: hardcore hyper-milers drive their cars barefoot to get the finest throttle control possible. It’s all in an effort get 30%-50% better mileage than the average person. As an amateur hyper-miler, I think these things are an absolutely perfect fit.
5. Test Results
As part of this FYF socks review I took them fishing, to the beach, gardening, and hyper-miling in my car. Since I’m not an athlete I had a friend of mine try out a couple pairs to see how they worked in that context.
I took the kids out for an afternoon of fishing and swimming. Pristine streams are a perk of living in Canada.
The FYF’s performed very well considering the amount of rocks and gravel in the stream. Grip was never a problem even on wet boulders. I still found walking on the smaller rocks quite uncomfortable. I would recommend fishing with FYFs on terrain with rocks that are larger than your hand or sandy shores. Smaller rocks hurt due to the many pressure points on the sole of your feet.
The Beach and Lake
This was by far my favourite use for the FYF socks. It’s so nice to feel the sand without getting gouged by seashells and rocks. I was also well protected from the freshwater clams in the lake that cut my feet every year. No sand got stuck in the socks either. If your headed to the beach or cottage this summer, these things are rock stars. FYFs are perfect cottage life footwear.
Around the Yard
Footwear isn’t really necessary on my lawn, but if you’re at a park, they’re a nice added protection. FYF’s are perfect for loafing around the yard and garden. I prefer the Low-Tide FYFs for bumming around the yard.
Andrew, a friend and colleague of mine is an active fitness enthusiast. He took them to the gym with him and I asked him for his input for this FYF socks review.
Andrew liked the lightness he gained by wearing the socks instead of sneakers. He felt more free and flexible. He did say that it took him a while to get them on, but once they offered as much grip as his sneakers. He was most impressed with them in the gym especially doing lower body exercises like dead lifts etc.
Andrew is pretty keen on using them for beach volleyball this summer and I’m pretty sure they’ll be awesome for that too.
How much do they cost? 80$ Yeah, specialty footwear like this doesn’t come cheap. Head on over to the Barefoot Company’s Website.
How do you care for FYF Socks? Hand wash in cold water and line dry only, do not dry clean.
How long will the socks last? That is entirely up to how hard you use the socks. If you want them to last I highly recommend them for lower impact outdoor use like water sports, gardening etc. However, competition runners may wish to grab a pair for race day. I don’t know how long they last in long distance cross-country running. I don’t expect very long.
Are FYFs puncture proof? No, but they are abrasion and cut resistant. In my experience they still did a great job of protecting my feet over sharp stones and gravel that would have cut me otherwise.
7. Bottom Line
FYFs are a really neat invention. Dyneema is tough but not “multi-marathon tough.” During the course of this FYF socks review I’ve concluded that there are really two sets of people that will benefit most from these barefoot socks.
- Athletes in competitive sports who use FYFs to push there limits and gain the competitive edge needed. For these folks the price tag on the socks are well worth it for the win. The trade off is is a shortened life on the socks.
- I think FYFs are perfect for beach bums, cottage life, water sports, fishing and other lower impact leisure activities.
FYFs are not cheap, so either you go crazy and wear them out for a darn good reason, or you take care of them and enjoy the freedom they give your tootsies. I choose the latter. As for me, my barefoot summer just got a whole lot better with FYFs.
Head over to The Barefoot Company’s website to order a pair for your barefoot summer too.
For the toughest traditional socks on earth you’ll be interested in my review of Darn Tough Socks.
Discloser: I am not sponsored by the Barefoot Company, nor do I receive commissions on any sales if you decide to buy FYF Socks. I do get commissions with many of my other article recommendations, but as I always say, “I only recommend the best and most durable products whether or not I get a referral commission.” Trust is worth more than money.