Sock Apocalypse

Going to trail shoes meant that footwear started to fit me and I didn’t need a fat sock to take the slack or fill in the gaps. I still wear fat socks in winter, more for warmth that cushioning these days, but we’ll come back to that.
The sock drawer was rebuilt from scratch, and I’ve had the above lot on test for many months. Some are spares in the packets (as yet unused, a pointer to thinner socks not wearing out quickly), and others have done the west Highland Way. There’s a few missing as well, but I’ll cover them all a brand at a time in a bit.
We’ve got Wigwam, Chocolate Fish, Injinji, X-Socks, Sealskinz, Bridgedale and Rocky.

Other brands didn’t suit my feet as well, Thorlo’s I wear in winter but their lighter socks aren’t so good on my feet and Smartwool gave me blisters.

It’s an odd feeling heading up the hills in a tiny triathalon sock for the first time, but if your shoes fit there’s nothing to worry about. If it is wet and cold I work a combo, the other day I had on my LaSportiva Crosslites with X-Socks’ Run Speed Metals and the Gore Bike Wear stretch Gore-Tex socks and I was a happy boy playing in the mud. On Ben Lomond a couple of weeks ago I had on Wigwam’s Cool-Lite Hiker Pros which got wet on the way up but I never changed them as they dried completely while I made my dinner. A big thick sock would be still be damp now. Well maybe not, but still.

Materials and construction are diverse, synthetic is common, even wool socks have synthetic in there to hold them together and give them stretch. Coolmax I like a lot, in socks it’s a joy but in clothing I think it smells. Merino is second and works well, it’ll always dry slower and hold onto moisture longer, but if the fit is good, then so is the comfort. I’ve got some bamboo in there too, which is very nice against the skin.
Design is diverging as well, huge areas of padding being cut out to give breathability and quick drying. Right and left specific socks are multiplying, and the Injinjis have toes on them. It’s not anything like as weird as it sounds either.
Reviews coming up.

The sock is vital and we must speak kindly of it, for surely it will smile upon our feet in return.

17 thoughts on “Sock Apocalypse”

  1. You’re right about the Wigwam Cool Lites. I have been using them since early May with Keen Voyageur Lows and when they got wet, they seemed to dry off in no time. Same goes for the shoes. When the combo stayed dry, they were sooooh comfy.
    Socks rock, but they are usually overlooked in the gear reviews.
    The Injinji’s look the biz though, will they straighten my bent toes?

  2. Hmm, I don’t think their powers will extend to that. They will stop your bent toes rubbing each other up the wrong way however!

  3. Sockalypse Now! Do I spy a pair of those ultra thin Rocky Gore Tex sockies in that pile? Interested how they turn out, could be just the job for rainy days and unlined joggers.
    You can keep the Sealskinz… the horror… the horror

  4. It is indeed the Rocky’s, the best Gore Tex socks out there I’d say, although the Gore Bike Wear ones aren’t far behind.
    The TrekMates ones are baggy horrors in comparison to both, but only after you’ve used them. Very much a case of ignorance was bliss.

    Sealskinz are fine for a day out, but I’d rather wear shortcrust pastry on my feet than take them away on a long trip.

  5. I really like the idea of the Injinjis – look like a good way to prevent problems with rubbing toes. Do you know if they are available anywhere in the UK, now or in the near future?

  6. There’s no distriubtion in the UK. The story from a few folk has been that they’re asking for unreasonably large forwards stock orders, so no one is taking them on.
    They’re in Europe though, had them last year, and you’ll get them from the usual US online outlets like REI.
    The sizing is spot on for ordering online, US10=UK9=fits me perfectly.

  7. Excellent, thanks for the information on stockists. On order from Barrabes, so looking forward to trying them out.

  8. Well, they’ve arrived (Injinji crew performance), been out on the hill a couple of times and I’ve got an initial impression.

    Firstly, you have to smile – there is something comical about socks with separate toes. It does take a while to get over this (well, I presume it will eventually happen). More seriously, they are a bit fiddly to get over the toes (even more difficult than gloves since there isn’t any dexterity) and the initial feeling is a little strange. However, this soon goes and the socks are a good fit. On the hill they are comfortable, but of course, is it worth all this engineering?

    I guess I bought these for a specific reason, which is that I find it really difficult to find boots/shoes that are wide enough across the forefoot at the point of the little toe. What normally happens on one foot is that the toe is squeezed and rubs against the next toe, with development of a very painful corn. Obviously it is very early days, but so far the signs are good – in shoes that often cause this problem the Injinjis seem to help prevent rubbing and so far are very comfortable. Only time will tell for long-term comfort, but I am quite optimistic.

  9. Them Rocky Gortex socks, how’s the sizing work on them? Do you wear your normal shoe size or go bigger to accommodate the socks you wear with them?

  10. I wear them my usual size over a thin-ish sock. The X-socks are very good for layering with GTX socks.
    I think the Rocky’s have enough stretch that you’ll get a bit of leeway in the sizing.
    Too big and they’ll bunch up and you’ll get blister inducing creases.

  11. Hmm what Xsocks do you have I have some Sky Runs I wear for running. They’re very nice and thin, not sure they’d be that warm though.

    Have you tried Defeet socks before? I’ve got some of their merrino Wool-e-ators which are very thin, with no padding but they’re fantastic in trail shoes, and possibly warmer than the Sky Runs so might be a good match.

  12. I’ve got Run Speed Metals and er, something else with “hiking” in the title. They’re warm enough with an oversock, but you do lose heat pretty when you stop moving.

    I’ll have a look at Defeets…

  13. I tried my Rocky goretex socks for the first time yesterday on Kinder Scout, inside my Roclite 315s. 12 miles of bog, peat and river – and at the end my Smartwools inside were bone dry and kept on for the journey home… :))

    I just hope they last – I may start to wear my Raidlite gaiters with them to keep grit out…

    But the fit? I bought my normal shoe size. They’re quite tight to pull on and a decent fit width-wise, but about 3/4″ longer than my foot. They slid and bunched a bit putting my shoe on but seemed to settle into a snug fit around my heel with the spare up at my toes. I didn’t get enough bunching to cause blister problems – this time! I’m wondering though about buying the next size down, so does anyone know whether the fit varies primarily in the length, or will they get much narrower across the forefoot too?

  14. Interesting about the fit Matt. Looks like I got lucky on the foot shape.
    The membrane is vulnerable on the inside without a scrim, and the scouring action inbetween your shoes and the socks will kill them pretty quick. I wear my Dirty Girl gaiters with mine, like you say, it looks like a good idea.

  15. Breaking news on Rocky Goretex Socks….?

    Folk may be aware that these have been getting very difficult to get hold of lately, especially if, like me, you take a pretty standard size. Impressed with my original pair I’ve had a couple more pairs on order with Fly Fishing Tackle since early Jan! Promised delivery days have slipped by with alarming regularity and finally on Friday I received this – “We have just heard from the Rocky uk distributors, these are no longer available.”

    Aaarrgghhhh!!! :((

    I know Brok0bank Canoes and Silvermans are out too, certainly of popular sizes. So are Uttings although they still claim they can order them – I’m not convinced… (and, oh,their prices!!)

    It seems unbelievable if this bad news is true and such a brilliant product is defunct. Anybody got any insider channels to check it out further?

    And if they have gone, what are the next best ones to go for instead?

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