Wednesday, 23 March 2011

Boring but essential gear. Socks.

I’ve heard a lot about X-Socks form fellow Blogger and Backpacker Andy Howell on his blog and was quite keen to test a pair.  With the upcoming TGO Challenge I am in the market for some decent socks.  Webtogs happily suggested I try a pair of these

For years I’ve used the same thick Rohan Merino wool socks.  These set the bench mark for all other socks, in my opinion anyway.  Warm, even when wet, loads of cushioning and don’t loose their shape when soggy.  Sadly I can’t seem to find any more. 

As mentioned before I have hot feet and as you can see from the specs from the Webtogs site they are a mixture of synthetic fibres.  I was curious to see how good these would be to dry out between inevitable river crossings and other watery adventures in Scotland as well as keeping my feet dry in waterproof boots.

As socks go they look and feel very well made.  They do have quite a tight, foot specific fit without being restrictive.  In the lined Keen  boots they performed very well.  My feet didn’t overheat even though it was a sunny day, they didn’t loose their shape and there was no rubbing or hotspots.  I couldn’t really fault them.

In the Inov-8s I wasn’t as impressed.  I purposely crossed a couple of large streams which involved full submersion of my feet.  The socks again didn’t loose their shape and again there was no rubbing or hotspots even after five miles of walking after the stream crossing.  My only slight grumble was that the socks didn’t dry as fast as my merino socks, they retained more water and my feet were colder in them after the submersion than they usually are, although they were warm in around 90 seconds so you can’t really complain there.  They were pretty wet at the end of the walk and I would have doubts they would dry out much overnight if you were backpacking.

Perhaps comparing these to the Rohan socks is unfair as the materials used are different so you can expect different results, these may be more comparable?

Apart from that small, perhaps unfair gripe I do have to say that they have performed like kit should – with no issues.  Comfy, brilliant fit, retain their shape with no hint of hot spots or blisters.  I think these particular ones are more suited to waterproof  footware and I would have no qualms in recommending them to others for such use.


Zed said...

Socks aren't boring! They are far more important than boots or shoes. In fact, you can get away with anything, when your boots have worn out, and you are in the back of beyond with ludicrously limited choice, if your socks are good.

Smartwool socks staggered me last summer. I had a spare pair in the bag but only put them on for the public transport home. The walking pair were hammered hard each day, rinsed in a river each evening, put on damp each morning and never, ever caused the slightest discomfort. They still have their shape and are off with me on Tuesday for a bit of a wander round the Southern Uplands.

Isn't the smell of Inov-8 shoes after they've been walked dry, day after day, something else. As Section Hiking Earlylite says, bin and replace.

Sorry togo on.

Alan said...

Good review and i am glad that you pointed out how tight a fit they are.
Thats one of the reasons i stopped using them. They are just too tight a fit. Especially if you get the long leg ones. Whoever designed them must have no calf muscles.

How do the Mountain socks compare in this respect?

Rohan seem to develop good products which people rave about and then ditch them which could result in customers going elsewhere. Strange company.

Shed Dweller said...

Hi Zed, I must admit I've never had a problem with smelly Inov8 shoes. I do do a lot of stream crossings with them so they get "washed" many times some days, this may help.

Alan, the socks are tigher than most other socks which I think some people like and also helps with keeeping your feet warm, or that's how it feels. I've got into barefoot shoes and I've not really worn socks for a month or so now so these ones do feel weird when I put them on, but that's me, not the socks. I wouldn't want such tight socks over my calfs though.