sock knowledge

3:31 p.m. on February 3, 2010 (EST)
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i wandered into an orvis store. i don't think of the place for much more than fishing or dog beds. i spotted some socks that looked interesting, though. merino blend. turns out they are private label manufactured by darn tough socks in vermont - a company that makes great socks in my experience, and that supplies socks to a number of branches of the US military as well. the socks at orvis, called "Invincible Extra," are 70% merino wool, 26% nylon, 4% spandex. i'm wearing them now - very comfortable, light to mid-weight. Lighter weight than the "boot socks" i have from darn tough. i think they will make a very nice summer hiking sock.

as a comparison, the other sock i like is a smartwool sock. also merino blend, 80% merino, 19% nylon, 1% "elastic." for me, the smartwool socks are thicker and warmer. they also have a greater tendency to stretch and get misshapen from wear, but they spring back nicely after getting washed.

both of these brands will last a number of years. they can go in the clothes dryer, but they wear better if you line dry them.

Is anyone familiar with Bridgedale's "all mountain" sock? it's a merino/coolmax blend, and i'm curious. Any other good hiking socks that you like?

ps - there is an entertaining blog on the web called "smartwoolexperiment" don't be fooled, it discusses multiple brands. it's amusing but actually quite helpful.


12:23 a.m. on February 12, 2010 (EST)
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Read my response on "Sock liners", and "Merino wool" and you will see, I like wool. I also have pair of Bridgedale wool socks that I have been wearing lately and they are great. I get allot of socks on Sierra trader at huge discounts. But I wouldn't recommend the Rohner of Switzerland socks the one I have tried are to course and rub my feet.

9:20 a.m. on February 14, 2010 (EST)
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I am in favor of proper capitalization because it is much easier to read.


Yeah, really.



10:40 a.m. on February 17, 2010 (EST)
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I generally do not spend time or effort with capitalization when I post to internet forums. For you, Drake, and in honor of your monumentally helpful and informative contribution, I will make an exception.

10:55 a.m. on February 17, 2010 (EST)
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Just a reminder that we actively discourage Tom-and-Jerry jibes in our threads -- while pointing out people's typos is impolite online, it also builds character to resist the urge to respond to provocations.

6:00 p.m. on February 17, 2010 (EST)
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usually i also prefer merino boot sox. bought my last grouping at costco. 4 pair for $15. i wear them almost everyday, in addition to camping trips. never used liners of anytype, just the sox and my boots.

for what it's worth i prefer a little thicker foot area and a shorter rise up the leg.

6:07 p.m. on February 17, 2010 (EST)
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As I understand it, the idea that hiking socks require liners traces to the use of scratchy wool socks. Most hiking socks these days are either soft merino wool or acrylics, neither of which are remotely scratchy.

Some people like the extra padding and wicking, I imagine, but wearing liners and socks would just make my feet hotter and more prone to blisters.

6:22 p.m. on February 17, 2010 (EST)
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I wear liner socks primarily for a wicking layer myself, and wool for the insulation. If I wear wool socks alone, my feet stay too moist and I end up with blisters and cracks between my toes, especially the two small toes of my right foot for some reason.

During summer I have been able to wear synthetic socks alone, no liner.

11:49 a.m. on February 18, 2010 (EST)
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As trout says, the main purpose of liner socks is as a wicking layer, just as with base vs insulation layers for the torso. Also, good liners (including silk which don't wick any better than wool) reduce the friction on the foot, hence reduce or eliminate blisters. Wool, including merino, tends to hold water, which means, for people like me with warm feet, the socks can get pretty soaked, especially on plastic double boots (like ski boots and boots for ice climbing or expeditions to very cold climates). And wet socks tend to promote blisters, even with soft merino wool. So a wicking sock is pretty vital.

Also, because I have warm feet, I often use a triple layer - wicking inner next to the foot, VBL, wool insulating/cushioning - inside the boots. This means the wicking sock (which has to be high enough to wick the moisture out of the boot) can get wet, but the wool sock stays dry and warm. I can change the liner daily (wicking socks being thin and light, I carry several pairs), and the wet liner can be dried overnight or the next day (even at subzero temperatures).

Over the past couple of years, I have started wearing Injinji Coolmax liners, which serve the double function of wicking and keeping my toes separated (I tend to get thick callouses between my big toes and the second toe - the Injinjis eliminate this).

6:51 p.m. on February 22, 2010 (EST)
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first, my apologies for the jibe. needless.

second, while i didn't start on liners, i wear a thin, wicking liner with leather boots, under some kind of merino sock, primarily because two layers helps me avoid blisters. It's clearly a personal preference, because i see above that liners cause blisters for others.

i don't wear liners in the winter, except when i experiment with a vbl. i have had good luck keeping my feet warm with a vapor barrier, but that trench-foot feeling seems to lead me back to a double layer of thick wool socks.

i also don't wear liners with the pair of low-profile day hiking shoes i use, as the shoes don't have enough volume to accommodate my feet.

i broke down and ordered a pair of the bridgedale socks online so i could test-drive them.

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