Balega Ultralight Crew
Balega is debuting the Ultralight Crew in its 2021 sock line.
Current Retail: $15.00
Very thin sock for running. Fairly good protection from friction, and stretchy fit. Fabric tends to soil and pill fairly easily. I like the socks for walking and running but prefer Balega’s more robust options.
- Stretchy fabric fits nicely
- Smooth, tends to deflect friction that can cause blisters
- Wicks moisture well
- Hard to clean
- Pilled fairly quickly
Balega’s Ultralight Crew is a lightweight running sock, made of “Drynamix“ moisture-wicking fabric that is supposed to keep your feet cool and wick moisture away to keep your feet feeling dry. Balega also touts its seamless toe as a way to avoid friction points. Unisex sizing in sizes small through extra large.
I have been wearing these socks on day hikes and for cycling in moderately warm to very hot weather over the past few months and gleaned the following from that:
FIT: Balega advertises the near-seamless toe and heel pocket of these ultralight crew socks. This is a very stretchy sock that I felt was true to size, and the socks do have an articulated heel pocket. With fabric this lightweight, the heel pocket is less noticeable than, say, the deep heel pocket you find on FITS mid weight merino hiking socks, but it’s definitely helpful.
Balega also advertises that its ultralights are specifically designed to fit your right and left feet differently. There may be a difference in the pattern, but I didn’t distinguish left vs. right when I wore these socks and didn’t note any difference.
WICKING: Balega uses some kind of synthetic fabric in these ultralight socks, and it’s well-suited for hot weather and people who sweat a lot. The socks do help keep your feet feeling dry in hot, humid weather.
FRICTION: Good running socks can help you avoid blisters if the fabric is smooth and seams aren’t rubbing against your feet. These socks are very good at avoiding friction, and the seams near the toe are virtually non-existent. I didn’t blister at all in these socks.
ODOR: Balega’s ultralight socks don’t tend to get smelly. I haven’t experienced any odor issues with these.
DURABILITY/CLEANING: The photos show the socks pre-workout—you can see there are areas around the ankle and bottom of the foot are soiled, even after being cleaned. In my experience with socks I wear with running shoes, cycling shoes, and low hikers, Balega’s ultralights are somewhat below average in terms of the ability to keep them clean.
A number of the photos show significant pilling after a few months of wear. That’s also below average in my experience and suggests that these socks may encounter some durability issues down the road.
CONCLUSION/TAKEAWAYS: Balega makes very good running and hiking socks, and in many ways, I liked the wicking ability and smoothness of the fabric of their Ultralight Crew. I wore the Ultralights with a variety of shoes, and they work well for any shoe where you prefer a thinner sock. Opt for this sock if you prioritize wicking and a smooth (hopefully blister-free) fabric.
On the other hand, I think Balega’s Enduro socks are also fairly light, perform and wick well, and are probably more durable. Balega’s mohair Blister Resist socks (a thicker sock) are the best of the bunch in terms of durability yet also wick moisture well with their wool-like material, but the Blister Resist wears a fair bit warmer and are a thicker, higher-volume sock that may not work for runners and hikers who prefer lighter-weight options.
Also, if you are fastidious about your socks looking good over the long haul, opt for a darker color ultralight.
2-3 months of hiking, jogging, cycling.
Source: received for testing via the Trailspace Review Corps
(sample for testing and review provided by Balega)