Socks of 2013

Oh yeah, Grinch socks!!
Oh yeah, Grinch socks!!

Greetings all, time for a fun, non weight-specific, article sharing my thoughts on socks… nothing overtly exciting in this article.

After reading the excellent article by Erika Klimecky at SeattleBackpackersMagazine entitled “Socks for the Season“, I felt a bit of inspiration to share my thoughts about the socks that I have used this year.

For the last few years I have been extremely devoted to using Darn Tough Socks. They served me amazingly well as I progressed from being a heavy weight hiker and wearing boots, through the migration of being a LW and UL hiker wearing trail shoes, and even as a SUL/XUL hiker they have proven to be great using some of the lightest weight trail shoes on the market.

Things started to change for me though when I started making the migration to using (near)zero-incline shoes. When I started wearing VFF’s I went out and bought some Injinji toe socks. When I made the decision to try using sandals for hiking I ordered up the Teva Hurricane XLS’s and used them for a few months to get my feet conditioned to having open toe footwear. Recently I have started hiking in Luna Oso Sandals so I ordered up more Injinji socks as my feet are still getting conditioned to having straps.

Socks I Have Used/Tried:

Injinji CoolMax Performance Lightweight No Show Toe Socks – I have a love hate relationship with these things. They are amazingly comfortable and they breath very well and dry out super fast. I really do love CoolMax fabric. The problems I have with them is they tend to be a PITA to put on and take off… even after wearing the same pair for weeks (with washing of course.) They have gotten formed to my toes, but just the process of putting them on and taking them off, is just, well… not as fast as regular socks. Kind of a petty issue, I know, but when you have used regular tube socks (that go on and off in under a second) for your entire live, taking the extra minute that it takes me to deal with the toes getting all crumpled up in side the sock, getting things lined up, and so forth, its not that it is the end of the world, but it is rather annoying to me. And, for whatever reason, but it seems like these socks collect more very small twigs and dirt than any other sock I have used. But at this point, using the Luna sandals, toe socks are pretty much my only option and these are the best out there.

Darn Tough Vermont 1/4 Cushion Socks – My main socks for many years. Soft yet crazy tough. They worked great for use with trail shoes and gaiters. I eventually ditched them for NoShow socks and cannot remember the last time I put on a pair of these, even though I have a half-dozen pair, including one pair that I have well over 2,000 miles (3200+km) of wearing.

Darn Tough Vermont Coolmax Mesh No Show Ultralight Sock – These socks very quickly became my go-to sock when I finally decided to give noshow socks a try. Do not know why I put off wearing noshow socks for so long. Made of 35% Coolmax they are my favorite non-toe socks. When I am not wearing Injinji socks, these are what are usually on my feet, but I do wish they had a higher CoolMax fabric percentage. Note: they make an ‘ultralight’ and a ‘Cushion’ version – I personally go with the ultralight, but the few times I have put on a cushion pair that I bought by mistake, the extra little padding was noticeable and kind of nice.

Wigwam Cool-Lite Mid Hiker Pro Quarter Length Sock – I bought these to use when the above socks were not warm enough when wearing the Teva sandals. It was my first time owning Wigwam socks and I loved how amazingly soft they were. Unfortunately, the tops of them were constantly fraying because of the strapping system on the Hurricane XLT sandals. Still, probably the most amazingly comfortable socks I have owned. Add to that the fact that they are 62% Coolmax and it just made me a happy hiker. These are my favorite socks for hiking in! While not something I can wear while using huarache Luna sandals, when the regular trail shoes or non huarache sandals are being used, these Cool-Lite Mid Hiker Pro Quarter socks are what I am wearing.

Fits Ultra Light Runner No Show – These are some of the neatest socks I have ever put on my feet. They have a dedicated heel box that your heal just drops right down into. Loved how well these socks fit me. Unfortunately, they are neither vented nor made with CoolMax, which are sort of a requirement for my go-to socks these days. If those two factors did not matter to me, they would probably beat out the Wigwam because of how well fitting they are. I realize it sounds like a cliché (I sure did when I first heard of them) but these socks really do ‘Fit’ better than any sock I have ever put on. Maybe in the future they can make some with Coolmax and add mesh vent tops.

Thin vs Thick:

One of the aspects of socks that took me a while to realize was how much nicer, for me at least, thin socks are when hiking. To me, thin is better. I would rather have to replace a sock after 500 miles and know it is breathing very well and keep my foot as close to the footwear as possible, then have a thick sock causing my feet to stay hot and adding padding – after all, (near)zero incline trail shoes, VVF’s, and Luna sandals are all about feeling the ground, not some soft padding of a sock.

Holiday is approaching... just saying :-D
Holiday is approaching… just saying… come on sock companies… make my dream pair of socks for me!!

So what is my dream sock?

Lets see, I think they would need to have these requirement (and a pair may exist for all I know… I am no sock expert)

  1. Have a high CoolMax percentage. (60% minimum)
  2. Be a no show sock.
  3. Have a vented top.
  4. Be a toe sock for use with sandals or shoes.
  5. Have the cool heel pocket like what the Fits socks have.
  6. Be very thin.

All in all I think that would really be my dream sock. Do they exist? I really do not know. So far I have not found anything that matches all six of these requirements. Do you know of some that do? Please, drop a comment within this article and let me know!!

Thank you,
+John Abela

In accordance of USA Federal Trade Commission 16 CFR, Part 255: I hereby declare that as of the day of publication of this article I am a sponsored hiker of Montbell America, Gossamer Gear, Black Rock Gear, Suluk46 and Ultimate Direction.

10 thoughts on “Socks of 2013

  1. Hello John

    Ever thought about sandals without the strap between the toes?

    The ‘Pahtempe’ from Unshoes would let you wear your favourite socks without having to fiddle with the individual toe comparments of the Injinji.

    Unfortunately there’s too many nasties crawling about the place for this sort of shinanigins here in Oz. My feet get filthy with the lightweight gauze upper most trail runners use. I need to scrutinized shoe uppers very carefully, the gauze on many shoes is so coarse it even lets sand through – a nightmare walking on dunes.

    I’m suprised you like the Coolmax, I find it a bit whiffy, I’m stuck on good old Merino wool!

    1. Hey Andy, thanks for stopping by!

      My issue with most of the other huarache style sandals is they tend to be too bloody heavy.

      Teva Hurricane XLT Sandal (626 grams / 22.08 oz)
      Inov-8 Trailroc 245 (594 grams / 20.95 oz)
      Luna Sandals, Oso (450 grams / 15.87 oz)

      Never heard of the unshoes, but their pt sleek ones look pretty sweet. Just an utter shame they do not list weights of any kind.

      I think if I could find a pair of over-the-toes that were lightweight and had the kind of amazing tread pattern that the Oso has, I would probably give them a go. Would very much solve the whole toe-sock issue. I am just not willing to go out and buy a dozen different pair of 50-100 dollar pair of sandals to try to find one. Kinda tired of buying gear just to see how much they weigh – because companies are too inept to share weights on their websites.

      Yeah, I hate hiking on the beach. Was talking with some guys yesterday and I mentioned I would rather road walk than hike on the beach. I really do hate beach hiking.

      As for the CoolMax… yeah it kind of surprised me too. But, gotta be honest, the aspects of this material really does work and in such wet places as here where I tend to hike, it just performs better than anything else I have ever used. I love Merino wool, but for hiking, its just seems to cause my feet to be too hot and to stay hot.

  2. You should try Swiftwick Socks (I have no affiliation, just like the socks). They are not CoolMax, they are an Olefin blend. I have great results with them both Cycling and Hiking. If you want thin and no-show, you would be looking at the Aspire Zero or the Pulse Zero.

      1. No problem! I use the Performance line mostly (Performance One) for hiking. For Cycling, I mostly use the Aspire line. I have a few pairs of the Pulse line, but mostly use them around town. Let me know how you like them if you try them out.

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