If you want to be getting to the tops of mountains with a big ol’ smile under your beard then you need to look after your feet! Skimping on boots is never a good idea. You need to do a great deal of research and buy decent quality boots, that most importantly really fit your feet well. Sometimes people can make big mistakes though and not apply the same amount of thought and finance to their socks. Socks are often the difference between blisters and perfect feeling feet. I thought I’d write a review of three new socks that I have not previously tried before.
I tested each of these socks on a different day on the mountains of Snowdonia. I did a minimum of 8 hours walking in each and an ascent and descent of about 800m (some of the walks were double this). I wear hiking boots by Alt-Berg and Salomon and trail walking shoes by Keen and Columbia depending on what I’m doing. This well trodden selection is perfect as it allows me to judge the socks on their own.
I love wearing new socks and was really looking forward to the luxury of wearing box-fresh socks three days in a row! The three pairs of socks in question were:
Wigwam – Peak to Pub Socks
47% Stretch Nylon, 30% Merino Wool, 19% Drirealse Tencel (88% Polyester, 12% Tencel), 4% Spandex.
Wigwam socks have a 2 year guarantee and will replace them for up to two year after purchase if you’re not completely satisfied!
I really like the name of these socks and decided to put them to the test and wear them all day right until the pub. (I normally change out of my walking boots and socks the minute I get to the car and put something really light on). I really liked the aesthetic of these socks as they looked the most like a regular pair of socks you might wear normally. With good colours and a striped design, they definitely looked the most casual. They were very soft to the touch, probably slightly softer than the Smartwool pair, which is very impressive.
The padding on the sole, mainly on the heel and toe, was great and very comfortable. The fit of the sock was really good, with the ankle exactly where it should be. It had a secure fit all the way up the lower calf which I really like, although if you have large calves you may not.
The socks were excellent for the whole day, it was rather warm but they wicked well and my feet felt dry all day. When we finished the hike we went for dinner at a local pub and I kept on wearing these socks as my feet still felt fresh. They have breathable panels which really must do the trick. Something that was particularly good was the toe area, which is seamless and stopped any discomfort which can sometimes occur there. I was really impressed as the socks did live up to their name. Wigwam socks were a brand that was new to me, but I’ll definitely be buying them again in the future!
Smartwool – PhD Merino Wool Outdoor Socks
Ingredients: 68% Merino Wool, 29% Nylon, 3% Elastane.
Smartwool is one of the two brands of socks I normally wear (1000 Mile socks being the other) and haven’t been let down so far.
This Smartwool PhD sock is very similar to the Wigwam Peak to Pub. As I’ve already said it is possibly, slightly less soft however, I believe it does have a tiny bit more padding on the sole. It does have a seam on the toe, which I’d rather it didn’t, however, this is flat knit so isn’t a significant issue. Smartwool make lots of claims about the durability of their socks and I can vouch that all the other pairs of their’s I’ve had have lasted.
Smartwool socks are incredibly well designed and the elasticated areas do a great job of holding the sock securely in place over long walks. I found the socks brilliant in terms of keeping your feet dry and comfortable in hot weather, I believe this is down to the large percentage of merino wool (more than any other sock in the test). On the ankle and calf, this sock wasn’t as well fitted as the Wigwam pair, so they would suit people with larger calves or people who enjoy a looser fit. An excellent pair of socks that will be brilliant for warm weather hiking and all outdoor activities.
Sealskinz – 100% Waterproof Socks
Inner – 51% Merino Wool, 30% Polyester, 15% Arcylic, 4% others.
Outer – 87% Nylon, 13% Elastane
Hand built in the UK and 100% waterproof.
I’ll start by saying that I’m a huge fan of Sealskinz and their gloves are pretty much the only pair I ever wear. These socks are just as incredible and are really waterproof! I choose to wear them on a day that we would be crossing marshy ground alongside lots of streams. I think this is really what these socks are ideal for. I think they would be amazing on wet winter days on Dartmoor.
Obviously, this high waterproofness comes at a bit of a cost and that is comfort. They are comfortable and the breath-ability makes them perfect for wearing all day long. They just aren’t as comfy as the Wigwam and Smartwool pairs. If you’ve worn Sealskinz gloves – the socks are very similar. They have a sort of wetsuit sock feeling to them which obviously comes from the waterproof membrane midlayer. On the instep you get ruckles which aren’t desirable. The major area where the sock is lacking is padding, it could really do with more padding on the sole.
However, saying all this… THE SOCK IS WATERPROOF! So you can’t really expect it to compete in terms of comfort. If your boots aren’t totally waterproof (which most aren’t!) then water ingress and damp socks, will give you horrible feet, no matter how well fitting or padded they are. When I go walking through wet areas I will definitely wear these socks. You could genuinely step in a puddle and the soft, merino liner will stay bone dry!