The Importance of Technical Socks

Good Afternoon Ferals!

A bit of a ‘let’s learn something’ blog today – let’s talk about socks! Good socks are the most important part of my kit. For a long day walk, I will take an extra pair in my pack in case I get particularly sweaty or if I accidentally end up in a bog (it happens more than it should). It wasn’t always this way though, I didn’t believe in having to fork out £15+ for a pair of socks. I mean, how much difference can it really make?! Surely a sock is a sock. Oh, I was so wrong, and it took too many blisters and achy, long miles for me to finally learn my lesson. So I’m going to try and save you the pain with a few short paragraphs.

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Breathability
Breathability is the main reason people think their boots are leaking; cheap cotton socks quickly become waterlogged with sweat (we can lose up to half a pint of sweat through our feet a day!) resulting in a similar feeling to leaky boots (in the winter, this will also result in colder feet which is really not what we want). A merino wool or synthetic fibred sock will actively wick away sweat from your foot (rather than holding on to your sweat like a sponge) allowing your boot or shoe to effectively ‘breathe’ the sweat vapour out.

Comfort
If that wasn’t enough reason to swap from those cheap cotton socks, then the comfort will be. Technical socks are available in several different thicknesses and heights depending on your footwear, therefore you can be as picky as you like and swap your socks to match your activity. To further add to their comfort, technical socks have very clever seam placement. The seams are placed in areas which aren’t prone to pressure, as seams over the toe or in the heel cup, for example, will rub and cause chafing. Merino wool is also softer and more comfortable next to skin than cheap cotton socks.

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Odour
Cheap cotton socks will smell after only a few hours of use; no one wants to get into their car to smell your walking buddy’s sweaty socks. Technical socks (more specifically, merino wool socks like Darn Tough) are designed to be worn for multiple days without smelling or feeling like they need a wash. So, how is that even possible? Well, sweat doesn’t actually have any odour but, if it remains on the skin then over time bacteria develops and creates an unpleasant body odour. Merino wool wicks sweat away pretty quickly and reduces the opportunity for that bacteria to generate. When we walked Pembroke last summer I only took 2 pairs of socks with me. I wore one pair and aired out the other on the outside of my pack. I did rinse them both out every 4/5 days but that’s all they needed.

Temperature Regulation
Technical socks (yes, even Merino Wool) will keep your feet warm in the winter and cool in the summer; I’m not lying! The natural properties of merino wool means that in warmer climates the socks wick sweat away and allow your feet to ‘breathe’ so will help to keep your feet cool, while in colder temperatures the sock will trap warm air and keep your feet warm.

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True Value
Yes, these socks cost £15+ to start with and cheap cotton socks cost £3, but which do you think will last longer? Most technical socks come with a long warranty but Darn Tough in particular feature a lifetime warranty with all of their socks, meaning if you wear a hole in them or aren’t satisfied with the quality, you can return them for another pair (yup, even 10 years later!). From experience, these cheap cotton socks will last around a year of light use (and even less before the elastic starts to go), whereas Darn Tough or Bridgedale’s options can last upwards of 5-10 years, meaning you’re spending less and getting more for your money.

I only own 6 pairs of socks and that’s all I need! Gone are the days of £5 multipacks of cheap socks (and thank goodness). Hopefully, I’ve convinced you to give them ago – I absolutely recommend just buying a pair and trying them out, you will never go back to thin cotton socks.

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See you next week, Ferals!

H

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