In early January we at trailandultrarunning.com hatched a brilliant idea to approach several sock companies during the Outdoor Retailer Trade Show in Salt Lake City, UT to see if they they wanted to participate in a mass sock company review titled the Great Sock Debate. We were shocked at how many companies wanted to participate. After much consideration and deliberation we whittled the number down to six companies which we will present in this article. As part of the program we planned to put socks on seven different testers whose experience, focus and ability to destroy socks vary greatly. We knew that after a full month (or more in a couple of cases) of running in only these six brands of socks we could do some hefty damage to see how comfortable they were and how they held up. Socks were rated in several different areas; the end result will be a comprehensive review of six fantastic brands. We leave the ultimate interpretation and determination of which sock brand to buy up to you, the runner.
Here’s the brand rundown:
*Balega Moh-Rino Approach ($16.50) – A midweight, loose knit moh-rino (merino wool and mohair) sock with mesh construction for added ventilation. Balega is known for it’s comfort, coolness, and drying abilities.
Drymax Trail Runner (~$15.99) – A midweight, double-layer sock with extra padding around the ankle. Drymax is renowned for it’s bullet-proof construction and ability to wick moisture.
Icebreaker Hike+ Lite Mini ($19.99) – A midweight, anatomically correct sock built with 70% merino wool. Icebreaker is a wool-based company who knows how to keep your feet fresh and dry.
CEP Running Compression ($59.95) – A lightweight anatomically correct sock with foot and calf compression. CEP is the leader in medical grade compression wear and has built a sock to handle all elements.
Smartwool PHD Run Ultra Micro ($15.95) – A lightweight sock measured for warmer weather and shorter distances. ReliaWool Technology has redefined the Smartwool line to make them last longer and be more comfortable.
Feetures Elite Cushion Low Cut ($14.99) – A midweight, anatomically correct sock with high-density cushioning. Feetures offers extra cushion in those sensitive areas and no noticeable toe seam.
Like we said earlier, we put these socks on seven of our esteemed gear testers and admonished them to put them to work. Here are the players:
Craig: a size 11 ultra-runner who is known for barreling down big mountain trails with reckless abandon.
Matt: a size 12 ultra-runner whose feet eat socks for breakfast. If a sock can hold up to Matt’s abuse, it should win an award.
Sherpa: a size 8.5 wide ultra-runner who cruises smooth Colorado trails in his sleep. He prides himself on the intimacy associated with socks.
Missy: a size 8 (women’s) ultra-runner whose socks not only have to pass the trail test, but the dog test. If her dogs don’t like them, neither does she.
T.R.: a size 13 ultra-runner who can put his weight behind his running (he’s really not a big guy). He knows socks like the Pope knows the Bible.
Mark: a size 10.5 ultra-runner who glides along trails a measured, nearly OCD manner. His mind runs as far as his feet and he’s always mindful of his feet.
Jerry: a size 10 ultra-runner who ravages bouldery peaks like the Thing from the Fantastic Four (he’s made of rocks, in case you aren’t a nerd).
The review period is done and we are compiling the data. In the next week we’ll produce a finished article for your consideration. We can tell you probably already know that there isn’t really a bad choice, but since everyone’s running style and preferences are different, what works for each runner will vary. We hope this review will help educate on the many brands out there and allow you to find the best fit for you.
*Editors note: the original sock presented in this article prior to 4/1 was incorrect. We actually tested the Moh-Rino Adventure, but simply linked the wrong sock. This has been corrected. Sorry for the confusion.