Like bunnies and wildflowers, spring brings a fresh crop of socks each year. We’ve spent the past several weeks testing this season’s batch in a mixture of muddy, cool and hot conditions.
(*Weights are in men’s size large for all models)
Icebreaker Hike+ Light Crew ($22)
Fabric: 56% Merino Wool, 41% Nylon, 3% Lycra
Icebreaker is better known for their high performance wool apparel, but they have an extensive line of footwear that easily crosses over from full-day hiking to long-distance trail running. The Hike+ Light Crew socks have high merino content for an exceptionally soft feel, along with good thermal regulation and moisture management. A small percentage of Lycra makes them form fitting without compression, and they have retained their shape very well after several washings. The half-cushioned design makes the top half of the sock thinner and more breathable, with increased padding and comfort underfoot. Additional design points include anatomical left/right contouring and a seamless toe line.
Lasso Athletic Compression Socks ($30)
Fabric: 62% Polyamide, 29% Polyester Coolmax, 9% Lycra
Lasso makes compression socks that mimic the effect of kinesio taping on the lower extremity. They have graduated compression from low to high like other socks in the compression category, with additional vertical support on the medial and lateral sides to reinforce the ligaments and tendons of the foot and ankle as you would if applying athletic tape. Substantial padding in the forefoot and heel help absorb impact, with a thinner, firmer section wrapping around the arch. At this time these socks only come in a crew length option.
Drymax Trail Running Quarter Crew Turndown ($14)
Fabric: 65% Drymax Olefin, 20% polyester, 8% Nylon, 7% Elastene
A longstanding favorite of many ultrarunners gets a style makeover this spring, with three heathered color options available to choose from. The updates are more than superficial, though, as Drymax has utilized a new knitting system that works with thinner, denser fibers and creates a softer feel against the skin than previous versions of this sock. The fabric technology remains unchanged, with dual layer construction that combines an inner wicking layer with a moisture attracting outer layer to pull sweat or water away from the foot. Thickness of the Trail Running Quarter Crew is uniform throughout the sock, and the undersurface has strong durability to stand up to high mileage training and racing.
Injinji Liner + Runner ($24)
Liner Fabric: 63% Coolmax, 33% Nylon, 4% Lycra
Outer layer fabric: 33% Coolmax, 65% Nylon, 2% Lycra
Weight (two layers combined): 80g
Injinji first debuted their two-sock system with last year’s Liner + Hiker, and beginning this May they apply the same design concept to a running-specific quarter-crew model, with the two layers sold as a single unit. The thin interior seamless toe sock is highly moisture wicking and provides full surface coverage for blister prevention, while the external layer is a terry mid-weight sock with a traditional toe compartment that adds cushioning while pulling moisture from the liner. Additional elements of the exterior layer include firm arch support, reinforced heel, and a secure double cuff collar to help keep grit away from the foot.
Salomon NSO Long Run ($27)
Fabric: 77% polyamide, 15% polypropylene, 6% Elastane, 2% silicon
Another “I didn’t know they make socks” company is Salomon, whose sock range has been in existence for almost 15 years, but has rarely been sold in the United States until recently. The new NSO Long Run Sock was developed and tested with François D’haene, and it bears Salomon’s trademark combination of minimalism and high technology. The NSO is a very thin, lightweight crew length model that has mild supportive compression throughout, and small silicone bands on the underside for enhanced grip in wet conditions. Fabric construction innovation includes bio ceramic material to improve durability, along with synthetic yarns that replicate the properties of wool. At this time these socks are not sold directly through Salomon, but through third party retailers like Running Warehouse and Backcountry.com.
XOSKIN XOTOES 5.0 Quarter Crew Toe Sock ($24)
Fabric: 55% NanoGlide Nylon, 35% CuTec Nylon, 5% Elastene, 5% Nylon
XOSKIN has made steady inroads to the trail running community, primarily thanks to sock technology that virtually eliminates blister formation. We tested the Toe Sock version, but there are traditional styles available as well as a number of height options. XOSKIN socks feature an innovative CuTec fabric made with copper ions that are molecularly bonded to the fabric so they don’t wash out. Copper has high heat resistance, abrasion resistance, and bacterial resistance; this last point is particularly noticeable, as there is almost no odor after wearing these socks for multiple uses. The CuTec fabric combines with PTFE material throughout the sock to minimize friction, giving the sock an extremely smooth skin feel that even feels slightly slick in some conditions. The toe sock versions have tiny interdigital micro holes that allow the fabric to stretch without losing their shape or close fit.
CEP Tall 3.0 Compression Socks ($59.95)
Fabric: 85% polyamide, 15% spandex
CEP has updated their tall 3.0 with HEIQ clima management technology which keeps legs cool and dry during longs runs, all while under the comfort of a compression sock. We tested the sock in both cold and warmer temperatures and found that the thickness of the sock, which includes six miles of engineered threading, was durable protection from freezing elements. The fit includes a comfortable toe box that allows space for natural swelling of the feet along with padding in both the heel and toe. Some runners with smaller feet may find the fit of the foot feels a tad too roomy. In warmer conditions, the 3.0 successfully keeps the legs cool and dry, maximizing the comfort of the compression during longer efforts.