An inevitable part of moving, beyond surliness and interrupted internet access (and thus blog posts) is a reexamination of all your possessions. Or perhaps it is really a first examination, carrying something up the steps in a shopping bag does not rate for introspection compared to carrying everything in an endless train of boxes. The inevitable angst of moving is not so much in the simple amount of stuff, discouraging though that is, but in being faced so baldly with how many of the intimate details of our lives go unexamined.
Part of my sorting was to collect and then go through my immense pile of socks. A few of them are over five years old, but most have accumulated during that manageable chunk of time since we moved to Arizona in 2006 and made adventuring a serious second full-time job. What follows is a partial discussion of what got binned, what I’ll but more of, and why.
The relevant meta is that I’ve increasingly come to believe that wool or nylon socks as primary insulation is an inefficient system. As secondary insulation, where warmth is won via moisture buffering and protection from abrasion, they excel, but if you’re piling on thick wool to keep your feet warm there are other methods you ought to examine. Either neoprene for the wet, or foam boot liners for the cold. I dislike the thick, loopy construction of insulating wool socks. They hold moisture and the interior structure exacerbates maceration via texture. This bias is reflected below.
The best (the socks I kept, and will buy more of):
-DeFeet Wooleators are the number one sock. An excellent combo of performance characteristics and durability. We received several pairs as gifts back in 2008, and only one has died in the intervening years (holes in the achilles). Impressive.
-DeFeet Activators are the best bargain going if the ankle height works for you (15 bucks for 3 pair). Impressively durable, and great for liners in Hydroskin socks or in hot weather.
-Patagonia Ultralight ski socks are excellent knee high socks for colder weather and ski boots. They stay put, are not as thin as Smartwools, but can stand more than one season.
-Injinji originals and lightweight socks (in coolmax, not wool) are pretty good durability wise, and I find the toe separation fantastic for serious mileage. The thin ones wear a bit fast, but are the best solution available at the moment.
-Bridgedale Coolfusion were a sleeper success. Good padding without being sponges, fantastic durability. A win.
-Smartwool toe socks stick like glue when wet, and get holes super fast. Fail.
-Darn Tough full cushion are 2/3 sock and 1/3 plastic bag. Horrid breathability. I did the 2008 Coyote 2 Moons in them, but only because I forgot other socks. I’ve been unimpressed with the lighter Darn Toughs, which I have killed easily, and not liked enough performance-wise to take advantage of the warranty. Save your money.
-Smartwool UL ski socks work great, but wear through the heel in 2/3 of a winter. All the thicker knee-high smartwools sagged, which is intolerable. Smartwool generally is falling behind the curve, with products that never seem to be better than average.
-Thicker socks from Smartwool and Thorlo stay in the quiver as sleep socks, for wearing to work, or padding around the house.
And now for something also geeky, but otherwise completely different:
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