BALEGA BLISTER RESIST SOCKS
TEST SERIES BY MARINA BATZKE
October 01, 2017
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mbbp2013 (at) yahoo (dot) com
Los Angeles County, California, USA
5' 5" (1.65 m)
132 lb (60.00 kg)
I converted from day hiking and car camping to backpacking in 2013. My backpacking trips are one or two weekend excursions per month in Southern California. The locations range from Joshua Tree National Park desert areas in the cooler months to mountainous elevations in the summer months. I always hike with a group and like the gear talk in camp. While I am looking for ways to lighten my pack, I am not an ultra-lighter: I like sleeping in a tent with a sleeping bag on a comfortable pad. In January 2017, I added snowshoeing to my winter activities.
PRODUCT INFORMATION & SPECIFICATIONS
Manufacturer: BALEGA INTERNATIONAL LLC
Year of Manufacture: 2017
Manufacturer's Website: http://www.balega.com
Made in South Africa from U.S. yarn
Listed Weight: N/A
Measured Weight: 2.36 oz (67 g)
From heel to toe, the size M sock sole measures 8.5 in (22 cm)
Leg (from top of heel flap to bottom of cuff): 5 in (12.7 cm)
Cuff (ribbing): 2 in (5 cm)
Other details: available in S, M, L, XL
Two Color Choices: Charcoal 0339 or Black/Red 3802
I received three pairs of Balega Blister Resist Crew Socks: two pairs in Charcoal and one pair in Black/Red. Each pair was inside a cardboard wrapper that contains a listing of the product features and benefits, a sock sizing chart, care instructions and the manufacturer's commitment to the Lesedi/ Balega Community: the company is committed to both the children of South Africa, as well as the U.S. Veterans of War.
|Two Charcoal and one Black Red pair|
Each pair had a sticker applied saying this pair was hand inspected by the Balega Quality Team, with the photo and name of one of their sock inspectors. I can go online to www.balega.com and under MANUFACTURING, I can learn more about the various sock inspectors. By the way: all Balega socks are pre-washed and therefore ready to wear upon receipt. A close inspection of all three pairs definitely showed they are flawless: no loose threads, no imperfections.
Balega uses a blend of the natural fiber mohair with its Drynamix technical fiber to create socks that shall eliminate the risk of sheer friction blisters and keep my feet cool and dry.
When I am touching the Balega socks, they are definitely very soft and non-scratchy. The toe box, sole and heel are thicker to the touch. Each sock has an extra-deep heel pocket for good fit. The top of each sock foot is noticeably thinner and stretchier: up here Balega's mesh ventilation panel is integrated. The Charcoal pair has a black and grey color top design with enhanced elastic bands in light grey color highlighted. The Black/Red pair has a black and red color top design and shows the elastic bands in light grey as well. These elastic bands go all around the sock in the foot arch area: Balega's V-tech arch support is also visible on the sole/ foot bed side for a foot hugging fit. Near the toe box, the word 'balega' is integrated in light grey color. The Balega socks have a hand-linked seamless toe area.
|Notice the elastic bands in the 2-colored top of sock foot|
READING THE INSTRUCTIONS
Blister Resist socks consist of 57% Drynamix Polyester, 28% Mohair, 4% Microfiber, 3% Neofil, 6% Nylon and 2% Elastane.
Balega socks shall be washed in warm water and may be tumbled dry on low. No bleach or fabric softener shall be used on these socks. They shall neither be ironed nor dry-cleaned.
TRYING IT OUT
I typically wear European size 39 and US women's size 8.5 footwear. That put me between Balega's small and medium size socks. I called Balega and the manufacturer recommended I go with size M, which I did. Balega size M is for European size 40 - 42.5 / US Men's 7 - 9 / US Women's 8.5 - 10.5.
The size M Balega socks fit me well. I have worn the Balega socks around the house today: they are soft and comfortable, yet very slippery on my hardwood floor (way more slippery than my other hiking socks I sometimes wear around the house). A first impression is that the integrated elastic bands create a good foot fitting, even though I do not notice their arch support that much. The sock leg goes up to my mid-calf and the 2 in (5 cm) cuff stays put without cutting in. The socks have a medium volume construction and I am looking forward to testing them in the coming summer months.
The Balega Blister Resist Crew socks are soft, medium thick socks with an elastic arch support area and a high leg.
Of the three pairs received, I will use one Charcoal pair for frequent wear, the Black/Red pair as back-up and I will keep the third pair (Charcoal) untouched for comparison to the used pairs at the end of the four month test period.
LONG-TERM TEST LOCATIONS AND CONDITIONS
During the test period, I have worn the Balega Blister Resist socks for around 125 mi (200 km) of hiking. The majority of outings were weekend backpacking trips in Southern California plus a few longer events, like 4 days/ 3 nights in Yosemite National Park/ Northern California and the Grand Canyon Rim-to-Rim hike in Arizona. I did just a couple of local dayhikes and one day of volunteering where I helped clear weeds. The temperatures were ranging from low 40 F (4 C) at night to daytime highs of 90 F (32 C). The weather was always really great with no rain at all.
|wearing the socks in my sandals after a long day out|
PERFORMANCE IN THE FIELD
Throughout the test period, I have worn the charcoal colored pair of Balega socks as my primary pair of socks. While out backpacking, my typical routine was to switch into the dry and clean black/red socks once I turned in for the night. I stashed the charcoal colored socks in my sleeping bag to dry overnight. The next morning, I switched back into the charcoal socks for the day's hiking. Only on longer outings (Yosemite + Grand Canyon Rim-to-Rim), I finally wore the black/red socks all day when the charcoal socks had gotten too dirty.
The Balega socks with their mohair content are soft and very pleasant to wear. I always wear ankle high leather hiking boots and I do not wear liner socks. So throughout the test period, whether backpacking or occasionally dayhiking, the Balega socks were inside my hiking boots right on my skin and they felt super comfortable. My feet were never wet from sweat, even when daytime temperatures at times reached 90 F (32 C). The socks were damp at the end of such a hot hiking day but not dripping moist.
I just returned from a car camping weekend with a 10 mi (16 km) roundtrip dayhike, entirely off-trail with 2000 ft (610 m) elevation gain in 84 F (29 C) heat of Joshua Tree National Park. Once we got back to the trailhead, we were all happy to get our boots off and get some fresh air on our feet again after a long day out hiking on rough terrain. Throughout the long day off-trail, I noticed no hot spots, the socks stayed in place, there were no wrinkles, the cuffs did not droop - and now at the end of the day, the socks have no strong odor.
|new sock on left - worn sock on right|
After each outing, I have machine washed the socks on the warm water setting with normal laundry detergent; afterwards I have always line dried the socks. I never put my hiking socks in the dryer.
|worn sock on right showing only minor signs of wear|
The charcoal socks that I have worn and washed the most show minor pilling but otherwise are still in really good shape. The black/red socks that I mostly only wore at night or in camp still look almost like new. A close inspection of the socks, especially in the toe and the heel areas, shows no thinning.
I want to mention that I cannot remember the last time I got a blister. My feet simply do not develop blisters. Therefore also throughout this test period, the Balega Blister Resist socks did not cause any blisters on my feet.
The Balega Blister Resist socks have been very soft and comfortable to wear throughout the test period.
This report was created with the BackpackGearTest.org Report Writer Version 1.
Copyright 2017. All rights reserved.
Soft and comfortable to wear
Stay in place and cause no wrinkles
I noticed no odor after a couple of days of wearing
Get damp during a long day of hiking but not wet
I have enjoyed wearing the Balega Blister Resist socks and will continue to wear them on future outings. Thank you to Balega and BackpackGearTest.org for the opportunity to test these natural fiber socks.
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