BRIDGEDALE X-HALE TRAIL DIVA SOCKS
TEST SERIES BY
INITIAL REPORT - April 27, 2009
FIELD REPORT - July 07, 2009
LONG TERM REPORT - September 03, 2009
Orlando, Florida U.S.A.
5' 6" (1.70 m)
135 lb (61.20 kg)
I've been a light hiker for 36 years. I take the minimum and prefer a pack close to 15 pounds. I've hiked all the Florida State Forest trails in Central Florida, backpacked the Na Pali coast on the island of Kauai and climbed Mt. Fuji in Japan. I have hiked dry & sandy, rough & rocky and wet & boggy trails and as a result, have found what does and doesn't work for me in terms of equipment and clothing.
PRODUCT INFORMATION & SPECIFICATIONS
Manufacturer: Bridgedale Outdoor Limited
Year of Manufacture: 2009
Manufacturer's Website: www.bridgedale.com
MSRP: US$ 16.95 [per North American distributor]
Listed Weight: Not Listed
Measured Weight: 1.8 oz (51g)
Available Colors: Heather/damson, Stone/sage, Natural/blueberry
Available sizes [women's only]: S [US 4-6], M [US 6.5-8], L [US 8.5-10]
Color tested: Stone/sage
Size tested: L
Shoe size: Women's 9 [US]
|New In Box!|
The Trail Diva socks are comprised of the following:
27% Merino Wool/Laine Merino
From the packaging:
"Slim fit, light, breathable mesh permits air circulation. T2 anti compression cushioning provides lasting protection, WoolFusion[R] construction drives moisture away."
[Graphic from Manufacturer's website]
The Trail Diva socks are a lightweight sock, designed to offer ventilation in warmer climates. Bridgedale has them as a part of their "Fast & Light" series of socks. Their suggested use is with either boots or shoes for backpacking and hiking.
Upon receiving the Bridgedale X-Hale Trail Diva socks, I immediately removed them from their retail packaging and put my hands inside them. They are extremely soft to the touch and to me are a much thicker hiking sock than I would normally use. However, when I put them on my feet, they didn't seem thick at all; they were soft, very cushiony, and actually very light. Based on the feel of the socks and their weight, I expected them to be very warm while being worn.
I have to admit, these are the first true trail socks I've worn. Due to the warm climate where I live, I use low-cut, thin workout socks for backpacking, day hikes and trail running. Compared to the Trail Diva socks, the socks I normally use may as well be made out of cardboard for all the cushion they afford. In the following photos you'll see, the dark green areas of the sock are called "dual pads". These areas are much more cushioned than the rest of the sock and they protect key parts of the foot: the Achilles tendon, the heel, the outside edges of the widest part of the foot along with the ball of the foot, the ankle bones and the toes. It makes for an interesting-looking sock.
The Trail Diva socks are a higher cut than I normally wear, and they come up a few inches above my ankle bone like a crew sock. I think this will afford greater protection of my ankles and the extreme lower end of my legs from sand flea bites and from any muck that gets thrown up while I'm hiking or running. I will be watching for this during my test.
TRYING IT OUT
I wore them around the house the evening they arrived while wearing rubber clogs. They are so comfortable! I always wear rubber clogs as house shoes and never wear socks inside the house. I walked 1 mile [1.6 km] on the treadmill, rode a recumbent bike and actually forgot I had the Trail Divas on until I went to take my bath. They are so soft and light and do not constrict at all. The friction from wearing the rubber clogs with them caused a bit of shedding or pilling on the outside of the socks, but I think it's because the socks are new and unwashed. I'll see if the extra "pookies" come off in the wash.
The area along the top of the foot up to the front of the ankle is breathable mesh and appears to allow ventilation. My feet did not get overheated or sweaty while wearing the socks in rubber clogs during my small workout. Merino wool has a natural resistance to odor, so I am curious to see while testing if that assists with keeping the Trail Divas from getting stinky after a vigorous workout.
I will be wearing the X-Hale Trail Diva socks for as many of my trail runs, bike rides, day hikes and backpacking/camping trips as I can. I received two pair, so keeping up with the wash is my only obstacle. If they stay dry, clean and relatively odor-free during use, I think I will experiment with wearing each pair at least two times before washings.
I will be looking to test for comfort, durability, ease of cleaning, odor-resistance and how well they protect my feet in heat and moisture-filled environments. I will also report on anything else I may find out while testing.
So far, I am in love with these socks. If I could, I'd wear them to work... who knows, I may just do that!
FIELD LOCATIONS AND CONDITIONS
Field testing was done southeast of Orlando in the Hal Scott Regional Preserve and Park [also known simply as the Hal Scott Nature Preserve] and for five nights and six days on the Little-Big Econ forest portion of the Florida Trail. Elevation is between 12 ft [3.6 m] to 75 ft [22.8 m] above sea level. Terrain in the Hal Scott nature preserve is highly wooded with sandy trails which become extremely dry during times of drought. In Central Florida, we experienced drought conditions for several weeks and those conditions ended during what is normally our "dry" season, in the middle of May.
During testing, I experienced extremely dry weather with higher than normal temps which ranged from 70 F [21.2 C] to 90 F [32.2 C]. Near the end of the field testing period, I experienced normal temps ranging from 67 F [19.4 C] to 88 F [31 C] with several days of full-on rain, thunder storms and tornadoes. Luckily, during the week we were camping out in the Little-Big Econ forest, it was still dry.
I tested the Bridgedale X-Hale Trail Diva socks during almost daily hikes and trail runs and a few bike rides in the Hal Scott nature preserve.
Our overnight trip was planned for north Georgia, but life got in the way and we decided to stay locally. We opted for the Little-Big Econ portion of the Florida Trail which is about 45 minutes from home. The 7.3 mile [11.7 km] trail on this section of the Florida Trail follows along the Econlockhatchee River [the "Econ"] and the surrounding swamps. There are areas in forest and along the river where primitive camping is permitted. We camped along the river in an inlet, spending 6 days hiking and 5 nights fighting off the bugs -- who were very "thirsty" due to the drought. The terrain went from dense forest to sandy river banks. The sandy trails are known to be treacherous to those of us with weak ankles, due to the amount of exposed tree roots and eroded trail areas. The trail allows us to cross the river at several points, with the aid of wooden walking bridges. No bicycles are allowed on this portion of the Florida Trail, so we did not bring our bikes along on this trip.
|In use on the
PERFORMANCE IN THE FIELD
These socks have been life savers. Although they are a bit heavier weight than what I usually prefer to wear, they are so breathable that I don't mind. The cushioning they provide has kept me from getting blisters and they've kept my calluses from becoming irritated. I actually have only one callus; it's on the outside edge of my left foot, just under my big toe. That part of both feet is the widest point of my foot, but it's particularly wide on my right foot, which can cause issues since shoes are sold in pairs and what might fit one foot doesn't necessarily mean it will fit the other. I have to make sure the width of my shoes will fit my widest foot, which leaves room for friction inside the other shoe. The cushioning aspect of the X-Hale Trail Divas makes up for the extra space, keeping friction at a minimum.
With two pair for testing, I have been able to wear them everyday during the week for day hikes and trail runs. I generally will wear each pair twice before washing them which has turned out to be just fine. The Merino wool blended into the socks keeps odor away, which absolutely amazes me. Even when I've completely sweated through a pair of socks while trail running, the socks will dry overnight and will have no odor. The socks clean up nicely; I wash them in cold water and line dry them. There is a bit of pilling [fuzziness] on the socks in some areas, but that's due to the amount of use and exercise I put them through.
The X-Hale Trail Divas fit well with both my mid-height hiking shoes and my low-cut trail runners. With the extra cushioning, I just let out the laces a bit and loosen the shoes up before fastening them. I've worn them to work with my slip-on loafers, and although they don't look too wonderful due to the contrasting coloring of the cushioned areas of the sock, they sure do feel great.
The durability, usefulness and softness of the socks convinced me to bring both pair along on our overnight camping trip. I used one pair for our daily hikes and the other pair as my nighttime foot covering. They were soft as clouds inside the sleeping bag and kept sand fleas and other critters from feasting on my ankles and toes.
Overall, this far into testing, I am very happy with the X-Hale Trail Diva socks. They protect my feet, are extremely comfortable, have kept their shape and size and have proven themselves to be very durable. It's also very nice to have less-stinky feet at the end of the trail.
LONG-TERM TEST LOCATIONS AND CONDITIONS
the past two months, I've continued to wear the Bridgedale X-Hale Trail Diva socks during several day hikes of 3 to 5 mi [4.8 to 8 km] in distance and during my daily trail runs at a distance of 2.5 mi [4 km] each. The weather has been very hot and humid, with severe afternoon and evening thunderstorms and drenching rains. The temperatures had hit as high as 95 F [35 C] and factoring in the humidity, it felt closer to 105 F [41 C].
The locations in which I've tested are all in Central Florida, on state and county trails, in dense forest, along rivers and also following a utility trail through a nature preserve. At all locations, I encountered sand, high grasses, mud, gravel, and the occasional wild turkey [the bird; not the drink, darn-it]. Ticks, no see-ums, and spiders are in abundance as well.
PERFORMANCE IN THE FIELD
The Bridgedale X-Hale Trail Diva socks continue to offer excellent cushioning and protection for my feet. One particular pair of trail running shoes I wear have no cushioning in them at all. I notice an impressive difference in comfort when I wear the Trail Divas versus wearing my regular athletic mini crew socks. The Trail Divas really cushion my heels, the balls of my feet and all the boney, jutty parts that usually develop hot spots after long distances.
I've worn and washed the socks a lot [not counting my camping use, wherein I purposely didn't wash them], and although the outsides are pilling up and fuzzying out a bit, there really is no noticeable wear or tear on either pair.
|Fuzzy-wuzzy wuz a
As mentioned earlier, I wash the socks in cold water on the
regular cycle and line dry them. However, when I feel the socks are getting too
stretched out, I'll put them in the dryer on medium heat after washing to let them tighten up a bit. They have not shrunk in spite of this. They also still don't ever stink! I estimate that since I received the socks in April  of this year that I've worn them well over 200 mi [322 km] running and/or hiking and at least 5 nights sleeping in them.
In my opinion, for softness, cushioning, durability and comfort, the Bridgedale X-Hale Trial Diva socks have shown themselves to be an excellent pair of socks. Although the contrasting colors make the socks look odd, I've found that with hiking boots it's not that noticeable.
Look Dorky [a personal peeve]
They come up a bit high on my leg [a personal peeve]
I expect to continue wearing these socks for hiking and backpacking, especially this winter, as I would like to see how the socks do in cold weather. I will also continue using them as my nighttime foot coverings when camping because they're so comfortable and soft.
This concludes my Long Term Report. Many thanks to Bridgedale and BackpackGearTest.org for the opportunity to test these socks.
This report was created with the BackpackGearTest.org Report Writer
Copyright 2009. All rights reserved.