BRIDGEDALE ENDURANCE SUMMIT SOCKS
TEST SERIES BY CHRISTOPHER NICOLAI
June 17, 2008
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thebootfitters at yahoo dot com
Seattle, Washington & Minneapolis, Minnesota
5' 11" (1.80 m)
172 lb (78.00 kg)
I have been backpacking for 10+ years in locales from Chile to Alaska. I have experienced temps from -30 F (-34 C) to 100 F (38 C), heavy precipitation in virtually all forms, and winds exceeding 75 mph (120 km/h) - in everything from desert to rainforest to glaciated peaks. Most of my trips are 1-4 nights climbing/backpacking
PRODUCT INFORMATION & SPECIFICATIONS
Manufacturer: Bridgedale Outdoor Ltd.
Year of Manufacture: 2007
Manufacturer's Website: http://www.bridgedale.com
Listed Weight: N/A
Measured Weight: 4.4 oz (125 g) per pair
|Socks and packaging|
|Back of package|
The socks arrived in the original packaging -- just as if I were to purchase them at a retail store. The socks appeared to be quite thick on first impression, matching the description provided by the manufacturer.
I immediately opened the packaging for one of the pairs of socks and tried them on. Wow! The socks hugged my feet with just the "right" amount of elasticity in just the right places. They felt secure around the instep of my feet and did not slip down my calves after I had pulled them up, yet they did not feel too tight in any area. The "Y" shaped heel seam was positioned right at the apex of my heel without stretching or bunching of material, just as a properly fitting sock should. At the same time, I noticed that there was enough stretch in the sock to allow them to fit a slightly larger or slightly smaller size foot.
It happened to be a bit on the cool side in my house at the time. When I slipped these on my feet, I immediately felt the effect of such thick socks trapping the heat around my feet.
The socks display the "Bridgedale" name across the top of the toes and the name of this particular model of sock, "Summit," on either side of the foot. The letter "M" is displayed on the bottom of the socks to designate that the socks are size medium.
Turning the socks inside out revealed a dense network of small loops of thread. These small loops of thread help carry moisture away from the surface of the foot to the exterior of the sock. Generally, a greater density of these loops leads to better performance of the socks for a longer period of time while providing greater comfort and cushioning to the wearer. There is no shortage of loops in these particular socks -- especially in the reinforced areas of the heels and the toes. I could feel the thick, dense network of loops underfoot as I walked on hardwood floors with the socks on my feet.
|Dense heel loops|
Printed on the front of the packaging are the words, "Year Round Mountain Expeditions," implying that this is a suitable use for the socks. I agree they are well suited for mountaineering activities, but they are such a warm, comfortable sock that I think they will also be great for wearing around the house on cooler days.
On the back of the packaging, the name of the sock is explained with the text shown below:
Tough WoolFusionŽ for durable performance.
Designed for mountains and cold environments.
Expedition sock for extended use. Backpacking, trekking and walking. Dense cushioning throughout provides extra warmth, extra impact resistance and extra comfort.
The packaging also indicates that the socks are made from the following fibers:
* 47% New Wool
* 34% Nylon/polyamide
* 18% Endurofil (tm)/polypropylene
* 1% Lycra (R)/elastane
I'm happy to know that the socks are made with very little elastic material and that the elasticity of the socks is primarily a function of the knit. My experience suggests that too much elastic material in socks tends to leave marks on the skin from gripping too tightly, and it may wear out eventually, leaving the socks loose and ill-fitting. Generally, more finely crafted socks use very little elastic material, but use it effectively in the areas the need some extra elasticity. In my opinion, these appear to be a finely crafted sock.
One of my favorite features of these particular socks is their fusion of natural and synthetic fibers. Wool tends to be quite durable for extended use. It also tends to hold little odor and maintain its shape and volume when moist or wet with perspiration, among many other positive features. The synthetic fibers excel at transporting moisture away from the skin and hold very little moisture in their strands. The blend of the fabrics produces a sock that offers the advantages of both families of fabric.
Bridgedale has a "Warmth Rating" and "Cushion Rating" scale printed on the packaging of its socks. The Endurance Summit socks received the highest rating on both of these scales.
Finally, Bridgedale's three-year guarantee for socks with their wool fusion technology is noted on the packaging. I found the following description of this guarantee on the Bridgedale website: "Bridgedale WoolFusionŽ socks are guaranteed. We are so confident about the Enduring performance of our socks that we are offering a 3 Year guarantee with all socks made using our WoolFusionŽ technology. If you are not completely satisfied with the quality and performance of your Bridgedale socks at any time within 3 years of purchase, return them to the place of purchase together with your proof of purchase for exchange."
A VISIT TO THE MANUFACTURER'S WEBSITE
The Bridgedale website cycles through several pictures of socks and individuals in outdoor settings (presumably wearing Bridgedale socks). Across the top of the page are listed the five different categories of Bridgedale socks: Outdoor, Fast & Light, Winter Sport, Liners, and Everyday. I clicked on the Outdoor button to find the Endurance Summit socks at the top of the list of several outdoor socks. The Endurance Summit socks are listed with a description of "Heavyweight." Interestingly, Bridgedale also offers an over-the-calf version of the Endurance Summit socks as well as a "Comfort" version. The primary difference appears to be that the Comfort Summit socks are made with a greater proportion of synthetic fibers, which generally help transport moisture away from the skin more efficiently when there is more heat around the surface of the skin or in warmer temperatures.
Along the left-hand side of the website is a menu of various items, including a product listing, company history and information, product vendors, detailed sock information, testimonial stories, and other information.
I found the website to be well-organized, though I did not see some of the detailed information until my second visit to the site when I actually clicked a few of the items on the sub-menus.
TRYING THEM OUT
Other than wearing the socks around the house to try them out, I have only worn them once for an actual outing. The day after the socks arrived, I used them in my backcountry ski boots for a day of skiing. Unfortunately, I was not able to adjust the fit of the boots to accommodate the greater thickness of these socks. My feet ended up feeling a bit cramped. I intend to attempt using them for skiing in backcountry ski boots at least one more time, but if I am not able to adjust the fit of the boots sufficiently, I will relegate the socks to use in hiking and backpacking footwear.
Though they may not fit properly inside my ski boots, I was able to make a few observations about the socks in use. Even after wearing them for several hours, the socks did not slide down my calves and the ribbing on the socks did not leave impressions in my skin. Most impressively, after a full day of activity, the socks still smelled new. I even offered to let my wife smell them. Although she declined the offer (looking at me as if I were crazy), they really did not smell offensive at all.
I am excited to try them on an upcoming winter camping trip to see how well they perform in the colder temperatures.
This concludes my Initial Report. The Field Report will be amended to this report in approximately two months from the date of this report. Please check back then for further information.
I thank Bridgedale and BackpackGearTest.org for giving me the opportunity to test these socks.
THE SHORT STORY
The socks are holding up well to regular use and abuse. They are still warm, comfortable and inviting to slip on the feet after three months of heavy wear. Some compression and wear is beginning to show in the small loops of threads in the interior of the socks -- especially in the reinforced areas under the heels and toes. However, this is to be expected in any sock to some degree, and these socks have lost minimal thickness due to compression -- still fitting similarly to when they were brand new. Some pilling of the yarns can be seen on the outside of the socks, which affects the appearance, but not the performance.
Overall, I am happy with the performance of the socks at this point. They are meeting my expectations based on manufacturer claims and past experience with socks.
|Pilling of yarns|
|Compression and matting inside socks|
FIELD LOCATIONS AND CONDITIONS
I have worn and washed both pairs of socks approximately 15 times since receiving them. They were washed in either a top-loading or front-loading machine with other wool and synthetic fabrics in cold water with powder detergent. They were always air dried overnight on a drying rack. Note that the socks were always worn without liner socks of any kind. While wearing the socks, I experienced temperatures as low as -24 F (-31 C) and as warm as 68 F (20 C). Specifically, I have worn them in the following locations and conditions:
* Skiing in-bounds at Crystal Mountain and White Pass Ski Resort in Washington State, USA, and Alyeska Ski Resort in Alaska, USA, in conjunction with a Randonee ski boot. Seven single-day outings, typically carrying a light pack with food, insulation, & water. Climbed up with climbing skins on one occasion in-bounds. Temperatures ranged between 12 & 36 F (-11 & +2 C). Elevations ranged from 4,400 to 6,500 ft (1,340 to 1,980 m) in Washington and 250 to 2,750 ft (76 to 838 m) in Alaska. Weather conditions ranged from sunny and "warm" to overcast, windy, and snowing heavily. Note that the Randonee boot was worn with a custom-molded thermofit liner by Intuition -- this is important as it relates to my comments of warmth later in the report. I was generally well-fed and well-hydrated at all times during these uses.
* Backcountry skiing near Hogback Mountain in the Cascade Mountain Range south of Mount Rainier in Washington State, USA, in conjunction with a Randonee ski boot. Skinning (climbing) up and skiing down, traveling between 5 & 7 mi (8 & 11 km) each time, carrying a light pack with food, insulation, & water. One single-day outing and one overnight outing. Temperatures ranged between 10 & 32 F (-12 & 0 C). Elevations ranged from 4,400 to 6,800 ft (1,340 to 2,073 m). Weather conditions ranged from mostly sunny and "warm" to overcast, windy, and snowing lightly. There were times on these two trips that I felt less than well-nourished and well-hydrated.
* Snowshoeing in the Central Cascade Mountains near Snoqualmie Pass, Washington, USA, in conjunction with a single insulated mountaineering boot. One single-day outing, traveling approximately four miles (6.4 km), carrying a light pack with food, insulation, & water. Temperature was approximately 25 F (-4 C). Elevations ranged from 2,500 to 3,500 ft (762 to 1,067 m). Weather conditions were mostly cloudy with some light snow and winds up to 15 mph (24 km/h).
* Winter trekking -- primarily while using snowshoes -- and camping in the Boundary Waters Canoe Wilderness Area of Northern Minnesota, USA, in conjunction with an insulated single mountaineering boot (Montrail ICE 9). Four day, three night trip, carrying a large pack weighing approximately 45 lbs (20 kg). Traveled approximately 20 mi (32 km) total. Temperatures ranged between 6 & 24 F (-14 to -4 C). Elevations ranged from 1,500 to 1,900 ft (460 to 580 m). Weather conditions were generally mostly cloudy to overcast, with light snow on occasion. I was generally well-fed and well-hydrated, though there was at least one instance after covering about eight miles that I was feeling quite hungry and somewhat thirsty. The socks were worn both day and night -- switching pairs when one pair became too wet to be worn comfortably.
* Sleeping under the stars in northern Minnesota and Wisconsin, USA. Once in conjunction with an insulated single mountaineering boot (Montrail ICE 9) and once in conjunction with insulated camp booties. Two single overnight trips. Overnight lows dropped to -20 F (-29 C) the first time and to -24 F (-31 C) the second time. Weather conditions were mostly clear skies. Elevation was near 1,000 ft (305 m). I was well-fed and hydrated. I slept both nights on a thick 3/4 length down sleeping pad with a blue foam pad under my feet. The first night, when I wore my mountaineering boots, I slept in a down suit without a sleeping bag. The colder night, I used a thick down sleeping bag.
* Ice climbing in Saint Paul, Minnesota, USA, in conjunction with an insulated single mountaineering boot (Montrail ICE 9). One single-day trip, climbing for approximately 8 hours, including a roundtrip approach hike of approximately one mile (1.6 km), carrying a 25 lb (11 kg) pack with climbing gear. Temperatures ranged between 10 & 26 F (-12 & -3 C). Weather conditions were mostly cloudy throughout the day. Elevation was near 800 ft (244 m).
* Indoors in conjunction with sandals or insulated booties. Several individual uses for a few hours each time. Temperatures approximately 68 F (20 C).
* General around town use in conjunction with sandals or with light hiking shoes (Montrail TRS Comp). Several individual uses for a few hours each time, including while shoveling snow in Minnesota, USA. Temperatures ranged between 20 & 50 F (-7 & +10 C). Weather conditions ranged from light snow and light rain to sunny and "warm."
PERFORMANCE IN THE FIELD
A few words on the overall performance...
Though a great many variables contribute to the perception of warmth in the field, I am happy to say that my feet only felt cold on two or three occasions while wearing these socks. And those were occasions that I was not fully hydrated and/or nourished -- or the one occasion during which the overnight temperatures dropped to -20 F (-29 C) and I slept in my mountaineering boots without a sleeping bag. (It would take a lot more than a nice, thick sock to keep feet warm while sleeping in those conditions!)
Though a great many variables play a role in forming blisters, I am happy to say that no blisters formed on my feet while using the socks. Likely the biggest variable in the blister formula is the fit combination of footwear and socks, and these socks filled out the space between my feet and my shoes very well. They remained thick, even when wet from perspiration or exterior moisture entering the footwear. They still formed closely to my feet when wet, preventing the bunching of material that can happen with socks of lesser quality.
Because I generally wear the same socks on the same feet from one use to the next, these socks are beginning to reflect the asymmetric shape of my feet. In a sense, they are becoming custom "molded" to my right and left feet, respectively. In my opinion, this is a positive aspect of the socks, because they fit even more closely on each individual foot.
The socks had some tendency to slip down my calves after several hours during an outing. This did not introduce any fit issues, because it happened only near the top of the socks, but I still found it slightly annoying. The slipping may be at least partly due to my calves having a relatively small circumference. Other than the slight slipping near the top, they fit securely everywhere else on my feet and did not bunch up. They did not leave any marks on my skin from being too tight, and I never felt constricted in them.
For aesthetic reasons (mostly), I would prefer the threads not to pill. However, I haven't yet found a sock with more than 30% wool content that does not pill to some degree after hard wear and tear.
Skiing in Randonee Boots
My initial experience wearing these socks in my Randonee boots (Scarpa Denali w/ Intuition liner) was unpleasant , as they were too thick to fit comfortably in my boots. I subsequently modified the fit of my liner boots to accommodate a thicker sock, and the fit improved dramatically. Now they are my preferred sock when wearing my Randonee boots.
Because these socks are shorter than the tops of my Randonee boots, they allow the tops of the boot liners to rub against my calves and shins. Using the taller version of these socks would prevent this from happening. I have also noticed that the socks have a tendency to slide down slightly when used in my Randonee boots.
My feet reached the point of being almost too warm soon after climbing up with my boots and skis (regardless of the temperature), and my feet actively perspired nearly the entire time while climbing. However, the socks were able to manage the moisture well enough that I felt only a slight dampness around my feet once I reached the top and began the ski descent.
Hiking / Snowshoeing in Mountaineering Boots
Because my boots (Montrail ICE 9) were sized to accommodate a thick sock, the Bridgedales fit like a glove inside the boots. My initial impression was that they were warm, thick and comfortable. That was also my lasting impression. Throughout several miles of snowshoeing, the only time that the socks felt uncomfortable on my feet were when they were thoroughly drenched from melting snow entering the tops of the boots. Swapping into a dry pair of the Bridgedales at the end of the day resolved this issue.
|After a long day snowshoeing|
Winter Camping in Insulated Booties
In my opinion, it's tough to beat the comforting feeling of thick, warm, and DRY socks inside of insulated camp booties while camping in the snow. After a long day with feet contained inside of footwear -- especially when exterior moisture overwhelms the socks -- my feet feel tired and damp. Putting on a fresh dry pair of the Bridgedale Endurance Summit socks gave me a much needed psychological lift at the end of the day, in addition to sucking the dampness away from my feet.
I found that the used socks would typically dry overnight if I kept them inside my sleeping bag, assuming no significant exterior moisture entered the boots during the day. On the day that my socks were completely saturated with moisture (to the point I could squeeze them and water would drip out), I didn't even attempt to dry them out.
I wore a dry pair of these socks while sleeping outdoors a total of six nights. The only night my feet were truly cold was the night mentioned above, during which I slept in my mountaineering boots and a down suit in temperatures as cold as -20 F (-29 C). Three of the five nights, I wore them in conjunction with the insulated camp booties. The other two nights, I wore the socks alone inside my sleeping bag -- inside a tent -- and they were sufficient to keep me feeling warm in ambient temperatures as low as 10 F (-12 C).
Everyday Wear in Light Hiking Shoes, Sandals, or Shoeless around the House
The socks are almost too thick to fit comfortably in my light hiking shoes (Montrail TRS Comp), but if I expand the laces, I can make them fit well enough. I have been able to wear them comfortably walking around town outside in temperatures cooler than 50 F (10 C), but if I wear them indoors with footwear for too long, my feet quickly begin to overheat.
I alleviate this issue by wearing the socks with sandals most of the time for everyday use -- including around the house when it's cool inside. I haven't noticed any greater degree of wear or pilling where the sandal straps come into contact with the socks.
|With sandals on a cold day|
Though I prefer to wear some form of supportive footwear while indoors (primarily sandals), there have been several occasions that I have worn the socks without footwear indoors. Of these times, the only occasions I have felt my feet getting too warm was when they were near an active fireplace. The socks also provide significant cushion when worn alone on hardwood floors.
I plan to continue wearing the socks over the coming months, much as I have been already. We have still have plenty of snow in the Pacific Northwest Mountains! I am planning at least one more day-hike or short overnight trip, one more backcountry ski outing, and one mountaineering outing near the end of long-term testing phase. I will also continue to wear the socks on a regular basis around town and around the house to determine how well they continue to hold up and whether the compression and pilling of the yarns become any more significant.
This concludes my field report. Please check back in June 2008 for my long-term report. Thank you!
LONG-TERM TEST LOCATIONS AND CONDITIONS
I have worn and washed both pairs of socks approximately six additional times since posting the field report. They were worn and laundered in the same fashion as described above in the field report. Specifically, I have worn them in the following locations and conditions:
* Day-hiking in the Cascade Mountain Range in Washington State, USA, in conjunction with a non-insulated mountaineering boot. Six single-day outings, typically carrying a pack weighing between 40-50 lb (18-23 kg). I gained between 2,500 & 5,400 ft (760 & 1,650 m) of elevation during each outing, covering 6-15 mi (10-24 km) of distance round-trip. Temperatures ranged between 20 & 70 F (-7 & +21 C). Elevations ranged from 600 to 4,100 ft (180 to 1,250 m). Weather conditions ranged from sunny to overcast, windy, and snowing lightly. I was generally well-fed and well-hydrated at all times during these uses.
* Climbing Mount Rainier in the Cascade Mountain Range in Washington State, USA, in conjunction with a non-insulated mountaineering boot. One overnight trip, carrying a pack weighing between 20-55 lb (9-25 kg). I gained roughly 9,000 ft of elevation (2,750 m), covering approximately 18 mi (29 km). Temperatures ranged between 10 & 70 F (-12 & +21 C). The starting elevation of the route I climbed is 5,400 ft (1,650 m) and the summit is just over 14,400 ft (4,390 m). The sky was clear except for a few brief periods of white out conditions from clouds on the descent. There was little wind until reaching approximately 11,500 ft (3,500 m) on the ascent. For the next few hours, the winds ranged between calm and approximately 25 mph (40 km/h). There were times that I felt less than well-nourished and well-hydrated.
* Indoors in conjunction with sandals. Several individual uses for a few hours each time. Temperatures were approximately 68 F (20 C).
* General around town use in conjunction with sandals or with light hiking shoes (Montrail TRS Comp). Several individual uses for a few hours each time. Temperatures ranged between 35 & 65 F (2 & 18 C). Weather conditions ranged from light rain to sunny and clear.
PERFORMANCE IN THE FIELD
The socks continued to perform well, as described in the field report. I do not perceive any noticeable difference in the thickness of the socks, nor in the degree of pilling that was described in the field report. My experience with wool socks in general suggests that after the initial pilling from the first several uses and washes, there is little change over the next many uses and washes. My experience with these socks echo my general experience.
While climbing Mount Rainier, my feet got cold during the coldest and windiest portions of the trip, but I expected that in non-insulated boots -- especially considering these were the times that I was the least nourished and hydrated. I wore one pair of socks on the ascent and saved a dry pair for the descent of the lower mountain. (That dry pair was once again a very welcome treat!)
A noteworthy observation from this trip is that on the lower portion of the descent, when temperatures were at their warmest, the snow was very soft and slushy. My boots were completely soaked through with melted snow. The socks were also completely soaked, yet they still maintained their shape and hugged my feet. Owing at least in part to the quality of the socks, I did not develop any blisters or significant hot spots during the entire trip.
The thick socks effectively filled the space between my feet and my non-insulated mountaineering boots (Montrail Lotus & La Sportiva Trango EVO GTX). Even after several hours of wear and moisture management during an outing, they maintained their thickness. I did not perceive any significant change in the fit of the footwear during use.
These socks have been excellent performers during the testing period! While I may have a few nitpicky criticisms (the slight slippage on the calf and the slight matting, compression, and pilling of the yarns mentioned in the field report), overall I have been very happy with the performance and quality of the socks.
Coincidentally, before starting this test, I was in need of a few new pairs of socks. The Bridgedale Endurance Summit socks filled part of the void, and I already have plans to purchase a few more pairs of Bridgedale socks to fill the remaining void in my sock selection.
I will definitely continue to wear these socks during pretty much any outing that calls for a hiking, mountaineering, or randonee ski boot. Regardless of the season or the temperatures, what is most important to me is the fit combination of socks and footwear. These thick socks fit the bill in several pairs of my footwear. They will likely see less use during warmer months simply because I tend to wear lighter weight footwear with less space to fill when there is not snow on the ground.
This concludes my report of the Bridgedale Endurance Summit Socks. Many thanks to Bridgedale and Backpack Gear Test for allowing me the opportunity to test and review this item!
This report was created with the BackpackGearTest.org Report Writer Version 1.
Copyright 2008. All rights reserved.
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