BRIDGEDALE VENTUM LIGHT HIKER SOCKS
TEST SERIES BY EDWIN MORSE
September 16, 2007
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ed dot morse at charter dot net
Grawn, MI USA
5' 8" (1.73 m)
143 lb (64.90 kg)
I started backpacking in 1979 with two weeks in northern Michigan along the Lake Superior shore. My gear was cheap, heavy and sometimes painful. Starting pack weight was 70 lbs (32 kg) with food but no water. Since that first time I have made one and two week trips in Michigan, Maine, New Hampshire and Pennsylvania. I am slowly reducing my pack weight. Starting the last one week trip in New Hampshire I carried 35 lbs (16 kg). I am slowly obtaining lighter gear. I am also occasionally switching to a hammock in warmer weather.
PRODUCT INFORMATION & SPECIFICATIONS
INITIAL REPORT May 16, 2007
Year of Manufacture: 2007
Manufacturer's Website: Bridgedale
MSRP: US$ NA
Listed Weight: NA
Measured Weight: 2.4 oz (68 g)
The following statements, in quotes, are copied from the website:
I can verify the light part; they are about two thirds the weight of the hiking socks I have been using.
After wearing the socks two full days, one day of yard work and one day hiking and trail work, I can detect no odor difference from the pair still in the package. My feet always get sweaty, summer or winter.
Boots or shoes."
The socks seem to work just as well in 6 inch (15 cm) steel toed work boots as in the trail runners I use for hiking.
"Hiking activities in warmer conditions. Asymmetric left and right foot design reduces weight. Fine-knit impact cushioning. Over-foot ventilation improves breathability."
The asymmetric design is an interesting concept. It does help make the socks comfortable but eliminates the old trick of putting socks on the opposite feet the second day.
41% Merino Wool
I have no idea what Be-fresh/polyester might be. I just know the socks are soft, comfortable and fit me very well.
I did expect to find the weight listed on the website. I could find no weight listed on the Bridgedale website. I also looked on the Garmont website which is shown as the US distributor. There was no weight listed there either. When I look to buy any clothing or gear for hiking and backpacking I want to know the weight before I buy.
The Ventums were shipped in a waterproof envelope via FEDEX, from Garmont USA. Inside the shipping envelope were 2 pair of Ventum socks. Each pair was in a cardboard package made for hanging, with product information. Following is a picture of the Ventums in the original packaging.
The Ventums feel very soft to my touch. I immediately took one pair out, weighed them and tried them on.
The seam over the toes is visible but I don't feel it with my toes and it is hard to feel with my fingers.
The Ventums fit very well. The Asymmetric construction is an interesting idea and seems to have real merit.
Following is a picture, without shoes, to show how the Ventums fit.
These socks are a little shorter that those I usually wear for hiking. I am curious to see how soft they will feel after 4 months of hard use.
READING THE INSTRUCTIONS
According to the washing instructions on the package, the Ventums should be washed inside out, with no fabric conditioner and no bleach. They should "tumble dry on low heat."
The instructions also say to wash dark colors separately.
This is standard washing instructions that I seldom follow unless I have too many things dirty for one load.
I will follow all the washing instructions during the test period. Then I will go back to my own casual methods.
TRYING THEM OUT
After weighing the Ventums, I put them on to wear for the rest of the day. I wore the Ventums under steel toed 6 inch (15 cm) leather boots for mowing the lawn and other yard work.
The next day I wore the Ventums all day for scheduled trail work. First with trail runner shoes for hiking to check problem areas. Then I switched to 8 in (20 cm) leather boots for shoveling gravel and wading in water and muck. The Ventums were comfortable all day but, I thought, they are just a little short for use with 8 in (20 cm) boots. The Ventums do come above the boot tops but just barely. These ARE hiking socks and I would never wear the high boots for hiking, other than trail work.
So far the Ventums seem to be good for hiking and general wear. They were still comfortable at the end of a long day of hiking and trail work.
The Ventums are soft and comfortable. They fit my feet very well.
They are lighter than the hiking socks I've been wearing for several years.
At this time the Ventums meet my first expectations for new hiking wear.
They have been comfortable for all day walk and trail work.
FIELD LOCATIONS AND CONDITIONS
July 16, 2007
I wore the Ventums on 4 over night hikes, 3 in the Manistee National Forest (MNF) and one in the Pere Marquette State Forest (PMSF) at the Sand Lakes Quiet Area. The first two were solo hikes in the MNF, combining the Manistee River Trail and the NCT for a 22 mile (35 km) loop walk. The terrain on the west (NCT) side of the river is high (for Michigan) sandy oak and pine forest. The east side of the loop is closer to the river and often crosses creeks and wet areas. My feet did get a little wet the first day.
The first hike was sunny and cool with highs of 65 F (18 C) and a low of 35 F (2 C) at night when I had to get out for the call of nature. I'm not sure which call woke me, it might have been the coyotes singing.
The second hike was warmer with highs of 85 F (29 C) and a low of 65 F (18 C) This walk was also drier with no water or wet muck to walk through.
The third overnight was with a friend who wants to get into backpacking. Not only is he older but has some health problems and recently twisted a knee a few weeks earlier. This was a much shorter and slower walk of only 10 miles (16 km) in two days on the NCT half of the loop I had done previously. Temperatures were comfortable with highs of 65 F (18C) and low at night of 40 F (4 C). This time I went too light on clothes and very heavy on water, with over a US gal (4 L). I was also not warm enough in the morning and decided I need to take something warmer when I go to Isle Royale next month.
The 4th overnight was solo again, this time mostly in the PMSF Sand Lakes Quiet Area. This was a hike to explore and check distances. We will be taking the 4 year old grand daughter backpacking for the first time in September and I was told 3 miles (5 km) is the maximum distance in one day. I walked in from the parking lot to the NCT, a distance of 1 mi (1.6 km), then walked east on the NCT to be sure there was road access less than 3 mi (5 km). After I found the road I wanted for later I continued east on the NCT for another 5 mi (8 km), just to get in more walking. Then I walked back into the Sand Lakes area to find a place for me to camp. I found a lake I had all to myself with no access shown on the map. There was a trail of sorts, over 1.5 mi (2.4 km) of up and down very steep hills. The high temperature was about 70 F (21 C) and the low that night was 50 F (10 C).
The next morning I went back to the NCT and walked east toward a State Forest campground with road access. Before long the clouds got darker and the thunder louder. I made sure my rain gear was easy to reach and kept walking. The rain started when I was about a mile (1.6 km) from the campground, I stopped to put on rain gear and continued to the campground. Then I walked back to Sand Lakes to find a good lake and place to camp with my son and his daughter. The rain quit in about an hour and I stopped for more water since I was nearly out. I found a sandy bottom lake with good campsites and walked back to the parking lot.
Bridgedale Ventums under trail runner shoes
I do not wear shorts for hiking. My favorite warm weather backpacking pants have zip off legs. This seemed like a good way to show the socks in the different types of shoes I use.
I also wore the Ventums for trail work hikes and just plain day hikes. The first "work day" was exploration and GPS mapping. This is my favorite kind of "work" and hiking, all bushwhacking. The NCTA Chapter of which I am a member is planning a reroute of approximately 15 miles (24 km) to eliminate 10 miles (16 km) of road walking. This portion of the project took 3 days with a week between them. This reroute will be almost completely on Consumers Power Company property, which is adjacent to the northern part of the MNF. We hiked from the Hodenpyl Dam north around the backwaters and to the end of the Consumers property.
The first day was cool, with a high of 60 F (16 C) and sunny. The terrain varied from swampy and wet brush to dry sandy pine forest areas. I wore the Ventums under trail runners and low gaiters. My feet got well soaked.
The second and third days were warm, humid and wet. Temperatures topped out at 82 F (28 C) both days. Terrain was similar generally going from dry sand forest to wet swamp and small creeks. These days I knew what I was getting into and wore the Ventums under leather Goretex lined hiking boots. My feet stayed dry this way.
Bridgedale Ventums under leather hiking boots
Another work day hike for me was to cut 3 trees down across the NCT, in the PMSF and about 15 miles (24 km) South of Traverse City. Since I'm certified by the NCTA and the Forest Service to do chain saw work on the NCT I'm on call by two NCTA Chapters. Two other trail workers went along to help. I wore the Ventums under work boots and carried the chain saw and my pack with safety gear, water and lunch.
The total hike in and out was about 12 miles (19 km) in sandy forest of mixed oak, maple and pine. It was a warm, sunny and sweaty 75 F (24 C) when we got to the work site. The first 2, small maples, were easy. The last and fartherest one was a big oak (24in (61 cm) in diameter where I made the last cut) was a 3 hour project.
The June work day was supposed to be to rebuild 2 bridges about 2 mi (3 km) from the nearest parking. Our material was not going to be delivered on time so two of us met our Forest Ranger Trail Coordinator to select an alternative work site. After hiking 6 mi (10 km) and driving 20 mi (32 km) we selected a place to work. The next day (scheduled work day) we built a short section of new trail to eliminate a sharp turn and serious erosion problem. Since the Forest service was with us both days I had to follow their requirements to wear 8" (20 cm) work boots. Again, I wore the Ventums under work boots.
Bridgedale Ventums under 8 in (20 cm) leather work boots
I also went on about 12 day hikes in the last 2 months. These were mostly in the MNF and at least half on the NCT. Several of the hikes in the MNF were mostly bushwhacking. I also took 2 hikes in the Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore. As the name implies, this is mostly an area of sand dunes and mostly forested in oak and pine. The weather varied from cool 60 F (16 C) and cloudy to a hot, for this area, 85 F (29 C) and sunny. All my day hikes were from about 8 mi (13 km), bushwhacking to around 15 mi (24 km) for days totally on trail. I wore the Ventums under trail runners on all the day hikes.
PERFORMANCE IN THE FIELD
The Ventums did very well, no matter what shoes or boots I wore with them. I just did not think about my socks or feet while wearing them and that is really the best thing I can say about hiking socks. If I think about my shoes, socks or feet then there must be something wrong that needs to be changed or fixed.
The Bridgedale Ventums fit smoothly with no folds or lumps. I am starting to believe the socks made to fit left and right feet are a very good concept and the reason the socks fit so smoothly.
I always sweat hard when I hike. When I wear waterproof work boots or hiking boots any socks I wear feel damp when I take them off. When I wear trail runners (not waterproof) the shoes and socks can breath enough so they don't even feel damp when I take them off. The exception is when I walked in swampy areas or heavy rain wearing the trail runners. I nearly always have dry socks and shoes in the truck for the ride home. When I got wet on the day hikes and work days I changed shoes and socks for the ride home and the Ventums were dry or nearly dry when I got home.
When I got wet on overnight hikes I left the shoes and socks on while I got the tent up, ate and hung my food sack. Then I got in the tent as soon as I could and took off shoes and socks. I put the wet (nearly dried) shoes on a plastic sack near the door and hung the Ventums in the most ventilated place possible. When I got up in the morning the ventums were dry to touch and comfortable to put on and wear another day.
I am still happy with the Bridgedale Ventum Light Hiker socks. These are the only socks I've worn for all my hiking, backpacking and trail work since they arrived. If they continue to wear well I will slowly replace the old brand of hiking socks I've worn for over 10 years with Bridgedale Ventums.
Things I like:
The asymmetric L/R footprint design, this really makes for a smooth fit.
The Anti-Microbial Freshness, even after 4 days of wearing trail runners and water proof boots the socks don't smell bad.
The Ventums are soft and comfortable to wear.
Things I do NOT like:
There is not much I don't like,
The Ventums are shorter than the brand and style I've been wearing.
They come just to the top of my work boots and all socks tend to slide down a little during a day of walking and working.
This concludes my Field Report.
LONG-TERM TEST LOCATIONS AND CONDITIONS
September 16, 2007
Early August was mostly travel and day hikes in Michigan, Minnesota and Maine. The weather was much the same in each state; warm and low 80's F (27 C). Terrain in Maine and Minnesota was similar with hilly and rocky trails. In Michigan the trails were hilly and sandy.
The real testing for this period was on Isle Royale National Park in western Lake Superior. I was hiking on the island for 15 days, about 125 miles (200 Km) in late August and early September. I went with an older (age 74) friend and his younger (age 70) brother. We separated 3 times for them to do shorter days and easier trails.
The weather varied from bright and sunny 80 F (27 C) on 2 days down to a few damp and chilly mornings of 40 F (4 C). We had 4 days and 2 nights of rain which varied from a light drizzle to a good steady soaking rain.
The terrain varied from a smooth "tunnel through the trees" to up and down over rocky ridges.
PERFORMANCE IN THE FIELD
I wore the Bridgedale Ventum socks for all hiking and trail work in July and August. In late July I drove to Minnesota for the North Country Trail Association Annual Meeting. The first 2 days several of us camped out and did trail work in Itasca State Park on the North Country Trail (NCT). I wore the Ventums under 8" (20 cm) leather work boots for the trail work. The rest of the time I wore them under trail runners for 2 day hikes, classes and meetings. I much prefer the trail runners but sometimes we have to follow rules and wear boots. The Ventums did well in either kind of footwear.
The week after I got home we drove from Michigan to Maine to visit our youngest son. On the way I bought a new pair of trail runners. Our son and I did one 8 mile hike on very rocky trails where I wore the Ventums in the new trail runners with comfortable feet and no problems.
The only hiking socks I took to Isle Royale were 2 pair of Ventums. I wore the first pair for 6 days in the new trail runners. The sixth day turned warm with a high of 80 F (27 C) and I was sweaty all over when I got to Siskiwit Bay Camp. I put on shorts and took all the clothes I had been wearing and washed myself and the clothes in the bay. Plain water does good enough to get the sweat off the body and the clothes. In the warm bright sunshine things dried quickly. The Ventums took the longest (of course wool takes longer than nylon or polypropylene) but were still dry in about 5 hours.
I walked in rain and wet brush for the next 2 days and wore the second pair of Ventums. My trail runners are NOT water proof. I could have taken water proof socks but I was out to test gear as well as hike. My shoes and socks soaked through quickly. The Ventums did swell some when really wet, which just made the socks snug and warm but not uncomfortable.
I met my friends and we had to wait a day for our food drop. I hiked in dry (for a short time) socks and wet shoes. The extra day and night let the wet Ventums get dry for the next day. We separated again and I hiked the Minong Ridge Trail. This is the rockiest (and turned out to be the wettest) trail on the island. The second day was all in the rain. I was apprehensive and cautious hiking over wet rocks in a steady rain. Everything went well and the Ventums did just great. Again, the socks swelled when wet. This kept my feet from sliding at all in the trail runners, but I was still warm and comfortable. The following picture is a small view of some of the wet rocks I hiked over.
The Ventums have performed very well for me. Whether I'm hiking at 80 F (27 C) with relatively dry feet or hiking with wet shoes and socks at 45 F (7 C) I have had comfortable feet. When I stop and sit for very long with wet socks and lower temperatures my feet soon get cold.
The Ventum Light Hiker socks are doing very well for me. They have done well dry or wet, whether I am on a smooth forest trail or climbing over wet rocks. I am happy to add the Ventums to my outdoor clothing supply.
The Bridgedale Ventum Light Hiker socks have become my favorite hiking socks. I will wear them whenever I wear hiking boots or trail runners.
This report was created with the BackpackGearTest.org Report Writer Version 1.
Copyright 2007. All rights reserved.
If I can't find a store in local driving distance that sells the Bridgedales I will try to get the local outfitter to carry them.
I would like to thank BGT and Bridgedale USA for giving me the opportunity to try out (and to test) the Bridgedale Ventum Light Hiker socks.
This concludes my Long Term Report.
Read more reviews of Bridgedale gear
Read more gear reviews by Edwin L. Morse