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Reviews > Clothing > Socks > Bridgedale Ventum Light Hiker Socks > Test Report by Ryan Ness

BRIDGEDALE VENTUM LIGHT HIKER SOCKS
TEST SERIES BY RYAN NESS
FIELD REPORT
August 06, 2007

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TESTER INFORMATION

NAME: Ryan Ness
EMAIL: rness666@hotmail.com
AGE: 31
LOCATION: Toronto, Ontario, Canada
GENDER: M
HEIGHT: 5' 10" (1.78 m)
WEIGHT: 175 lb (79.40 kg)

I have been backpacking for about 12 years in my native Ontario, the Adirondacks, the Canadian and American Rockies, South America and New Zealand. I typically get about 15 backcountry nights per year either on foot or by canoe, mostly in summer but with the occasional fall and winter trip. In the past I've been an over-packer but I've seen the light and am slowly converting.


INITIAL REPORT

PRODUCT INFORMATION & SPECIFICATIONS

Manufacturer: Bridgedale
Year of Manufacture: 2007
Manufacturer's Website: http://www.bridgedale.com
MSRP: n/a
Listed Weight: None provided
Measured Weight: 2.7 oz (80 g)
Color: Oatmeal/Chocolate
Size: Medium

INITIAL IMPRESSIONS

Two pairs of Bridgedale Ventum Light Hiker socks arrived by courier. Each pair was packed in a conventional cardboard display package which displays the product model name, size, fibre content, washing instructions and description of sock features. According to the packaging, the socks are made of 41% Merino wool, 33%"Aircell" polyester, 23% nylon/polyamide and 3% Lycra. The socks also use Bridgedale's "Wool Fusion" fiber, which fuses each wool fiber with Coolmax or Endurofil strands, which is claimed to improve breathability, heat regulation, and durability. Amazingly, Bridgedale offers a 3-year warranty on socks using its Wool Fusion technology.

IMAGE 1
Socks in Packaging

Listed features include a double cuff, extra dense padding around the heel and ankle, and "asymmetric impact protection with ventilation". The last item refers to the differential distribution of thickness of material around the sock, which is thicker in impact and friction areas such as the heel, ball, toes, ankle, and under-boot-tongue area and thinner in others such as the arch and outside forefoot. This allegedly reduces weight and increases breathability, and also appears to reduce sock volume so that one can fit into slimmer light hiking boots and shoes. The distribution of material is also asymmetrical on each sock, so the left and right foot each receive a dedicated sock.

At first glance, the socks appear quite well made and 'technical', having quite seamlessly combined different fibers and material thicknesses into one unit. The oatmeal/chocolate combination is earthy and aesthetically pleasing, as is the organic shape of the various low-thickness patches. It seems a shame that the only part of the sock that will be seen in footwear is the uniform oatmeal-coloured upper. The socks are very comfortable to wear around the house (see photo), and the combination of stretch Lycra zones around the arch, ankle and cuff keeps the socks in place and prevents bagging. The size medium fits my 8.5 US feet perfectly, with the thick and dense padding zones sitting where they are supposed to. A nice feature is the upper cuff, which is not too tight and doesn't leave the typical telltale elastic welt around my shin and calf, but still holds the socks up. The only potential problem I can see is the toe seam, which extends past my toes on either side and could be a friction point in boots.

IMAGE 2
Left Sock

SUMMARY

The Bridgedale Ventum Light Hiker socks are good-looking, appear to be well constructed, and are comfortable on their own with a good fit. I'm looking forward to testing these in my Timberland Cadion GTX boots on backpacking and dayhiking trips, as well as in various trail runners on fast and light excursions. First up is a backpacking trip to the Alleghany mountains in Pennsylvania this upcoming weekend! Thanks very much to BackpackGearTest and Bridgedale for the opportunity to test these socks. 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.


FIELD REPORT

FIELD LOCATIONS AND CONDITIONS

My longest trip with the Ventum socks to date was a three-day May long weekend backpacking trip on the West Rim Trail in Central Pennsylvania. The terrain was rolling and fairly rugged with a variety of trail surface conditions ranging from pine duff to deciduous roots to exposed rocks. Elevations ranged from about 1000 feet (300 m) to 3000 feet (9000 m). The weather was generally warm during the day with highs around 70 F (22 C) and lows down to about 35 F (2 C) at night. My Timberland Cadion GTX boots were worn for the duration of the trip

I have also worn the socks from May to mid-July on at least five day hikes in on the Niagara Escarpment around southern Ontario, with the typical rocky terrain and sudden but short elevation changes which are typically less than 350 feet (100 m). Temperatures on those hikes have ranged from 85 F (30 C) to 55 F (13 C). I have worn both my Timberland boots and Salomon trail runners on these hikes.


PERFORMANCE IN THE FIELD

I found the socks to be very comfortable when sliding them on. They feel fantastic after taking off a pair of sweaty, limp socks because of their form fit and soft material. They also feel great inside boots, and there is plenty of cushion at all contact points. However, I did notice that the socks feel bulkier and leave noticeably less room at the toes than my usual socks (e.g. Wigwam Ingenius Hikers, Thorlo Light Hikers). I attribute this to the relatively dense material of the Ventums at toe and heel, which is not as compressible the material in other socks I have worn. While this quality may be a benefit for some, for me it made downhill trekking uncomfortable as my toes jammed against the ends of my TImberland Cadions, a problem I do not have when wearing other socks. Other than this, the denser, thicker material was well-distributed throughout the sock with plenty of cushion where it mattered, including under the laces, while the thin mesh-like inserts were located in areas where padding was not necessary and seemed to do a good job in keeping my feet cool.

Overall, I found the Ventums to be comfortable for short or long outings, with the exception of the above-noted problems with downhilling in my Timberland Boots. My trail runners, which fit a bit looser, allowed the thicker Ventums to be worn on downhills with no problems. The socks regulate temperature well in hot weather while insulating reasonable well in cold temperatures, and seem to facilitate moisture transfer at least as well as other socks. The use of Lycra and multiple materials is very effective in maintaining fit even after many hours and the Ventums are not limp or scrunched-up when taking off boots or shoes after a few hours on the trail. As claimed by the manufacturer, odour prevention is superb - I can honestly say that these socks smell better than any others I have worn after 7 hours inside sweaty GORE-TEX lined boots.

SUMMARY

To date, the Bridgedale Ventum Light hikers have impressed with their fit, comfort, moisture transfer and odour reduction. I would caution purchasers to bring their boots when trying these socks on; the relatively uncompressible material of the Ventums may not be compatible with snug-fitting boots. I have not really had a chance to test the durability of the socks with only a few weeks of use but I am interested to do so given the manufacturer's three-year (!) warranty. I will report on durability on my upcoming long-term report.

This concludes my Field Report, please look for my Long-Term Report in the third week of September, 2007.

This report was created with the BackpackGearTest.org Report Writer Version 1. Copyright 2007. All rights reserved.

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