DAHLGREN BACKPACKING SOCKS
TEST SERIES BY JERRY ADAMS
INITIAL REPORT - November 14, 2012
LONG TERM REPORT - March 20, 2013
Portland, Oregon, USA
6' 1" (1.85 m)
195 lb (88.50 kg)
I started hiking about 45 years ago. My first backpack was 40 years ago. I currently try to do one backpack trip of 1 to 5 nights every month (which can be tricky in the winter). Mostly I stay in the Western half of Oregon and Washington. In recent years I have shifted to lightweight - my pack weight without food and water is about 12 lb (6 kg). I make a lot of my own gear - silnylon tarp-tent, bivy, synthetic bag, simple bag style pack.
PRODUCT INFORMATION & SPECIFICATIONS
Manufacturer: Dahlgren Footwear, Inc.
Year of Manufacture: 2012
Manufacturer's Website: http://www.dahlgrenfootwear.com/
Listed Weight: none
Measured Weight: 3.98 oz (113 g)
The Dahlgren Backpacking socks are heavy weight socks for backpacking.
Dahlgren Footwear, Inc. is located near Portland, Oregon and makes all their socks locally.
They make a number of styles including Expedition (extra heavy weight, tall), Backpacking (heavy weight), Hiking (medium weight)... I am testing the Backpacking style.
These socks weigh more than other socks I have worn, so they are definitely heavy weight. They feel very thick. They should be good for cooler winter backpacking, which is exactly what my testing will be. If I was doing warmer weather hiking, I would probably choose a lighter sock.
The socks come in 3 colors - Moss (green), Bark (grey/brown), and Pitch (Black). I am testing the Bark color.
I wear size 12 (US) shoes, so I'm testing the XL size which is supposed to fit size 11 - 13.
I am testing one pair of socks.
Right and left side of socks:
|Right and Left sides|
The socks come up to the bottom of my calf, about 11 inches (28 cm) from the floor:
|Dahlgren Backpacking Sock|
The Toe/Heel is made of 55% merino wool, 28% nylon, and 17% alpaca. The Arch/instep is made of 70% recycled polyester, 17% merino, 8% nylon, and 5% alpaca. The leg is made of 75% recycled polyester, 23% nylon, and 2% spandex.
The Dahlgren socks use patented Dri-Stride technology. There are a number of different zones - absorption zones, wicking rings, wicking channels, and evaporation zones - to absorb, transfer and evaporate moisture. In the pictures above, the wicking rings are the horizontal linear features and the wicking channels are the vertical linear features. Since the absorption zones are on the toe and heel, the wicking zones are in the instep/arch, and the evaporation zone is on the ankle, the idea is to absorb moisture in the feet and evaporate it in the ankles. This makes a lot of sense because my socks always get damp from sweat on my feet because it evaporates only slowly out the boots. If that moisture could be wicked up to the ankles, it would evaporate a lot better.
I will be wearing the socks inside waterproof-breathable boots with lightweight breathable nylon gaiters. Normally, my socks get a little damp from sweat. I will get a good opportunity to test this Dri-Stride technology. I'm always a little skeptical of features like this - that they're just marketing features with no performance advantage. I will be a good tester of this.
One disadvantage to all these zones, is wherever there is a transition from one zone to another, there is an opportunity to have a gap or bulge, but I carefully examined both socks and the transitions are very smooth. Also, the Y-heel and toe are all very smooth.
I tried on the socks and they feel very comfortable. I think their heavy weight will provide some warmth during my winter testing.
The XL size seems to fit my size 12 feet. They are a little tight around the ankles so I don't think they'll slip down. They are a little tight around my feet, but it feels like there's more stretch available - I think they would also be comfortable if I had a size 11 or 13 foot, as they advertise.
They appear to be very well made. The knitting is very uniform everywhere on the socks, including the transitions between different zones.
The Dahlgren Backpacking socks are heavy weight socks for backpacking or hiking. Since they're heavy weight, I think they're best suited for colder weather hiking.
They are made with a combination of natural and synthetic fibers.
They're well made - very uniform feeling across the different zones of the socks - heel, toe, and ankle.
They use Dri-Stride technology which is supposed to wick moisture up the socks and out at the ankles. I'm skeptical, but I'll evaluate whether the socks are drier when I'm backpacking.
LONG-TERM TEST LOCATIONS AND CONDITIONS
November 24, 2012 - 3 night backpack and 3 night car camp on the Deschutes River in North central Oregon. I did 30 miles (48 km) of backpacking. 300 feet (100 m) of elevation gain. Temperatures were 28 to 40 F (-2 to 4 C).
December 19, 2012 - 3 night backpack and 2 night car camp on the lower Deschutes River in North central Oregon. I did 30 miles (48 km) of backpacking. 1600 feet (500 m) of elevation gain. 32 to 48 F (0 to 8 C).
January 15, 2013 - 4 night backpack and 1 night car camp on the beach of Olympic Peninsula in Northwest Washington. 43 miles (69 km). 1800 feet (550 m) elevation gain. 30 to 41 F (-1 to 5 C). Clear skies.
February 8, 2013 - 4 night backpack and 1 night car camp on the Rogue River in Southwest Oregon. 50 miles (81 km). 2800 feet (850 m) elevation gain. 33 to 55 F (1 to 13 C).
March 8, 2013 - 3 night backpack and 2 night car camp in Spring Basin Wilderness and Metolius River in central Oregon. 35 miles (56 km). 2400 feet (700 m) elevation gain. 18 to 65 F (-8 to 18 C).
I wore mid-height waterproof-breathable boots and breathable gaiters over the socks:
PERFORMANCE IN THE FIELD
I have been very impressed with the Dahlgren Backpacking socks.
I have hiked 188 miles (303 km), 26 nights, and 5 washings.
On my five trips, I did mostly low elevation gain hiking but there was lots of short distance scrambling in and out of ravines on rough trails. This causes more stress on my socks and feet. It can cause wear on the socks, or my feet can get sore, but I didn't experience this at all. I felt no hot spots. The Dahlgrens were fairly thick so provided good comfort.
The temperature range I experienced was 18 to 65 F (-8 to 18C). Not real hot. Some pretty cold hiking, at least for me. My feet were pretty warm all the time.
The socks got damp from sweat, but never really wet. I try to avoid this but accidents sometime happen. This can cause accelerated wear to the socks.
Regarding the wicking rings, my socks seemed about the same dampness as any other sock while wearing under Gore-Tex boots. One day, I wore a Dahlgren sock on one foot and a fairly good Merino sock on the other foot all day and they seemed about equally damp at the end of the day. Maybe the wicking rings provide a small amount of effectiveness. At least, they didn't seem to do any harm.
The elastic tops kept the socks up without any uncomfortable constriction.
I also wore the socks over night. They kept my feet warm and the slight dampness dried out by the next morning. I also had booties on some of the cold nights.
After my last trip I washed the socks. There is a little pilling, but it's just cosmetic. When I washed the socks, I turned them inside out which is supposed to limit pilling. I usually am too lazy to do this but I did for these socks. The socks are getting a little thin at the heels, the major wear point. Maybe it's more stiff than thin. Either way, I got no blisters or soreness - there's still some life left in these socks.
One thing I was worried about, was with all the zones, rings, and channels as there are lots of transitions between different materials. This is an opportunity for failures. I have seen this on other socks. At the transition point, gaps will develop. I haven't noticed this in the Dahlgrens.
I am very happy with the Dahlgren Backpacking socks. They are on par with the best socks I have used in the past.
This report was created with the BackpackGearTest.org Report Writer Version 1.5
Copyright 2013. All rights reserved.
They are fairly thick so they're warm and comfortable.
They held up fine during the testing although there is more pilling than normal for socks with this amount of use. Maybe there's a little more thinness or stiffness at the heels than the best socks I have used.
I'm not sure about the wicking rings - whether they keep the socks drier because of wicking up to the ankles where water evaporates. At least they don't seem to do any harm - no unusual wear at the transitions between different areas.
I will continue to wear the Dahlgren socks until they wear out or I test another pair of socks.
This concludes my Long Term Report. Thanks to Dahlgren Footwear, Inc. and BackpackGearTest.org for letting me test these.
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