DEFEET CLOUD 9 SOCKS
TEST SERIES BY NANCY GRIFFITH
August 11, 2008
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5' 6" (1.68 m)
132 lb (60.00 kg)
My outdoor experience began in high school with involvement in a local canoeing/camping group called Canoe Trails. The culmination was a 10-day canoe voyage through the Quebec wilds. I've been backpacking since my college days in Pennsylvania, then for years in Georgia, Tennessee, North Carolina and now mostly in the Sierra Nevada of California. Most of my trips are section hikes or loops from a few days to a week. I mostly hike in the summer and fall. I've recently discovered the virtues of lightening the load by updating some older gear, but I'm not an ultralight backpacker.
PRODUCT INFORMATION & SPECIFICATIONS
Year of Manufacture: 2008
Manufacturer's Website: www.defeet.com
Listed Weight: None listed
Measured Weight: 48 g (1.7 oz)
Other sizes available: L/XL (Only two sizes are available due to 'great stretch and fit characteristics'.)
Color: White w/black
Other Colors available: Pink w/black (in lo-top only and size L/XL only)
Height: Regular cuff
Other heights available: Lo-top
Photo courtesy of DeFeet
The Cloud 9 socks arrived in size S/M in color white w/black in the quarter top height as requested. I would have liked the Pink Lo-top but it was only available in size L/XL which seemed odd. The quarter top turns out to be more appropriate for use with hiking boots anyway.
They are made of a CoolMax/Cordura material blend. The ingredients are: 61% CoolMaxFresh FX/Cordura; 36% Nylon; 3% Lycra Spandex.
READING THE INSTRUCTIONS
TRYING IT OUT
First of all, I was thrilled to see two pairs of socks instead of one. Because while I have occasion to use this type of sock nearly every day, I usually do laundry once per week. Having two pairs will definitely double my testing time.
Per DeFeet's recommendation, my shoe size of 8 Women's should put me mid-range in the S/M size of 6-10.5 Women. However, when I first looked at the socks, they appeared slightly small. When I tried the socks on, they fit perfectly. They hug my feet but don't feel tight at all. The stretchiness does seem to allow for a more universal fit.
The construction of the toe is interesting in that the seam is made is such a way that it is very wide and smooth.
The arch support which is an elastic section completely around the sock at the arch region seems to hold the sock in place.
I walked around the house in the socks and found them to be very comfortable and cushy on the bottom. The construction of these socks seems very nice in that the top and cuff is a thinner material while the bottom is a thick cushiony material.
I tried them on with my mid height hiking boots and the cuff height is just right. They extend past my boot top by an inch or so (2.5 cm).
My testing strategy is to wear these socks as often as possible with a focus on hiking and backpacking although I will also wear them for running and other athletic activities. I may even try them for snowshoeing since they seem warm enough. Overall, I should easily be able to use them once per week throughout the testing period and my goal is to have both pairs in the laundry every week.
My firm backpacking plans include a trip to the Superstition Wilderness (AZ) 3-4 days in April. The rest of that week will include day hikes, so these socks will have to get washed by hand in order to use them multiple times. This will give me a good chance to comment on how quickly they dry on the trail as well as how easily they snag on rocks or trees while drying.
Backpacking and hiking in AZ will likely be in dry conditions, so I will attempt to use them in wet and/or snowy conditions in CA before the weather turns sunny and dry. I also plan to wear them with some ventilated hiking boots in stream conditions to assess them while totally wet.
They should get a lot of hand and machine washing over the testing period which will give a good sense of their durability.
Overall, my initial impression of the socks is that they seem high quality and as advertised on the DeFeet website. I'm looking forward to giving them a run (literally and figuratively).
Thanks to DeFeet and BackpackGearTest.org for allowing me 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 LOCATIONS AND CONDITIONS
During the field test period I wore the socks for an average of 2-3 times per week primarily for hiking, running, snow shoeing and backpacking. Between the two pairs, they were used for a total of 39 uses and 102 miles. I also wore them several times for tennis and mountain biking which are included in the number of uses but not in the mileage. I estimate that I washed each pair 17 times by washing machine and 3 times each by hand (on the trail). At times, I dried them on the trail by hanging them on short tree branches which worked well with no snagging.
I wore the socks in conditions ranging from mountain snow to desert sun at elevations from sea level to 9,000 ft (2,740 m) and temperatures from 32 F to 95 F (0 to 35 C). Some examples are as follows:
Sierra Nevada Mountains (California): 7,000 to 9,000 ft (2,130 to 2,740 m) elevation; 32 to 40 F (0 to 4 C); deep snow conditions
Northern California Coast: 20 ft to 650 ft (6 to 200 m) elevation; 50 to 60 F (10 to 15 C); sandy soil to pine needle forest floor
Arizona Superstition Wilderness: 3,620 to 5,360 ft (1,100 to 1,630 m); 32 to 85 F (0 to 29 C); sandy to rocky soil
Foothills of the Sierra Nevada (California): 1,500 to 2,000 ft (450 to 610 m); 60 to 70 F (15 to 21 C); pine forest to rocky soil; dry conditions
PERFORMANCE IN THE FIELD
These socks have become my favorite socks in the drawer. They are very comfortable, have stayed in place during all of my activities and have worn well so far. There is no sign of any wear areas. They show some slight pilling.
I really like how these socks feel. They are soft and cushiony, well-made and durable. At first the socks appeared to be small and the fit seemed snug, but I never felt any restriction in movement. There has not been any loss of shape or loosening of the elastic. I have not noticed any tendency to retain heat or odor while using them with any of my hiking boots or running shoes.
At one point I was still wearing my Cloud 9 socks and running shoes during a trip to the grocery store. On the way into the store, I noticed how incredibly comfortable my feet were. Truly, I had never felt a nicer combination of shoes and socks.
I have come to notice the shortcomings of my other socks after testing these socks. I have discarded numerous pairs of socks that have one problem or the other ranging from holes in the toes to slipping down during use to just not feeling like they fit right. During the test period, I once wore my light hiking boots with a pair of thin hiking socks. Early in the hike, I realized that I had forgotten to wear my test socks and was truly miserable with the performance of my old socks. Those socks also are no longer in my drawer.
During one snowshoe hike, I did not wear themal underwear which allowed my higher winter boots to rub against my bare legs above the socks. This did not cause any problem, but it was annoyingly uncomfortable. I mention it merely as a lesson learned when using these socks for snowshoeing. Of course, it is purely due to the low sock height in combination with the high boot height. Wearing thermal underwear alleviated the problem.
My only dislike is the color, white. They get extremely dirty on the trail and through hand washing I am only able to return them to a dingy white color. With pre-treating and machine washing, they can be returned to their white color. However, I would prefer a dirt color or at least a darker color.
I will continue to monitor the socks for the things mentioned in this report: comfort, durability, heat retention, odor retention. Additionally, I plan to evaluate their performance in wet conditions possibly while stream fishing since the rains have stopped here. Secondly, I plan to get more tests in while backpacking so that I can provide more information on washing/drying on the trail.
LONG-TERM TEST LOCATIONS AND CONDITIONS
During the long-term test period I continued to wear the socks an average of 2-3 times per week for hiking, running, and backpacking. Between the two pairs, they were worn for an additional 21 uses and 110 miles.
I wore the socks in dry to soaking wet conditions at elevations from sea level to 14,497 ft (4,220 m) and temperatures from 35 F to 85 F (2 to 30 C).
Some examples are as follows:
Mount Ralston: Northern Sierra Nevada (California): 7 miles (11 km); 6,400 to 9,235 ft (1,950 to 2,815 m) elevation; 65 to 80 F (18 to 27 C); packed dirt to rocky conditions
Bassi Creek: Northern Sierra Nevada (California): 5 miles (8 km); 6,200 ft (1900 m) elevation; 80 F (27 C); sand to dirt trail conditions; fished the creek mid-way
White Mountain: White Mountains (California): 10 miles (16 km); 12,470 to 14,246 ft (3,800 to 4,340 m) elevation; 45 to 70 F (7 to 21 C); packed dirt to rocky conditions
Castle Peak, Northern Sierra Nevada (California): 19 miles (30 km); 7,200 to 9,103 ft (2,195 to 2,775 m) elevation
Round Top, Northern Sierra Nevada (California): 17 miles (27 km); 8,573 to 10,381 ft (2,613 to 3,164 m) elevation
Mount Whitney, Southern Sierra Nevada (California): 22 miles (35 km); 8,366 to 14,497 ft (2,550 to 4,419 m) elevation
PERFORMANCE IN THE FIELD
I continue to be impressed with these socks. They are still my favorites and despite many washings and wearings, they are really comfortable and perform well. They do not show any wear areas except for some slight pilling which is about the same as after the Field Report period. I do not like how dingy they have become since I do not like to have to pre-treat my clothes prior to washing. I started wearing gaiters while hiking to keep these socks cleaner which really helped. They do not appear noticeably dingier than at the end of the Field Report period.
I did some stream fishing with these socks in my light hiking boots with my feet completely submerged. The socks really were quite comfortable both while in the stream and afterwards while hiking out. They did not bunch up or slip down. I also tried stream fishing with the same boots and some other hiking socks and did not like the feeling at all. The socks were able to slip and were not as comfortable as the Cloud 9's.
I never noticed any tendency for these socks to retain heat or odor.
They dry reasonably well on the trail, but I have only dried them in fairly arid conditions.
These socks are really comfortable, fit great and have worn very well considering how many times I've worn and washed them. My only dislike is the color because I like to keep my whites looking white which is very difficult to do with hiking socks.
I plan to continue to use these socks until they completely fall apart. I definitely will try other DeFeet socks in the future. I would buy these exact socks for running and tennis, but I will look for a similar but darker color pair for hiking and backpacking.
This report was created with the BackpackGearTest.org Report Writer Version 1.
Copyright 2008. All rights reserved.
This concludes my Long-Term Report and the test series for these socks.
I would like to thank DeFeet and BackpackGearTest.org for choosing me to participate in this test.
Read more reviews of DeFeet gear
Read more gear reviews by Nancy Griffith