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Reviews > Clothing > Socks > Drymax Hiking HD Socks. > Test Report by Kurt Papke
Drymax Hiking HD socks
Test Series by Kurt Papke
My backpacking background has mostly been in the Minnesota area where I have lived most of my adult life. I recently moved to Tucson to take a new job, and am excitedly exploring the surrounding mountain ranges. I am very susceptible to blisters, and am always on the lookout for gear that will prevent problems.
From the Drymax website: "The Hiking Sock is a High Density protective padded sock. Using dense padding, as opposed to thick padding, it protects feet without adversely affecting the fit of the shoes. The Hiking Socks were designed for use in cold to mild conditions, keeping feet dry, comfortable and odor free all day long". The model tested was over-the-calf, a length I do not normally wear, but I'm always interested in trying new gear that makes me more comfortable. Most of the features of the socks are well-described by the following illustration from the manufacturer's website:
Illustration from the Drymax website
Initial InspectionThe socks arrived with the hang tag indicated in the above illustration attached. On inspection I found a couple of minor loose threads, but nothing that was going to unravel and cause any problems. In general, the design and manufacturing appear to be of high quality.
I was shipped two pairs of socks, one a tan color with some lighter vertical stripes, and one in a dark brown. I found the color of both pairs to be pleasing to my eye.
Initial ExperiencesI removed the packaging material and slipped the socks on. Actually, slipped is a poor choice of words: I inserted my feet and worked them up my lower leg culminating just below the knee joint. It wasn't difficult; it was just a new experience for me to have so much fabric to deal with.
Then an expression came through my brain: ahhhhhhhhhhhhh. No tightness around the ankles, no pulling on my leg hairs, just a feeling of encapsulation. It felt very good. I was a little concerned about the socks being overly warm, but I am used to wearing wool socks year-round so for me they felt just fine.
The next day I wore them to work. I wear long pants at work, so nobody was the wiser that I was wearing over-the-calf socks. They were very cushiony in my shoes, and did not take up too much volume to make my feet feel tight. After a while I forgot I was wearing them, until I would cross my legs and things felt a lot more slippery where I don't normally have socks. At the end of the day I was glad to take the socks off; my calves are not used to being cooped up all day, but I was still comfortable.
First ImpressionsI am looking forward to experimenting with the socks on my hikes. I do have a concern that they might be a bit warm as the Arizona summer approaches, but at the very least I'll be able to use them during the cold desert nights. My initial thoughts include the following.
Usage NotesSutherland Trail: this was a fairly gradual but steady climb of 1400 ft (425 m) on an exceptionally rocky trail. It was fairly cool, so the relative warmth of the socks was not an issue. I kept waiting for the socks to slide down my calves, but they never did. My legs felt good after the hike - the small amount of compression seems to be something my legs like. On the other hand, after a long hike I was happy to take the tall socks off.
Switzerland trip: in addition to the walks mentioned above, I wore the socks in the airplane on both the outbound and return trips to help with circulation in my lower legs. Felt great! They felt especially good padding around the airplane on the long flight. While in Switzerland I did not wear the socks during the workday, but rather for my morning walks and weekend jaunts.
Linda Vista Trail: starting to get a little warm in Tucson for knee-length socks, but this morning was fairly pleasant yet and the socks did surprisingly well at these temperatures.
ImpressionsI have never worn knee-length socks since I used them years ago for Nordic skiing. They are remarkably nice for walking, especially at cooler temperatures. The weather in Switzerland was abysmal, it was rainy and cold the whole week, and I actually appreciate the warmth of the socks as I was wearing light nylon hiking pants.
These socks can absorb a lot of moisture. When I took them off at the end of the day it was remarkable how damp they felt, yet by the next morning they would be quite dry. I found it a good practice to hang them up overnight in an airy spot.
Comfort on these socks is great. They have a nice spongy feel on the bottoms of my feet.
SummaryI have been very satisfied with the Drymax socks. In addition to the conclusions from my Initial Report:
Usage NotesAravaipa Canyon: This was a canyoneering trip, though an easy one as there are no steep ascents or descents, just a lot of walking in the water and gravel as can be seen in the photo at left. The socks got wet within 10 minutes of starting the hike and stayed that way for the entire two days I wore them. They pretty much dried out overnight, but were wet again within minutes of starting out on day two.
It was hot during this two-day backpack trip, and quite humid as well due to the presence of the river and the impending thunderstorms. I was concerned at the outset that these knee-length socks would be way too warm and I'd have to change them out for something a little cooler.
Lo and behold, they were perfect! As soon as my feet got wet the water wicked up the socks and kept my legs cool all the way up to my knees. What I thought was going to be a big problem turned out to be serendipity.
The riverbed is a mixture of sand and gravel which made its way inexorably into my shoes. The thick padding in the Drymax socks kept the gravel pieces from irritating my feet.
These socks turned out to be the stars of my kit during this trip.
Ash Creek: this trip was at a bit of altitude, so the cooler temperatures meant I could wear the Drymax socks without hesitation.
The picture at right shows the socks on my legs with my pants rolled up. The perspective makes my feeble calves and ankles look even scrawnier than normal... Well, at least the creek in the background looks nice.
On Friday night I slept without socks in my hammock, and my feet got quite chilly. Before retiring on Saturday night I had a crazy idea: "how about if I double the tops of the socks down around my feet to act as a foot warmer?" Eureka! This worked like a champ. My feet were toasty all night long, yet they stayed nice and dry due to the great wicking ability. I neglected to take a picture of this configuration while on the trail, but I did snap a picture when I returned home as shown below to illustrate a novel use of these knee-height socks.
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