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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

Initial Report - April 12, 2010

Field Report - June 29, 2010

Long Term Report - August 24, 2010

Tester Information

Name: Kurt Papke
Age: 56
Gender: Male
Height: 6' 4" (193 cm)
Weight: 225 lbs (102 kg)
Email address: kwpapke at gmail dot com
City, State, Country: Tucson, Arizona USA

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.

Initial Report

Product Facts

Product Information
Manufacturer
Drymax
Manufacturer website
http://www.drymaxsocks.com
Year manufactured
2010
Model
Hiking HD - Men's
Color tested
Tan - 1 pair
Brown - 1 pair
Size tested
XL: 11-13 US Over Calf
MSRP
Not listed
Weight (measured)
4.2 oz (119 g)
Weight (specs)
None available
Height (floor to top of sock when worn
18 in (46 cm)
Material
73% drymax/olefin
9% polyester
10% nylon
8% elastane

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:

socks info
Illustration from the Drymax website

Initial Inspection

The 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 Experiences

I 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 Impressions

I 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.

Kudos:

  • Good comfort around the ankles
  • The fabric feels soft, not abrasive
  • The colors will blend well with my hiking pants

Concerns:

  • I have some concerns about what I will look like wearing over-the-calf socks in shorts.  I am becoming more accustomed to the "old geezer" label, but I don't know if I'm ready yet for the Bermuda look.

Field Report

Field Use

Date
Saturday May 1, 2010
Saturday May 8, 2010 to Saturday May 15, 2010 Monday May 31, 2010
Location
Catalina State Park and Coronado National Forest just North of Tucson, Arizona
Streets and paths of various cities in Switzerland: Lucerne, Zug, Lugano & Berne Catalina Mountains near Tucson, Arizona
Trail
Sutherland: exceptionally rocky, as some segments are horse and/or ATV use
Cobblestone streets and paths Linda Vista
Distance
8.2 miles (13.2 km)
~20 miles (32 km) total for the week 3 miles (4.8 km)
Terrain
High desert
Cobblestone streets and paths, some flat (around lakes), some more steep (Lugano) Mountain foothills
Weather
70F (21 C) mostly sunny and breezy
50-60 F (10-16C) mostly cloudy & rain 80 F (27 C), sunny
Altitude range
2700 ft to 4100 ft (820 m to 1250 m)
900-1400 ft
(275-425 m)
2500-3150 ft
(760-960 m)
Shoes
Oboz Hardscrabble trail runners Oboz Hardscrabble trail runners Oboz Hardscrabble trail runners

Usage Notes

Sutherland 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.

Impressions

I 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.

Summary

I have been very satisfied with the Drymax socks.  In addition to the conclusions from my Initial Report:

Kudos:

  • They don't fall down - I never had to pull them up
  • I noticed no degradation or wear of the product during my use

Concerns:

  • Not a great match for the temperatures I'm now hiking in -- last week it hit 109 F (43 C).  I suspect I am going to have to use them at the beginning of my hikes in the next two months, then change them out or roll them down as my feet and legs start to overheat.  We'll see what happens.

Long Term Report

Field Use

Date
Tuesday June 22, 2010 Saturday July 10 through Sunday July 11 Friday August 13 through Sunday August 15, 2010
Location
Picacho Peak State Park northwest of Tucson, Arizona Aravaipa Canyon wilderness north of Tucson Arizona Pinaleno Mountains near Safford, Arizona
Trail
Around south side of Picacho Peak This was a canyoneering hike with a mostly unmarked trail Ash Creek: very steep canyon descent
Distance
4.3 miles (6.9 km) 10.6 miles (17.1 km) over 2 days 8.2 miles (13.2 km) over 2 days
Terrain
Mountain foothills Canyon bottom with ankle to knee-height water, gravel, sand and rocks Sky Island canyon: rocky trail, steep descent & ascent, some wet conditions
Weather
95 F (35 C)
sunny
85-100 F (29-38 C) with high humidity and a few raindrops 50-75 F (10-24 C), rain during the evening, sunny during the day
Altitude range
1850-2325 ft
(564-709 m)
2600-3000 ft
(792-914 m)
9500-6900 ft
(2900-2100 m)
Shoes
Oboz Hardscrabble trail runners Oboz Hardscrabble trail runners Oboz Hardscrabble trail runners

Usage Notes

Aravaipa CanyonAravaipa 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.


Drymax near Ash CreekAsh 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.


Doubled socks
Doubled-over socks - toasty!

Summary

Drymax socks with lots of gravelThe Drymax socks have performed well for me over the entire test period in the conditions for which they are suited, i.e. cooler weather or wet feet conditions.

In addition to the notes from the Field Test:

Kudos:

  • I noticed no degradation of the product during my use despite frequent washing.
  • These knee-length socks are surprisingly cool on a canyoneering hike, as the water wicks up them and they keep the entire lower leg cool from evaporation.  This was an unexpected positive.
  • The socks superior cushioning prevented my feet from getting ripped up from sand (see photo at right) and gravel during canyoneering.
  • When folded down over the feet in a double layer, these knee-height socks provide great night-time warmth.

Concerns:

  • Not a great summer desert hiking sock in dry conditions.  The material is fine, just too thick and knee-length gets a bit warm.

Many thanks to Drymax and BackpackGearTest.org for the opportunity to test this product.


Read more gear reviews by Kurt Papke

Reviews > Clothing > Socks > Drymax Hiking HD Socks. > Test Report by Kurt Papke



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