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Reviews > Clothing > Socks > FITS Light Runner Low-cut Socks > Test Report by Jamie DeBenedetto
RUNNER LOW-CUT SOCK
Reviewed by Jamie
Product Information Back to contents
Product Description Back to contents
The Fits Light Runner Low-Cut Socks are as the name so correctly describes a pair of lightweight, ankle socks. They are made with a mix of natural and man-made fibers with wool representing the primary material. The most striking feature is the deep heel well. The heel, the toe box and the ball of the sock appear to the have the most padding.
The single pair of Light Runner Low Cut socks I received from Fits Sock Co. arrived on May 13th in perfect condition. Both socks were clearly new and in what I'm assuming is their normal storefront packaging. In addition to the sales packaging, the manufacturer sent a booklet containing info sheets on each of the different styles they sell. This was a nice addition since the Light Runners are not listed on their website yet, having said that, the average person won't be receiving the extra brochures so I'll reserve my comments for the information listed on the garment's actual packaging.
Other than the typical product and company name, contact particulars, and guarantee, Fits also included a little graphic of what the Light Runner Low Cut's look like so a prospective buyer can see just how low, low-cut is. They also have what they call, "The FIT Finder" which lists the various sizes offered in both men and women's sizes. The actual size of the socks in the package is plainly labeled on the front in bold black lettering over a background of green. The country of origin was also clearly found on the front. This was refreshing since some companies appear to go out of their way to hide that little detail. One thing sadly omitted from the informational material was any indication of the weight of the Light Runners. Fits mentions how lightweight these socks are several times in their brochure, naturally I assumed given that sales angle they would have likely listed it on the package somewhere.
Expectations and First Impressions Back to contents
When applying for this test series I didn't know what style socks the manufacturer was sending, only that they would be a wool blend. Given that, I didn't really have any expectations beyond what I always have when trying new socks: that they'll fit comfortably and keep my feet dry and subsequently blister free. I normally wear socks made with a mostly cotton blend, which I know is considered by most to be a hiking sin but I've had very good results with this formula for years so I've been reluctant to change. The exception to this is when I do water activities like kayaking, creek hiking, fishing, etc. On those occasions I usually choose a wool blend sock worn with sandals. I am expecting to use the Light Runners in this capacity also.
As to my first impressions, I have to admit, I thought I'd received the wrong size. As my picture shows, the socks looked awfully small when I took them out of the package. (My trail runners are at least 4 inches (10 cm) longer than that Nalgene bottle.) A bigger concern was that they were my size but were going to be incredibly restrictive. Apparently 2% Lycra Spandex is enough because despite my misgivings the socks fit fine so far.
Another very curious characteristic I noticed right off was the very well defined heel pocket. This is unique compared to all other hiking socks I've tried over the years. I wasn't sure what to expect from this feature, not knowing whether or not it would take some getting used to. Fortunately, it doesn't feel strange at all; in fact this design makes me feel like the socks fits more securely. Of course the real test on how well this holds up will come after several hours of wear inside my trail runners and perhaps a water test or two.
Finally, I have to give props to Fits Sock Co. for proudly making these socks in the USA. It's so rare to find products of any kind made here these days. I find it incredibly uplifting when I find companies supporting the USA by keeping their manufacturing stateside.
The majority of my treks took place in the Sonoran Desert in and around Phoenix, AZ. The elevation of these desert mountain or wash trails fluctuates between about 1,500 ft (450 m) up to 2,000 ft (610 m). Temperatures have been hot, anywhere from high 80's (31 C) up to 108 F (42 C). Weather was always clear and sunny. Time hiking varied in length between one and three hours.
The terrain on these hikes was a mix of grass, paved paths and typical desert trails, which involves small rocks, lots of dirt, stickers, and very dry grasses/weeds. What I mainly observed about the Fits Socks on these treks is how well they handled the crud that inevitably made its way into my trainers. On virtually every outing I was surprised to find upon taking my shoes off that I had tons of little hitchhikers from the desert stuck in my socks. Even small amounts of sand were remarkably unnoticeable until I removed my shoes. This was very comforting because I love hiking in sandals but I usually opt not to during the very dry months because of all the little yuckies. The Fits Socks seems to provided the right amount of thickness to keep my feet from getting too sweaty but thick enough to protect me.
In addition to my weekly local walks, I also used the socks on longer day trips in much different terrain situations. In May I did a six mile day hike in the Prescott National Forest near Prescott, AZ. Weather was sunny in the low 70's (23 C), elevation 5,200 ft (1,600 m). I wore the Fits Socks for well over 10 hrs on this trip (drive time included). Normally I'm itching to take my socks off right when I get back to my vehicle at the trailhead so my feet can "breathe" and stretch-out but I didn't feel the need to do that on this occasion. Instead my feet were very comfortable and the socks were surprisingly odor free.
In June I wore the socks on a day long fishing/hiking trip in Oak Creek Canyon near Sedona, AZ. The section of creek we were exploring sat close to the 4,200 ft (1,300 m) mark and the high temperature for this very sunny day was 95F (35 C). The socks were used in conjunction with a pair of sports sandals. With the exception of the first hour they were wet the whole day. This was a very comfortable set-up and even though I had these socks on for something like 11 or 12 hrs my feet were very comfortable and less prune-like than I expected they would be. The biggest revelation related to this trip didn't come until a few days later, however, when I returned home and washed the socks.
Sedona is world famous for its "red rocks", which come from a unique sandstone formation found only in the Sedona area. Unfortunately, the iron oxide rich soil tends to stick with travelers long after the beauty of the terra cotta cliffs and hoodoos fade. It's particularly harsh on socks which often end up permanently stained so naturally I wondered how well the wool blend of the Fits Socks would fair. Fortunately they are a dark color so I thought the "red" wouldn't show as heavily even if they were stained. To my relief they washed beautifully. After a backyard pre-rinse with my hose and then a normal washing they were good as new. It was definitely not what I expected.
In August I again wore the socks on a day outing to a local river where my sons and I spent the last official day of summer vacation playing in the water. The area we chose is a lower section of the Verde River located near Fountain Hills, AZ. The elevation is about 1,500 ft (450 m) and our weather was clear and toasty with the high hitting 104 F (40 C). The Fits Socks performed very well as usual, no surprises on this trip. I'm only mentioning it because I have been constantly impressed with how well these socks manage odor. I've worn them in the hottest months of Phoenix on back to back days without washing or rinsing them out. On this trip I wore them for about 6 hrs in and out of water and sand. When I returned home I left them un-rinsed lying on my patio overnight to dry, the next morning I shook them out to get rid of the remaining bits of sand and gave them the smell test. They didn't smell at all! In fact, my son said they smelled like cherries. I am so impressed by this I'm compelled to put these socks to the test over the last two months of this test series. I plan to wear them for several days back-to-back to see what it actually takes to make them stink.
Pros and Cons Thus Far Back to contents
Aspects I'm pleased with…
Aspects I'm under whelmed with…
Collective Use and Field Conditions Back to contents
In the final months of this test series I was able to wear the Fits Light Runner Low-Cut Socks an additional 16 times for an overall total of 34 days. Most of these walks were through the same Sonoran Desert terrain as mentioned previously in my Field Report. In addition to those outings I made one more day trip involving water and hiking through very overgrown high desert and riparian terrain. This half day outing was in Camp Verde, Arizona where I fished in the Verde River. I wore the Fits socks with a pair of Teva sandals for about six hours. Skies were clear with temperatures in the low 80's F (27 C).
Long Term Conclusions Back to contents
There isn't anything I don't like about the Fits Light Runner Low-Cut Socks! They have performed well in both wet and dry conditions. By well I mean they have offered excellent cushioning from the little nasties that inevitably get into my trainers or sandals. They also stay put. Some socks tend to slip around a bit or completely lose their shape when they are wet, not so with the Fits socks. Whether my foot was very sweaty on the inside of the sock or totally submerged in water they did not budge. This was especially nice when hiking out of an area where I had been standing or wading through water for several hours.
Drying time for these socks was hard to assess because while wearing them, they don't have that wet sock feel. Right out of the water I certainly had that squishy sock feeling but after several minutes, even though I knew they were still wet, I didn't notice that sensation any more. Furthermore, I had far less instances of pruned skin when using these socks for several hours in wet conditions than I would have had in the socks I normally wear.
The Light Runner's have also completely retained their shape through many launderings, where I must sheepishly admit, I have on a few occasions forgotten to turn them inside out as the washing instructions specify. The condition of the fabric is remarkably new looking. After more than twenty trips through the washer and dryer, they are only ever so slightly fuzzy. Unlike synthetics, the wool shows no signs of pilling or degradation in thickness.
The odor control continues to be outstanding. As promised in my Field Report I purposely wore the socks over several consecutive days without rinsing or washing to see how long it would take for them to stink. I chose to do this in late August over five of the hottest days of our summer (114-117 F / 63-65 C). They remained odor free until after the fourth day at which point they had a mild musty smell. After the fifth day, I felt they sufficiently odiferous that I didn't want to wear them a sixth day. The one caveat I think warrants mentioning is that my feet were washed between each day of use. That's certainly different than the conditions I would experience over a multi-day backpacking trip.
Final Thoughts Back to contents
The Fits Light Runner Low-Cut Socks are a well-made product. I love that they are made in the USA. They work great in wet or dry hiking conditions and the wool blend not only keeps odor at bay, it also retains its shape and loft. I'm glad Fits sent me two pairs to test because these have become a new favorite in my sock collection.
My thanks for Backpackgeartest.org and Fits Sock Co. for giving me the opportunity to be part of this test series.
-Jamie J. DeBenedetto - 2011
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