FEETURES! BAMBOO & WOOL HIKING CREW SOCK
TEST SERIES BY KATHLEEN WATERS
April 02, 2009
CLICK HERE TO SKIP TO THE FIELD REPORT
CLICK HERE TO SKIP TO THE LONG-TERM REPORT
White Lake, Michigan USA
5' 4" (1.63 m)
125 lb (56.70 kg)
I started hiking in 1998 after an eye-opening climb up Hahn's Peak in Colorado. Hooked, I return to Colorado often. I've hiked/snowshoed glaciers, rain forests, mountains and deserts in domestic and exotic locations, including Iceland, Costa Rica, Slovenia and Death Valley.
At home, I plan for 2-3 hikes of 6-8 mi (10-13 km) weekly and one weekend hike monthly. Weekday hikes take place in Pontiac Lake Recreation Area, a mixture of heavily-wooded moderate hills and flat terrain. Weekend hike locations vary.
My hiking style is comfortable, aiming for lightweight. Current pack averages 25 lb (11 kg) including food and water
PRODUCT INFORMATION & SPECIFICATIONS
Year of Manufacture: 2008
Manufacturer's Website: http://www.feeturesbrand.com
Listed Weight: N/A
Measured Weight: 3.3 oz (92 g)
Colors Available: Charcoal Heather, Navy Heather and Brown Heather
Color Tested: Brown Heather
Sizes Available: Small to XLarge
Size Tested: Medium (fits Women's size 6.5 to 9.5)
Materials: 39% Bamboo, 35% Wool, 22% Nylon, 2% Polyester and 2% Lycra Spandex. (Made in China)
The Most Comfortable Sock Ever - Guaranteed!"
"Feetures Guarantee: If you don't agree that Feetures! Bamboo and Wool is the most comfortable sock you've ever worn, then you can return it for a full refund."
|Retail Package of Feetures! Socks|
INITIAL IMPRESSIONS - Nov 08
|These are nice-looking socks! The Feetures! website uses a graphic representation of the Bamboo and Wool Hiking Crew Socks (here after simply called "Socks"), so I really didn't have a clue what they would look like. Taking the Socks out of the retail packaging gave me a nice surprise. The Socks are a heathered brown (brown muted with flecks of gray) except for a solid dark brown heel and toe cap. The toe cap "no-seam" seam appears as an accent in the heathered stitching.|
"Feetures!" is stitched into the right side of the arch Power Band - a Lycra, ribbed section touted for "maximum support". An "M" (for medium) is on the flip side.
Right out of the box, the Socks measure 8 inches (20 cm) from toe to heel and 6.7 inches (17 cm) from the top of the cuff to the top of the heel. The cuff is 0.5 inches (1.3 cm). The Power Band at the arch is 1.7 inches (4.5 cm)
|Interior Loose Threads at Toe||The Socks are ribbed nicely down to the heel and then the ribbing is repeated in the arch Power Band. The rest of the Socks are flat-stitched.|
Turning the Socks inside out for an initial inspection revealed another surprise. While most of the Sock is neatly constructed, on the left inside at the heel and the toe cap, I found a very untidy mess of loose threads. While I am used to some loose ends (other socks I own have the same feature), the threads seem excessive in number and length. It remains to be seen if snags become a problem.
The packaging contained the following washing instructions. "Machine wash warm. Tumble dry low. No bleach. For best results wash socks inside out."
I am currently forced to use commercial dryers. Commercial dryers have not been kind to some of my clothing in the past. So during most of my testing, I will be line drying the socks just to be on the safe side. However, near the tail end of these next four months, I will throw caution to the wind and use the clothes-scorching, fabric-melting monsters at least once to see if the socks hold up.
TRYING IT OUT
Ah ... these Socks feel nice! The fit is such I feel like the Socks were made for me. Often, socks have excess material at the toes, but these Socks are tapered and form-fitting without being constrictive. The toe cap has no raised seam to rub on the top of my foot and extends under the ball of my foot seamlessly. The heel fits exactly where it's supposed to fit with no excess material. The cuff of the Sock falls just short of mid-calf on me and while snug, is not tight.
I was concerned as to the sizing of the Socks as the Feetures! website does not have a size chart. I found a list of unisex sizes elsewhere but often unisex socks are too wide for my taste. I wear a women's size 8.5 boot (in most brands) and the Feetures! Medium appears to be perfect right out of the box.
Pulling on the Socks went smoothly despite the interior loose threads. The fabric is soft, cushiony and comfortable. When I tried one Sock on, I had had a pair of light weight hiking socks on (from another manufacture) and I could immediately feel the difference in the thickness and comfort of the Feetures! Sock. The Sock was noticeably more supportive and warmer. I was very quick to change out the remaining lightweight sock for the other Feetures! Sock!
I love testing footwear, both boots and socks! I wear light to heavy weight socks with my boots almost all the time. It's a rare day I don't at least hike out on our property or down the dirt roads to our mailbox (5 miles/8 km round trip). So boots and decent socks are very important to me.
I'm also very keen on products made with consideration for the environment, so testing and buying an eco-friendly product particularly pleases me.
I am headed out right now for my first real test of the Feetures! Bamboo and Wool Hiking Crew Socks. It's a gorgeous autumn day and the mountains are calling! Perfect for testing a mid-weight hiking sock!
Please continue reading below for the results of my Field Testing.
FIELD LOCATIONSCONDITIONS - Feb 09
I have worn the Feetures! Bamboo and Wool Hiking Crew Socks at least 2-3 days a week for the last two months.
In casual settings, I've encountered sunshine, mist, snow flurries, blinding blizzard and wind, lots of wind. Temperatures have been anywhere from 0 F to 70 F (-18 C to 21 C).
|Wearing the socks, I've also hiked on several day hike/snowshoe trips - one on Mt. Evans, December 27 and two on the Rainbow Trail in the Sangre de Cristo mountains on January 7 and January 14, come to mind. And just last weekend, I wore the socks on a night snowshoe at the Tennessee Pass near Leadville with a day hike there the next day. All these locations are in Colorado.|
Mt. Evans was bitterly cold and windy. Normally, I would have preferred to stay home in front of a fire that day, but this is a family Christmas tradition (albeit, a bit late this year). The temperature was a frigid 1 F (-17 C) when we set out. Ferocious winds took the wind chill to -25 F (-32 C). Our famous Colorado blue skies were no where to be seen.
Because of the wind, in clearings, the newly-fallen, blowing snow was blinding. We stuck to the pine forest as much as we could. Estimated snow base was 30 in (0.8 m) and the terrain was fairly gently sloped. My pack weight was about 20 lb (9 kg). This trip was cut short as the weather was just too brutal for our 7 year-old granddaughter (We want her to LIKE snowshoeing!).
|Having fun in the snow with Granddaughter, Jillian|
Both trips in January were on brilliantly sunny days with no wind at all, temps in the mid 30s F (-1 C) and estimated snow base of 25 - 36 in (0.6 - 0.9 m). We were stymied by unplowed roads and so had to hike over 1 mi (2 km) to even get to the trail heads. No worry, though, the trips were well worth it. Total mileage was approximately 7 mi (11 km). Pack weights on both these trips were barely 15 lb (7 kg), mostly liquids and snacks.
|At night, the trail at the Tennessee Pass was a very pleasant 28 F (-2 C) when we started and a still pleasant 14 F (-10 C) when we stopped. Clear skies, little or no humidity and no wind at all made it a gorgeous trek. We started at an elevation of 10,500 ft (3200 m) and had a slight, but constant elevation gain to 10,800 ft (3292 m). The trail was hard-packed and meandered through a tall growth pine forest. |
The next day, we were on the same trails, but it was sunny and 32 F (0 C). Still, no wind and very little humidity were present.
|View at Tennessee Pass|
For these two months, the Feetures! Socks have been on my feet at least two or three days a week casually at home and around town. I currently am living in an RV on our future building site. This means no grass, no patios, decks, sidewalks, etc. This means dirt (or mud, as the weather dictates), rocks, cactus, and brush. This means if I go out the door, unless I'm headed to church or a business meeting, I'm mostly likely wearing boots. And that's just casual wear! I even wore boots and the Feetures! Socks one day to the Outdoor Retailer Show at the Salt Palace in Salt Lake City, Utah! The terrain there was flat, and as hard as concrete. It was definitely "dry" and temperatures were easily in the mid-60s to low 70s F (15-21 C). Estimated distance traveled that day was about 5 - 7 miles (8-11 km).
PERFORMANCE IN THE FIELD
How warm a pair of socks is ranks number one in my criteria for hiking and backpacking socks. I consider warm (enough) feet to be crucial to my comfort. If my toes are cold, I tend to cramp them and once my toes cramp, that feeling travels upward through my body until my brain responds - "Ouch"!
The Feetures! Socks are thick and cozy. I can only think of one time while wearing them when my feet were cold. That was my snowshoe hike at Mt. Evans, Colorado when the temperature was 0 F (-18 C). I don't think any part on any one of my companions or me was warm that day. Despite the bitter cold, though, I can't say my cold feet would have caused me undue discomfort. And had I remembered to put on my sock liners, I might have been just fine.
Otherwise, I can only give praise to the heat-retention capabilities of the Feetures! Socks. Oh, and the socks were great at night in my sleeping bag. One negative about mummy bags is not having another warm body to siphon heat from when cold. The socks worked almost as well!
On the excessive side of warm feet are sweaty feet. There were some days when I could tell my feet were warmer than they needed to be. This would usually occur a few miles/kilometers in on a strenuous hike or snowshoe. I would know my feet were sweating a bit and when I felt the socks, they felt damp to the touch. This never resulted in a hot spot or a blister and when I would remove the socks; my feet would be dry even though the socks were damp. Great wicking!
Which leads me into dryness from outside forces. I did not have any contact with rain during the last two months, but I did have quite a lot of snow trekking, both with boots only and with snowshoes. As a result of testing boots which did not come high up on my foot, I experienced more snow in my boots than I would have liked. On every single snowshoe trek I took, by the end of the day, I would have a ring of melted, then re-frozen snow around my ankle. Sometimes, it was just slushy snow.
In any event, my Feetures! Socks got wet. For the most part, I would change my socks at that point, but on the second day of snowshoeing at the Tennessee Pass, I had used up my extra socks supply and could not change. For about 15 minutes or so, my ankles actually ached from the cold and I tried to scrape away the icy build up. Then, as quickly as I can type this, the cold dissipated! My ankles weren't cold anymore. I can only speculate the snow that had melted into the socks was then wicked out of the socks after I scraped away the excess on the outside of the sock. Whatever the reason, I was really happy I was able to continue the snowshoe comfortably.
Cushioning in socks is something I really enjoy. I will wear the heaviest socks I can get, no matter what the season, to get that extra cushion! The Feetures! Socks are soooo thick! And they are thick in all the right places. I feel almost as if I am wearing a pair of old-fashioned slipper socks. This cushioning does mean I can't wear the socks with some of my casual footwear, but then, that's not what they are for, right? Some heavy-weight socks I own get paired with lighter socks when I need extra cushion. At most, I have worn a thin liner with the Feetures! Socks. Mostly, I leave off the liner because the socks feel so nice against my skin.
Thus far, I have not had any noticeable wear issues with the socks. I have washed them at least 4 times in a commercial washer in cold water, turned as recommended by the manufacturer, inside out. I have air-dried them each of those 4 times.
If I have one minor complaint, it would be how well (or not) the socks stay put on my calves. By the end of the day, the socks are definitely not covering as much of my legs as when the day started. I never really notice the socks are sliding and they never cause any bunching around my ankles or under foot, but they do slide down a bit. Maybe I'm just pulling them up too high in the first place.
After two months, I can safely say the Feetures! Bamboo & Wool Hiking Crew Socks are very, very good! They are warm, keep my feet dry and have shown nary any (additional) snags or loose threads. I plan to continue wearing them often in the next two months. As the weather changes, I will be interested in seeing if the socks perform as well in warm weather as they did in extreme (for me) cold.
Please read below for my long term testing conclusions.
LONG-TERM TEST LOCATIONS AND CONDITIONS
February 20-21: Ridgway State Park and Reservoir, including the Uncompahgre River trails. Elevation started at 6880 ft (2097 m) and rose to 7000 ft (2134 m). Temperatures were from a low of 33 F (0.6 C) at night to 54 F (12 C) in the bright afternoon sunshine. There was, at most, just a light occasional breeze. Terrain varied from sandy beach shore to medium size rocks to very large rocks at the reservoir's edge, then changed to dry hard packed dirt to mud to icy snow patches in the offshore higher treed sections of the trail. The mileage for the entire east side trail was 7.5 mi (12 km).
March 3-5: Hike and camp in the Bureau of Land Management properties in the Royal Gorge area of Colorado (Cooper Mountain range, included). Elevation started at 5400 ft (137 m) and gained about 200 ft (5 m). Daytime temperatures were a pleasant 50 to 67 F (10 to19 C) and nighttime temperatures hovered from 18 to 34 F (-8 to 1 C) from Tuesday to Thursday respectively. A pretty steady wind of 10 to 15 mph (16 to 24 kph) was present most of Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday. Wind gusts were plentiful and blew as high as 35 mph (56 kph). The terrain was very dry. We were (and still are) under "red flag" warnings for forest fires. Vegetation was sparse juniper and pinon pine eking out a barren existence on powdery dirt to granite slabs. Desolate, but very beautiful against the brilliant blue sky!
PERFORMANCE IN THE FIELD
In addition to the above mentioned backpacking trips, I wore the Socks at least once a week for two days at a time. A portion of that time was during everyday activities, but every time I worn them, I at least hiked to the mailbox, a 5 mi (8 km) roundtrip hike down an up-and-down, bumpy, dirt road.
Feetures! brags about their superior "fit and feel" performance of their Socks. The materials were chosen to be able to conform to an individual's feet with the "perfect amount of compression" to keep the Socks in place. I have to admit I have been very pleased with the lack of movement in the Socks on my feet. The Socks do fit my feet perfectly with no lumps or excess. However, the Socks do slide down my legs. They never have bunched up below my ankles, but the Socks are definitely lower on my calves after a period of activity than when I started. This hasn't been a problem in the winter as far as warmth when I'm wearing long underwear though as the pants still kept my legs covered. It is a minor annoyance when my leg is bare.
My feet have certainly benefited from Feetures! use of Coolmax. I have been completely satisfied by the level of protection the Socks have provided in keeping my feet dry and unscathed by melting snow from the outside and sweat from the inside. And as I indicated in my field report, these Socks are absolutely the most comfortable socks I own in the thickness/cushioning department!
What issue I do have is with the durability of the Socks. I've washed the Socks about 10 times. I've always been careful to wash the Socks turned inside-out and in cold water. Since I currently am forced to use commercial washers/dryers, I always air-dried the Socks except for the very last wash earlier this week.
In preparation for writing this report I closely examined the Socks. The Socks are shorter by a full inch (2.5 cm) from the tip of the toe to the heel and 0.7 in (2 cm) from the top of the heel to the top of the cuff than when I received them. That's quite a bit. I pulled the Socks on after measuring and they stretched out nicely to comfortably fit, but I think the shrinkage may explain the problem I am having with "creeping" socks. I wish I had thought to measure out the Socks before this last washing to see if the shrinkage is only as result of the commercial dryers.
|Fuzz around ankles of Socks||Inside the Socks, there has been some degradation of the arch compression elastic threads. In three of the four Socks, there are some loose elastics in this area. I hesitate to cut them as I'm not sure if that would hasten fit problems. I will most likely need to clip them in the future if they start to get tangled in my toes when I'm pulling the Socks on.|
Lastly, at the outside ankle area of the Socks, I have had "fuzzing" where my boots must be rubbing against the Socks. This is not a performance distraction, but simply a cosmetic thing. Hopefully, the fuzzing won't get much worse as the weather warms up and I switch to different height boots.
I can't beat the Feetures! Bamboo & Wool Hiking Socks for comfort and support on the trail! They have kept my feet warm and dry with nary a blister or hot spot in some pretty brutal weather conditions as well as rough terrain. I definitely will continue to wear them for as long as they hold out, but depending on how much more they wear out and how quickly, I might not be inclined to replace them in kind.
This report was created with the BackpackGearTest.org Report Writer Version 1.
Copyright 2009. All rights reserved.
Thank you to Feetures! and BackpackGearTest.org for introducing me to these Socks and giving me a chance to try them out.
Kathleen (Kathy) Waters
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