Feetures Bamboo & Wool Hiking Socks
Test series by Sophie Pearson
Initial Report - November 17, 2008
Field Report - February 17, 2009
Long-Term Report - April 13. 2009
Name: Sophie Pearson
Height: 5' 8” (1.71 m)
Weight: 179 lb (81 kg)
Shoe size: US 10 wide (EUR 42)
Email address: sophiep3 at gmail dot com
Location: Tampa, Florida USA
I first started backpacking as a teenager in England. I did a month-long trip in the Arctic
but most of my backpacking experience has been weekend to 10-day trips, in a range
of terrains and climates. I am a volcanologist so I also do day hikes carrying
loaded packs over intense terrain. Nowadays I am nearly always in tropical climates. I am heading increasingly towards ultralight packing, and unless
I am sharing I use a bivy. I try to pack under 20 lb (9 kg) for long
weekend trips but have carried over 50 lb (23 kg).
November 17, 2008
Year of manufacture: 2008
Style: Hiking medium cushion
Size: Large (US W 10-13, M 9-12.5; EUR W 42-45, M 43-46.5)
Color: Brown Heather (also available in Navy Heather and Charcoal Heather)
|On packaging||39%||35%||22%||2%||2% (Lycra)|
|On website||36% (Rayon)||33%||25%||3%||3%|
First things first
The socks arrived packaged in a cardboard container similar to those used to display socks in stores. The information on the back of the container is straight off the website - it talks about the different features of the socks, the environmentally friendliness of them and the Feetures guarantee that if they are not the most comfortable socks I've ever tried, I can call a 1-888 number and get a full refund.
The bottom third of the packaging has washing instructions, which appear pretty standard - machine wash warm (recommended inside out), tumble dry low, no bleach. It then lists the materials of the socks, which are slightly different to the website, as shown above.
I got the brown socks to go with my boots and to differentiate from my other socks, but I was a bit apprehensive as that is not a color I particularly like. However, they are a dark, chocolatey brown that is actually quite nice. My first thought was that they look quite small, but they seem to be really stretchy. The seams are funky too - Feetures calls them PerfectToe, but they have a sort of seam that is indented from both sides. It is basically just thin elastic tied at the sides, rather than the thick oversewing that other socks use.
The heel and toe are a solid, dark-brown color, and the rest of the socks are a speckled black, white and brown. There doesn't seem to be any difference in stretchiness in different parts of the socks. Along the divide between the dark brown and the speckled part there is black stitching the whole way around the front of the sock. On the side of each one, in the speckled part below the stitching, it says Feetures on one side and the size (L) on the other. If I fall in love with these and decide to get other pairs in different sizes, or ever end up doing washing with someone else who has some, I guess that might be useful, but for now I can't really see any benefit!
These socks are so soft! They don't have that itchy feel that some hiking socks do. They come quite high up the leg, 2/3 of the way to the knee, if I pull them up fully. They feel like they might fall down if left pulled the whole way up, but I generally wear my socks bunched over my boots anyway. Feetures' seams comment is true; I can't feel a seam over my toes at all. In fact it is skinnier there rather than thicker. Because of that I really have my fingers crossed
that these won't give me blisters on the tops of my toes - it would make such a nice change! I do wonder if that might be the first point to give though. I am on the borderline of the sizes but I am glad I bought the larger
because around the middle of my foot and the toes they feel quite tight (as I live in flip flops socks generally feel constricting though). They aren't uncomfortably tight, but I can definitely tell that there are elasticated socks there. I do have very wide feet so for most people it probably wouldn't be noticeable. The length is perfect, but with their stretchiness they would easily fit feet at the top end of the size range too.
These are soft, highly-elasticated socks that appear to live up to Feetures' claims. I am really excited to see how they hold up in the field, from a moisture-wicking point of view and because of the funky seams at the toes. Other than the typical getting-pulls-in-the-socks problem, the only real concern that I have with them so far is that they feel like the top of the socks might slip down. I will be keeping an eye on that, and checking if it affects the socks inside the boots, where it matters. Check back in about 2 months for an update!
February 17, 2009
The first trip for these socks was to Great Smoky Mountains National Park in North Carolina. We hiked 16 miles (26 km) with elevations between 1700 ft (518 m) and 5850 ft (1780 m), and temperatures between 35 F (1 C - our tent was pitched in snow one night) and 75 F (24 C). Being a genius, I forgot my hiking boots so had to buy some really cheap sneakers, which were therefore the first shoes I tested the socks with. I then did a two day hiking trip in Withlacoochee State Forest, again over 16 miles (26 km), but the minimal elevation changes and more moderate temperatures of 55 to 75 F (12 to 24 C) made this a much more laid-back trip!
The socks also went with me on a 5-day kayaking trip to 10,000 Islands in the Everglades where they were worn every evening with water shoes. On a Christmas road trip to Montreal and around the northeastern USA I started wearing the socks for everyday wear, and also wore them snow-shoeing. On the road trip temperatures got down to 6 F (-15 C) and were rarely far above freezing. In Tampa I have worn them for short hikes around the area, and also to my lab where winter temperatures have averaged a mild 50 F (10 C).
I have to start off by saying, I love these socks!!! They have a silky feel to them and are so comfortable. I really cannot feel the toes seams, which makes such a great change! After wearing them around Montreal I got hooked and now wear them whenever I wear closed-toed shoes - even with knee-high boots when I go clubbing (because they are padded it really helps my feet, and I sort of enjoy the polarity of dressing up for a night out but wearing hiking socks!!!)
To begin with I wasn't sure about the silkiness because they felt a bit slippery and I was worried that it would put pressure on my toes going downhill. However, I quickly got used to the frictionless feeling, did not notice a significant difference going downhill, and have not had a single blister on a hike.
These socks have turned out to be a very good fit. When I first tried them on they felt a bit constricting, but I have not noticed that since. They fit my feet very well and do not slide or bunch up. As I worried in my initial report, the tops of the socks do slide down a bit if I pull them all the way up on my calves, but I usually wear hiking socks bunched around my ankles anyway. When I have worn them pulled all the way up they have never fallen far enough to get wrinkles in them.
The wicking seems to work well with these socks. In Montreal I found that I needed to wear another pair of socks with them when it was below freezing, but I have always been prone to cold feet and I think that needing liner socks is quite reasonable in those conditions. When I trod in melted ice and my feet got wet the socks got soaked through and my feet hurt, but in anything less extreme they have been great. I have found that even if the socks feel a bit sweaty, my feet do not feel damp, and when it is cold outside they definitely help to keep my feet warm.
The socks are thick and so are a bit warm when in hot weather, and are not astonishingly quick to dry. They still beat my previous wool and synthetic hiking socks in both respects though.
Another thing that I really love about the Feetures socks is that they really do reduce the smell. I have worn them for 5 days straight and even then they only had a faint smell. I can never wear socks for more than 2 days before the smell is really bad, so that is fantastic!
|Fluffy areas of wear|
The only real concern I have is that they have developed a sort of fluffy zone around the ankles. It varies a lot between the socks and seems to be wool working loose rather than actual pulls in the whole material. When the socks are turned inside out none of them feel any different, but I will be keeping a close eye on this in the future.
I am a true convert to these socks, and have already talked a friend into buying a pair. On one of the backpacking trips I was talking to a guy who owns an outdoor store. He said that he got sent lots of things to test but often didn't bother. However, he was testing a pair of socks that he absolutely loved. I told him that I was too and we pulled our pant legs up... we were testing the same socks! I think the other people on the trip thought we were crazy for raving about hiking socks for a good 10 minutes, but I really like them that much!
April 13, 2009
|Modeling the socks in Suwannee River State Park|
|The elastic is loose enough that it only leaves a faint indent.|
|The inside of the socks has developed some loose threads.|
I continued to wear the Feetures Bamboo & Wool socks in the office and around town until the weather got too warm for closed-toed shoes. I wore them on two real backpacking trips; the first was a 2-night trip to Suwannee River State Park in northern Florida, where temperatures varied between 35 F (2 C) and 75 F (24 C). There were minimal elevation changes, but the trip still had its moments (forgot hiking boots so had to buy cheap sneakers, got in a fight with a squatter, camped in a huge lightning storm, 20 mile/32 km route turned out to be closer to 30 miles/48 km, and would have been even longer if we hadn't got a ride in a pick-up with dead fish, and car broke down on the way home)! I also wore the socks on an 8-day trip out west to Gila National Forest in
New Mexico. We did 4 nights of backcountry hiking/camping, 1 day of exploring the cliff dwellings, and 3 days of driving to get there and back from Tampa. We hiked about 25 miles, with elevation changes of about 2000 ft (610 m) and 73 river crossings. Temperatures ranged between 25 and 75 F (-4 and 24 C).
Performance in the Field
These have continued to be stellar socks. They are soft, comfortable, warm, and smell-absorbing. The wicking works well enough that even when my feet feel really hot the socks will be damp on the outside but my feet will be totally dry. The only less-than-perfect thing about them is that they do slide down my calves a bit. Within the boots they do not appear to move though, which is the important part. For me this is entirely acceptable, particularly because I get the marks from the elastic at the top of the socks far less than with any other socks I own, and can feel them far less. If they were tighter around the top they would stay up better, but then would be less comfortable.
I have washed the socks numerous times, sometimes drying them and sometimes not. The fluffy zone around the
ankles does not appear to have grown over the 2 months and other than some loose threads on the inside of 2 of the socks that has not affected performance at all, I cannot see any signs of wear. I was really relieved because I caught a loose nail in one of the socks and the elastic pulled out badly, but after washing it I can't even tell which sock it was!
3 days into my extended backpacking trip I did get a really bad blister on my heel. The skin was rubbed totally raw and I had to hike in flip flops the final day. I think this was a combination of not having hiked serious uphill in a while, ageing boots, and very soft feet from the 73 river crossings. I don't really know if the socks can be blamed in any way, and my other heel was fine, but I was unable to wear shoes with backs to them for about 2 weeks. It hurt! Other than that I have not had any problems while wearing these socks and still find them very comfortable. They were the first ones ever where I did not get hot spots or blisters on the top of my 4th toes. Yey!!!
Although listed as medium cushion hiking socks, the Feetures Bamboo & Wool Hiking Socks are fairly thick, padded socks. They have a soft, silky feel that makes them a pleasure to wear and the lack of elevated toe seams makes them much more comfortable than other hiking socks. Above my boots they have slipped down, but never enough to affect performance. Overall I really love these socks, will continue to wear them, and will replace them when they are well-worn. I would (and have) highly recommend them to anyone.
Elasticized for good fit, but not too tight
Absorb foot smell
Indented toe seams
Don't appear to move inside the boots
Slide down the calves
Zones of fluffiness developed around the ankles
Can be a bit warm
This concludes my Test Report. Many thanks to BackpackGearTest.org and to Feetures for the opportunity to test the Feetures Bamboo & Wool Medium Cushion hiking socks.
Read more reviews of Feetures gear
Read more gear reviews by Sophie Pearson