Fox River Country Crew
Initial Report - September 27, 2007
Field Report - December 9, 2007
Long Term Report - January 20, 2007
Name: Jason Boyle
Height: 5' 6"/ 1.68 m
Weight: 180 lb/ 82 kg
Email address: c4jc "at" hotmail "dot" com
City, State, Country: Snoqualmie, Washington, U. S.
I have been camping and backpacking for about 19 years. My introduction to the outdoors started with the Boy Scouts of America and has continued as an adult. I have hiked mostly in the Southeastern and Northeastern United States. I am generally a lightweight hiker, but will carry extras to keep me comfortable. I currently reside in the Pacific Northwest and spend most of my time hiking and backpacking in the Alpine Lakes Wilderness, but I can be found exploring the other wild areas of Washington!
Initial Report – September 27, 2007
Manufacturer: Fox River Mills
Model: Country Crew, style 2288
Size: Received Men’s Large 9-12.5 US
Color: Received Charcoal, Also available in Basil and Grey.
Listed weight: None Listed
Measured weight: 2 oz/ 57 g, size large
Fabric Content: 65% Ingeo™ PLA, 33% nylon, 2% spandex
Year of Manufacture: 2007
MSRP: $12.99 per pair
Country of Manufacture: Made in USA
The socks use a bio fiber called Ingeo™. To quote the Fox River website “Ingeo™ fiber is the first man-made fiber derived from 100% natural, annually renewable resources like corn.” However, except for the packaging, I could not tell that the socks were any different from other socks I have in my sock drawer.
The socks have mesh foot vents down each side and over the top of the foot, a cushioned sole, a lycra arch, and a smooth flat toe seam. The manufacturer claims they used a Wick Dry® construction where they put a water repelling layer of yarn against the skin and a water attracting layer yarn on the outside of the sock to pull moisture away from feet.
These socks are really intriguing. If it weren’t for the packaging I don’t think I could tell them apart from the other outdoor socks I have in my drawer. I was surprised to find that they are very soft and cushiony to the touch. I can see the mesh vent and lycra arch by the different designs in the sock. I find that visually appealing.
I tried on the socks and the feel quite comfortable and a little loose. I am at the bottom end of the size range for these socks. If I line up the heel pocket where it should be the socks are a little loose. If I pull the socks tight, the way that I think they should fit, I have an extra bit of fabric left over. This is one area that I will watch during the test period to see if this extra fabric becomes an issue.
I am very interested to see how this sock performs especially with regards to smell and durability. After a couple of hours on the trail my feet generate a lot of sweat and most socks begin to smell. I am curious how the Ingeo™ fabric will handle the sweat and smell? I am also pretty hard on sock from a wear and durability standpoint. In addition to hiking, I run endurance trail races. What will the sole of the sock look like after a hundred miles or so? These are just a few of the things that I will be looking at over the next four months.
Field Report December 9, 2007
So far I have been very happy with these socks. I am actually surprised that they have held up so well over the past two months. I have had no durability problems with the socks and other than them being a bit too big they have performed very well.
I have used the Fox River Country Crew socks on 5 trips over the past 2 months. I used them on one overnight backpacking trip, two multi–night backpacking trips, one car camping trip and one really long day hike. All of these trips took place in the Alpine Lakes Wilderness of the Mt Baker – Snoqualmie National Forest in Washington, except for the day hike which took place in the Mark O. Hatfield Wilderness in the Mt. Hood National Forest in Oregon. Elevation has ranged from sea level to 7700’ (2350 m), temperatures were from 50 F to 18 F (10 C to -8 C) and I experienced steady rain and light snow on my trips. In addition to my hiking and backpacking trips, I have used the socks while trail and road running. I have put almost 100 miles (160 kilometers) on the socks. I have worn the socks with the following pairs of shoes/boots - Aku Unica Mid XCR (Lightweight boots), Montrail Cirrus XCR (LB), Nike Teocalli's (Trail Runner), Nike Scrambles (TR), Keen Shellrock WP (TR), Danner Exo Edge DXT (TR), Kayland Apex Trek (Mountaineering Boots), and a pair of Vasque Sundowner Summit GTX (Full Leather Boots).
Over all I am very pleased with the socks. I have used a pair of bio fiber socks in the past and had a bad experience with them so I expected to have a similar experience with the Country Crew. However, that has not been the case. I have found the socks to be very durable and have put almost 100 miles (160 kilometers) on them and they still look new. I tend to wear socks in the heel and under the ball of my foot, but the socks don’t show any wear in either of those places. The elastic in the cuff is still taut, actually too taut because the cuff won’t stretch enough to fit over my calves very well. After multiple washings the socks have not started pilling either.
The socks only fit me ok. Since I am at the bottom end of the range for the large size socks I received there is a significant amount of fabric that bunches up when I pull them tight but not so much fabric that it is a problem. Even though the fit isn’t perfect, I did not get any blisters while wearing these socks and they are very comfortable. In Oregon, I did a 26 mile (42 km) “day hike” and the socks were great the entire time. On longer hikes like that one I usually change socks mid way through as I sweat a lot and the socks get wet and nasty. New socks always make my feet feel better, but I never felt the need to change even though some of my hiking partners changed their socks.
Another area I was concerned with was smell. My feet sweat a lot in all temperatures and I wondered how the bio fiber would handle the stench and I am glad to report that they handled the stench very well. For the most part the socks never smelled overwhelmingly bad; rather they smelled neutral most of the time. I would like to see how they do after a week of constant use in the summer, but since winter is in full swing that is not likely to happen during this test period.
Long Term Report – January 20, 2008
I used the socks on four additional trips since my Field Report – a day hike, a snow shoeing day trip, an overnight backpacking trip and a cross country ski trip. All trips took place in the Mt. Baker – Snoqualmie National Forest mostly inside the Alpine Lakes Wilderness. Temperatures ranged from 32 F to 22 F (0 C to -5 C) and I experienced steady snow on my overnight trip, and elevations ranged from 1000’ to 3800’ (305 m to 1158 m).
The socks continued to work well on the last four trips that I was able to use them. No problems with blisters, and they remained comfortable even in some colder temperatures. However after my last washing, I noticed that they had basically begun to fall apart. The outer layer of fabric separated from the inner layer of fabric leaving just the sheer inner layer of fabric between my foot and my footwear. The picture below shows the areas where the fabric came apart.
I am pretty disappointed with this result. I have only put 116 miles (187 km) on these socks and I didn’t see the damage on the socks until I took them out of the dryer this last time. I am not sure whether the damage came during washing or while hiking, though I tend to lean towards the damage coming during washing. There are no special instructions for washing. Their website says – "For best results, wash in warm water. Turn inside out to reduce pilling. No bleach. Hang dry, or tumble dry on low or no heat. This how I wash all my clothes so no issues there from my end. I guess it is back to the drawing board for Fox River and these eco friendly socks. Thanks to Backpackgeartest.org and Fox River Mills for the opportunity to participate in this test.
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Read more gear reviews by Jason Boyle