Fox River Wick Dry Explorer
By Raymond Estrella
December 20, 2007
Huntington Beach California USA
6' 3" (1.91 m)
200 lb (90.70 kg)
I have been backpacking for over 30 years, all over California, and in many of the western states and Minnesota. I hike year-round, and average 500+ miles (800+ km) per year. I have made a move to lightweight gear, and smaller volume packs. I start early and hike hard so as to enjoy the afternoons exploring. I usually take a freestanding tent and enjoy hot meals at night. If not hiking solo I am usually with my brother-in-law Dave or fiancée Jenn.
Manufacturer: Fox River Mills
Web site: www.foxsox.com
Product: Wick Dry Explorer heavy weight crew
Item number: 2362
Year manufactured: 2004-07
MSRP: US $9.99 (Fox River direct price)
Size reviewed: Large (Men's 9 - 12.5 Women's 10.5 - 12.5 US)
Other sizes available: Small, Medium and Extra Large
Color reviewed: Grey (Also available in Navy, Olive and Khaki.)
Weight (measured): 4.1 oz (116 g)
Warranty (from hang tag): One year guarantee against manufacturing defects.
The Fox River Wick Dry Explorer heavy weight Crew (hereafter called the Explorer or the sock) is a heavy weight sock meant for use in both cold and hot climates. I backpack in both and everything in between.
These 60% acrylic, 20% worsted wool, 19% stretch nylon and 1% spandex socks are made using the company's Wick Dry Health System. To quote them, it "is designed to help keep feet dry and comfortable, no matter what the temperature. This system combines an inner layer of moisture-repelling (hydrophobic) yarn with an outer layer of moisture-attracting (hydrophilic) yarn to wick moisture away from feet."
They seem to have the wool on the outside which makes sense as in my experience wool is stronger than synthetic fibers and is more absorbent. It is the grey colored threads as seen in the picture below.
This puts the better wicking hydrophobic acrylic fibers inside next to my foot. They are comprised of soft loops of material reminiscent of terry-cloth but much softer feeling. It can be seen in the picture below of the sock turned inside out.
The Explorer has a thickened area on the bottom of the sock to add cushioning. It is darker than the rest of the sock body. The toe and heel have been reinforced to add durability and longevity to the Explorers.
The cuff atop the 7 in (17.8 cm) high leg is ridged vertically and has added Spandex in it to assist keeping it in place and fight sagging.
The following is the Care Instructions for the Explorers: 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.
The Explorer socks have been used in the following places, all in the winter or early spring months.
In California I have used them at elevations ranging from 7,000' to 13,300' (2,100 to 4,000 m). The temperatures seen on these trips were in the teens to twenties F (-9 to -4 C) as a norm, but saw near 0 F (-18 C) on occasions. I do most of my winter hiking in the Sierra Nevada and White mountains, along with local stuff in the Mount San Jacinto and San Gorgonio areas. But I also used them on Mount Shasta where it was a balmy 13 F (-10.5 C) in June. Most trips involved snow and/or ice travel. They have been worn with Koflach plastic-double mountaineering boots, leather La Sportiva mountaineering boots and Gore-Tex lined Lowa hiking boots.
They have been used in Minnesota for everyday winter use and both backpacking and snowshoeing trips in Gore-Tex lined Asolo hiking boots and Columbia Bugaboo 2 pac boots. Temps there got down below -20 F (-29 C).
They have been used a few times in Utah hiking and snowshoeing in the mountains near Salt Lake City. The lowest temps we were in there was 5 F (-15 C) on lots of snow.
I have five pairs of the Explorer Wick Dry socks in my drawers right now. I have been using them since 2003 or 2004. With the most use occurring in 2004 and 2005. (Since then I have added another sock to the mix, so it splits trail days.)
This report was created with the BackpackGearTest.org Report Writer Version 1.
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They are very comfortable and warm socks. I always wear Fox River's X-Static liner socks (see review) with them while hiking, but wear them sans liner in the pac boots. I have never experienced a blister wearing them with hiking boots or the pac boots. But I have got blisters in the mountaineering boots, mostly the leather ones. It is more a case of unyielding boots on long approaches rather than any shortcoming of the socks.
They have proven to be some of the least pilling socks I have owned. Most of my other socks pill to some degree but the Explorers show none with any of them. I think it is because the weave is pretty tight on the outer surface of the socks.
If there is a down side to the Explorers it is in the foot odor department. There is not enough wool in them in my opinion to have the natural odor fighting properties overcome the poor properties of synthetic fibers. After a hard day with my feet encapsulated by plastic doubles I did not enjoy the results.
All told I find the Fox River Explorers very good socks, especially considering the price point and the durability.
Read more reviews of Fox River Mills gear
Read more gear reviews by Ray Estrella