Fox River Organic Crew Socks
Test Series by Raymond Estrella
January 22, 2008
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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 wife or brother-in-law Dave.
Manufacturer: Fox River Mills
Web site: www.foxsox.com
Product: Organic Crew
Year manufactured: 2007
MSRP: $15.49 (US)
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: Rope (Also available in Sagebrush and Terra Brown)
Weight (measured): 2.6 oz (74 g)
I received one pair of the Fox River Organic Crew socks (hereafter called the Crew). They came in a retail package which is printed on inside and out with information about the socks in three languages.
In viewing the socks on the manufacturer's website I saw that they are called a medium-weight sock for backpacking. But the sock I received feels like a light-weight sock to me. As such I will use it with my GoLite Sun Dragon shoes instead of my heavy boots.
The Crews are made of 70% organic merino wool, 28% nylon, and 2% spandex. When I first saw the socks I wondered why they would name them Organic Crew when they are one third synthetic material. The name comes from a few things it seems, ranching practices and ways of finishing. I will not go into it here.
The fabric feels wonderful, very soft and no itchiness whatsoever. The heel, toe and bottom have added loops of material to create a cushioned area. These may be seen in the picture above on the sock that is turned inside out. The toe has a very flat seam. I can not feel it at all. A large panel on the top of the sock is woven with a course weave that Fox River calls a "mesh foot vent", to allow increased breathability.
The eight inch (20.3 cm) high upper is very thin and quite open. I expect that it should breathe very well. A 7/8 in (2.2 cm) band at the very top is thicker and has extra elastic in it to help keep the socks from sliding down.
On one side of the body of the Crews the Fox River name and fox-head logo have been woven in with the fabric. On the other side is the name Organic. The quality seems to be very high. I can find no irregularity in the weave, and there are no loose threads.
The recommended care instructions are as follows; machine wash warm, inside out. Use no bleach. Tumble dry low. I can do that! As I only have one pair I will rinse them out while out the trail and dry them over a bush at night when backpacking.
This completes my Initial Review of the Organic Crew socks. The following reflects the first two months of use.
I wore the Organic Crew socks on a three-day backpacking trip in the John Muir Wilderness in the eastern Sierra Nevada range in California. The temperatures ranged from freezing to 70 F (21 C), elevations ranged from 7800' to 11800' (2380 to 3600 m). Terrain consisted of dirt and exposed rock at the lower elevations and snow and ice up high. The socks were used with Lowa Vertex GTX boots with a liner sock for one 27 mile (43 km) day and my GoLite Sun Dragon trail runners without a liner for 18 miles (29 km) of another day. My pack weight at the start of the trip was 23 lb (10.4 kg).
I wore them with the GoLite Sun Dragons again in Hawaii for a couple of our day hikes there. Temperatures were from 84 to 76 F (29 - 24 C), high humidity and lots of rain. Trails varied between black-top, scraped lava, crushed and packed lava rock, dirt and mud. Off trail terrain was either on lava or in mud.
I used them for the first day of a two-day hike along the Pacific Crest Trail (PCT) from Snow Creek road north to the Whitewater River, in the desert near Palm Springs California. The temps were low of 44 and up to 79 F (7 to 26 C). Again the Sun Dragons were the shoe worn with them.
I used them with some GoLite Trail Fly trail runners in Minnesota for day hiking at Buffalo River State Park and walking on dirt farm roads in the country.
As I noted in my Initial Report the Organic Crew socks are quite thin to be called a medium weight sock in my opinion. I wore them with boots for one day of the three-day Sierra trip and did not like the feel of them at my ankles. I felt like I had to tighten my boots more than I like. The liner sock helped a bit. The bottom of the socks felt fine with the boots though. I had no blisters or hot spots with them.
The day of use with the trail runners on that trip was much better. I did not wear a liner sock but they seemed to wick quite well. The shoes I wore them with are very well ventilated as the body is mostly mesh. I did not have any problems with the socks bunching nor did I get any blisters. They did get very dirty from the mesh letting everything into the socks. When snow forced me to put my boots back on I switched to a pair of clean heavier wool socks.
The open weave on the top of the foot works very well with the two pairs of GoLite trail runners that I own. They have a mesh top also so my foot was able to breathe better than with any sock/shoe combination I have used in the past. The trade off of course is that dirt goes right through to my foot. My feet were filthy after a day hiking through the desert on the PCT. I had to switch to some other socks the next day.
The combination worked great in Hawaii as the trails there were not very dirty as the almost daily rain keeps the dust down. My feet got wet there a few times but the open weave let my own body heat drive the moisture out of the sock and shoes.
The socks have shown quite a bit of pilling. They are not showing any other signs of wear though. I have been washing them like normal and see no signs of shrinkage.
I am sorry to say it but I have not had many opportunities to wear the Organic Crews on backpacking trips. Winter is here and they just do not work for wearing in snow with big boots. They are not meant to be used that way either.
I have worn them on a couple of local day hikes. These were to O'Neil regional park with GoLite Trail Fly shoes and carrying a 7 lb (3.2 kg) pack. Temps were cool at 57 F (14 C) and the trails were packed sand and rock.
I have used them about five times on the beach walking path. This is black-top and of course quite level. Temps have been around 65 F (18 C) and I wore New Balance trail runners (three models) with them on those walks.
All told, I have put at least 130 miles on the Organic Crews.
I have grown to like the ventilation of the Organic Crews. I am a very hot blooded person and sweat a lot if I am pushing hard. My nature makes sure that I push hard most of the time. Even though I did not get much hiking with the Crews because I knew that I could not get the use I wanted to with them made me use them for my beach walks. (I average well over 1000 miles [1600 km] per year walking on streets, nature paths and the beach path.)
I did not like wearing the high top socks. That is the reason I have not been wearing them for this use sooner. (And the fact that I was able to take them hiking, which testing is supposed to be all about.) I much prefer a low top or quarter sock for this kind of fast pace walking. And I do mean fast. I average 4 mph (6.4 km/h) when walking on controlled surfaces with no weight. My walks go a minimum of four miles to the occasional high of 12 miles (8 to 19 km). So my feet normally dampen my socks by the end of the walk.
The difference when wearing the Organic Crews was very noticeable. I just wrote up my favorite walking sock and said that the Organic Crew was the only sock that beat it in the breathability department.
And it has done wonderful as far as odor. I have noticed no problems there, but since I wear them with shoes that are very breathable that may be a bit misleading.
The durability has been OK. The pilling has been pretty bad, but no holes have developed. I have washed and dried them as recommended and think that the pilling has been from wearing, not washing. Here is a picture of one of the socks showing the pilling.
I feel that they are a good light-weight sock for hot weather and shoes ranging from trail-runners to light mid-height hikers. I see that they make this in a quarter sock now and will probably try that model next summer.
I would like to thank Fox River Mills and BackpackGearTest for letting me test these socks.
This report was created with the BackpackGearTest.org Report Writer Version 1.
Copyright 2008. All rights reserved.
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