Fox River X-STATIC Liner Socks
By Raymond Estrella
October 23, 2006
Orange County, 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 Jenn or brother-in-law Dave.
Manufacturer: Fox River Mills
Web site: www.foxsox.com
Product: X-STATIC liner
Item number: 4101
Year manufactured: 2003-05
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: Silver (Also available in black.)
Weight (measured): 1 oz (29 g)
Warranty (from hang tag): One year guarantee against manufacturing defects.
The Fox River X-STATIC liner sock (hereafter called the sock) is a backpacking sock that would leave a miner shouting “Eureka!” Not because they struck gold but rather silver. That is because of the 19% X-STATIC silver impregnated fiber that is woven into them. (The remainder of the material is made up of 60% polypropylene, 20% nylon, and 1% Lycra spandex.)
Here is the company spiel about the material. (I will address it later.) “X-STATIC socks use X-STATIC silver-coated nylon—a natural antimicrobial. Fox River was the first sport-specific sock manufacturer to use X-STATIC fiber. Socks with X-STATIC help eliminate foot odor (even after wearing a few days without washing); inhibit foot bacteria and fungi, and transfer heat away from the foot. (Silver is the most conductive element; in fact, the hotter feet get, the better X-STATIC socks perform.) X-STATIC socks continue to be effective wash-after-wash. X-STATIC is permanent and washing actually enhances the antimicrobial and therapeutic performance of the socks—because water releases more silver ions (water is a catalyst). That’s why it works so well on perspiring feet!”
The company makes them in an over-the-calf model but all of mine are the mid height model.
The body of the sock is woven with a kind of coarse weave; it looks like it has a square pattern to it. The inside of this material is darker than the outside. When looking at the outside with a magnifying glass I can see some silver sparkling through the threads. Turning it inside out and looking at it with the glass reveals more sparkle than a Rap concert.
It does not feel like it has two layers, i.e. the layers do not slide past each other, but the sock definitely has a pattern change. Under the magnifying glass I can see that every third row of weave has a silver thread. (See what I have become? A sock thread investigator.) This is the X-STATIC fiber.
The material composition changes in the heel and toe area of the socks. I can see no silver fiber in these areas. But it does become much denser. Looking through the glass, my guess is that the thread count triples in these areas. That should help immensely with wear.
At the top of the sock is a 1.5 in (38 mm) elasticized cuff that is much thicker than the rest of the sock. Inspection shows silver threads in this as well. The top of the cuff is finished with the same material as the heel and toes, I believe to give it added strength and to forestall excess unraveling.
The manufacturer says that it has a “smooth, flat toes seam.” But that is not the case. Instead of flat sewing it (where the material is over-lapped then sewn), they have used the standard folded technique and used a very small serge stitch on it. (Yeah I took Home-Ec in High School. So…?) From the outside it is very flat looking but from the inside it is quite noticeable. That said it is not uncomfortable when worn.
The hang tag recommends washing them inside out in warm water and tumble drying on low. (I always air dry them.)
Because I have been using only this brand of liner sock for the past three years I can say for a certainty that I have over 1,400 miles (2,254 km) logged to date on these socks. They have been east to Minnesota, north to Mount Shasta, south near San Diego and west right here in Huntington Beach California.
They have been on my feet as high as 14,496’ (4,418 m) elevation at Mount Whitney and as low as 200’ below sea level (-61 m) in Death Valley. They have encompassed my feet in temperatures as low as 10 F (-12 C) at Mount San Jacinto and a high of 118 F (48 C) in the Kern Canyon. Any trail condition imaginable has most likely been encountered while wearing these liners. Snow, swamps, mud, dirt, rock, talus, pine duff, scree, sand and even black-top roads coming out of Death Valley.
They have been worn with at least ten different pairs of boots including the Lowa, Merrell, and Asolo boots I have written about for BackpackGearTest.org. They have even been worn alone in ski boots.
I have been using liner socks since 1978, the year that I switched from cotton to wool socks. At first I used the liner socks to protect my feet and ankles from the rough, coarse, horribly itchy wool socks that were available to me at the time. After I started using them I found how well they worked to cut down on the incidence of blisters, which I am prone to at the backs of my heels. I have used just about every type and material of liner sock by most of the various manufacturers.
This report was created with the BackpackGearTest.org Report Writer Version 1.
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While silk makes a very nice liner it is expensive and had durability issues for me. Mainly because of the laundering skills I employ. (Poor skills I must admit.) I have used synthetic liners of all varieties, most with pretty good success. I did melt a few of them in the dryer. The one thing they all fell short on was the funk-factor. They would make my feet smell and some of them would not let it go even after washing.
I saw the Fox River X-STATIC liners in 2003 and bought a couple pair of them. I soon bought four pair more and, until the pair I just bought to take these pictures, have been using these six pairs year ‘round for the past three years.
These liners wick sweat away from my feet as well as any liners I have used in the past. The hydrophobic wicking action even worked when I got leaks in the GORE-TEX of my hiking boots on a spring snow trip leading to very wet feet. When I took off my boots the Smartwool outer socks were soaked in the front and the X-STATIC socks were just wet, not dripping. The fabric, while feeling coarse to the touch, does not feel rough on my feet.
They have proven to be quite durable too. I wash them with everything else in warm water on normal setting with regular laundry detergent. I do try to get them out to air dry them but they have gone through the dryer a few times with no discernible effects. I take two pair of the liners with me on long backpacking trips. At the end of the day I rinse out the pair that I hiked in. I wring most of the water out then fling the socks for a little high velocity water removal. Despite this abuse they still are in very good shape. I put on the clean pair when I crawl into my sleeping bag. The washed pair will usually dry overnight, but a couple of times in below freezing weather I had to clip them on the outside of my pack to dry while putting the day’s miles under my boots.
The best thing about the socks and the reason that they have replaced all others for me is the silver component of the X-STATIC fabric. It works like advertised. I have never noticed a bad-boot day while wearing these socks. It cuts out the foot funk-factor from my hikes.
I do not know if the claims of aiding in heat transfer are borne out or not. As I do a lot of hot weather hiking in southern California my feet are hot no matter what I am wearing. As I have read articles about the technology that seem to back up the marketing prose I will take them at face value and say that it probably does work. As most of the silver thread is on the inside it does make sense that they should transfer heat through the metal to the outside of the sock.
All in all I have been extremely satisfied with these liner socks and see no reason to change. I see myself wearing these on every hike for the foreseeable future.
Pros: Cuts out foot smell, cuts down on blisters due to abrasion, wicks sweat and moisture away from feet, aids in heat transfer (claimed).
Cons: More expensive than other liners.
Read more reviews of Fox River Mills gear
Read more gear reviews by Ray Estrella