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Reviews > Clothing > Socks > Ibex Harper Socks > Owner Review by Richard Lyon

Owner Review by Richard Lyon
May 10, 2020


Male, 73 years old  
Height: 6' 3" [1.91 m]
Weight: 210 lb [(93 kg])
Shoe size: Men's 13 US/47 EUR
Email address: Montana DOT angler AT gmail DOT com
Home: Outside Bozeman, Montana USA, in the Bridger Mountains

I've been backpacking for more than half a century, most often in the Rockies. I do at least one weeklong trip every summer, and often take three-day trips.  I'm usually camping in alpine terrain, at altitudes 5000 to 10000 ft (1500 - 3000 m).  I prefer base camp backpacking, a long hike in with day trips from camp.  Though always looking for ways to reduce my pack weight, I still tend to include my favorite camp conveniences. I always sleep in a floored tent and like hot meals. Winter backcountry trips are often planned around skiing opportunities.


The best news first - Ibex is back in business. This company, started in the late 1990s, closed up shop a few years back with a promise to return. Late last year it kept that promise, with much reduced categories and numbers of products on offer. At this writing all the current offerings are athletically related: baselayers, sweaters, a hoodie or two, and socks. Merino wool remains the featured fabric. Currently all business is direct to consumers through the website.

I was a big fan of the original Ibex, evidenced by a number of Tests and Owner Reviews on this site and at least a dozen pieces in my closet. Here's hoping the resurrected Ibex takes off!


Ibex1The Harper Sock, also called the Heritage Classic, is an intricately patterned " mixed textural stitch knee sock" made of 75% merino, 23% nylon, and 2% Spandex. Ibex says it's for wearing with tall boots.

Manufacturer: Ibex Outdoor Clothing
Size: Large; also available in Medium. Size chart for men and women on the website.
Color: Birch [off white]. Also available in Stone Gray Heather.
Leg height: listed, 16 in [41 cm]; measured, 15.5 in [39 cm]
Weight, measured: 3.1 oz [88 g] per pair, size Large
Year purchased: 2019
MSRP: $30 US
Warranty: 100-day return and exchange policy. Covers only unused and unwashed returns; "You’re more than welcome to try on the gear at home and decide if you like the gear, if not, then the gear is still returnable." Contact Ibex about manufacturing or quality defects.


Though conditions were unpredictable - a cold October, wet November, dry December, etc. - this past winter's temperatures were not abnormal for the Northern Rockies, from -20 to 50 F [-29 to 10 C]. Most use was in temperatures from 0-20 F [-17 to -6 C], in varied but unexceptional winter weather - cold clear days, heavy snow, snow showers, overcast, and ground fog. I always wore these socks alone [no liner sock] and almost always when wearing long merino baselayer bottoms. Outer footwear were plastic telemark ski boots, leather Nordic ski boots, low- and medium-cut trail runners, or shearling-lined apres-ski boots. On dog walks I wore sweatpants or everyday trousers; on all other occasions I wore some type of waterproof or water-resistant pants.

I like hiking in over-the-calf socks. Weather permitting, I prefer shorts to trousers, and I regularly wear heavyweight socks even in summer for a better and safer fit for my narrow ankles. Since my longtime favorite source  discontinued the socks I've been wearing for years I have been constantly on the lookout for knee-highs tough enough for hiking and backpacking. Did Ibex come through?

In many ways it did. The Harpers are well-made, durable, form-holding, and warm socks well suited to winter athletics. Fit at the foot is good even though I'm at the upper range of Ibex's size chart. In fact the fit is nearly perfect for me. With my heel in the heel cup the body of each sock extends to my toes with no extra fabric behind the heel or past the toes. The Nylon and Spandex stretch enough for a great fit on a big guy's big feet. While the cuffs do not quite fit over the calf, they are high enough to give me the protection from sun and briars that prompt me to choose high socks for summer hiking.

But they don't stay up for extended periods. If I care about it I must tug them up every 15-30 minutes or so. My limited engineering skills prevent my attributing this to inadequate length, inadequate grippiness in the fabric, or something else. Regardless, I haven't found my new summer hiking socks. [This may be my own fault for not measuring 16 inches (41 cm) up from my ankle.]

That does not mean I don't like or don't use the Harpers. The socks' not staying up hasn't been a big deal this past winter and spring, when the conditions prevented hiking in shorts. The over-the-calf maintenance is neither noticed nor needed when skiing, as I'm always wearing both a full-length baselayer under and some trousers over them. Lengthwise they top any of the ski boots I wear and as discussed below wicking and warmth are excellent. Same goes for snowshoe or traction-aided winter hiking - any hiking, really, when I wear long trousers. It's just that I haven't yet found my new dream socks.

These socks wick very well. Certainly they have never been soggy when I changed out of my hiking or ski boots, and my feet have never felt clammy or overheated. Though thin by my standards they have kept my feet warm in some miserable conditions. I've found them particularly functional when resort skiing. With heavy ski boots, in my case telemark boots, thinner socks facilitate the edge-to-edge responsiveness needed for rapid turns on steep slopes or in the trees. With the Harpers I got the edge without sacrificing much warmth.

I've washed the socks about a dozen times, following my longtime habit of combining all wool and synthetic washables in a single load in my top-loading no-agitator washer. I use a detergent-free soap and wash on the cold water cycle, sometimes with an extra rinse. Socks are dried on medium in the dryer. The socks have held their shape and haven't lost a stitch or their original color.


Well-made, warm, and durable socks
The pattern
Excellent fit at the foot


Not suitable as knee socks for summer

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Reviews > Clothing > Socks > Ibex Harper Socks > Owner Review by Richard Lyon

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