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Reviews > Clothing > Socks > Lorpen Stalker Socks > Test Report by Mark Thompson

LORPEN STALKER
TEST SERIES BY MARK THOMPSON
LONG-TERM REPORT
August 10, 2011

CLICK HERE TO SKIP TO THE FIELD REPORT
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TESTER INFORMATION

NAME: Mark Thompson
EMAIL: markthompson 242 at gmail dot com
AGE: 47
LOCATION: Parker, CO
GENDER: M
HEIGHT: 6' 0" (2.10 m)
WEIGHT: 190 lb (86.20 kg)
SHOE SIZE (US/EUR): Men's 11/45-46

Outdoor adventures started for me at an early age, my passions have grown to include backpacking, rock climbing, hiking, hunting, fishing, canoeing, cycling, skiing and snowshoeing. Most of my adventures presently take place in Colorado's amazing Rocky Mountains. For trail hikes, my pack typically weighs 15 lbs/6.8 kg (summer/fall), 25 lbs/11.3 kg (winter/spring) and trail speed usually ranges from 2.5 - 3.8 mph (4.0 - 6.1 kph) depending on elevation gain. For multi-night backpack trips, my pack weighs 40 - 45 lbs (18 - 20 kg) and my trail speed drops to 1.5 - 3.0 mph (2.4 - 4.8 kph).


INITIAL REPORT

PRODUCT INFORMATION & SPECIFICATIONS

Manufacturer: Lorpen
Year of Manufacture: 2011
Manufacturer's Website: http://www.lorpen.com
MSRP: US$ not available
Listed Weight: N/A
Measured Weight: 3.8 oz (108 g)
Size: Large
Color: Deep Forest
Composition:
40% Lyocell
40% Merino
10% Nylon
10% Lycra

IMAGE 1

INITIAL IMPRESSIONS

The Lorpen Stalker Socks are neatly packaged using what appears to be fully recyclable materials and arrived in showroom condition. Certainly, the intended market for these socks is the hunting community:
- the packaging background is a forest digital camouflage and in the upper corner is an outline of a buck.
- on the back of the package, Lorpen clearly identifies the "Stalker" as part of their "Hunt collection" and touts their odor and scent elimination technology for the purpose of improving "performance on any hunt."

After removing the socks from the packaging, I was quite impressed with several features, including:
- Construction: the socks appear to be of high quality with no noticeable stray stitching or threads on the exterior and only in expected locations on the interior.
- Fit: I tried on the socks and they fit well. The manufacturer's size rating is from US Men's 10 to 12.5. I wear a size 11, so right in the middle of their range. The socks fit just right, not too tight, not too loose. The heel was comfortable and there was sufficient room for my toes. The socks came up comfortably to the middle of my calf.
- The toe and heel section appear to be reinforced and made with two fitting seams in front and one in back.
- The upper part of the sock is made with an offset pattern that appears to be intended to provide some abrasion resistance that will protect my shins from rubbing on the front of my boots.

TRYING IT OUT

So, after walking around the house a bit, I decided to jump right in and put these socks to the test. I went on a 10 mile (16.1 km) hike in Rocky Mountain National Park wearing my new (first time out) mountaineering boots. Mountaineering boots are notorious for being stiff and taking a fair amount of break -in time. The socks were comfortable throughout the day, and true to claim, they didn't have any noticeable odor.

SUMMARY

I am quite pleased with the quality, appearance and fit of these socks. They have more features than expected (padded shins, fitted toes and heels). I sincerely look forward to testing this product and thank Lorpen for selecting BackpackGearTest.com to perform this test.


FIELD REPORT

FIELD LOCATIONS AND CONDITIONS

I tested the Lorpen Stalker Socks in a variety of locations along the "Front Range" of the Colorado Rocky Mountains. The test conditions included:

Elevation: 5,000 to 13,000 feet (1,524 to 3,962 m)
Terrain: Gently rolling to snow/ice climbing to Class 5.4 rock climbing
Total Distance Covered during test: 43.3 miles (14.5 km)
Total Elapsed Time during test: 83 hours
Footwear: Mountaineering Boots
Weather: The weather in Colorado covers a wide range, from very cold, windy and snowing to bright, sunny and beautiful. Throughout the test period, I encountered temperatures from 18 to 75 deg F (-8 to 24 deg C), lots of snow, some wind but no rain.

IMAGE 1
This photo is provided to show some of the conditions in which I tested these socks.

For those engineers (and others that are just simply curious) I have included my notes from each field test as an addendum after the summary.

PERFORMANCE IN THE FIELD

I have been most pleased with the performance of these socks. Despite the near constant use in mountaineering boots, these socks have shown no significant wear. The overall thickness of the socks has decreased, but this does not seem to have diminished their strength, warmth or comfort.

The socks have performed well in cool and colder temperatures (as noted in my addendum) keeping my feet warm and effectively wicking moisture away from my skin. They don't seem to be as cool in warm weather as traditional wool socks.

As any good hunter would do, I have faithfully washed these socks in a laundry detergent that does not contain perfumes, water softeners or common fillers. My wife discovered this soap at a natural food store and brought it home to support my hunting endeavors. During the use of the first container, we both found that we preferred this product over other detergents and have since been using it for all of our washing needs. Although this Field Report is not about a particular laundry detergent, it is important to note that water softeners and fragrances do have an effect on hunting and other specialty gear. Additionally, these socks are intended to be used to reduce human odor while in the pursuit of wild game and thus, how the product is cared for can have a significant impact on test results.

SUMMARY

The Lorpen Stalker socks have certainly met the challenges of this test head on and have earned my respect. Although the test is not complete, these socks have become my "go to" socks for my winter adventures. Other than my attempt to use the socks with a pair of liner socks, these have stayed comfortably in place, without slipping down my legs or bunching up in my boots.

I have, as noted in my field location and conditions section, experienced some warm weather conditions. The socks remained very comfortable, but my feet became soaked with perspiration. So far, these have been great cool/cold weather socks!

Pros:
- the socks have kept my feet comfortably warm in cool and cold weather situations
- the socks do a much better job controling odor than any other sock I have ever worn

Cons:
- too warm in warm weather
- don't play nice with liner socks

Thanks to Lorpen and BackpackGearTest.org for the opportunity to these fine socks!

Addendum: Test Event Notes and Details

The following provides specific details regarding each test event.

Rocky Mountain National Park
Date: 19 March 2011
Elevation: 8,900' (2,713 m)
Terrain: Steady 5% grade, snow
Distance: 9 miles (14.5 km)
Footwear: Mountaineering Boots
Weather: Sunny and cool: 24 to 42 deg F (-4 to 6 deg C) moderate wind: 10 - 20 mph (16 - 32 kph)
Sock Performance: The socks were warm and kept my feet comfortable throughout the day. This was the first time I wore these new mountaineering boots so I was pleasantly surprised that I did not suffer from any blisters!

Pike National Forrest - Deckers Quad
Date: 26 March 2011
Elevation: 7,500' (2,286 m)
Terrain: Rolling hills, some steep, one section was Class 4
Distance: Total: 9.5 miles (15.3 km), including 3 miles (4.83 km) on trail, 5 miles (8.1 km) cross country, 1.5 miles (2.4 km) asphalt road
Footwear: Mountaineering Boots
Time inclusive: 9.5 hours
Weather: 38 deg F (3 deg C) at start, warming to near 70 deg F (21 deg C). Sunny with little wind
Sock Performance: The socks kept my feet comfortably warm in the morning and were actually fairly effective in maintaining a comfortable temperature throughout a significant temperature shift. My feet obviously perspired, but did not get uncomfortably hot or wet. The socks did not bunch up or cause any rubbing or hot spots. I sniff checked the socks at the end of the hike, there was a slight odor but certainly much better than any other socks I have used. I normally have to plug my nose when I take off my boots and socks. However, with the Lorpen Stalker Socks, I actually had to get them right up to my nose to catch a slight odor. I did notice, however, a fair amount of lint on my feet at the end of the day, much more than I normally have with other socks.

Arapaho National Forest Conifer Quad
Date: 9 April 2011
Elevation: 8,200' (2,499 m)
Terrain: Rolling hills then rock exercises - Class 5.0 to 5.2
Distance Traveled: 2 miles (3.2 km) on trail, several ascents / descents on Class 5.0 to 5.2 rock.
Footwear: Mountaineering Boots and thin liner sock
Time inclusive: 10 hours
Weather: 36 deg F (2 deg C) at start, warming to low 60's deg F (15 deg C). Mostly sunny with clouds rolling in mid-afternoon.
Sock Performance:
- Today I tried a very thin liner sock with the Lorpen Stalkers. I did this for three reasons; to attempt to increase insulation/warmth, test the sock's performance in likely be a winter setup and to address the significant amount of lint that I encountered on my last outing
- I noticed that the liner socks did help pull perspiration away from my feet, but it also caused the socks to bunch up. My feet were comfortable throughout the day and the liner socks prevented the lint build up on my feet. The level of exertion today was much less than last week so the amount of perspiration was significantly less. The socks exhibited no noticeable odor after today's adventure.

Castlewood Canyon State Park
Date: 16 Apr 2011
Elevation: 6,200' (1,890 m)
Terrain: Up hill to rock wall - Class 5.9+, repelling and ascending the rope exercises
Distance Traveled: 2 miles (3.2 km) on mountaineer's trail, several ascents / descents
Footwear: Mountaineering Boots
Time inclusive: 10.5 hours
Weather: 38 deg F (3 deg C) at start, warming to upper 60's deg F (18 deg C). Sunny, beautiful day.
Sock Performance: My feet were a little too warm, but this not surprising given the dramatic rise in temperature. The forecast called for a high in the mid 50's and this was greatly exceeded. This did, however, present an opportunity to again test the odor eating capability of the socks. Again, they performed very well. There was no noticeable odor after 10+ hours in the field. I stopped trying to use the liner socks based upon my previous experience. The socks remained well in place and the amount of lint remaining on my feet at the end of the day was significantly less.

Loveland Valley
Date: 30 Apr 2011
Elevation: 10,100' (3,078 m)
Terrain: Steady 35 deg incline
Distance Traveled: 2 miles (3.2 km) in snow and packed snow
Time inclusive: 9 hours
Footwear: Mountaineering Boots with gaiters to just below the knee
Weather: 18 deg F (-8 deg C) warming to 40 deg F (4 deg C), winds 5 - 15 mph (8 - 25 kph) and partly cloudy skies.
Sock Performance: At the beginning of the day, we spent a fair amount of time (1.0 to 1.5 hrs) discussing snow travel techniques. During this time, my feet were chilly and uncomfortable, although not painful or nearing frostbite. After we began moving, my feet warmed right up and stayed comfortable throughout the day. We spent much of the day climbing in the snow which was appx 4' (1.2 m) deep with powder on the surface causing me to sink in to about mid-calf. My gaiters and snow pants kept the snow on the outside so my feet and socks stayed dry with the exception of perspiration.

Montgomery Reservoir
Date: 7 May 2011
Elevation: 10,400' (3,170 m)
Terrain: Increasing incline from flat to 40 deg
Distance Traveled: 2 miles (3.2 km) in snow and packed snow
Time inclusive: 8 hours
Footwear: Mountaineering Boots with gaiters to just below the knee
Weather: 28 deg F (-2 deg C) warming to 68 deg F (20 deg C), Mostly sunny
Sock Performance: The socks kept my feet warm throughout the day. I did notice that the odor protection didn't perform quite as well as it did when new.

Dry Creek Gulch
Date: 21 May 2011
Elevation: 10,500' (3,200 m)
Terrain: Mostly mild incline, appx 6%
Distance Traveled: 5 miles (8 km)
Time inclusive: 6 hours
Footwear: Mountaineering Boots with gaiters to just below the knee
Weather: 28 to 32 deg F (-2 to 0 deg C)and snowing
Sock Performance: My feet remained warm and comfortable throughout the day, despite the freezing temperatures, significant snowfall and less than ideal trail conditions. Foot odor was non-existent today!

Seal Rock
Date: 30 May 2011
Elevation: 6,200 to 7,100' (1,890 to 2,164 m)
Terrain: Rolling terrain to steep class 5.4 climbing
Distance Traveled: 5 miles (8 km)
Time inclusive: 10 hours (appx 3 hours wearing the socks)
Footwear: Trail shoes for appx 4 miles (6.4 km)
Weather: warm and humid with temps ranging from 60 to 75 deg F (15 to 24 deg C)
Sock Performance: The socks were definitely too warm for today's adventures. We hiked from the trail head to the base of Seal Rock (appx 1 hour, 1.5 miles) and my feet were completely soaked in sweat. Upon reaching the base of Seal Rock, I switched to rock shoes. For the approach and return trip, I was wearing a new pair of trail shoes. Not knowing how the new shoes would treat my feet, I wanted to wear the Lorpen Socks, so into my bag they went, and remained nice and wet for the return trip. Due to the humidity and confinement, the socks hadn't dried from the morning hike and putting on cool wet socks at the end of the day wasn't pleasant. It is good to note, however that even wet, I did not experience any hot spots or bunching. The socks pleasantly warmed up and were rather comfortable, even when wet.

Citadel Peak
Date: 3-4 June 2011
Elevation: 10,200 - 13,100' (3,109 to 3,993 m)
Terrain: Rolling terrain to steep snow/ice climbing
Distance Traveled: 6.8 miles (11 km)
Time inclusive: 16 hours
Footwear: Mountaineering Boots
Other gear: 55 lb (25 kg) pack, snow shoes, crampons
Weather: significant temperature changes due to weather and elevation - started in upper 50's cooling to mid 20's (15 to -3 deg C) on the first day, then warming from mid 20's to low 70's (-3 to 22 deg C).
Sock Performance: The socks performed exceptionally well throughout the significant weather and terrain changes. We hiked from the Herman Gulch Trail Head, starting after 3:00pm, to the base of Citadel Peak, gaining 2,200' (671 m) of elevation and dropping 35 degrees F (18 degrees C) ( before nightfall (appx 4 hours). After approximately one mile (1.6 km), we donned snowshoes and continued up to our campsite. In the morning, I geared up with clean (dry) gear for the second portion of our trip, gaining the summit of Citadel Peak and then hiking out to the trail head. Again, the socks performed quite well, my feet were warm and comfortable throughout the day even when climbing in steep snow and ice.


LONG-TERM REPORT

LONG-TERM TEST LOCATIONS AND CONDITIONS

I tested the Lorpen Stalker Socks in a variety of locations throughout the Colorado Rocky Mountains, the Badlands of South Dakota and in the Boundary Waters of Minnesota. The test conditions included:

Elevation: 1,000 to 14,000 feet (1,524 to 4,267 m)
Terrain: Gently rolling to snow/ice climbing to Class 5.4 rock climbing
Total Distance Covered during test: 108.3 miles (174 km)
Total Elapsed Time during test: 174 hours
Footwear: Mountaineering Boots, backpacking boots, trail shoes
Weather: The weather conditions were quite diverse throughout the test period, ranging from very cold, windy and snowing to bright, sunny and hot. Throughout the test period, I encountered temperatures from 18 to 95 deg F (-8 to 35 deg C), lots of snow, rain, heat and wind.

IMAGE 1
This picture was taken at the base of Mt Democrat and shows the rocky terrain encountered. July 2011

PERFORMANCE IN THE FIELD

I continue to be pleased with the performance of these socks; however, I have discovered a couple areas in which they do not excel, specifically, drying time and dimensional consistency.

During my trip to the Boundary Waters (see addendum) I encountered a significant amount of precipitation, during which the Lorpen Stalker socks became drenched. Even though the socks (and thus my feet) were completely soaked, my feet remained warm despite the cooler temperatures. After returning to camp and changing into dry clothes, I hung all the wet stuff out to dry. What I discovered was that the Lorpen Stalker socks took longer to dry than traditional wool socks and other socks belonging to members of my party.

As mentioned in my Field Report (FR), the overall thickness of the socks appeared to have decreased a fair amount during the 43.3 miles (70 km) and 83 hours of use. After 52 miles (83 km) and 137 hours of use, the thickness continued to decrease and the impact of the decreased thickness reared its ugly head. Mountaineering boots are extremely stiff and require a very snug fit to prevent foot movement, a root cause of hot spots or blisters. The loss of thickness of the socks prevented me from achieving the once very snug fit and I found that I was developing a hot spot on my right heel. Fortunately, I discovered the hot spot early in the hike and before any real damage occurred. A large patch of moleskin corrected the problem and away we went. At this point, I retired the socks from mountaineering duty but continue to use them for backpacking and trail hiking.

I have also noticed that the socks are not as soft as they were at the beginning of the test. This attribute does not bother me; however, it might be of interest to others.

On a positive note, the socks continue to provide odor absorption characteristics far superior to any other sock I have worn. Additionally, the socks continue to fit well exhibiting zero stretch throughout the longest of hikes and throughout the test period. This has been quite pleasing as I have never had to stop and adjust the socks or remove my boots to address a sock wrinkle.

SUMMARY

Overall, I have been quite pleased with the Lorpen Stalker socks. Their ability to absorb odors is far above any other sock I have experienced! I tested these socks in what I feel were some very demanding conditions, specifically, almost exclusive use with mountaineering boots, which provide little flexibility and place a significant burden upon the socks.

Pros:
- odor absorption
- warmth (both dry and wet)
- durability

Cons:
- extended drying time
- do not work well with liner socks

These are a fine pair of socks and I certainly plan to use them in the future. I have had to retire the two test pair from mountaineering but they will still be at the top of my list for backpacking and general hiking. I do not plan to use them for any water related activity and may have a harder decision to make when I venture into wet and humid weather conditions.

A sincere thank you to Lorpen and BackpackGearTest.org for affording me the opportunity to test these socks!

Addendum: Test Event Notes and Details

The following provides specific details regarding each test event.

Boundary Waters
Date: 18 - 22 June 2011
Elevation: appx 1,000' (305 m)
Terrain: Flat and muddy to short but steep trails
Distance Traveled: 3 miles (4.8 km)
Time inclusive: 48 hours
Footwear: trail shoes
Other gear:
Weather: cool and rainy (40 - 60 deg F/4 - 15 deg C) with humidity remaining close to 100% for the entire trip
Sock Performance: The socks performed well in the rather arduous conditions (rain, mud, short trail hikes with heavy loads) I faced in the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness (BWCAW). My feet were warm despite being abnormally wet and muddy. I did notice that the socks took a rather significant amount of time to dry. I had three pairs of socks, two pairs of the Lorpen Stalkers and a pair of traditional wool socks. Comparing the two, the Lorpen Stalker Socks felt wetter for a longer period of time than the others, although both pair provided adequate warmth. The Lorpens certainly outperformed the wool socks in the odor control arena.

Mt Sherman, near Fairplay, CO
Date: 2 July 2011
Elevation: 11,000 to 14,036' (3,353 to 4,278 m)
Terrain: good trail with one minor snow crossing
Distance Traveled: 6 miles (9.6 km)
Time inclusive: 6 hours
Footwear: hiking boots
Other gear:
Weather: Sunny with few clouds developing later in the day. Beginning temperature 62 deg F (16.7 deg C), temperature on summit was 52 deg F (11 deg C) and the temperature at the end of the hike was 73 deg F (23 deg C).

Castle and Conundrum Peaks, near Aspen, CO
Date: 9 July 2011
Elevation: 10,000 to 14,265' (3,048 to 4,348 m)
Terrain: good trail until 11,800' (3,597 m) then snow and a couloir climb to top of Conundrum
Distance Traveled: 10 miles (16.1 km)
Time inclusive: 8.5 hours
Footwear: Mountaineering Boots
Other gear: crampons, ice axe
Weather: Overcast and threatening rain for most of the day. Starting temperature 44 deg F (6.7 deg C), temperature on the summit was 36 deg F (2 deg C) and the day warmed up as we completed the trip at 2:30 pm local time with a final temp of 72 deg F (22 deg C).
Performance: The long term effects of wear and loss of loft in the socks showed up today as a resulting hot spot on my heel. Mountaineering boots are an unforgiving lot and require a near perfect fit. The Lorpen Stalker socks have been the only socks I have worn with these boots and all was well until today. With the decreasing thickness (or loft) of the sock, I was not able to achieve that near perfect fit and my heel was able move around inside the boot. Fortunately, alertness and moleskin was able to address the issue before any harm was done and I was able to complete the trip in comfort. Regrettably, I have had to retire the Lorpen Stalker socks from use with my mountaineering boots. This doesn't mean that I have completely retired the socks, just that I will no longer use the two test pair with my mountaineering boots. I will continue to use the socks with other, less demanding, foot wear.

LaPlatta Peak, near Leadville, CO
Date: 16 July 2011
Elevation: 10,000 to 14,000' (3,048 - 4,267 m)
Terrain: Steady incline, good trails up to 13,000' (3,962 m) then scrambling over boulders and scree to the summit
Distance Traveled: 14 miles (22.5 km)
Time inclusive: 8 hours
Footwear: hiking boots
Other gear: n/a
Weather:

Decalibron (Mt Bross, Mt Cameron, Mt Lincoln, Mt Democrat) near Alma, CO
Date: 23 July 2011
Elevation: 10,000 to 14,000' (3,048 - 4,267 m)
Terrain: Steady steep incline across scree throughout the climb up Mt Bross. Easy trail over to Mt Lincoln and Cameron, then steady decent to the Cameron-Democrat saddle and a large rock trail to the summit of Mt Democrat
Distance Traveled: 8 miles (12.9 km)
Time inclusive: 4.5 hours
Footwear: trail shoes
Other gear: n/a
Weather: The weather was beautiful with a starting temperature of 46 deg F (7.8 deg C) and sunny skies. The temperature increased to 72 deg F (22 deg C) by the time I returned to the trail head.
Performance: The socks performed well throughout the day. I did note that they were a little warm towards the end and my feet were quite damp with perspiration when I took my shoes off at the end of the hike.

Spanish Creek Trail, near Crestone, CO
Date: 22-23 July 2011
Elevation: 10,000 to 14,000' (3,048 - 4,267 m)
Terrain: Steady incline, difficult trail with lots of downed trees and overgrowth to 11,800' (3,597 m). Above tree line, the incline significantly increased to Class 5 climbing.
Distance Traveled: 18 miles (29 km)
Time inclusive: 14 hours
Footwear: new backpacking boots
Other gear: full pack (50 lbs/22.7 kg)
Weather: We got a late start so it was mid-afternoon before we actually began packing in and by this time the temperature was in the lower 80's (27 deg C) with sunny skies. The night time low was 46 deg F (7.8 deg C) and Saturday's high was back in the mid 80's (27 deg C) when we returned to the trail head. As this was a two day backpack trip, I brought both pairs of socks. I was quite pleased with how well the socks performed with my new backpacking boots. I had no hot spots and no blisters. With the heat, there was no surprise when I took my boots off that my feet were rather damp.

This report was created with the BackpackGearTest.org Report Writer Version 1. Copyright 2011. All rights reserved.

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