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Reviews > Clothing > Socks > SealSkinz Walking Mid Sock > Test Report by Brian Hartman

SEALSKINZ MID WEIGHT MID LENGTH SOCKS
TEST SERIES BY BRIAN HARTMAN
LONG-TERM REPORT
October 16, 2016

CLICK HERE TO SKIP TO THE FIELD REPORT
CLICK HERE TO SKIP TO THE LONG-TERM REPORT

TESTER INFORMATION

NAME: Brian Hartman
EMAIL: bhart1426ATyahooDOT com
AGE: 48
LOCATION: Central Indiana
GENDER: M
HEIGHT: 5' 9" (1.75 m)
WEIGHT: 150 lb (68.00 kg)

I have been backpacking for over 20 years throughout Indiana, Ohio, Kentucky and most recently in Western USA. In addition to backpacking I enjoy family camping with my wife and kids and being outdoors in general. I would describe myself as a mid weight backpacker. I use fairly light weight equipment and gear but still like to bring more than the bare essentials with me while on the trail.


INITIAL REPORT

PRODUCT INFORMATION & SPECIFICATIONS

Manufacturer: Sealskinz Ltd. IMAGE 1


Year of Manufacture: 2016
Manufacturer's Website: http://www.sealskinz.com/
MSRP: US $50
Listed Weight: Not Provided
Measured Weight: 3.7 oz (104 g) per pair
Size Tested: Large

Available Colors: Grey Marl/Dark Grey, Grey Marl/Dark Grey/Purple, Olive Marl/Grey Marl
Available Sizes: Small, Medium, Large, X-Large

Material:
Outer lining: 98% Polypropylene/2% Elastane
Membrane: Hydrophilic Membrane
Inner lining: 51% Merino Wool, 30% Polyester, 15% Acrylic, 3% Elastodiene, 1% Elastane


INITIAL IMPRESSION

The Sealskinz Walking Mid socks (hereafter called Sealskinz or socks) are 100% waterproof / breathable socks, manufactured by British company Sealskinz Ltd. The Walking Mid socks are Sealskinz' lightest weight waterproof socks, designed for warm, wet days and activities where minimal insulation and maximum breathability are required.

The socks are made in Bulgaria and feature a completely waterproof, breathable and windproof construction using Sealskinz' proprietary 3-layer Stretchdry technology. The outer layer of the socks is made of soft polypropylene fabric while the inner layer is a combination of polyester, acrylic, and Merino wool for comfort and moisture control; sandwiched in between these two layers is a thin, waterproof, breathable hydrophilic membrane that allows water molecules to pass through the fabric but not water droplets. The membrane is flexible, which uses a process patented by Sealskinz, and this allows the socks to stretch for improved fit. The ankle and insteps are elasticized as well so that they fit just like normal socks and don't slip down.

I was impressed to see that Sealskinz lists the waterproof rating and permeability index of their socks online. The waterproof rating is an industry standard rating that is determined by taking a piece of fabric from the item being tested and placing a 1 square inch (6 square cm) tube on top of it and then filling it with water. The waterproof rating of the socks, 10,000mm (394 in), is a measure of the water pressure exerted on the fabric before it allows water to pass through. The water vapor permeability index for the socks is 65%.

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READING THE INSTRUCTIONS

The instructions for how to wash and dry the socks are located online as well as printed on the packaging. One tip that Sealskinz recommends is turning the socks inside out when washing and drying them. They also recommend setting the washing machine to the 'hand or wool wash' option if available and not exposing the socks to excessive heat in the washer, in other words keeping them below 104 F (40 C). There are no special requirements for the type of detergent used. Regarding drying, the manufacturer recommends tumble drying on a low temperature setting or even better, letting the socks air dry for best results.

One other thing worth noting is Sealskinz' no-quibble refund guarantee which says "if the socks don't fit or you just don't like them, they can be returned for a full refund". In addition, Sealskinz socks are guarantee to be 100% waterproof and can be returned for repair/replacement if there is a manufacturing defect.

TRYING THEM ON

IMAGE 5 When deciding which socks to order, Seaslskinz' sizing chart indicated that I was in between sizes. So I consulted their FAQ page and ordered size 'large' based on their recommendation to go up one size in situations like this. During the following week I anxiously waited for the socks to arrive, hoping I'd made the right decision. When the socks came, I removed them from their packaging and immediately tried them on. I found they were soft, comfortable, and fit ok with a small amount of excess fabric on the top and bottom of the toes. The socks have considerable stretch, more than I imagined, which allows each size to fit several foot sizes. I also noticed right away that the socks were thinner and lighter than I expected.

Regarding construction, the socks appeared to be well constructed with lots of attention paid to detail. I can only imagine the time it took to design a sock pattern that allows three layers of material to come together without bunching up. The same level of detail and craftsmanship would be needed to cut out patterns for all three fabric layers and precisely stitch them together.

My initial test for the socks was to step in the shower for a minute with the water running. When I turned off the water and removed the socks, my left foot was dry but the top of my right foot was surprisingly wet. At first I thought that water got in from above the sock, but if that was the case my lower leg and ankle should have been wet as well but they weren't. So before heading into the field I plan to let the socks dry out and redo the test in a bucket of water. For now I simply wrung the socks out and turned them inside out to air dry.

SUMMARY

The Sealskinz Walking Mid socks are well designed and meticulously sewn with top quality construction and workmanship throughout. I really like the fact that their Stretchdry membrane is a permanent waterproof barrier so there is no need to treat or re-proof it in order to maintain waterproofness. During the next few months I will be evaluating the durability and comfort of these socks as well as their waterproof, breathable capabilities in the field.

This concludes my Initial Report for the Sealskinz Walking Mid socks. I would like to thank Sealskinz and BackpackGearTest.org for the opportunity to test these socks.


LONG-TERM REPORT

LONG-TERM TEST LOCATIONS AND CONDITIONS

IMAGE 1 Since posting my Initial Report in May I wore the Sealskinz socks for a total of 19 days and approximately 86 mi (138 km). This included wearing them on four backpacking trips and six day hikes in a variety of weather conditions ranging from hot and dry to cold and wet days. Temperatures during testing ranged from 52 to 88 F (11 to 31 C).

My first trip was to the Charles Deam Wilderness in Southern Indiana (IN) where I stayed for three days. The area was wooded and very hilly. There were also, unfortunately, lots of mosquitoes out during the morning and evening hours. Skies were mostly cloudy during my stay with highs in the upper 70s F (26 C) and lows in the upper 50s F (14 C). I covered approximately 12 mi (19 km) on this trip while backpacking mostly dirt/mud trails.

Location: Charles Deam Wilderness
Type of Trip: Trail hiking
Distance: 12 mi (19 km)
Length of Trip: Three days
Backpack Weight: 30 lb (13 kg)
Weather Conditions: Most cloudy
Precipitation: 0.5 in (1.0 cm)
Temperature Range: 58 to 78 F (14 to 26 C)

My second trip of the test period was to the Hoosier National Forest in Brown County, IN where I camped for four days. This area was also heavily forested and quite hilly with elevations ranging from 530 - 790 ft (161 - 241 m). The weather was mild and sunny during my stay with highs in the mid-70s F (24 C) and lows in the upper-60s F (21 C). During this trip I hiked approximately 15 mi (24 km) along mostly hardpacked trails and made several stream crossings.

Location: Hoosier National Forest
Type of Trip: Trail hiking
Distance: 15 mi (24 km)
Length of Trip: Four days
Backpack Weight: 38 lb (17 kg)
Weather Conditions: Mild and sunny
Precipitation: None
Temperature Range: 68 to 75 F (21 to 24 C)

My third trip was to Franklin County in Southeastern IN where I hiked approximately 12 mi (19 km) during the course of three days. The weather was cool and rainy on the first day but cleared up afterwards allowing me to enjoy sunny skies and moderate temperatures on days two and three, while testing the socks in a nearby creek.

Location: Franklin County, IN
Type of Trip: Off-trail hiking
Distance: 12 mi (19 km)
Length of Trip: Three days
Backpack Weight: 35 lb (16 kg)
Weather Conditions: Rainy the first day
Precipitation: 0.6 in (1.5 cm)
Temperature Range: 72 to 78 F (22 to 25 C)

My final trip was a family camping trip to Southern IN where I hiked, fished and waded through creeks looking for fossils. The terrain was hilly with lots of open and forested areas to explore. Temperatures ranged from 70 to 88 F (21 to 31 C).

Location: Southern IN
Type of Trip: Off-trail hiking
Distance: 6 mi (10 km)
Length of Trip: Three days
Sky and Air Conditions: Hot and partly sunny
Precipitation: None
Temperature Range: 70 to 88 F (21 to 31 C)

I also did six dayhikes during this period. My hikes took place at local parks in Chicago, Cleveland, Milwaukee and Central IN and ranged from 6 to 8 mi (10 to 13 km) each.

PERFORMANCE IN THE FIELD

The Sealskinz socks performed wonderfully during the past four months of testing. During this time they were comfortable, durable, warm and waterproof.

IMAGE 2 IMAGE 3

When I first received these socks and tried these socks on, I noticed that there was excessive material in the toe box and was concerned this might make them uncomfortable to wear with shoes. As it turned out these socks were too thick to wear with my hiking shoes, but my boots were big enough that the excess fabric in the toe box caused no discomfort and I haven't gotten any blisters from them. I considered returning the socks for size 'Medium' but the manufacturer's website recommended up-sizing if in between shoe sizes which made sense to get proper sock length and fit for my calves. Although I was disappointed I couldn't wear them with my hiking shoes, I figured beforehand that they might not fit because of their thickness. A few other notes regarding comfort: these socks have a very soft wool lining that is not at all itchy, and the elastic has done a great job of keeping them in place, even after several cycles through the washing machine. I have had other socks that were either too loose or too tight and didn't want to stay up around my calves but these socks do not slip at all. Finally, the Sealskinz add an extra bit of cushion for my feet, and every bit helps when carrying a heavy pack.

As testament to their construction and durability, the Sealskinz have endured almost 100 mi (160 km) on the trail and are still in good condition with no holes, thin spots, and no major pilling. Given their high tech design and waterproof membrane, I find this noteworthy. They have been through the washer a half dozen times, always inside out, and are still stretchy and have not shrunk. Sealskinz recommends letting them air dry, inside out first, and so that is what I have always done and it seems to work well. In comparison to a second pair of Sealskinz socks I have that are still brand new, the well-worn pair have no visible signs of wear or color fading, again tribute to their durability.

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I wore the Sealskinz in a variety of temperatures ranging from 52 to 88 F (11 to 31 C) and they were always warm in cool temperatures, even when it was damp or raining, and were breathable in warm temperatures. I did notice some moisture build up when I was hiking hard in hot weather, but in those temperatures I was sweating everywhere, much less my feet which were enclosed in wool socks inside leather hiking boots. After wearing these socks for three or four days straight, they start to smell but not nearly as bad as polyester clothing and a quick trip through the washing machine removes any odors.

In my Initial Report I mentioned that my right foot was wet after standing in the shower with these socks. Once the sock in question dried out, I marked it with a Sharpie and have kept watch on it since then. Four months later I am happy to report that it has not leaked again, calling into question if water did indeed come in from above. All of my tests during this period were carried out in creeks and streams in water that was no deeper than 6 in (15 cm) except for one misstep I had that almost soaked me completely. Luckily warm weather meant that I was in no real danger and my boots and the socks dried out by the next day. One thing about the socks is they take at least several hours to dry when they get completely soaked. That's not a knock on them, just an observation and something to keep in mind before marching knee deep through a creek.

SUMMARY

I am quite impressed with the Sealskinz socks. They are comfortable, durable and perform exactly as stated by the manufacturer. They are great article of clothing for backpacking when only the best will do and I am already looking forward to wearing them this winter in cold, wet snow.

This concludes this test series. My thanks to BackpackGearTest and Sealskinz for the opportunity to test these socks.

This report was created with the BackpackGearTest.org Report Writer Version 1. Copyright 2016. All rights reserved.

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Read more gear reviews by Brian Hartman

Reviews > Clothing > Socks > SealSkinz Walking Mid Sock > Test Report by Brian Hartman



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