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Reviews > Clothing > Socks > Swiftwick Four Merino Hiking Socks > Test Report by jerry adams

SWIFTWICK FOUR MERINO HIKING SOCKS
TEST SERIES BY JERRY ADAMS
LONG-TERM REPORT

INITIAL REPORT - March 13, 2010
FIELD REPORT - May 23, 2010
LONG TERM REPORT - July 27, 2010

TESTER INFORMATION

NAME: Jerry Adams
EMAIL: jerryaadamsatyahoodotcom
AGE: 56
LOCATION: Portland, Oregon, USA
GENDER: m
HEIGHT: 6' 1" (1.85 m)
WEIGHT: 190 lb (86.20 kg)

Backpacking Background: I started hiking about 45 years ago. My first backpack was 40 years ago. I currently try to do one backpack trip of 1 to 5 nights every month (which can be tricky in the winter). Mostly I stay around Mount Hood, Columbia Gorge, Mount Adams, Goat Rocks, and the Olympic Peninsula. In recent years I have shifted to lightweight - my pack weight without food and water is about 15 lb (7 kg). I make a lot of my own gear - silnylon tarp-tent, bivy, synthetic bag, simple bag style pack. My sleeping pad is a Therm-a-Rest air mattress.


INITIAL REPORT

PRODUCT INFORMATION & SPECIFICATIONS

Manufacturer: Swiftwick International LLC
Year of Manufacture: 2010
Manufacturer's Website: http://www.swiftwick.com/
MSRP: US$16.95
Measured Weight: 2.4 oz (68 g) per pair size L
Other details:

On the website it says 60% Merino Wool, 30% Nylon, 10% Lycra.

On the package it says 67% Merino, 29% Nylon, 4% Lycra.

I got the Heather color. They have "swiftwick", "L" (the size), and some patterns woven into the sock in black:

IMAGE 1

I am testing the four (crew) which means the cuff is 4 inches (10 cm). They also have a zero, one, two, seven and twelve. You can see how far they go up my ankles:

IMAGE 2

All the weaving seems to be fine. I got three pairs and looked them all over pretty good.

They say they have "patent-pending moisture management ". I'll see how they feel in use and find out if I get any blisters, although I think that the boots are more important for blisters.

They say they have "200 Needle construction" which means the weave is very fine. When I compare to other socks that I have, the weave is indeed very fine.

They say they have "graduated compression" and that it "provides sustainable support". When I put on the socks they do compress my feet a bit more than other socks, and they compress my ankle much more than other socks I have. I think this will prevent my feet and especially ankles from swelling. It is much more difficult to get my socks on, but I don't think this will be a problem.

They say the socks are "Perfect for: Hiking, Biking, Basketball, Baseball, Hockey". I think the compression properties of the socks are more typical of the other athletic activities than hiking.

The socks are thicker at the toe, heel, and bottom which is good for comfort, durability, and light weight.

INITIAL IMPRESSIONS

Initially, when I put on the socks, I was concerned about the compression feature of these socks. This is much different than other hiking socks I've used. After I used the socks a little, I am now thinking the compression feature may be good for comfort on long hikes. I will report on this in my Field Report.

These socks weigh a little less than other socks I've used, which is a good thing.

I wore the socks around a little and they feel good.

I'll be testing just two pairs. I want to alternate to allow the socks to dry. I want to concentrate my testing on as few socks as possible to test for durability.

Thanks to Swiftwick and backpackgeartest.org for letting me test these.

Look forward to my Field Report in about two months.


FIELD REPORT

FIELD LOCATIONS AND CONDITIONS

3/14/2010 I did a 6 night, 36 mile (58 km) backpack down the Rogue River in Southern Oregon. 35 to 65 F (2 to 18 C). Alternated between two pairs of socks. Wore the socks all the time including overnight. No blisters or any other problem.

4/12 I did a 5 night car camp on the central Oregon coast. Wore the socks all the time including overnight and did 25 miles (40 km) of day hiking. 34 to 57 F (2 to 14 C).

4/22 I did a 3 night backpack and 1 day car camp on the Metolius River in central Oregon. 25 miles (40 km) of backpacking and 8 miles (13 km) of day hiking. 28 to 65 F (-2 to 18 C). I wore the socks all the time. Switched from one pair to another after a couple days.

5/18 I did a 4 night backpack of 24 miles (38 km) 3500 feet (1100 m) elevation gain to Dublin Lake in the Columbia Gorge. I also did a 2 night car camp, 6 miles (10 km) day hike. I also slept in the socks all 6 nights. The socks got very wet.

I also did 2 day hikes in the Columbia Gorge - 16 miles (26 km) and 4500 feet (1400 m) of elevation gain.

Total of 140 miles (225 km), 8000 feet (2400 m) of elevation gain, washed them 6 times.

PERFORMANCE IN THE FIELD

I wore the Swiftwick Four Merino hiking socks 140 miles (225 km) and didn't get any blisters. I did some elevation gain but will do more in the Long Term test.

On one trip the socks got totally wet but stayed fairly comfortable - this is an extreme test for socks in my opinion. They didn't feel very wet, even when saturated with water. I think this has something to do with the combination of hydrophobic and hydrophilic fibers.

The coldest it got was 28 F (-2 C). The socks kept me warm enough. I also slept in them and they kept me warm.

One thing unique about the Swiftwick socks is the compression feature of the ankles. Initially I was concerned that this would be a negative. I talked to someone from Swiftwick on the phone. They said the compression is to promote blood flow, and that it's okay to wear them 24 hours a day during a backpack trip. The compression is not as much as on medical products that are designed to prevent swelling in the lower leg. I did wear them 24 hours a day on several trips and had no problem. I'm now thinking that this feature wouldn't affect my decision to use these one way or the other.

After 6 washings, there is some pilling, especially on the bottom of the socks, as this photo might show (may require imagination or at least a lot of zoom):
IMAGE 1

The pilling seems to just be cosmetic. I felt all around and didn't feel any thin places. On both sides of each heel, there is a Y stitch that forms the heel. This stitch is intact and I feel no difference in thickness anywhere there.

SUMMARY

Overall, I am satisfied with these Swiftwick Four Merino socks.

I haven't got any blisters or anything.

They show no sign of wear, except cosmetic pilling.

The cuffs are very tight. I don't think this is a negative, because my feet were comfortable after multi day backpack trips. I don't think this is a positive either.

The socks felt good when wet, compared to other socks I've used.

I will get in a few more day hikes and backpack trips and report back in about two months with my Long Term Report. This should include warmer temperatures and more elevation gain hikes.

Thanks to Swiftwick and backpackgeartest.org for letting me test these.


LONG-TERM REPORT

LONG-TERM TEST LOCATIONS AND CONDITIONS

June 8, 2010 I did a two night backpack (14 miles, 23 km), 4 night car camp, and 6 mile (10 km) day hike in Hart Mountain Refuge in South central Oregon. 30 to 75 F (-1 to 24 C). 4500 feet (1400 m) of elevation gain. About half of the distance was cross country over rocky terrain.

July 1 I did a 4 night backpack and 2 night car camp to East Zigzag Mountain in North central Oregon. 23 miles (37 km). 3500 feet (1000 m) elevation gain. 40 to 70 F (4 to 21 C). Did a lot of trail brushing. Socks got fairly wet.

Swiftwicks on East Zigzag Mountain:
IMAGE 1

July 13 I did a 5 mile (8 km) day hike up Boulder Ridge trail on Mount Hood in North central Oregon.

July 16 I did a 2 night backpack to Elk Cove on Mount Hood in North central Oregon. 17 miles (27 km). 3500 feet elevation gain(1000 m). 50 to 65 F (10 18 C). The socks got damp from sweat. Included off trail bouldering and snow step kicking.

July 20 I did a 2 night car camp at Washington coast, 5 miles (8 km) of hiking.

PERFORMANCE IN THE FIELD

In the combined FR and LTR periods I did a total of 210 miles (340 km) of hiking, 21 nights of backpacking, and 16 nights of car camping. I spent several days trail brushing, which is harder on socks than the few miles walked. I did several trips with a lot of elevation gain that included some cross country over boulders and such, which is also harder on socks.

I washed the socks 11 times.

Mostly I used just one pair of socks, occasionally used another pair of socks, and tried on a third pair of socks. All seemed similar.

After the final washing, I examined the socks I wore the most and noticed that on the sole, the grey fluffy fiber was gone in spots leaving only the internal black framework fiber, thus very thin. I have had blisters with other socks that got thin like that. I didn't get blisters with the Swiftwicks, but I haven't worn them after they got the thin spots. I call this pair of socks worn out.

IMAGE 2

As I mentioned in the Field Report, the Swiftwick socks are unique, in that they are very tight. Initially I worried this would be a problem, but over the course of the testing, I was totally satisfied with the socks. They stayed in place better than other socks, so maybe this is a good thing. They were comfortable sleeping at night. A couple times they were accidentally folded over a bit which caused a discoloration, but it wasn't painful or anything.

SUMMARY

Overall, I am satisfied with these Swiftwick Four Merino hiking socks.

They were totally comfortable for the entire test, no blisters or anything.

When the socks got wet, they didn't feel wet, they were fairly comfortable. Other socks I have worn in the past felt more squishy. The Swiftwicks took the same amount of time to dry out as other socks I have used in the past, the Swiftwicks just don't feel so wet on the surface.

The socks are medium weight. I kept warm when the temperature got below freezing. They were also comfortable in warm weather. When it was 75 F (24 C) (in the shade - but I was hiking in the sun) the socks got damp with sweat.

The socks are very tight, like athletic socks, but this didn't cause any problems, or provide any benefit. Just guessing - if I had a problem with the socks slipping or my ankles swelling this might be good.

The socks were worn out (thin spots on the sole) at the end of my test (210 miles/340 km) which is a little shorter than other high quality socks I have used in the past.

In the future, I will alternate wearing my second pair of Swiftwicks with other socks I have tested. I might slightly prefer one of the socks that are less tight, but I'm not sure.

Thanks to Swiftwick and backpackgeartest.org for letting me test these.

This report was created with the BackpackGearTest.org Report Writer Version 1.5 Copyright 2010. All rights reserved.
Read more gear reviews by jerry adams

Reviews > Clothing > Socks > Swiftwick Four Merino Hiking Socks > Test Report by jerry adams



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