SWIFTWICK PURSUIT HIKE SOCKS
TEST SERIES BY MARINA BATZKE
March 25, 2017
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mbbp2013 (at) yahoo (dot) com
Los Angeles County, California, USA
5' 5" (1.65 m)
132 lb (60.00 kg)
I converted from day hiking and car camping to backpacking in spring 2013. My backpacking trips are mostly weekend excursions in Southern California. The locations range from Joshua Tree National Park desert areas in the cooler months to mountainous Southern California National Forest elevations in the summer months. I try to backpack one or two weekends a month. I always hike with a group and I like the gear talk when in camp. While I am looking for ways to lighten my pack, I am not an ultra-lighter: I like sleeping in a tent with a sleeping bag on a comfortable pad. In January 2017, I added snowshoeing to my winter activities.
PRODUCT INFORMATION & SPECIFICATIONS
Year of Manufacture: 2016
Made in the USA
Manufacturer's Website: http://www.swiftwick.com
MSRP: US$21.99 for Light Cushion. US$23.99 for Medium Cushion.
Measured Weight: 2.2 oz (62 g) Light Cushion Pair and 2.9 oz (82 g) Medium Cushion Pair.
Swiftwick offers Pursuit socks in cuff/leg heights from zero (below ankle) to twelve inches (30.5 cm = knee high) and in four cushion options:
Ultra Light Hike - Light Hike - Medium Hike - Heavy Hike. Based on my personal preferences and hiking conditions (weather, trail style, distances hiked, and pack weight), I can pick the matching socks.
The Pursuit Hike SIX crew socks are available in:
Brown Orange = Medium Cushion: Sizes S, M, L.
Brown Red = Light Cushion: Sizes S, M, L.
Coal Kelly = Light Cushion: Sizes S, M, L.
Coal White = Medium Cushion: Sizes S, M, L, XL.
Heather Grey = Light Cushion: Sizes S, M, L, XL.
Heather Mint = Light Cushion: Sizes S, M, L.
Heather Red = Medium Cushion: Sizes S, M, L.
When I selected the three sock pairs for testing, my focus was on three different colors and I overlooked the additional mentioning of light or medium cushion. So I received one pair of LIGHT cushion coal/kelly (green), one pair of LIGHT cushion heather/grey and one pair of MEDIUM cushion heather/red.
The three pairs of Swiftwick Pursuit Hike Six socks arrived each sealed in a clear plastic bag. Each pair was looped inside a cardboard hang tag. The tag front describes the sock name and features: Swiftwick's Contoured Compression Fit, the socks' Moisture Wicking feature, Made in USA and the sock size chart. For example, I got one pair of: SIX crew, Light Cushion, Women 8 - 10, M = Medium size Pursuit Merino Wool Dry Performance Hike socks.
|Light - Medium - Light cushion socks|
The back side of the cardboard hang tag describes the Swiftwick sock features in more detail: DRY PERFORMANCE is based on (a) US harvested merino wool that by nature is soft, feels comfortable and is a wicking fiber; and on (b) Olefin, an engineered wicking fiber that shall further help with keeping my feet dry and reduce abrasion. The LIGHT cushion socks consist of 63% Merino, 18% Nylon, 15% Olefin. The MEDIUM cushion socks consist of 69% Merino, 15% Nylon, 13% Olefin.
Even the inside of the cardboard hang tag is imprinted with Swiftwick information: their social media addresses, their guarantee, the washing instructions, the available sock cuff/leg heights, and a free gear offer.
|Red = Medium is touch longer than Green = Light Cushion|
Each sock is two-colored: starting at the heel, the entire sole all the way to the toe box is one color, in contrast to the foot upper and cuff/leg knit in the second color. Each sock has Swiftwick written across its top front near the toe box. Each sock has the Swiftwick logo visible in the cuff back. The socks feel soft and firm. I distinctly notice the compression areas around the arch and the lower calf area, where the socks are narrower than the toe box and heel area with no compression.
READING THE INSTRUCTIONS
Both on the front and the back of the cardboard hang tag, it says: the BEST SOCKS you will EVER wear - GUARANTEED. On the tag inside and on their website http://www.swiftwick.com/sw/guarantee, Swiftwick's guarantee is explained in a simple and straightforward way: If I am not satisfied with a Swiftwick product, I shall contact the manufacturer and they will take care of me.
On the inside of the hang tag, I also find the washing instructions. The Swiftwick socks shall get machine washed in cold water and can get tumbled dry on low. I shall not use bleach and I shall not iron the socks.
TRYING IT OUT
For many years now, I have only worn hiking socks that designate L and R and are form-fitted for the left and right foot. The Swiftwick socks do NOT indicate left or right, so it is quite unusual for me to wear any sock on either foot.
I first tried on the LIGHT cushion coal/kelly (green) socks and the Women's 8 - 10 (EURO 39 - 42) size fit my size 9 (Euro 39) feet very well. Women's size 8 - 10 equals Men's size 6 - 9.5. Swiftwick's Contoured Compression Fit is designed to provide contoured fitting socks and I do like how the socks are form fitting around the arch and lower calf muscles. I clearly notice how each sock is gently compressing the arch, actually a noticeable uplift. Sock length, width and six inch calf height fit perfectly. The toe box seems a touch big for my toe area.
|Contoured Compression arch clearly noticeable|
Next I tried on the MEDIUM cushion heather/red socks in same Women's 8 - 10 (EURO 39 - 42) size and again they fit very well in foot length, width and calf height. And again, the toe box seems that touch too big for my toe area, so I will observe how that fits inside my hiking boots when out on the trail.
|Swiftwick written near toe box and logo on top back of socks|
It is very important for me that there are no projecting seams or thick seam edges that could cause blisters in the toe area. A first touching of the socks around the toe box shows that the top seam is flat and the seam ends are not double-thick but appear knit flat. I will observe this during the test period.
Comparing a LIGHT cushion to the MEDIUM cushion sock while wearing them around the house, the LIGHT cushion seems to compress the arch area a bit more. The MEDIUM cushion calf length is one inch higher up the calf. Just walking around the house without wearing shoes, the sock thickness does not really feel all that different. I will compare light to medium cushion when out hiking.
the noticeable compression in arch and lower calf area
they are made in the USA
WOULD BE NICE:
unusual for me that the socks do not indicate left or right foot
I plan to wear the LIGHT cushion coal/kelly (green) and MEDIUM cushion heather/red socks and keep the LIGHT cushion heather/grey socks untouched until the end of the 4-month test period to compare the worn socks to the all-new socks.
LONG-TERM TEST LOCATIONS AND CONDITIONS
4 dayhikes at 3 - 4 miles each/ 5 - 6 km
Elevation: 0 ft (0 m)
Temperature: 40 F (4 C)
San Jacinto Peak near Palm Springs, California, USA
1 day snowshoeing: 5 miles/ 8 km
Elevation: 8600 ft (2620 m)
Temperature: 34 F (1 C)
Mt. Pinos, Los Padres National Forest, California, USA
1 day snowshoeing: 5 miles/ 8 km
Elevation: 8850 ft (2700 m)
Temperature: 28 F (-2 C)
Yosemite National Park, California, USA
2 days snowshoeing: 6 miles/ 10 km and 7 miles/ 11 km
Elevation: 7000 ft (2130 m)
Temperature: 30 - 40 F (-1 - 4 C)
Pop Top Peak, Santa Monica Mountains, California, USA
Dayhike: 11 miles/ 18 km
Elevation: 2930 ft (900 m)
Temperature: 47 - 67 F (8 - 19 C)
Mammoth, California, USA
2 days snowshoeing: 3 miles/ 5 km and 4 miles/ 6.5 km
Elevation: 8000 - 9000 ft (2440 - 2740 m)
Temperature: 49 F (9 C)
Juniper Flats, Joshua Tree National Park, USA
2 day/ 1 night backpack: 10 miles/ 16 km
Elevation: 4400 ft (1340 m)
Temperature: 49 - 70 F (9 - 21 C)
Carizzo National Monument, California, USA
2 day/ 1 night car camp
Elevation: 2000 ft (610 m)
Temperature: 38 - 56 F (3 - 13 C)
PERFORMANCE IN THE FIELD
During the cold winter months, I have always worn the thicker MEDIUM CUSHION Swiftwick Pursuit Hike socks (red) in my all-leather boots. On each outing, I took the pair of LIGHT CUSHION Swiftwick Pursuit Hike socks (green) along as back-up but not once changed into the spare pair while out in the cold. As footwear, I wore my waterproofed over-the-ankle all-leather boots.
|San Jacinto snowshoe outing|
|Mt. Pinos Navigation Snowshoeing|
The medium cushion socks provided very good warmth. On the San Jacinto snowshoe day, I wore my new snowshoes for the very first time and apparently tightened the left snowshoe buckles a bit too tightly. This resulted in the toes on my left foot getting really cold a few times while sitting down for lunch and while standing around for picture taking in the snow. Once I wiggled my toes vigorously and got moving again, my left foot warmed up again. On my next snowshoe day on Mt. Pinos, I adjusted the snowshoe straps a bit more loosely and sure enough, all day I had warm, comfortable feet.
During the Yosemite National Park trip, I noticed that my socks were slightly clammy at the end of day one. Nonetheless I had had warm feet all day. The socks dried completely overnight at room temperature in our vacation home. On the morning of day two I realized that I should have wax-sealed my leather boots again before the trip: the inside of my boots had not dried overnight and was still moist. During lunch, while we sat on sitpads in the snow, I realized that the boot leather was wet and my socks were moist ... but my feet were warm, so I did not change into the spare pair of socks. I snowshoed all day with moist socks and wet boots, yet warm feet. I felt really positive about the Swiftwick socks and how they kept my feet warm despite wet boots!
I wore the LIGHT CUSHION Swiftwick Pursuit socks in my summer pair of ankle-covering leather boots for the dayhike up to Pop Top peak. We started on a cold morning (the frost warning light came on in my car when I pulled up to the trailhead). Yet once the sun came out, it warmed up nicely. We hiked 11 miles (18 km) in six hours with 2500 foot (800 m) elevation gain on a variety of trail conditions: on trail, in a hip-high washed out trail rut, across loose pebbles, over rocky slabs and more. The Swiftwick socks felt comfortable throughout. I did not develop any hot spots. For the drive home, I switched into sneakers but I even kept the socks on because they still felt comfortable.
Before the two days of snowshoeing in Mammoth, I wax-sealed my leather boots thoroughly twice. Both days I wore the thicker MEDIUM CUSHION Swiftwick Pursuit Hike socks (red) and had comfortably warm and dry feet each day.
Finally, on the Joshua Tree backpack and the Carrizo car camp, I wore the LIGHT CUSHION (green) socks during the day and switched into the MEDIUM CUSHION during the night.
|Light Cushion socks in Carrizo National Monument|
Even after wearing the socks a few days in a row, they never smelled. I have machine washed the MEDIUM CUSHION Swiftwick Pursuit Hike socks (red) five times. I have machine washed the LIGHT CUSHION socks (green) twice. I always line dried the socks and not once put them in the drier.
|Medium cushion socks with a bit of fuzziness|
|Light cushion socks show a bit of pilling|
Now at the end of the test period, I retrieved the unused LIGHT CUSHION heather/grey socks that I have been preserving the last few months and compared them to the worn socks. I notice on the MEDIUM CUSHION (red) socks some minor pilling right above the heel: probably from my feet slightly moving up and down in the boots when restricted by the snowshoes. There is also some fuzziness around the ankle: this could be from the scratchy hook-and-loop section at the leg bottom of my snow pants to keep snow out. The LIGHT CUSHION (green) socks show some pilling at the heel. I put on one unused heather/grey sock and one worn green sock: the unused grey sock has a little more contoured compression fit, compared to the worn green sock - but minor difference.
I remember that during my initial report I had noticed that the toe box on the Swiftwick Pursuit socks felt a touch too big for me but that was not an issue during my testing. Also the seam at the top of the toe box was not noticeable. The socks fit very well.
The Swiftwick Pursuit hike socks are very comfortable to wear. I have not developed any blisters or hot spots, whether I was wearing the socks in my firm, waterproofed leather hiking boots, further compressed by the tight snowshoe bindings or in my summer leather boots. Even when the MEDIUM Pursuit socks were clammy inside wet boots, they kept my feet pleasantly warm during the cold snow outings. During the warmer temperature outings, I wore the LIGHT Pursuit socks and they were just as comfortable. My feet did not overheat, no blisters or hot spots.
This report was created with the BackpackGearTest.org Report Writer Version 1.
Copyright 2017. All rights reserved.
I have enjoyed wearing both thicknesses of the Swiftwick Pursuit hike socks and will continue to use them for my future outings, as they are so comfortable to wear.
Thank you very much to Swiftwick and BackpackGearTest.org for the opportunity to test these soft, comfortable socks in medium and light thickness.
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