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Reviews > Clothing > Socks > The Sock Guy MTN Tech Hiker > Test Report by Andrea Murland
I began hiking frequently in 2006 and have since hiked in Western Canada, Australia, and spent 2 months backpacking in the Alps. I spend most weekends either day-hiking or on 2-3 day backpacking trips, with some longer trips when I can manage them. I also snowshoe and ski in the winter, but don’t have a lot of experience with winter in the backcountry yet. Elevation is typically 500-3,000 m (1,600-10,000 ft), in the Canadian Rockies and the Selkirk, Purcell, and Monashee ranges. I try for a light pack, but I don’t consider myself a lightweight backpacker.
The SockGuy MTN-tech Hiker is a mid-weight wool-blend hiking sock. SockGuy describes the performance of the sock material as: “[t]he itch-free performance of IsolWOOL combines the year-round thermal protection of Merino wool and water-repellent abrasion resistance of Polypropylene.” Increased padding and extra Olefin in the lower part of the sock is designed to “increas[e] the volume and speed of moisture transfer.”
Initial ImpressionsI received three pairs of MTN-tech Hiker socks in the mail (2 in the Shasta colour and 1 in the Whitney). They were all in cardboard packaging which describes the features of the sock material, the specific design features of the sock, the satisfaction guarantee, the care instructions, and indicates that the socks are made in the USA.
The top of the sock has a double-layer cuff and then a section of thin material. Just above the top of my ankle, the extra-padded area of the sock begins, where there is soft terry padding around the ankle. This padding continues through the heel and along the sole of the foot, finally encompassing the toe. The top of the foot has an area of thin fabric woven in a tight mesh, which is almost see-through. There is a band of elasticized arch support running around the sock at the mid-foot.
The socks are two colours; the cuff, top of the sock, and top of the foot is one colour, and the heel, sole, and toe is another colour. Both the Shasta and Whitney are quite bright, and pretty. The socks have the words “SockGuy” woven across the toe. The Whitney-colour socks that I received have “S/M” woven into the fabric on the inside of the cuff in grey, but the two pairs of Shasta-colour socks don’t.
The socks all have a few trailing threads on the inside where the terry padding is, but nothing that looks serious or unravels if I pull gently on it. Overall, the socks look like they’re very well constructed.
The website gave me a good idea of what to expect from these socks. The website describes the material of the socks well, and mentions that they have “targeted terry padding”, but doesn’t give any details about the specific design features of the sock, such as the elasticized arch support. The sock packaging has a diagram pointing out the key features of the sock which would be good information to have online.
Trying Them OutThe first thing I did when I got home with three pairs of socks (after taking a picture, of course), was put one pair on. The material is soft and comfortable, not scratchy or itchy at all. The padding is very comfortable, but not too thick. I usually wear a mid-weight hiking sock, so the thickness of the socks feels very normal to me. The socks are fairly snug on my feet without being tight, and it doesn’t look like there will be extra material causing problems in my boots. The cuff of the socks is a bit tight on my calves when I have the socks pulled up all the way, but not uncomfortable. Since I usually bunch my socks up just above my boots when I’m hiking instead of having them stretched up onto my calves, I don’t see this being a problem.
SummaryThe SockGuy MTN-tech Hiker is a mid-weight wool-blend hiking sock. It is well-padded through the foot and around the ankle, and is very comfortable. I’m looking forward to spending some trail time in these socks over the next few months testing their comfort, durability, and moisture (and odour!) management.
Field ConditionsSince receiving the SockGuy MTN-tech Hiker socks in April, I have worn a pair of them every time I’ve had my hiking boots on. Here’s a summary of my use:
7 days of rock climbing, wearing the socks on the approach hikes (which were all less than 2 km (1.2 mi)), as well as in between climbs.
4 days & 3 evenings of search & rescue practice which involved little walking but several hours of wearing the socks and my hiking boots each day.
2 afternoons of search & rescue response which involved about 10 hours of wearing the socks and about 5 km (3.1 mi) of walking.
80 km (50 mi) of day-hiking in the Selkirk, Monashee, and Purcell ranges, at elevations from 500 m to 2,300 m (1,600 ft to 7,550 ft), over 11 days. One day had a lot of snow obscuring the trail, but otherwise the trails were a mix of dry and wet dirt/mud, and sometimes rocky.
31 km (19.3 mi) of day-hiking in the Rocky Mountains, at elevations from 1,300 m to 2,650 m (4,250 ft to 8,700 ft), over 2 days.
I have worn the Whitney-colour pair of socks and one of the pairs of Shasta-colour pairs, keeping the other one new for comparison. I have worn both pairs about equally.
I have also worn the socks for 2 nights to sleep in, at temperatures down to 5 C (41 F).
Both pairs of socks have been washed 5 times in the washing machine with colours using regular detergent but no fabric softener. I have dried the Shasta socks by laying them flat to air dry, and dried the Whitney socks in the dryer.
I have found the MTN-tech Hiker socks to manage moisture equally well or better than the wool socks that I have used in the past. The socks are damp at the end of a day, and my feet a little bit clammy, but my feet aren’t wet or sliding around. The day that I walked through snow for several hours without gaiters (oops...), I folded the top of the socks over my boots. The top of the socks were wet at the end of the day, but they didn’t wick moisture down into the boot and get the rest of the sock wet, which I was very impressed by.
The socks also manage odour quite well. After hiking, they have a bit of a damp wool smell overlaid with a trace of the disgusting smell of my boots. However, they quickly air out as they dry. When I have used the socks on climbing trips, they have gathered and retained more odour, which is not surprising. When climbing I put the socks on immediately after taking my wet feet out of my slimy & extremely stinky climbing shoes, so just about everything stinks by the end of the day (hands, feet, socks, boots, shoes, backpack...). I haven’t found the socks to be stiff when I put them on for a second day of hiking, but I haven’t worn the socks for an extended number of days yet.
Comparing the pairs that I have worn to the pair that’s still new, the socks have faded slightly, though they are still bright. The padding is somewhat packed down around the ankle, under the heel, and under the front of the foot. There is very slight balling on the Shasta-colour socks that I’ve worn, and more pronounced balling on the Whitney-colour socks, which I blame on the dryer. Neither pair of socks have shrunk at all.
There is some staining on the inside of the socks under the heel and front of the foot, which I blame on putting dirty feet into the socks after climbing. There is also staining on the Whitney-colour socks from mud which I collected when I was using them as gaiters.
One of the Whitney-colour socks has a set of small holes developing at the toe seam.
SummaryI have really enjoyed wearing the SockGuy MTN-tech Hiker socks for the first two months of this test. They have managed moisture and odour well, and are very comfortable. I am disappointed that the toe seam on one of the socks is separating, but otherwise the socks have performed well. I am looking forward to wearing them for another two months!
Field ConditionsI have continued to wear my SockGuy MTN-tech Hiker Socks over the past two months. Here’s a summary of my use since July:
4 days & 4 evenings of search & rescue practice which involved about 1 km (0.6 mi) and several hours of wearing the socks and my hiking boots each day.
2 afternoons/evenings of search & rescue response which involved about 7 hours of wearing the socks and about 4 km (2.5 mi) of walking.
19 km (11.8 mi) of day-hiking in the Selkirk & Monashee ranges, at elevations from 500 m to 2,300 m (1,600 ft to 7,550 ft), over 3 days.
23 km (14.3 mi) of day-hiking in the Rocky Mountains, at elevations from 1,300 m to 2,400 m (4,250 ft to 7875 ft), over 2 days.
I have continued to alternate between wearing the Whitney and Shasta-colour pairs of socks, with one pair of Shasta-colour remaining new for comparison.
I slept in the socks 1 more night, with temperatures down to about 5 C (41 F).
Both pairs of socks have been washed a further 3 times in the washing machine. I have continued to dry the Shasta socks by laying them flat to air dry, and dry the Whitney socks in the dryer.
ObservationsThe MTN-tech Hiker socks continue to be very comfortable. I haven’t had any bunching problems in my boots, and the cushioning in the socks makes my not-at-all cushiony boots a little less painful. I still haven’t had any blisters this year, which I think is a first in these boots.
The socks deal with moisture pretty well. Immediately after taking my feet out of my boots I’ll leave damp footprints on pavement, but the socks dry quickly and my feet don’t feel wet when I’m hiking. I also haven’t had any problems with odour. After a night of airing out they smell not too bad. Even after multiple days, the socks don’t get too stiff and smelly – not straight-out-of-the-wash soft anymore, but not like pieces of cardboard either.
The socks that I’ve worn are somewhat faded from the original colour, but still pretty bright. There is some staining on the cuffs and soles from mud, dirt, and dust. The Whitney-colour socks have more pronounced balling, especially around the foot area. As well, the Whitney socks now appear to have shrunk compared to the Shasta ones that I’ve worn, but they’re still comfortable when I have them on.
The holes mentioned in the Field Report haven’t grown – they’re the same size as two months ago.
SummaryWhat else can I say about these socks? They’re super-comfortable and cushy. I haven’t had any blisters. They allow my feet to breathe pretty well. They smell pretty good. And they’re bright colours! I’m definitely going to continue wearing them, though I will stop putting them in the dryer and air dry them as I do all of my wool socks.
Holes in toe seam
Thanks to SockGuy and BackpackGearTest.org for the chance to test these socks!
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Reviews > Clothing > Socks > The Sock Guy MTN Tech Hiker > Test Report by Andrea Murland
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