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Reviews > Clothing > Socks > Thorlo Experia Wool Silk Socks > Test Report by Coy Ray Starnes


Thorlo Experia Merino Wool/Silk sock
Test Report Series by Coy Starnes
Initial Report: November 12, 2009
Field Report: January 26, 2010
Long Term Report: March 26, 2010

experia socks
Thorlo Experia Merino Wool/Silk sock

Tester Coy Starnes
Gender Male
Age 47
Weight 240 lb (109 kg)
Height 6 ft (1.8 m)
Shoe size men's size 12
E-Mail starnescr@yahoo.com
Location Grant, Alabama, USA

Tester Biography
I live in Northeast Alabama.  I enjoy biking, hunting, fishing, canoeing, and most other outdoor activities but backpacking is my favorite pastime.  I enjoy hiking with friends and family or solo.  I hike throughout the year and actually hike less in the hot humid months of summer.  My style is slow and steady and my gear is light.  However, I will sacrifice weight for comfort and durability.  A typical 3-season load for me is around 20 lb (9 kg) not counting food or water.

Initial Report: November 3, 2009

Product Information
Item Thorlo Experia Wool/Silk sock
Manufacturer Thorlo
Year of Manufacture 2009
URL http://www.thorlo.com/
Size man's size 10.5 - 11.5
Listed Weight not listed
Measured Weight 1.5 oz (43 g)
Color gray
MSRP not listed

Product Description
The Thorlo Experia Merino Wool/Silk sock is made of a Merino wool and silk blend for warmth and durability and is said to be good for hiking, trail running, camping, fishing or any outdoor activity.  I watched the online video and the stated goal of the Experia is to provide good protection without a lot of weight.  This is achieved by making the sock thicker in key areas like the heel and ball of the foot.  And if I think about it, those two areas are where my foot impacts the ground the most, even if inside a shoe.  I also found it interesting that they said the sock is really designed for folks with healthy feet which typically are the younger folks.  I am about to turn 48 but so far, I like how they feel.  Maybe I still have good feet....

I could not find this sock on the website and the packaging did not indicate the blend so I am not sure the exact blend of fiber used in the Experia.  Also, in comparing my sock to the Experia Multi-Sport shown, I think these socks are classified as micro mini-crew.

Initial Impression

As already mentioned, the Thorlo Experia Merino Wool/Silk is not on the website yet, but the very similar Experia Multi-Sport - Thin Cushion is.  This sock looks almost identical to the Multi-Sport but with a slightly different pattern.  But what struck me most when I examined the socks up close is how thick the padded part is in relation to the rest of the sock.  And by eliminating all but the essential padding the Experia is a little unusual looking, but I hope to find it still prevents blisters.  The socks look a little small compared to most of my other mini-crew socks but after I put the socks on I was impressed with the fit. One reason they look small but still fit great is because they are fairly stretchy socks.

The Concept
I like the idea of making a sock with a goal or intended use in mind because there was a time when a sock was pretty much a sock. I might be getting ready to head out somewhere and ask the wife to grab me a pair of socks. What ever pair she grabbed was fine with me.  Well, other than the fact that I might want a thick high top wool sock in the winter or a thin low cut pair for the summer.  Now there seems to be a sock designed for every activity imaginable.  I'm surprised there is not a pair designed for web surfing...

The Thorlo Experia Merino Wool/Silk is listed as good for a wide range if uses but is still targeted toward the athletic individual.  That does not exactly fit the concept of a specialty socks but they are definitely not the average run of the mill sock. Time will tell if the idea works or not but the success of the previous model (the Multi-Sport) does seem to indicate the Experia socks are on to something.

Summary for now
The socks fit my size 12 foot snug but are not overly tight.  They feel good on my feet.  It remains to be seen if they are warm and if they are comfortable for long day hikes and backpacking trips.  I thought it might be a good idea to show how they look when new and later on in the report show them again after some trail miles.  Here is a view from the side and from the top.

side view
Side view of the Experia Merino Wool/Silk socks

top view of socks
and the view from the top

Field Report: January 26, 2010

Testing Locations and Conditions
All testing was done in northeast Alabama.  The trails were mostly the hilly trails in the hollow behind my house, but also on a slightly less hilly trail in Little Mountain St Park.  I wore them around the house and to town several times, plus, on three or four recumbent bike rides.  However, due to the cold and rain, I haven't been able to ride much lately.

I have worn the Experia Merino Wool/Silk socks at least three dozen times over the past couple of months.  I would have worn them more, but we experienced two very cold snaps of weather, and these socks are just not designed for cold weather.  That being said, I did wear them several times as a liner sock under a heavier sock, so even during the cold snaps, they saw some use. Most testing was on several different day hikes with temps ranging from just below freezing to as high as 60 F (16 C) or even slightly warmer. The coldest testing was at 14 F (-10 C) when worn under another sock during an overnight hike. The longest hikes were two day hikes at around 6 miles (10 km) each, one on a 44 F (7 C) afternoon, and the other at around 30 F (-1 C) while it was snowing.

creek crossing
Author wearing the Experia during a creek crossing

Field Test Results
As pointed out in the Initial Report, the Experia Merino Wool/Silk socks are rather thin socks, with extra padding in strategic places like under the heel and ball areas of my feet.  I wore the socks in a pair of trail runners for most of the testing but also wore them as a liner sock in some rubber muck boots when we had snow or lots of rain.   Below is a description on how the socks worked in each case.

When I wore the socks in my trail runner type shoes, I did not do any trail running, but I do hike aggressively, and get into some pretty rough terrain.  I usually had on a day pack that weighed in at around 10 lb (5 kg) or less including water and gear; so, with my own weight and the clothes on my back, the socks were usually supporting somewhere around 250 lb (113 kg).

On the 6 mile (10 km) hike on the Cutchenmine Trail in Little Mountain State Park I found the socks to be very comfortable. rest break I experienced no blisters or sock related trouble on the hike. The temperature was 44 F (7 C) at the start and gradually cooled off during the hike. It was down to 40 F (4 C) by the time I got back to my truck so I was probably on the low end of the comfort range of the socks.  However, I did not have any trouble with cold feet during the hike, even when stopped for breaks.  For example, the photo on the right was taken about midway into the hike when I stopped for a snack, and even though I was sitting still for about 20 minutes, my feet remained warm.

We have had two snows so far this winter, the first about an inch (3 cm) and the second about 2 inches (5 cm).  I went for a 2 mile (3 km) hike right after the first snow. It was around 30 F (- 1 C) and I wore the socks as a liner sock inside my muck boots. On a hike this short I really didn't expect any trouble and did not have any.  The hike during the second snow was much longer, about 6 miles (10 km) in 4 hours, and I was wearing the same socks/boot combination as before. Fortunately, I still did not have any problems with the socks.  I wore them again the next day for a 3 mile (5 km) day hike in similar but colder conditions and with snow still on the ground. It remained 24 F (-4 C) during this hike.  I also wore the same socks/boot combination on several slightly warmer day hikes when the ground was real muddy.  But the bottom line was, the Experia socks stayed put in my muck boots.  I wish I could say the same for all my socks as I have a few pairs that tend to sag and end up bunched up down under my feet after walking up and down several steep hills.  One other thing of note, my feet did sweat a little more than usual while wearing my muck boots because they are, well, rubber boots.  However, the Experia Merino Wool/Silk blend of material does seem to dry very fast and even when damp, I got no blisters when walking. 

I also wore the socks as a liner sock in my trail runners once.  This hike was for two hours and covered about 3 miles (5 km).  It was 28 F (-2 C) when I left the house at 3 PM but dropping fast.  It was already down to 22 F (-6 C) at 5 PM when I stopped to set up my hammock for the night.  It was 17 F (-8 C) at 11 PM and 14 F (-10 C) at 5 AM when I packed up for the short half mile (1 km) hike back home.  Again, I had no real sock issues.  I will say that my feet slowly became a little chilly when I stopped to set up camp, but not anything like uncomfortable.  I had sweated a little on some of the climbs and my socks were just a tad damp.  However, I noticed they were completely dry after a few hours inside my sleeping bag.  My shoes felt like ice when I initially put them on the next morning but after walking a few minutes my feet were fine.   

Summary
I really like these socks. They are very minimalist in padding but have enough to get the job done. They are very form fitting and do now try to work their way down under my feet, which is good because the heel part does not go any higher then the heel of my trail running shoes.  The moisture management these socks provided was also a plus.  Even when they became damp from hard uphill hiking in my trial runners or less strenuous hiking in my muck boots, they always dried out fast after I stopped sweating. They also seem to be very durable socks. I use a front load washing machine that is supposed to be gentle on clothing which may have helped.  However, they are showing very little signs of wear after wearing them at least three dozen times and two dozen washes (I didn't wash them after every hike).  I am looking forward to warmer spring weather when I can start wearing the socks by themselves (in shoes of course) as intended and less as a liner sock.

This concludes my Field Report.  Please check back in about two months for updates on how the Thorlo Experia Merino Wool/Silk socks are holding up in my Long Term Report. I would like to thank Thorlo and BackpackGearTest.org for the chance to test these socks.

Long Term Report: March 26, 2010

ready for bed
Getting ready for bed in my hammock

I have used the Experia socks on four more overnight hikes and at least a dozen more day-hikes since the Field Report.   All nights were single overnighters that involved hiking about four to six miles (6 - 10 km) total depending on how early in the afternoon I was able to start. The day-hikes usually covered about 3 miles but two were at least 6 miles (10 km).  I've also used them for a couple of kayaking trips and on two recent recumbent bike rides now that it is warming back up. The coldest night during this phase of testing was 23 F (-5 C) and the warmest testing was at 70 F (21 C) on one of my recumbent bike rides. Several of the day hikes were quite chilly but here recently these hikes have been in the mid 60s F (around 18 C). I did have quite a bit of rain on my last overnight hike but the hard rain was while I was in my hammock.

Long Term Test Results
These socks are great when used in all but the coldest conditions.  When I used them for hiking on the colder days they were fine but my feet did get cold when wearing them on an overnighter when I was using a much lighter sleeping bag. In other words, when I wore the socks for sleeping, my feet were fine at 14 F (-10 C) in a 0 F (-18 C) bag but they did get a little chilly on a 27 F (-3 C) night when I was using a 15 F (-9  C)bag.

I did try the socks with different shoes on a couple of nice warm late afternoon day-hikes recently.  For example, on one, the temperature was around 66 F (19 C) for the entire 3 mile (5 km) hike.  The shoes were my Nike Free which are very light shoes and intended to be worn without socks.  I don't like them without socks so I usually wear them with a thin pair.  The Experia's certainly qualify and the combination proved to be very comfortable indeed. Here is a photo of the socks worn in the Nike Free shoes, but be warned, the color of the shoe is hideous IMHO, but I found them on clearance (wonder why) and I'm not a slave to the fashion police. 

Experia in Nike shoes
Yes, these were sold as Men's shoes...but the Experia socks feel great in them!

I am happy to report that the socks have kept my feet from getting any blisters when hiking. Of course since 6 miles (10 km) has been my longest hike and that is not all that long of a hike, it is still long enough to get blisters with poor socks or shoes.  They still get a tad damp when I am doing a lot of steep climbing but also dry out very fast.  On a couple of hikes I wore my trail runners while hiking but switched over to some sandals when setting up camp and by the time I was ready to crawl into my sleeping bag the socks were dry.

Durability
I have continued to wash the socks after every couple of uses so they have been washed at least a dozen more times for a total of around two dozen washes (24) since I first got them. And after all the wear and subsequent washes they are still nice and cushy feeling and are holding their shape well.  In my experiences, wool socks generally do hold up well but the wool/silk blend in these socks seem just as good if not better in this regard.

Summary
The Thorlo Experia socks are very nice and are holding up well.  My testing was mostly over the winter when conditions were probably not ideal for such a thin sock but they still performed well as far as comfort goes and I have been pleasantly surprised that they are warm enough for most hiking situations. I have made a note to myself to pack along some thicker socks for cool nights in my lighter sleeping bags but that is not a poor reflection on the Experia's but more of a common sense thing. 

This concludes reporting on the Thorlo Experia Socks.  I would like to thank Thorlo and BackpackGearTest.org for the chance to test them and I hope my findings are beneficial to all who read the report.   






Read more reviews of Thorlo gear
Read more gear reviews by Coy Ray Starnes

Reviews > Clothing > Socks > Thorlo Experia Wool Silk Socks > Test Report by Coy Ray Starnes



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