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Reviews > Clothing > Socks > X-Socks Airforce 1 > Test Report by Pamela Wyant

X-SOCKS AIR FORCE 1 SOCKS

Initial Report - July 29, 2008
Field Report - October 28, 2008
Long Term Report - January 5, 2009


Tester Information:
 
Name:  Pam Wyant
Age:  50
Gender:  Female
Height:  5 ft 5 in (1.65 m)
Weight:  165 lb (77 kg)
Shoe Size:  US Women's 9 M
E-mail address:  pamwyant(at)yahoo(dot)com
Location:  Western West Virginia, U.S.A.

Backpacking Background: 

Pursuing a long-time interest, I started backpacking four years ago, beginning with day-hiking and single overnights.  Currently I’m mostly a ‘weekend warrior’, hiking and backpacking mainly in the hills and valleys of West Virginia, but have started a project to section hike the Appalachian Trail (AT), accruing a little over 200 mi (300 km) in the last two years.  My usual shelter is a hammock, but occasionally I use a tent. In general my backpacking style is lightweight and minimalist and I try to cut as much pack weight as I can without sacrificing warmth, comfort, or safety.


Initial Report - July 29, 2008


Product Information:

Manufacturer:  X-Socks
Year of manufacture:  2008
Model:  Air Force 1
Color:  X-15 (light & dark grey)
Size:  6-7.5 M
 
Advertised weight:  not available
  Measured weight: 58 g (2.05 oz)

  Website: www.x-socks.com
MSRP:  US$ 42.00
Left and right X-Socks

Product Description:

The X-Socks are a unique performance sock.  The manufacturer website and the sock packaging provide information on how the socks are designed for maximum performance.  They are similar in appearance to what I expected from the website.

The Air Force 1 socks are labeled as designed for Trekking and are designated as "Silverfoot", which the packaging explains means they have a foot-bed with a high percentage of 99.9% pure silver to combat odor and athlete's foot.  On the rear of the packaging it states the tech yarns are composed of 26% Nylon, 22% Merino wool, 16% Robur, 13% Mythlan, 9% Elastane, 7% Silk, and 7% Silver Nodor.  Interestingly, the side of the package lists a composition for the socks of 42% Nylon, 22% Merino wool, 13% Polypropilene, 9% Elastane, 7% Silk, 6% Polyester, and 1% Silver.

One unique feature is that they are designed and labeled for different feet.  Near the outside toe edge of each sock is a letter designating whether it is the left (L) or right (R) sock.  In the photo above, the outside of the right foot sock and the inside of the left foot sock are shown.  The 'R' symbol can be seen after the product name on the right side sock.  The symbol on the left sock is not visible, since it is on the opposite side.

Top and bottom of socksLooking at the socks, I see at least 12 different types of weave.  The toe has an orange section that X-Socks calls "ToeTip Protector" that is listed as being made of Robur, and has a very fine dense weave.  The next section up is designated as the "Toe Protector" and is the darker grey section above the orange tip.  This section is not quite as fine or tightly woven as the toe tip.  Proceeding up the top of the sock, the next section is designated as "The Instep Protector" which is a fine rib knit.  The packaging states the "Instep Protector" is for cushioning and shock absorption to reduce pressure points and scraping, bruising, and/or blistering.

To the inside of the Instep Protector is a section consisting of fine woven plain knit.  Just above this, in the arch area and moving up the inside of the leg section is a mesh knit section that X-Socks calls "The AirConditioning Channel" and which is patent pending.  This weave is to circulate air and regulate the temperature around the foot by pumping moist warm air out of even tight fitting shoes with every foot movement, according to the packaging information.  The outside of the sock also has a channel running up the side, which has a somewhat finer X-shaped weave.  At the front of the leg portion of the sock is "The Shin Protector" which is a medium width rib knit section with a large thick rib at each side.  According to X-Socks, the Shin Protector acts as a shock absorber and protection against scrapes and bruises, similar to the Instep Protector.  The "Self-Adjusting cuff" at the top is of a fine X-shaped weave similar to the channel on the outside of the leg, but with more elastic.  At the rear of the leg section is a section of double rib knit called "Rod-Padding", which is also edged with a large thick rib on each side.  The Rod-Padding is used to maintain space between the skin and the shoe and to allow air circulation. 

Just above the heel is the "Achilles' Tendon Protector", made of Robur for shock absorption and protection from scrapes and bruises.  Between the Achilles' Tendon Protector and the Rod-Padding is the X-Cross bandage, which is to cushion and stabilize the ankle.  The appearance of this area on the outside is the same as the channel running up the outside of the leg, but it feels snugger when I put it on, so I believe the X-Cross must be woven beneath the outer layer.  The heel area appears to be of similar weave to the Toe Protector area.  Most of the sole area appears to be of the same weave as the toe and heel, but there are three small thin channels of the X-shaped weave, called the "Traverse AirFlow Channel System" which is also patent pending and is to conduct moist warm air into the AirConditioning Channel and regulate foot temperature.

The packaging gives some useful information about NODOR, Mythlan, and Robur.  Both NODOR and Mythlan have anti-bacterial properties to help prevent foot odor, while Robur is a hollow-core fiber that is breathable, elastic, and cushioning as well as abrasion resistant.

Inside of sockThe words "TK Air Force 1" are woven into the outsides of the socks, and the X-Socks logo is woven into the front of the cuff top.  I was surprised by the appearance of the inside of the socks, which have several areas of loose threads of various lengths and fuzzy sections reminiscent of the back of an embroidery project.

The socks have a 2 year guarantee, and have a serial number on the package (unique to each pair) to use in registering the socks.  Registration can be made online at the X-Sock website or by mailing in the registration form on the inside of the packaging.  I registered my socks on the website, which was a simple process taking only a few minutes, although I did have to look up a size conversion due to the package listing US men's sizes and the website using European sizes.

International laundry symbols are included on the outside of the packaging.  I find the use of these symbols without worded instructions somewhat annoying, since I usually end up having to look them up to remember what they represent.  Basically, the socks can be machine washed on permanent press cycle in 40 degree water, and should not be bleached, ironed, dry cleaned, or tumbled dry.

Trying them on:

Slipping the socks on was simple, but I did snag my big toe nails on loose threads in the heel area on each sock.  This didn't seem to pull any stitching looser, but was slightly annoying.  I will be monitoring whether I need to pay more careful attention to making sure my toe nails are more smoothly trimmed or whether this is something that occurs regardless.

The socks have a snug elastic fit that is very comfortable, except that the cuff feels a little too constricting.  If I roll the cuff down over the sock or push the socks down my leg slightly, they don't feel too snug.  I will be monitoring whether the socks leave compression marks on my legs when pulled up, and whether they become just too uncomfortable during a hike and have to be rolled down for the sake of comfort and circulation.  The toes and heels fit perfectly, with no excessive materials to bunch up.  The arch area fits snugly against my foot, as does the instep, and the tops of the socks stay up well, even if I roll the cuff down once for comfort.

Just for fun, I put them on the wrong feet, and I truly could feel and see a difference in the fit.  They did not feel as comfortable, and they wrinkled up slightly across the top of my foot and at the ankle.  So they do appear to be well developed to better fit each foot when worn as they are supposed to be.

Preliminary Impressions:

So far I like the feel and fit of the X-Socks Air Force 1 socks, other than the overly snug cuffs.  They can be rolled up to around 3.5 x 4 in (9 x 10 cm), so the spare pair should take up little room in my pack while I am wearing the primary pair hiking, and at 58g (2.05 oz), are some of the lightest hiking socks I own.  I'm looking forward to seeing whether they provide as much comfort and temperature regulation as the packaging claims.

This concludes my Initial Report. 

Field Report - October 28, 2008

Field Conditions:

In early August I wore the X-socks Air Force 1 socks on an 8 mi (13 km) day hike in Shenandoah National Park.  Terrain varied from smooth soil to exposed roots and rocks with moderate to slightly steep elevation changes.  Temperatures were in the 80 F (27 C) range, and the trail was mostly shaded with some bright sunny spots.  I wore the socks with my Teva Wraptor Shield eVent shoes with built in gaiters, and carried a day pack relatively heavy with water, at around a 10 lb (4.5 kg) total weight.

In late August I wore them on a two day section hike of the Appalachian Trail in Shenandoah National Park, which included two day hikes interspersed with an overnight at one of the park's campgrounds.  I carried a day pack while hiking, loaded similar to the prior trip.  The first day was a 10.4 mi (16.7 km) section of trail consisting of similar terrain as the earlier August trip, with temperatures in the 70 - 80 F (21 - 27 C) ranges.  The second day was a shorter 2.3 mi (3.7 km) hike, with similar temperatures.  The trail included a short section of dirt interspersed with root and rocks, and a longer section with soil and grass underfoot and tall grass and bramble bushes along the sides, and varied from sunny to shaded.  I wore the X-socks for hiking with the same Teva shoes, and different socks and shoes in camp at night.

Also in late August/early September, I wore them on a weekend (3 day/2 night) backpacking trip in the Seneca Creek area of the Monongahela National Forest in eastern West Virginia.  While the days were warm (70 - 80 F/21 - 27 C), the evening temperatures dropped quickly into the 50 - 60 F (10 - 16 C).  The trail varied from relatively smooth to rocky and rooty, and from shaded forests to sunny meadows.  The first and last day consisted of gently sloping trail, and the second day consisted of some steep climbs and descents with rolling high meadows in the mid-section.  I carried about 20 lb (9 kg) in my GoLite Quest pack for the backpack in and out to base camp, and compressed it to a lighter load of around 10 lb (4.5 kg) for the second day of exploring from base camp.  The X-socks were again worn with the same Teva shoes while hiking and with a pair of Crocs around camp.  I even wore the X-socks for my sleeping socks as I found they dried quickly.

In mid-September, I wore them for a weekend of outdoor activities at West Virginia Becoming An Outdoor Woman, while teaching classes on beginning backpacking, wildlife exploration, and canoeing.  Temperature ranged in the 50 - 70 F (10 - 21 C) range and the weather was mostly dry with only a few showers.  I wore them with a pair of Keen eVent Targhee trail shoes.  There was not much mileage involved, since teaching involved more standing (or sitting in a canoe) than walking, but of course there was the normal back and forth walking to and from activities and a bit of moving around during classes.

In mid-October I wore them on a weekend teaching camping skills at a local Girl Scout camp.  Temperatures ranged from around 40 - 70 F (4 - 21 C).  I again wore them with the Keen eVent trail shoes, and again, there was more standing than walking.

In late October I wore them on a 5+ mi (8 km) hike on part of the Kanawha Trace Trail.  The trail varied from a wide grassy and gently sloping path to rocky, root-filled dirt single track with some steep ascents and descents, and a 1.5 mi (2.5 km) section of blacktop road walk (ouch!) at the end.  Temperatures were in the 50 F (10 C) range.

I've also worn the X-socks on about 8 different short (3 mi/5 km) day hikes on either old county roads with moderate elevation change near home or short sections of dirt/rock/root single width trails that involve a good bit of ascent and descent.  Temperatures for these hikes have been in the moderate 50 - 70 F (10 - 21 C) range.

I should note here that so far I have only worn one of the two pairs of socks X-socks sent me, both to test overall durability by putting the miles on one pair, and because I have not felt a need to change out of my socks due to them being damp.  More on that below.

Impressions So Far:

To be a little honest, when I first received the Air Force 1 socks I felt the construction seemed a little gimmicky with so many different weaves and the large air channels.  But I have to say that having worn these socks for all my hiking over the past couple of months that the construction truly seems to make a difference in how the socks perform. 

On my first day hike in the Shenandoah National Park I was a little concerned to find that I got a blister on the underside of my second toe, in the area adjacent to my big toe.  I rarely get blisters while hiking, so I was concerned that I might have future problems when wearing these socks.  Thankfully that has not materialized, even on the longer day hike and on the backpacking trip.  After that first use I have not experienced any other blisters, so it's likely the socks were not the culprit although I am somewhat puzzled as to what might have caused the blister since I was wearing shoes I have worn a great deal before, and I have worn them since with the X-socks and had no problem.

What I have found is that these socks keep my feet amazingly dry.  Normally after a long hike my socks will be very damp, to the point they are uncomfortable once I take my shoes off.  I've found this has been especially true with my eVent lined Keen shoes.  With the X-socks Air Force 1 socks, my feet are much drier at the end of my hike; they just feel warm and slightly moist.  I feel comfortable leaving the socks on, and they feel completely dry in a matter of a few minutes whereas my other socks have often felt damp for over a half hour in similar circumstances.  On the backpacking trip I took the second pair of socks along with me, but never felt the need to change them, even for sleeping since the pair I was wearing dried out so quickly, and they do not seem to develop much of an odor.

The X-socks have also proven to be very comfortable.  They have just enough elastic to fit comfortably snug and stay put well on my feet with no bunching or sagging.  The tops don't feel quite as snug as they did when they were new, but they do leave a little compression indentation on my leg for a short while after I take them off.  This is not uncomfortable - it's merely observable, so I guess it's not a bad trade off for a sock that stays up very well.  Once I have them pulled on I virtually never have to stop to pull them back up.

The socks are holding up well even with some rough trail use.  They do have some slight pilling, most noticeably on the top in the area over the arch of my foot.  Below is a picture that shows that area.  The pilling is barely visible.

Pilling at top of foot

They also have some stray fuzz at the front where the top of my Teva shoes meet the sock.  The Teva's have Velcro tabs that fasten across the top so that is likely the culprit for the fuzz in that area.  The toes and heels do not have any noticeable signs of wear, and neither do the tops.  The right sock does have some threads that have pulled loose on the bottom of the sock in the arch area, but this does not seem to have happened on the left sock.  I find this sort of interesting and wonder if something about the way I walk is different on my right foot as compared to my left foot.  This is undoubtedly nothing I would have noticed with ordinary socks that end up being worn on both feet, but stands out since I always wear these socks on the same foot. 

I have washed the socks a dozen or more times, sometimes using Woolite and sometimes using my normal detergent.  I always hang them to drip dry as I do all of my socks.  One thing I have noticed is that a single wash with mild detergent removes all odors, which sometimes isn't the case with some other hiking socks that have developed a funky odor that requires a couple of washes to remove.  The heels have developed some orange stains that don't wash out from wearing them with my Teva's.  The photo below shows the orange stains at the heel, the pulled threads on the bottom of the sock, and the fuzz at the front ankle area.

Wear and stains after 70 miles

Summary:

So far I am pleased with the performance and durability of the X-socks Air Force 1 socks.  They have been comfortable and seem to keep my feet drier than most other socks I have worn in the past.  They also do not seem to develop an odor even after warm weather hikes.  After approximately 70 miles of hiking as well as some general use they show little signs of wear, and I look forward to wearing them on many more trips.

This concludes my Field Test Report.

Long Term Report - January 5 2009

Field Conditions:

In mid-November I wore the X-Socks Air Force 1 socks on a 24 mi (39 km) 2-day hike of the North Fork Mountain Trail in eastern West Virginia.  Since the trail in this area is dry, and a forest service road crosses near the mid-point, we set up a car camp area at the mid-point and each day I carried only a light day pack with first aid/emergency gear, snacks, 2 L of water, rain gear, and a light insulated jacket, at a total weight of approximately 9 lb (4 kg).  Temperatures ranged from 30 to 50 F (-1 to 10 C), and there were intermittent breezy gusts.  The trail was fairly varied, with some section of relatively smooth dirt and others with a lot of rocks and roots, and several hundred feet (a few hundred meters) of elevation gain and loss.  I hiked in eVent lined trail shoes, using the same pair of X-socks both days, the same pair I have consistently worn during the test period.  They stayed dry throughout the day, enough so that I slept in the same pair I hiked in (along with a pair of down booties).

X-Socks in the snowIn mid-December I wore the Air Force 1 socks in the Wolf Gap/Big Schloss area along the border of Virginia and West Virginia on an overnight backpacking trip of approximately 9 mi (14 km), with almost 7 mi (11 km) of that being the first day.  It was definitely a frosty trip, with temperatures hovering just above freezing during the day and falling to around 20 F (-7 C) during the night.  Much of the hike was through light snow, with a few bare patches, and a few icy patches.  The trail was mainly rocky, and elevation gain and loss was several hundred feet (a few hundred meters).  I again wore the socks with my eVent lined trail shoes.  My feet stayed warm for most of the hike, except the last mile (1.5 km) or so, when temperatures started dropping and the trail was mostly downhill.  At that point my feet were damp and they started feeling cool while hiking and quite chilly in camp.  The socks dried out somewhat as I did camp chores and enjoyed a warm dinner and some good companionship in a small stone cabin the group had rented.  They still felt a little damp when I retired for the night to my hammock, so I changed into a dry pair of thicker socks (and down booties) for sleeping.  I stuffed the damp pair into my shoes and sat them under my hammock for the night, and they were still slightly damp the next morning when I put them on for the hike out to the trailhead. 

I have also worn them on six additional short day hikes of approximately 3 mi (5 km) on either trails or old semi-maintained county roads near home in western West Virginia, with elevation gain/loss of a few hundred feet (around 100 meters).

Final Impressions:

I continue to be impressed by the durability of these socks.  They have not shown any additional signs of wear over the last two months, and are still similar in appearance to the photo in my Field Report phase above.  I can't recall ever having worn socks that show this little wear after similar use.

I am also impressed with the way the socks really do stay dry while hiking.  The only time I had any significant damp feel to the socks was when I wore them hiking in the snow.  They weren't soaked, just damp, but I felt my feet would be a lot happier with dry socks to sleep in.  I feel comfortable enough with these socks that I may decide to leave the 'spare' pair behind for warmer weather weekend hikes.  I simply don't feel the need to take a dry pair for sleeping in warmer weather due to the superior wicking and quick drying properties of the Air Force 1 socks.

I've also appreciated the comfort of these socks.  Other than the small blister on the underside of my toe during my first long hike, I have not experienced any further foot problems or discomfort; nary a hot spot!  They have retained their elasticity and still fit my foot snugly.  I do often have a small indentation around my lower leg where the sock top fits tightly, but I have relatively large calves and in spite of the small indentation, the socks don't feel uncomfortable either while hiking or in camp.  The X-Socks have never stretched out or gotten loose over the course of a hike.  They remain just as snug and good fitting at the end of 2 days and 24 mi (39 km) as they were at the beginning.  And, a real bonus, they don't even reek at the end of a weekend of hard hiking.  I've found the odor resistance just as good as advertised - I've never had more than a mild odor when I took them home, even when I've stuffed them inside my shoes for the trip home.  In fact, I've often rescued them from the 'dirty' sock basket to wear them on one more hike before washing - something I would never do with any other pair of socks I've worn for a weekend of backpacking.

The only drawback I've seen with the X-socks is that they are not thick and warm for just sitting around in colder weather, but this hasn't made a difference while I am hiking.  I feel my feet would have still been cold, and probably damper, had I worn thicker socks for hiking on my last backpacking trip described above.

Summary:

The X-Socks Air Force 1 socks have performed admirably over the course of this test.  They have been comfortable, dry quickly, and have been extremely durable.  I anticipate wearing these socks on many future hiking and backpacking trips, and when they eventually wear out, I expect that I will be seeking a source to purchase another pair.

Likes:

Comfortable
Stay dry under most conditions
Dry quickly when wet
Very durable

Dislikes:

Warmth is minimal during non-active periods in cold weather.

This concludes the test series on a great pair of socks that I plan to use a lot in the future.

Thanks to X-Socks and BackpackGearTest for the opportunity to test the Air Force 1 socks.



Read more reviews of X-Socks gear
Read more gear reviews by Pamela Wyant

Reviews > Clothing > Socks > X-Socks Airforce 1 > Test Report by Pamela Wyant



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