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
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
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.
Looking at the socks, I see at least 12 different types of
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.
The 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
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.
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
(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
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
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.
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
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
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
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
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.
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.
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
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).
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).
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.
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.
Stay dry under most conditions
Dry quickly when wet
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.