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Reviews > Footwear > Winter Boots > Goosefeet Down Socks and Over Booties > Owner Review by Richard Lyon
GOOSEFEET DOWN SOCKS and WATERPROOF OVER-BOOTIES
by Richard Lyon
July 25, 2016
PERSONAL DETAILS and BACKPACKING BACKGROUND
Male, 70 years old
Height: 6' 4" (1.93 m)
Weight: 205 lb (91 kg)
Shoe size: Men's 13 (US); 47 (Europe)
Email address: Montana DOT angler AT gmail DOT com
Home: Bozeman, Montana USA
I've been backpacking for nearly half a century, most often in the Rockies. I do at least one weeklong trip every summer, and often take three-day trips. I'm usually camping in alpine terrain, at altitudes 5000 to 10000 ft (1500 - 3000 m). I prefer base camp backpacking, a long hike in with day trips from camp. Though always looking for ways to reduce my pack weight, I still tend to include my favorite camp conveniences. I always sleep in a floored tent and like hot meals. Summer adventures are often centered on fly fishing opportunities; winter on ski or ski touring.
GooseFeet Gear, www.goosefeetgear.com, is a cottage manufacturer of down products "for ultralight warmth." Founded in 2010 by Ben Smith, its website lists five down products (not all for feet) and encourages inquiries for custom gear. The website also states expected lead times, currently (last updated November 2015) about two weeks for listed products or custom variations of them and about ten weeks for other custom orders. Sometimes there is a "Current Inventory" page; orders from this (what I did) are shipped in a few days.
Goosefeet designed its Down Socks and Waterproof Over-Booties to be used together.
The Down Booties are just that: 850+ down-filled socks for use in backcountry sleeping. A customer must make five choices: size [XS ("great for kids") through XL]; fabric [three on offer: 20d ripstop nylon, Pertex Quantum GL, and 10d X]; overfill [0 to 100% of standard]; and outer and inner fabric color. Mine are denim grey 20d inside and black 20d out with 50% overfill, rated to 25 F (-4 C). Sizes are unisex; there is a chart on the website that matches GooseFeet sizes to standard U.S. men's and women's shoe sizes. No frills here - just a band of elastic at the cuffs. Stitching indicates that each Sock consists of three pieces: left and right uppers and a piece on the bottom.
Listed weight, pair [20d fabric]: 2.6 oz (74 g) with a standard 1.2 oz (34 g) down fill. Extrapolating for the extra fill, the listed weight would be 3.2 oz (91 g). Measured weight, pair: 3.25 oz (92 g).
The Waterproof Over-Booties are to be slipped over the Down Booties for use around camp. Available in the same sizes as the Booties, all have silnylon uppers and drawstring cords at the cuff and lower heel for cinching over the Booties. The customer chooses between a sole of Dyneema (lighter weight) or (as I did) Toughtek (greater traction). A 1.5 in (4 cm) band of ToughTek that is sewn to the sole piece encircles the Bootie. The silnylon upper is sewn to the top of this.
Listed weight, per pair, Toughtek sole, size Medium, 3.7 oz (105 g); measured weight, size XL: 5.75 oz (163 g). For you ultralighters out there, the Over-Booties' listed weight with Dyneema soles is less than half that with Toughtek soles. Either model comes with removeable soles and toggle-operated drawcords at the cuff and at the bottom of the heel.
MSRP: Down Socks, $65 US. Over-Booties, $45 US. When ordering the Socks it's not quite that simple as various fabrics and down overfill entail small surcharges.
I bought these products in autumn 2014 principally for winter use. Over the past few years my winter backpacking accommodations have more often been huts, yurts, or cabins rather than man-hauled (tent) or manmade (ice cave) structures. The Goosefeet set has been in my pack for about ten overnight or weekend (two or three nights) excursions to United States Forest Service cabins in the vicinity of my home near Bozeman. Each of these involved a hike on snowshoes or hiking crampons, or a ski on telemark skis with skins, of 1-10 miles (1.5-16 km) from the trailhead to the cabin with a pack weighing 40-50 lb (18-22 kg). (My most frequent companion on these trips has two children, so I was often saddled with some of their gear.) Nighttime and morning (the only times I wore either product) temperatures ranged from about -10 to 40 F (-23 to 4 C). We never experienced a blizzard but met the occasional snow flurries and showers.
Two other trips in the 2014-2015 winter were a three-day ski trip to the Teton Range in Idaho, skiing to and staying in a yurt, and an overnight ski to a backcountry cabin in Yellowstone Park, Wyoming, both under similar weather conditions but with a lighter pack on the former trip, as the yurt had been stocked in advance with food and sleeping bags and pads.
Except for the Yellowstone backcountry cabin, whose stove was not available to us, indoor temperatures were about 10-15 F degrees (6-8 C degrees) warmer than the outdoor temperature until about one hour after bedtime (when we stopped stoking the woodstove) to only a few degrees warmer early the following morning. All shelters except the Park Service cabin in Yellowstone blocked the wind.
My first trip with the Goosefeet set was in October 2014, a planned three-day trip in the Slough Creek area of Yellowstone National Park that was cut short by an injury to a colleague. We met with a few rain showers but generally fair weather. The photo at left gives some idea of the conditions - light rain where we were, at about 6000 feet (1800 m), about 30 F (-1 C), that at the higher elevations resulted in a lovely garland of snow. Nighttime temperatures fell to about 20 F (-7 C), well below the dew point as the entire campsite was caked with frost early in the morning.
Fit. The Socks give a good, comfortable fit, neither too loose nor too constricting. Using the size chart on the manufacturer's website, I am right in the middle of the shoe size range for XL. The Socks don't slip off when I toss and turn in my sleep (which I tend to do all night long), and they have stayed on when I wore them alone, without the Over-Booties, for a couple of bathroom breaks in the frosty Yellowstone campsite or the snowy trail from cabin to outhouse. The fit was better when wearing wool socks inside the Down Socks, which I did on all the winter trips.
Traction. With no sole the Down Socks really are socks, and when wearing them outside I had to be careful to avoid slipping on anything slick. The Over-Booties with their Tough-Tek soles give slightly better purchase on slippery surfaces, and cinching them up reduces slippage of my feet inside the Booties. I have occasionally worn the Over-Booties, without the Down Socks, over standard merino hiking socks. It's a bit difficult to get them cinched, thanks to my skinny ankles and the fact that the Down Socks for which they are intended to cover are puffy, but it works.
Waterproofing. The Over-Booties, as their name declares, are completely waterproof. When cinched snugly over the Socks no moisture got inside - a good thing especially in the frosty morning in Yellowstone amid calf-high grass and weeds. The Socks on their own do a really good job of resisting frost or snow - in my opinion an even better thing, for reasons discussed below. I wasn't too surprised by this, as the manufacturer notes that the 20d nylon used in mine has been DWR-treated; also I've found many nylon products to exceed the conservative "water-resistant" label often given them. At any rate only a few drops of moisture remained on the outside of the Socks after several Socks-only bathroom trips through the frost or snow, with no noticeable wetting out of the down.
Warmth. The Socks are very warm, certainly warm enough to keep my feet comfortably cozy through the night even when I'm not wearing wool socks inside them. That goes for sleeping (in a quilt) and walking around a chilly shelter first thing in the morning. Indeed on the October backpack I found them to be a bit too warm when wearing my usual "sleep socks," a pair of heavyweight merino wool socks kept clean and dry and used only for sleeping. But sleep socks plus Down Socks are perfect for hut use when setting things up upon arrival or getting the fire started first thing in the morning. I should note that I am quite cold-prone, especially at the extremities, something that makes the Down Socks all the more appreciated.
Durability. So far very good; neither product shows much wear and tear after two winters' service. No loose stitches or tears, and no noticeable escaping down. And remember that because of hut use I've exposed the Socks to considerably more opportunities for abrasion than likely intended for a product that's supposed to be covered when walking.
Care. Goosefeet's website doesn't contain any care instructions, and if any were included with the product I've long since misplaced them. So I treat the Socks similarly to other down products. I hand-washed the Socks at the end of each winter. First they were soaked in cold water and down-specific soap, then gently kneaded, followed by air-drying in my basement. I also removed and air-dried the soles after each trip. These acquired a mild sweaty odor near the end of winter, so I soaked them in a mildew treatment (MiraZyme) for a couple of hours, followed by air drying, and the odor was gone. Both Socks and Over-Booties appear to be in great shape for many more seasons.
WHAT I LIKE
A simple and easy-to-use system to keep my feet warm. There's not much that can go wrong.
Water resistance of the Down Socks
WHAT I'D CHANGE
I'd like to see these two items integrated into a single down bootie, i.e. putting a hard sole and drawstring cords on the Socks. That's the sort of camp footwear I'm used to, and I can attest that it's much easier to find and don an integrated bootie than a much smaller, dark-colored Over-Bootie when groping about in a tent or dark cabin in the middle of the night. As noted, I found the outer fabric on the Down Socks to be sufficiently water resistant (almost truly waterproof) to bear the rigors of around-camp use during three-season camping. In fact I may explore this concept with Ben as a custom piece.
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