Socks are a classic example of a piece of clothing that you take completely for granted. When they work well you have warm, dry feet that remain blister-free no matter how arduous the terrain or how long the walk.
And while socks that claim to deliver this Holy Trinity are manifest, the ones that actually deliver are few and far between: socks that don’t fit well are surprisingly common, as are inappropriately located seams, and synthetic materials that don’t breath – and even when you do find a pair that delivers, it’s not at all uncommon to find they shrink in the wash, stretch as you wear them, or wear through on the heel after only a couple of months.
So, I took the claims made by 1000 Mile for its Hilly Heat Sock with a pinch of salt; the fact that the outer sock contains 33% nylon and 26% polyester was a concern, albeit one that was offset by its 25% Merino wool content.
The inner sock is 100% NILIT® Heat, which is apparently a mixture of coffee charcoal (a waste product that comes from coffee bean shells) and nylon. So, natural and synthetic again, which is, in my experience, a recipe for smelly feet despite the manufacturer’s claims that it has “natural anti-bacterial properties and a powerful deodorising effect.”
They’re padded to help prevent fatigue, and the top of the sock is said to vent excess heat and has “excellent absorption and moisture control for a sweat-free sensation,” while simultaneously being able to “capture body heat naturally for exceptional warming.”
That’s quite the suite of claims, isn’t it?
Fully justified, though. I’ve been using them for a few months now and have worn ‘em in the snow of Arctic Canada and the heat of a British summer; whether worn inside trainers or walking boots, my feet remained as fresh and comfortable as I can ever remember – and, because weight is an issue when you’re carrying everything you need for a few days away on your back, I could wear them for three days at a push before they needed washing.
That might seem a bit gross but it does mean that one pair is enough for a long weekend in the mountains, while two pairs, alternating them with a quick wash overnight, should see you through weeks at a time on a longer trip.
I haven’t kept track of the mileage I’ve covered in them but after several months of regular use – and dozens of washing cycles in everything from a mountain stream to a proper washing machine – they’re free of holes and still fit as snugly as the day I received them.
Available in three sizes for men and two for women, they cost £17.99 from all good outdoor retailers, or you can buy them online here.
Carlton Boyce @motoringjourno