It’s Always Sock Season...
Kicking It: Brands Discuss Seasonality in Outdoor Socks.
Tis the season for hosiery that warms the hooves. Consumers are snapping up winter socks that regulate temperature, have soft fibers, boast adequate cushioning and protect a lot of leg. Summer socks are different in that moisture-wicking, anti-microbial properties and breathability are of utmost importance. For every season, there is a sock. Here, Outdoor Insight sorts out the best options for every drawer.
Based in the Midwest (cue cold weather) with 120 years in business under its belt, Fox River “takes pride in knowing how to create the warmest socks in the industry,” notes Scott Little, chief merchant at Fox River Mills. This winter, a new ski program from the brand features Merino wool with silk and Primaloft, alongside another high content Merino wool option. Wool is ideal for winter, thanks to its temperature regulating, moisture-wicking and antimicrobial properties.
Stance’s line of performance socks includes Merino wool styles in hike, snow and ski, which when coupled with Feel360 and Infiknit technology, “has a superior moisture management system to keep feet fresh and dry, plus durability that will last a lifetime,” according to Randy Sheckler, director of product education at Stance. Infiknit, a premium yarn construction targeting high friction areas to help socks last five times longer, is new to the snow line for Winter 2020.
Equally tech-driven, Wigwam’s SynchroKnit technology includes several Merino styles for snow, hike and winter running categories. SynchroKnit provides precise fit by eliminating stitches to reduce yarn and bulk above the ankle and in the arch/instep. “A SynchroKnit sock hugs the details of your foot, cradles your arch and provides just the right amount of room in toe and heel boxes,” for added support, comfort and better performance, explains Margaret Newhard, Wigmam Mills’ director of product management.
Darn Tough Vermont updated its snow collection for 2020, addressing all technical aspects of socks needed to participate in any outdoor sport. The collection offers the brand’s lightest weight yarn, a midweight yarn and also cushioned options to suit specific outdoor needs. An “improved technical foot offers flexibility, breathability and reinforcement engineered to optimize performance,” notes Darn Tough’s Lyn Feinson, VP of product design.
Creative Director Kushal Ruia and the team at Drew Brady Co’s Heat Holders brand will debut the Snow Sports sock, which, they note, is three times warmer than a regular cotton sock. “It fits right into ski boots and is perfect for winter sports such as skiing, snowboarding and snowshoeing,” says Ruia. A three-stage development process includes employing a soft cashmere-like acrylic yarn, patented knitting process and proprietary brushing process. Ruia deems the result “a thermostat for your feet.”
Lorpen’s new T3 Ski Light sock features unique T3 construction with maximum sole and shin padding for protection and warmth. A Merino and PrimaLoft combo results in fast drying and wicking while still feeling soft against the skin.
For the après ski crowd, Farm To Feet’s White Mountain Lounger is knit with 19.5 U.S. Merino wool on a 108-needle machine for large cushioning terry loops that run from the top of the sock to the toe for ultimate cushioning and comfort. The sock is named for the New Hampshire mountain range, best known for Mt. Washington.
In summer months, moisture is a challenge. OS1st’s Thin Air socks are “designed for a perfect fit and have unique patent pending Skin Thin air channels to work in conjunction with all running shoes to create maximum air flow,” keeping feet cool and dry, according to Josh Higgins, president of ING Source.
Heat, friction and moisture can lead to blisters, so consumers sometimes choose to run in the thinnest socks available. Drymax EVP Bob MacGillivray notes that “thin socks inherently provide little protection,” and with that in mind, the new line of Extra Protection Hyper Thin Running socks from Drymax has targeted ePTFE (polytetrafluorethylene) fibers in the forefoot and heel to reduce friction, plus, open vents surrounding arches and top of foot maximize drainage and breathability.
At Balega, UltraGlide is a “friction-free, left and right-specific construction sock with a unique metatarsal pad knitted into the sock for extra protection for runners battling with overheating and hotspots,” notes Balega Marketing VP Tanya Pictor. Friction-free yarns reduce kinetic and static energy to keep fee cool and dry.
Getting the right fit is important in any season.
“Fit is just as important during the summer as it is in winter,” explains Zach King, product line merchandising manager for men’s socks at Smartwool. Hiking, running and cycling trend to a precise, performance- oriented fit, he adds. Launching in Spring 2020, the women’s PhD Pro Endurance is suited for trail running. (New for Fall 2020 from Smartwool is the PhD Pro Ski Race sock designed with Mikaela Shiffrin — it has race-boot-specific shin cushioning and increased arch compression for enhanced ski feel.)
Icebreaker’s Hike+ line been updated this season for a better fit and comfort outdoors. The Merino + Tencel Cool-Lite range also now extends into the brand’s hiking socks.
For consumers who like socks to be unseen, Feetures! introduces the “first truly anatomical no-show sock with targeted compression” for 2020, says the brand’s VP of marketing, Joe Gaither. The sock is designed to be totally hidden and has no tab, but it’s guaranteed to stay up because of the custom-like fit.
Swiftwick CMO Joanna Mariani describes Swiftwick Aspire as a line which features a lightweight olefin fiber for maximum moisture-wicking and firm compression to support feet. “A breathable upper and thin cushion keeps feet cool and minimizes bulk, perfect for technical footwear,” she adds. New colors and designs of the style will launch for 2020 in Aspire, as well as in Maxus, Flite XT and Vision which are suitable for activities including running, cycling, fitness and golf. New releases of Pursuit and Pursuit Hike lines are on deck for August 2020.
Transitioning to Spring, Fall and Beyond
“The beauty of what Brown Dog offers is a casual dress sock that can cross all seasons,” says Ashleigh Brown, marketing director for Wilson Brown. The socks use medium weight combed cotton fiber, offer arch support and a seamless toe for unlimited comfort. Point6 offers options in all heights and cushions to help transition for summer to winter in a snap. For 2020, the entire line will include 37.5 technology, which marketing manager Elizabeth Diamond describes as a fiber which “contains active natural particles that increase the surface area of the fiber, allowing it to use body heat to evaporate moisture in vapor form, enhancing body temperature regulation and humidity next to skin.” As a result, the nylon in a sock behaves like wool.
Thorlo Marketing Exec Tracy Harris is proud of the brand’s new First Nation collection, which “celebrates the original outdoors people, Native Americans.” The collection spans all seasons and a percentage of profits is donated to the American Indian College Fund.