Get on your Feet: The Importance of Hiking Socks

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Get on your Feet!

hiker

Imagine staying for about 14 hours at a temperature of up to 50C, at a very high humidity, without any ventilation… All that while doing hard work with  heavy load and discomfort. Doesn’t sound fun at all, does it? Your feet are working in that environment every day.

 “The human foot is a masterpiece of engineering and a work of art”

It’s the ultimate achievement in the evolution process. Complex system of ligaments and bones every day carries tons of weight and absorbes shocks caused by walking, running and other activities. Especially if we are outdoorsy and active type of people. If you still doubt it try to make few steps just on your heels. A bit hard, isn’t it? Literally. During the 15 miles walk we do about 30000 steps, and our feet carries a weight of about 2500. tons.

After this brief introduction, you can see how difficult and important task is put there for a sock, which is by far the most underrated part of our clothing. Watching customers at hiking section way too often we observe how little attention they  pay to choose good socks.

Sophisticated technology of hiking jacket, super light fleece, fast-drying underwear, shoes from top shelf picked carefully after reading endless reviews – and only when experienced and knowledgeable sports advisor recall socks customer realizes the need to purchase a pair. There are two stereotypes about hiking socks that have a big impact on hikers decisions. First is about good, old woollen sock. The one you could see on black and white picture of adventurous scouts posing with their wooden sticks. Thick, itchy, but woollen ergo the best. Second is about thin, natural cotton sock which absorbs moisture and is best for reducing blisters. If you want to buy decent pair of socks forget about those two stereotypes. Just erase those pictures from your memory, neglect all stories told you by courageous grandfather. Unprocessed, traditional, spool like wool, pressed thousands of times inside the shoe loses its characteristic zigzag structure flattens out, and after a few uses its fibres are straightened. In result it looses flexibility, is not helping to absorb any shocks and also looses its thermal properties. The cotton in general not suitable for hiking or any other sport activity, for one simple reason – it perfectly accumulates moisture, which is something we want to avoid as much as possible.

Often we do not realize that all these space technologies big companies use to design hiking jackets, pants, underwear and shoes, also entered the factories producing socks. We also do not realize that the machines that produce them cost hundreds of thousands of pounds, and the room in which they are located, are equally protected from dust, moisture and other external factors as server rooms telecommunication companies. If there is wool in a sock designed for hiking, each of its fiber is wrapped with nylon that protects it, so that the characteristic “wrinkled” wool structure do not get damaged. Modern socks are extremely complex structures that are characterized by variable stitch density, diverse composition of few different components within a single product, and last, but not least they are made with consideration of the environment.

Reinforced heel and toes seem to be standard. Same as seamless technology used to avoid abrasion. The central part of the sock, and its upper parts have a special puller –tight to prevent slipping, but loose enough not to give too much pressure. Special pads on the inner side of the sole are to add extra cushioning. Good socks have anatomical shape different for left and right feet. At the point where the foot bends, around the ankle, stitch is finer, so the wrinkled fabric does not pinch skin. Elastic fibers are covering the whole surface of the product to avoid creases and crinkles which during long hours of walking becomes true nightmare for every hiker.

When next time you go to the sport store remember that feet are really important bodypart that deserve bit of attention. And well choosen hiking boot is not enough. Sock is the first barrier between you, equipment and elements and it’s definitely worth considering.  Some of you may say that technical hiking socks are expensive but if you have a look at Quechua sock range I’m sure you’ll find something for you needs and for your budget.

Happy hiking!

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