The one problem with writing gear reviews is that the durability question can’t be answered on a first test, only with months of use. So, reporting on a couple of pairs of 1000 Mile Socks, which claim obviously, to last 1000 miles, is a little difficult. I have never had a pair of hiking socks last more than 350 miles without holes appearing and then subsequent deterioration. Smartwool always do pretty well, for me at least and are my usual choice. I moved over to ‘Darn Tough’, an American brand, during some of my Appalachian Trail through hike last year. They came equipped with a very impressive lifetime, unconditional guarantee and managed to fail after less than 100 miles. I have not used 1000 Mile Socks on a thru-hike which would be the obvious sock test because the mileage would be easy to determine. Conversely, you can’t go into a gear test being swayed to think a product is rubbish just because the competition’s alternatives never managed to put in a decent performance. Put simply, socks never last well on a thru-hike.
First pair to test – The 1000 Mile All Terrain Sock
I only ever ask 4 things from my hiking socks; they should last at least 350 miles, not give me blisters, wick away sweat well and have no stitching on hot spots such as underneath or on the heel. Better still, have no stitching at all. The 1000 mile guarantee is something I will have to report back on in the future as the distance these socks accrue will increase with time, and being somewhat geeky I am actually keeping a record of it. The one good thing about any guarantee, whether it be 1000 miles or unconditional is that you know, at least you can get a replacement pair should they not live up to expectations.
So, said company has kindly sent me 2 pairs of these socks to slip a foot into and venture off on some walks. One is called ‘All Terrain’ and the other a ‘Performance Walk Sock.’ 1000 Mile Socks original ethos was to use the liner and outer method. I have used this approach in the past and it involves wearing a thin, first liner sock made of a material such as Coolmax and then an outer sock. The inner wicks away sweat but also reduces the risk of chafing as, apparently, the liner will rub on the outer sock as opposed to your skin. I have used this method in the past, indeed I was ruthless about liners on EL Camino de Santiago but I suffered the worst blisters ever. In retrospect I think I would have suffered regardless as I was doing too much mileage with poor boots. I have been on plenty of walks using a liner with no blisters so you make up your mind.
Apologies for the appearance of my lower leg which appears to have had a light bulb inserted in it somewhere
So, let’s look at the first pair – the All Terrain Sock. These are made from (outer) – 45% Merino Wool, 42% Cotton, 12% Nylon and 1% Elastane Lycra. The inner is 100% Tactel. The addition of Elastane meant a pleasant fit to these as they stretched easier when I put them on and subsequently ‘closed’ back and encased my feet. It also prevented them slipping around as I walked, I liked this. The construction of each part is nearly all one piece so a lack of stitching which could cause friction is welcome although there is one stitch line apparent running along the top of the toe line, this shouldn’t create a problem if your shoes fit as they should.
I have walked around 50 miles in this pair and the one aspect that is apparent is the comfort. They feel, for lack of a better word, right. I’ve used them in mild weather and colder temperatures and they dealt well with both. There was no bunching of the material, no slipping down the ankle or movement around my feet. As I said above, only time will answer the durability question and 50 miles is not high but there are no signs of wear. After a day in the hills they never smelt bad either which would make them a good choice on a multi-day trip.
The Performance Sock seems to be a move away from the manufacturer’s original ideology, the liner approach. Why? Because they don’t have one. This pair is constructed from 73% Wool Ultra, 5% Merino Wool, 18% Nylon and 4% Elastane. The high 78% wool content should translate into more comfort, good wicking abilities and an ability to deal well with odours. These are 4 Season socks and subsequently much thicker. Again, the Elastane addition resulted in a snug fit but the real pleasure with these is the inner surface which appears almost fleece like. As with the All Terrain Sock, these were super comfortable and I used them on a recent 2 day, one night jaunt to my local hills where the temperature never went above freezing point. You can pretty much expect to get cold feet in most socks once you stop walking and settle in to camp, regardless of the season rating. During the last weeks on my Pacific Crest Trail hike my feet were cold for 7 days at a time and only warmed up once I was in my sleeping bag. A dry pair of socks slipped on at the end of the day with dry camp shoes does help but I didn’t have that luxury on this brief trip. However, although my feet chilled a little when I hit camp, they remained noticeably warmer than I would have expected. It also only took a few minutes walking the following morning before they were much more comfortable.
2nd pair on test – The 1000 Mile 4 Season Performance Walk Sock
Pricewise they’re competitive. Compared with Smartwool and Bridgedale, a good 20% cheaper for the equivalent models. Can only be a good thing.
I’ll continue to use both pairs and get back to you all at some point to address the durability aspect but for the time being, my feet are well happy and suitable impressed.
1000 Mile All Terrain Sock (Size M – 6 to 8.1/2 UK) – £10.99 (RRP)
1000 Mile Performance Walk Sock (Size M – 6 to 8.1/2 UK – £15.49 (RRP)
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