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Is there such a thing as "better" touring socks?

Old 01-29-24, 09:19 AM
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Is there such a thing as "better" touring socks?

Worn stuff needs replacement. This is a simple piece of kit, yet I kind of hesitate. I've been wearing Patagonia's Ultralightweight daily and am about to (re) order a couple of pairs. Lightweight, small pack sized and dry very fast. OTOH I've purchased hiking socks (I forget which brand, it was somewhere on tour), probably wool, with cushioned sole, and that seemed to make a difference WRT comfort (but they'd take ages to dry).

Opinions, suggestions, wisdom to share?
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Old 01-29-24, 09:27 AM
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Cheap poly socks that come in multiple pairs to the pack are okay IMO, but lately I have been wearing some more expensive REI coolmax ones. I like low or quarter length. Either are comfy, don't soak up too much water, dry fast, and feel okay when damp. I have also worn some wool wigwam ones and find them a little warmer, but like the synthetic ones better for wet conditions.

I have not actually toured with the coolmax ones, but they have been my daily trail riding socks lately and have worked out well in that role. I have toured with the wigwams and the cheap poly ones and of the two preferred the cheap poly ones on average. The wigwags might have an advantage in some conditions and maybe would be better in the role of my warm sleep socks.

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Old 01-29-24, 09:34 AM
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drama? )

I have socks from, Pedaled, Rapha, Maap, Fingercrossed, Isadore, all worked and work fine. Did I miss something or do I need new socks?
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Old 01-29-24, 09:50 AM
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My favorite for hot touring was the old Smartwool PhD anklets. Reasonably comfortable and rugged, thin enough that it could dry quickly. I'm pretty sure they've changed things since then.

What are you looking for in a "touring" sock?
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Old 01-29-24, 10:25 AM
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Originally Posted by pdlamb
What are you looking for in a "touring" sock?
Small packed size, quick to dry are instinctively what I look for, first. Use case is essentially to avoid sunburn early in the season -- later on I tend to pedal barefoot (wearing sandals).
Interestingly, this is probably the one article of clothing for which I don't have a rather clear set of preferences.
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Old 01-29-24, 10:49 AM
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Anything that dries out fast is best. In other words, anything synthetic or wool, but not cheap cotton.

And depending on how your shoes fit, you want ones that are the right thickness so shoes are comfortable but not too loose.

Most of my bike trips are in cooler weather and often in wet weather, so I bring some hiking shoes to wear in the campsite. And need socks that have the right thickness to fit in those well too.

But on trips where weather is hotter, I bring sandals for campsite wear instead, sometimes wear those with socks and sometimes not, those adjust better to size variation. And sandals with no socks will remind you the hard way later that you forgot to sunscreen your feet.

On the rando forum, there recently was a thread on feet changing size during a long bike ride. If you also have had that problem, that becomes pertinent to sock thickness and shoe fit.
Foot size/ shape changing during a long ride?

On a tour, I typically bring three or four pair of socks counting the pair I am wearing. Just in case a pair or two are wet in cold weather, I like to have a dry pair as a contingency plan for campsite use. My touring partner on Pacific Coast only had one pair of shoes, and all his socks got wet. He was having skin problems from wet feet and we had to sit in a campsite for a day so he could try to heal his feet.
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Old 01-29-24, 11:01 AM
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Originally Posted by Tourist in MSN

On the rando forum, there recently was a thread on feet changing size during a long bike ride. If you also have had that problem, that becomes pertinent to sock thickness and shoe fit.
Foot size/ shape changing during a long ride?
Interesting. (but not really an issue with sandals I don't tour in freezing temperatures. No problem above freezing with liner sock + neoprene if/when it gets cold)
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Old 01-29-24, 12:15 PM
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On the 'General Cycling Discussion' forum some months back the Darn Tough brand ("Unconditionally Guaranteed for Life") got many votes and accolades. Now you know as much as I do.
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Old 01-29-24, 01:23 PM
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the SockGuy for all my warmer weather needs but like some wool blends when it turns chilly
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Old 01-29-24, 07:34 PM
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Originally Posted by tcs
On the 'General Cycling Discussion' forum some months back the Darn Tough brand ("Unconditionally Guaranteed for Life") got many votes and accolades. Now you know as much as I do.
If your Darn Tough socks get a hole, or otherwise cease to please you, you send the pair back, and they email you a voucher good for a new pair. No questions asked, the only condition is that you must send both socks (for obvious reasons).

I have many pairs of the mid-weight hiking socks, and a few pairs of the heavyweights; highly recommended for cycling, hiking, and any other use involving feet. They are excellent, comfortable, and (obviously) durable.
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Old 01-29-24, 11:21 PM
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I found that as soon as you call clothing; bike specific it greatly increases the price
I did some hunting at a big box sporting goods store and found the following:
Fleece garments in the hunting fishing section are cheaper by almost half though colors are limited.
Short socks for tennis cost less than cycling socks
Head warmers, gloves, etc are cheaper in the cross country skiing department
The boating section offers some good deals on waterproof clothing and bags
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Old 01-30-24, 11:06 AM
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Originally Posted by pdlamb
My favorite for hot touring was the old Smartwool PhD anklets. Reasonably comfortable and rugged, thin enough that it could dry quickly. I'm pretty sure they've changed things since then.

What are you looking for in a "touring" sock?
Upon seeing this thread, my first (brief) thought was that socks don't matter. But, I was then surprised, upon a little reflection, by how strongly positive my thoughts are regarding Smartwool anklet socks. I was especially amused, then, to see this reply that already communicated exactly what I was thinking. I did the entire Northern Tier, plus a few other smaller tours, with two pair of these. It's been a decade since my last tour, but I still have them, and thinking about the daily rotation between washing / drying or wearing each pair made me smile.
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Old 01-30-24, 12:28 PM
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Originally Posted by ignant666
If your Darn Tough socks get a hole, or otherwise cease to please you, you send the pair back, and they email you a voucher good for a new pair. No questions asked, the only condition is that you must send both socks (for obvious reasons).
What if one escapes from the dryer, never to be seen again?
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Old 01-30-24, 02:03 PM
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Socks? No need for them!

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Old 01-30-24, 05:12 PM
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Originally Posted by MarcusT
Short socks for tennis cost less than cycling socks
Cycling gear is certainly priced higher than a lot of athletic gear, but I have found that bike socks significantly outperform other athletic socks that I've tried for walking the golf course. They wear better (less movement or bunching) and last longer. So I buy the ones I like at this time of year when you can get the $12 socks on clearance for $3.
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Old 01-30-24, 07:19 PM
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How about no socks? I wear sandals (Shimano) adding sock liners inserted into waterproof socks when it gets cold (mid-30s and up).
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Old 01-30-24, 08:49 PM
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FWIW, I usually wear socks, on and off, for the first several days. Eventually my get can remain be exposed to the sun, all day, without getting sunburned. Later in the trip, it'll depend on the weather (cold, wet, etc)

Not clear n to me if carrying a pair of hiking socks, cushioned, is a good idea. IIRC, they make for a more comfortable ride. Perhaps.
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Old 01-31-24, 09:00 AM
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hi there M. Gauvins,
Over the years, I've noticed a difference using these double layer socks, I 'll have to go fish them out of my drawer to find the brand, but on long days, even hot days, I find that my feet are less sensitive, more comfortable after a days ride, than with single layer, thinner socks.
Even on really hot days, they help a lot with not having any "hot spots" on my feet.

Wrightsock is the brand---edit-- they do come in different ankle lengths. The ones I love for hot weather go just above the ankle.

I've been buying these socks for a bunch of years and they really are my favorite. I too wash my socks by hand quickly each day along with my padded shorts and shirt, and these socks dry as well as any other socks I use, so not a problem.

For drying out my things, I have gotten very good at getting the most water out of them post wash, letting them hang a bit for remaining water to go to bottom of item, then a final squeeze--then using my towel to roll the items in and step on to really get the most water out.
Followed by carefully choosing where to hang them to dry, moving air, sun, any heat source (lamps, back of fridges, whatever) and avoiding dew (so not leaving them out overnight) -- all this makes a big difference in how well things dry for the next day. Worst case, they sit out on the back of the bike the next day while I ride to finish drying.

For cooler riding, the pretty standard wool socks , generally hiking ones with the thicker heel and toe area, work really well and are a bit more comfortable due to the extra cushion.
And of course, being wool means less smelly and with a good airing out, can be worn a number of days, especially in cooler weather.

there really are a million offerings of socks, but my Wrightsock double layer ankle ones have been my favs for years and years and years. I really notice the difference.
* the idea with two layers is to reduce friction against your skin, its an old hiking trick, a really thin sock under another pair.

oh, and of course, socks are just part of the issue, how well a shoe fits your feet, how a shoe breathes, is of course part of the solution to foot comfort, so no sock will cure a pressure point or whatever that is caused by a specific shoe interacting with your specific feet.

I tried so many bike shoes on over the years, finally found that higher end Specialized mountain bike shoes fit my feet the best, so have stuck with the same model over the last probably 15, 20 years. They change a bit, but fit me better than other brands. Not worth wasting money on shoes that dont fit your feet really well if you ride a lot, thats my take on it anyway.

Last edited by djb; 01-31-24 at 09:06 AM. Reason: added about just above ankle length
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Old 01-31-24, 09:57 PM
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Darn Tough is my current favorite sock brand. I haven't had them develop holes, but very eventually they lose their elasticity and become quite saggy and shapeless. I tried to take them up on their lifetime offer, but was told that the offer was good only for socks purchased direct from them, not another retailer. I was a little sad about that. Overall, I've been happy with their life span, and still wear them.

I prefer a thicker sole sock, which seems to help with the occasional hot foot issues. Wool is a must for me. Perhaps because I buy wool, and also wear sandals - but I wash my socks maybe once a week on tour. IDK if I should be admitting that in public!
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Old 01-31-24, 10:13 PM
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Kelly, that last line made me chuckle.
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Old 02-01-24, 07:36 AM
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Originally Posted by Kelly I
... and also wear sandals - but I wash my socks maybe once a week on tour. IDK if I should be admitting that in public!
With sandals, you probably can get away with wearing them that long. I rarely will go for three days, but two is more common for me. Touring, I usually wear Keen Commuter 4 Sandals which have a closed toe and are more like a shoe than a sandal.

Touring, I typically bring two spare pairs, but try to keep up with my laundry so I have dry clean ones to use when I have several consecutive days of rain. If I am going to an unusually wet climate, I might bring three spare pairs.
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Old 02-01-24, 07:41 AM
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Take good care of your feet.

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Old 02-01-24, 07:46 AM
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Originally Posted by Kelly I
I tried to take [Darn Tough] up on their lifetime offer, but was told that the offer was good only for socks purchased direct from them, not another retailer. I was a little sad about that.
This contradicts both what they say on their website, and my experience of returning socks i bought from a local store. I most recently did this in December, and very definitely told them i purchased the socks at a shop in my town. My new socks are very nice.

According to both their website, and my experience, the only requirement is that you must return both socks. If they did not have this requirement, you could just return one sock at a time, and double your sock holdings at will.
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Old 02-01-24, 07:46 AM
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As I have toured more in summer months, often rather hot, washing my socks every day is important to not starting any athletes foot little skin cracks, which is annoying.
I don't know if I am more prone to this than others, perhaps I am, so I am more careful about foot hygiene (and I don't ride with sandals).

Like a lot of physical activity life stuff, we have to figure out what works best for our bodies and taking care of all parts of us, just like eating and hydrating for a given activity and temps, or keeping warm enough or whatever.
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