We’ve been wearing hiking socks for years, but these all-new made-in-the-USA hikers raise the bar in technical wool footwear.
by the OutsideDaily staff
I’m a hiking sock kind of guy. It’s all I wear every day, winter or summer—over-the-ankle trail boots and wool hiking socks. It doesn’t matter whether I’m on the trail or on the boulevard. That’s what I wear.
As a sock and boot aficionado, I naturally gravitate toward the latest in purpose-built wool footwear. It was with great anticipation, therefore, that I waited to get my hands on a pair of Farm to Feet‘s new Damascus Elite Adventure Hiker socks—the latest technical hiking socks to debut at this year’s winter Outdoor Retailer show.
When the socks finally arrived, however, my enthusiasm dropped a few notches. These socks felt light and thin…more like a pair of cushy dress socks than something I am used to wearing on the trail. After slipping them on and lacing up, I was convinced that my initial excitement was misplaced. There was no way, I thought, that these were going to cut it in the bush.
Boy, was I wrong.
The Damascus Elite Adventure Hiker socks felt good. Actually, they felt great. Composed of delicious blend of 19.5-micron merino wool (57%), nylon (40%), and Lycra (3%), the socks had a luxuriously smooth hand and excellent compression in the sole and calf.
Yeah, but they just didn’t have the robust “trail hiker” feel I’ve become accustomed to wearing over the years. Nevertheless, objective evaluation is somewhere in my job description, and that’s exactly what I intended to give the Damascus Elite Adventure Hikers.
Flash forward a couple of months. I’ve been wearing these socks two to three times a week on my daily routines and on my backwoods cruises. My personal bias says these still feel “too light” for a hardcore hiking sock, but that is by design and it in no way diminishes the qualities and performance you want in a reliable hiker. Here’s why…
The Damascus Elite Adventure Hiker sock is all about “performance zones.” That, in itself, is nothing new to technical hiking socks, as strategically placing more material along the ball, heel, and top of the foot is common practice. What separates the Damascus Elite Adventure Hiker from most technical hiking socks is the sophistication in which these performance zones are constructed. Farm to Feet’s ability to apply multiple knitting techniques into a single sock delivers targeted cushioning where you need it without adding bulk where you don’t.
Flipping the Damascus Elite Adventure Hiker inside-out really tells the tale. This is the bottom portion of the sock. The toe box (blue) features a dense, low-pile terry loop knitting for both cushion and durability. The ball portion has a higher-pile terry loop knitting with a hexagonal patterned stitching on the outside to provide both impact cushioning and reinforcement. Notice also the smooth, seamless toe box transition. There is no stiff or annoying seam to cause aggravation or blisters.
What makes the Damascus Elite Adventure Hiker feel so much lighter and more “airy” than most technical wool hiking socks? The answer is in the flat-knit sections, such as the low-impact area below the arch. Here, cushioning density is replaced with flat-knit compression fibers to offer maximum support, reduce foot fatigue, and to help with ventilation.
As with the toe box and ball configuration at the front of the sock, the high-impact heel section features a dense, low-wear terry loop zone (blue) and a high-pile terry loop and hexagonal reinforced zone above and below. The combination provides optimal cushioning for long days on the trail.
The top of the Damascus Elite Adventure Hiker both cushions your foot and provides ventilation thanks to these high-pile terry loop rows.
The flat-knit section, where you don’t need impact cushioning, extends all the way up to the cuff to provide 360-degree compression. Notice the ventilation channels around the sock’s circumference, which maximize cooling and moisture evacuation.
I went into this evaluation with preconceived notions of what a wool technical hiking sock should be based on my years of wearing various brands day after day. The Damascus Elite Adventure Hiker has totally changed my view on this. A durable, high-performance hiking sock doesn’t need to be overtly thick or heavy to get the job done. On the contrary, with the thoughtful application of quality wool and synthetic fibers, advanced knitting technology, and intelligent engineering based on real-world application, you can have a superior wool hiking sock without the traditional heft and sweat.
The Damascus Elite Adventure Hiker is available in lightweight crew, medium weight crew, and lightweight quarter-crew in both men and women’s sizes and colors.
As a side note, Farm to Feet named the sock for the small, Southwest Virginia town of Damascus, where the annual Appalachian Trail Days event takes place.
This year, Farm to Feet is a title sponsor of the Appalachian Trail Days celebration, so it seems only fitting that the company named their newest technical hiking sock after the town that hosts the event. In fact, one of the several trademarks of the Farm to Feet brand is that the company names all of their socks after towns for which it has a personal connection.
That’s just part of the brand’s homegrown flavor. As its name implies, Farm to Feet is, in itself, a celebration of a “seed-to-shelf” supply chain that emphasizes local farming and manufacturing—something that is practically non-existent in today’s domestic textile industry. Farm to Feet makes their socks from quality merino wool harvested by sheep farmers across the U.S., processed and knitted by U.S. textile mills, and distributed by sales teams and retailers coast to coast. Even the synthetic blend materials are all U.S.-sourced.
Speaking of retailers, you can go here to buy the Damascus Elite Adventure Hiker and other premium wool socks by Farm to Feet. And if you’re in the Damascus, Virginia, area May 13-15, you can visit the Farm to Feet exhibit at the Appalachian Trail Days Festival and buy a pair direct from the manufacturer.
Article copyright 2016 by OutsideDaily.com; promoted by Nester Hosiery