One of the most important things, if not the most important thing a person can do when hiking, backpacking, mountaineering, trail running, or climbing is to ensure that their feet are healthy. While this may sound like a ridiculous statement, it is actually the key to both short term and long term success on the trail. Everything in all of these sports starts from the feet. A person’s feet are the only body parts that actually directly deal with the trail, and are the only parts that must adjust to differing conditions on and off the trails. Sure, these sports require conditioning and core strength to be effective, and sure, other parts of the body – such as the back can be affected by other pieces of equipment, but really, for most outdoor activities, where the rubber hits the road is where the road hits the feet.
To this end, proper footwear is a must, and one should never wear a pair of boots or shoes that has never been broken in on a long or complicated hike or climb. But equally as important to the shoes is what goes in the shoes – the socks. Socks that are made from the wrong materials can cause chafing, blisters, or worse, open wounds. Socks that are also too thin, or have holes, or tear or rip, can also cause feet to become cold, uncomfortable, and in some cases partially freeze. I don’t know about you, but I personally like having all of my toes intact, and separately, don’t like having blisters or open wounds on my feet. When I started in the outdoors, hiking and mountaineering socks were somewhat of a complicated affair. Generally, one was required to have an outer pair of socks – usually wool; and an inner pair of socks, usually made out of a breathable material, to keep one’s feet warm and blister-free. Obviously, the two-pairs-of-socks method was both cumbersome, and at times complicated, requiring hikers and mountaineers to keep adjusting the liner sock within the outer sock.
Fortunately, like many things in the outdoor field, times have changed, and over the last twenty years, sock technology has evolved so that for most disciplines, only one pair of socks is required. One of the companies that has been developing better and better socks over this twenty year period is Ecosox, the world’s original bamboo sock company. Recently, I was contacted by Ecosox to test some of their hiking socks. The hiking socks, like their other products are made with a bamboo weave, which is an ecologically friendly fiber. I was fortunate enough to receive a sample package from Ecosox, which included both men’s and women’s light and mid-weight hiking socks, which allowed me and my fiancé to test the entire product line.
Long time readers of my blog know that I take gear reviews seriously, placing the equipment through its paces in a variety of environments and in a variety of conditions. In the case of the hiking socks, the main area that we tested the socks in was Costa Rica. While Costa Rica is a beautiful location, it is also a rigorous area for gear testing in that in most areas, there is high amount of heat, humidity and rain. These conditions provide a great deal of external moisture that can affect footwear and socks, and also provide challenges for the socks with respect to internal moisture regulation. From the humid coasts of Costa Rica to the high alpine volcanic plateaus, both of us wore our Ecosox on short hikes, long hikes, and a number of climbs. During that time, the socks performed admirably. First, and most importantly, no rips or holes developed in the socks. Second, the socks breathed well, and regulated moisture to the best of their ability in the aforementioned challenging conditions.
Third, when the socks did get wet due to external factors, they did not chafe, nor cause the formation of blisters. And while it is impossible for wet items to dry, or not smell in the rainforest of Costa Rica, the socks did an admirable job of not smelling as much as other non-technical pieces of gear over the course of the adventure. Separately, I also tested the socks along the Pacific Crest Trail in California under a variety of drier and longer conditions, and found them to be durable, comfortable, and an excellent choice for keeping my feet intact and happy over a number of trail runs and treks. At the end of the day, I and my fiancé would recommend Ecosox for just about anyone looking to experience the freedom of the trails, and for anyone that wants to have happy feet after all of their explorations.
Disclaimer: As noted above, I was contacted by Ecosox who inquired whether I would test their socks. In conjunction with this, they provided me with free sock samples, which my team then tested. While we were not compensated for this review other than being provided with the free product, readers should be aware of the underlying arrangement that exists, and know that the opinions provided herein regarding this product are based solely on our experiences with the products.