By Pip Coe NOLS Alumni Relations Manager
Reprinted from The Leader, Fall 2001, Vol. 17, No. 1
Why waste time doing a product review on something as insignificant as a pair of socks? A good question. But once some thought is put into it, one realizes that socks are used to help protect our feet when we are hiking in the backcountry, and without comfortable feet we don't get very far. For this reason, a good pair of socks is a real bonus.
Last January I needed to buy new socks so I went shopping at the local NOLS Rocky Mountain outfitting store. I was told that they were now carrying the "Comfort Hiker" by Wigwam as the stock item sock for students. They were in a package of two socks and were very reasonably priced. The socks had a very soft feel to them with extra padding in the toe and heel area. I purchased several packages and headed off into the field.
These socks are made up of 65% Merino Wool, 27% stretch nylon and 8% spandex. The Merino wool provides softness yet still has durability and wicking action while the stretch nylon and spandex provide elasticity so the socks stays in place with a snug fit and helps with long lasting durability. The socks are also shrink-treated to keep their size and shape. In addition to extra padding in the heel and toe area, the toe has a reverso toe closure so the seam is on the outside of the sock and provides an extra-smooth "seamless" surface on the inside of the sock where it contacts the foot. Although these socks are not the all natural wool blend of the past, I have not found that they retain odor any more than the 100% natural wool.
I found these socks to be very comfortable in hiking boots, camp shoes and running shoes. Even after multiple wearings, washings and dryings, the socks have maintained their softness and original shape. Since they have maintained their original shape they are not slowly creeping down my leg creating wrinkles around my ankles and heels.
For this reason I am not constantly tugging on the sock, leaving them in a further misshapen state. The only drawback that I had with these socks is that I purchased the natural color. Unfortunately, this color does not hide the dirt as well as my old "ragg" wool socks.
Overall, these are very comfortable socks with great durability and prove a good value for the money! The "Comfort Hiker" is part of Wigwam's Merino Wool line, which is the newest line in Wigwam's long tradition of sock manufacturing.
In addition, they have the "Comfort Quarter Hiker," which has the same features as the "Comfort Hiker" but is a quarter of the length, and the "Comfort Explorer." The "Comfort Explorer" is the heavyweight version of the "Comfort Hiker." It has the same features along with a few additions - it is fully cushioned throughout, has an elasticized arch panel, and a jersey instep bridge to prevent lace "cut-in." (You didn't know a sock could have so many features!) There is also the "Rugged Hiker," which is a heavy weight boot sock, and the "Wool/Silk Hiker," which is a plush hiker model that combines the insulation of Merino wool, the strength of silk, and the softness of these two natural fibers. The last of the line are the "Wool Lite Hiker," a lightweight hiking sock for four-season comfort and the "Wool Scrambler," which is a quarter length version of the "Lite Hiker."