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#102850 - 09/09/08 07:36 AM Wool Count of Socks
uudfourty Offline
newbie

Registered: 09/09/08
Posts: 1
Howdy all,
I'm new here, so please excuse me if I break any conventions.

I searched the forums but didn't come across a sufficient answer, so I thought I'd ask directly.


One of the guys I work with is putting together a backpacking trip for a bunch of college students. We both work for the school, and I'm going along.

He put together a required personal items list, and one of the requirements is 85% wool socks.

We won't be topping out any peaks, be seeing any snow, or dealing with anything less than 30F...
Now, I like to call myself a rather experienced backpacker, and I'm thinking that he's just being over-cautious with his wool count.
It's going to end up causing a lot of students a lot of problems with 85% ragg wool socks on days that could possibly top 65 or 70F.

Am I missing something?

Thanks for your time.

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#102851 - 09/09/08 07:57 AM Re: Wool Count of Socks [Re: uudfourty]
ringtail Offline
member

Registered: 08/22/02
Posts: 2296
Loc: Colorado Rockies
We all have to search for our own foot zen. It will be different for all people and one member will tell you that any sock is OK if worn with sandels.

It is probably not a bad place to start your personal search for foot zen.

However, the most important thing for hiking is the ability to adapt. Hope this trip leader has that knowledge.


Edited by food (09/09/08 07:57 AM)
_________________________
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#102852 - 09/09/08 10:31 AM Re: Wool Count of Socks [Re: uudfourty]
aimless Online   content
Moderator

Registered: 02/05/03
Posts: 2838
Loc: Portland, OR
This is a well-meant requirement. I am pretty sure the reasoning behind this is to exclude cotton sweat sox, which can be a source of problems. However, it might have been better if the organizer had described the reasons for avoiding some sox and taking others.

The best all-around hiking sox out there these days tend to be the lighter weight merino wool sox, such as Smartwool. They are quite different from heavy ragg wool sox you might be familiar with. They wick moisture well, dry quickly, are durable and are not especially hot on your feet in hot weather.

If you talk to the leader and show him you have the personal knowlege and experience to select sox that you can demonstrate won't blister your feet or cause sore or hot spots, then I am sure he will agree you can select the sox you know work best for you.

If you really aren't that experienced or knowlegable, but simply think the leader is wrong, talk to him anyway, but don't expect to convince him.

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#102853 - 09/09/08 11:59 AM Re: Wool Count of Socks [Re: ringtail]
BarryP Offline
member

Registered: 03/04/04
Posts: 1574
Loc: Eastern Idaho
“one member will tell you that any sock is OK if worn with sandels”

Hey food,
“Any sock”? Sandals just can’t fix cotton sock problems <img src="/forums/images/graemlins/tongue.gif" alt="" />.


uudfourty,
This is an individual thing. Above 50F, wool burns up my feet.

So that the college kids won’t be uncomfortable/shocked--- before the trip, they should do some hikes for several hours in wool socks and see if they like it.

Good luck,

-Barry

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#102854 - 09/09/08 03:22 PM Re: Wool Count of Socks [Re: uudfourty]
Paddy_Crow Offline
member

Registered: 11/08/04
Posts: 2285
Loc: Michigan
I wear Smartwool trekkers for pretty much all hiking. Not sure what the wool content is, nor do I care.

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#102855 - 09/09/08 04:14 PM Re: Wool Count of Socks [Re: BarryP]
ringtail Offline
member

Registered: 08/22/02
Posts: 2296
Loc: Colorado Rockies
Quote:
“one member will tell you that any sock is OK if worn with sandels”

Hey food,
“Any sock”? Sandals just can’t fix cotton sock problems <img src="/forums/images/graemlins/tongue.gif" alt="" />.


I stand corrected on both the cotton sock issue and the spelling of sandals. <img src="/forums/images/graemlins/blush.gif" alt="" />
_________________________
"In theory, theory and practice are the same. In practice, they are not."
Yogi Berra

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#102856 - 09/09/08 08:54 PM Re: Wool Count of Socks [Re: Paddy_Crow]
Bearpaw Offline
Moderator

Registered: 07/25/04
Posts: 1732
Loc: Tennessee
85% is awfully high wool content. Smartwools , which are pretty much the gold standard nowadays, are only about 70%. Hit the specs button on the link.

To get 85%, you pretty much have to go with ragg wool, which is abominable compared to the much more comfortable and much better wicking merino wool socks available. Ask him to rethink the 85% requirement.

Or else, just bring smartwools, because he probably doesn't realize how much nylon is in a high-grade "merino" sock.

BTW, I am comfortable in my merino socks until it hits at least the 80's.
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#102857 - 09/09/08 09:18 PM Re: Wool Count of Socks [Re: Bearpaw]
TomD Offline
Moderator

Registered: 10/30/03
Posts: 4963
Loc: Marina del Rey,CA
Patagonia socks are 65-75% wool depending on the model and the rest is nylon, polyester and spandex.

My Patagonia expedition socks are about the best you can get as far as I'm concerned for that application.

I also have Thorlo ski socks and Smartwool, plus some old 100% wool socks. The Smartwool are about 70% depending on the model; I can't find any info on the Thorlos except that they are a blend of wool and some kind of synthetic.

The bottom line-insisting on 85% wool is (warning-bad pun alert!) out of step with modern sock technology.
_________________________
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#102858 - 09/10/08 07:52 AM Re: Wool Count of Socks [Re: TomD]
dkramalc Offline
member

Registered: 09/19/03
Posts: 1070
Loc: California
I wear the all-synthetic Thorlos - no wool for me, I'm allergic to it. Can't imagine what I'd do if someone required me to wear those old ragg socks. Even the nice Smartwool type socks make me itch.
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#102859 - 09/10/08 08:05 AM Re: Wool Count of Socks [Re: uudfourty]
phat Offline
Moderator

Registered: 06/24/07
Posts: 4107
Loc: Alberta, Canada

As mentioned, most modern good hiking socks don't have 85% wool in them. Your leader is almost
certainly saying this to avoid the people who go and buy "wool" socks at wall mart that are mostly
cotton. I'd just buy a good quality sock like a smartwool you are comfortable with and not worry
about the number.
_________________________
Any fool can be uncomfortable...
My 3 season gear list
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#102860 - 09/10/08 08:56 AM Re: Wool Count of Socks [Re: uudfourty]
coyotemaster Offline
member

Registered: 03/07/06
Posts: 294
Loc: Arizona
Quote:
He put together a required personal items list, and one of the requirements is 85% wool socks.
...
Am I missing something?


Is he a control freak? It's a hike, not a polar expedition.
Research & read then use what YOU think is reasonable & best. You've already heard some reasonable recommendations in some posts prior to mine.
If asked, tell him whatever it is he thinks he's got to hear, to deflect him, if you are really wanting to take the hike bad enough to be around him.
Hike your own hike, even there. It's OK to color outside the lines.

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#102861 - 09/10/08 09:11 AM Re: Wool Count of Socks [Re: coyotemaster]
phat Offline
Moderator

Registered: 06/24/07
Posts: 4107
Loc: Alberta, Canada
Quote:
[
Is he a control freak? It's a hike, not a polar expedition.
Research & read then use what YOU think is reasonable & best. You've already heard some reasonable recommendations in some posts prior to mine.
If asked, tell him whatever it is he thinks he's got to hear, to deflect him, if you are really wanting to take the hike bad enough to be around him.
Hike your own hike, even there. It's OK to color outside the lines.


I agree with your hyoh sentiment coyote, but perhaps the organizer is not a control freak but simply has been burned taking newbs out before. If a newbie goes with me I lay down some pretty stringent rules the first time (no cotton, etc. etc. etc.) and give them a list. All rules (including
"no cotton") can be drawn outside the lines very nicely once you have a tiny bit of experience, but if someone knows nothing, I'd prefer to start them "in the box" and let them climb their own way
out of it.

Yes, the organizer may be a control freak - or just playing it safe. Nothing sucks worse than dragging a whiny newbie down the trail with frozen steaks in their pack, a wet pair of jeans, cotton hoodie, and blisters. A few rules ahead of time avoid a darwinian-jusifiable homicide on the trail later <img src="/forums/images/graemlins/smile.gif" alt="" />
_________________________
Any fool can be uncomfortable...
My 3 season gear list
Winter list.
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#102862 - 09/10/08 11:55 AM Re: Wool Count of Socks [Re: uudfourty]
finallyME Offline
member

Registered: 09/24/07
Posts: 2710
Loc: Utah
So, do you have to wear boots or trailrunners? Did he specify that? If you can wear trail runners, I would take one thick pair of wool socks, and two pair of nylon dress socks. I am a recent convert to dress socks. They breath amazingly well, don't blister, don't overheat, and dry real fast. Take the wool socks in case of climatic weather changes, just in case.

As for the leader, I think you can ask him why his rule, and I am sure he would allow a sock with 84.5% wool, or any mainstream hiking sock with no cotton.
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#102863 - 09/10/08 04:24 PM Re: Wool Count of Socks [Re: phat]
chaz Offline
member

Registered: 10/22/07
Posts: 1149
Loc: Tennessee
I agree with you about setting some rules for newbies. Some newbies try to educate themselfs and end up being know it alls. Maybe even makes for a worse situation. But I think frozen steaks are good for the first night. Just make sure to tell them to not forget the gas grill. <img src="/forums/images/graemlins/grin.gif" alt="" />
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Enjoy your next trip...

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#102864 - 09/11/08 02:42 PM Re: Wool Count of Socks [Re: phat]
coyotemaster Offline
member

Registered: 03/07/06
Posts: 294
Loc: Arizona
Quote:

Yes, the organizer may be a control freak - or just playing it safe. Nothing sucks worse than dragging a whiny newbie down the trail with frozen steaks in their pack, a wet pair of jeans, cotton hoodie, and blisters. A few rules ahead of time avoid a darwinian-jusifiable homicide on the trail later <img src="/forums/images/graemlins/smile.gif" alt="" />


You may be right, however, remember this 'leaders' insistence on "85% wool socks."

I still say the poster should ignore this guy and do what he determines is best for himself.

With socks like that there'll be whining O'plenty.

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#102865 - 09/11/08 03:04 PM Re: Wool Count of Socks [Re: uudfourty]
Trailrunner Offline
member

Registered: 01/05/02
Posts: 1835
Loc: Los Angeles
I this guy going to require proof of wool content??? Is there going to be a sock check prior to departure? Maybe he has stock in the wool industry LOL!!!!

I second the suggestion to use the socks before the trip. Some people react to wool with a skin rash, especially when it's 85%.

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#102866 - 09/12/08 11:36 PM Re: Wool Count of Socks [Re: dkramalc]
billk Offline
member

Registered: 08/20/03
Posts: 1196
Loc: Portland, Oregon
I usually wear the Smartwool Light Hiker (having converted from ragg socks) but lately I've used the Thorlo Coolmax Light Hikers (all synthetic). I notice no difference whatsoever, except that the Thorlo's seem to last a bit longer and require less care in washing.

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#102867 - 09/14/08 01:45 PM Re: Wool Count of Socks [Re: uudfourty]
Howie Offline
member

Registered: 06/02/03
Posts: 481
Loc: Canora, SK, Canada
I guess I am oddball. I wear 100% merino wool, which are hand knitted by my mother-in-law. I find they work very well. Of course we hand wash them, but I find they work very nicely for me.

Howie

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#102868 - 09/14/08 05:43 PM Re: Wool Count of Socks [Re: Howie]
phat Offline
Moderator

Registered: 06/24/07
Posts: 4107
Loc: Alberta, Canada
Quote:
I guess I am oddball. I wear 100% merino wool, which are hand knitted by my mother-in-law. I find they work very well. Of course we hand wash them, but I find they work very nicely for me.

Howie


That ain't oddball Howie - if you were oddball you wouldn't discretely brag that you've got a mother in law who can knit you awesome socks <img src="/forums/images/graemlins/smile.gif" alt="" /> I'd say you're fortunate rather than oddball <img src="/forums/images/graemlins/smile.gif" alt="" />
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Any fool can be uncomfortable...
My 3 season gear list
Winter list.
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#102869 - 09/15/08 10:09 AM Re: Wool Count of Socks [Re: phat]
chaz Offline
member

Registered: 10/22/07
Posts: 1149
Loc: Tennessee
Yeah! At least your mother-in-law isn't obsesive cumpulsive and a clean freak. She is like a robot. Same routine every evening, Clean the house and complain about it. Open the blinds, close the blinds. Run the dishwasher (even when it's not full). I could go on and on. She won't even sew on a button though. Drives me insane. <img src="/forums/images/graemlins/crazy.gif" alt="" />

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#102871 - 09/17/08 06:23 PM Re: Wool Count of Socks [Re: mockturtle]
OregonMouse Offline
member

Registered: 02/03/06
Posts: 6372
Loc: Gateway to Columbia Gorge
Remembering that my old ragg wool hiking socks and sweater that I used in the 1980's took days to dry and that even the thought of wool is enough to start me itching, I have been loath to try Smartwool. Last weekend, I bought a pair of Smartwool hiking socks and a comparable (in thickness) pair of Thorlo (acrylic) walking socks to try with my new trail runners. First, I stood or walked around the house for about 10 hours with the Smartwool sock on one foot and the Thorlo sock on the other (switching feet halfway through). (This was also the last test for the trail runners while I could still return them.) The Thorlo sock was softer but both were very comfortable. No itching with the Smartwool, either.

The next test was the real eye-opener. I rinsed both socks in the sink, wrung them out by hand and hung them out in the sun to dry, to simulate what happens when rinsing socks on the trail or getting wet feet. The Smartwool sock was dry in about 20 minutes while the Thorlo sock took over an hour. And the Smartwool sock felt more comfortable (tested by sticking my hand inside it) even when wet. Amazing stuff, merino wool--I'm now a convert!


Edited by OregonMouse (09/17/08 06:31 PM)
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#102872 - 09/17/08 07:16 PM Re: Wool Count of Socks [Re: OregonMouse]
Paddy_Crow Offline
member

Registered: 11/08/04
Posts: 2285
Loc: Michigan
That's consistent with what I have found. I have quite a few pair of Smartwool and three pair of Thorlo Coolmax socks. I wash them together and throw them in the dryer. The Smartwool socks always dry in about half the time as the Thorlo socks.

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#102873 - 09/18/08 07:29 AM Re: Wool Count of Socks [Re: mockturtle]
chaz Offline
member

Registered: 10/22/07
Posts: 1149
Loc: Tennessee
Quote:
Perhaps you should approach him with a pair of Smartwool or other hiking socks and


Tell him to stuff it.
It's one of those days..........

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#102874 - 09/18/08 03:48 PM Re: Wool Count of Socks [Re: OregonMouse]
phat Offline
Moderator

Registered: 06/24/07
Posts: 4107
Loc: Alberta, Canada

Heh. I was a convert to merino yeaaaars ago - after receiveing a gift certificate for a pair of boots for my graduation present for my BSc (1991). Having gone in and picked boots, there was gift certificate left. I initially scoffed at "expensive" socks having always worn the old ragg wool jobbies, but not having anything else in mind, ate up the rest of the gift certificate with two pairs of "yuppie socks". As you can imagine, my skepticism was totally wrong, My ragg woolies didn't last
long in my kit after that.
_________________________
Any fool can be uncomfortable...
My 3 season gear list
Winter list.
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#102875 - 10/01/08 04:01 PM Re: Wool Count of Socks [Re: phat]
wildthing Offline
member

Registered: 01/11/02
Posts: 982
Loc: Victoria, B.C.
I've abandoned SmartWool liner socks which I think are 70/30 wool/nylon. They just don't last and they cost $13!! Instead I found 4 pairs of older style 60/40 wool nylon "dress" socks at Value Village for $3 and snapped them all up. For around the same price as one pair of SmartWool, I shall be hiking for at least four seasons on these babies. Maybe even longer!! I would stay away from any soft wool and merino in favour of blends of nylon and wool that are tough and dry more quickly. These ones I just got are perfect, a little thicker weave than SmartWool liners but not as thick as a few others I've tried so perfect for three season use. I just put on the second pair if it gets cold, as they weigh nothing and I can easily carry three pairs.

Never had a regular blister while using these style of stocks but I did have one under my heal after 30 miles once from the pounding.
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