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DAHLGREN MEN'S BACKPACKING CREW SOCKS
Test Series by Richard Lyon
Initial Report November 17, 2012
Long Term Report expected mid-March 2013
Personal Details and Backpacking Background
Male, 66 years old
Height: 6'4" [1.91 m], Weight 205 lb [91 kg]
Home: Bozeman, Montana USA
Email: Montana DOT angler AT gmail DOT com
Shoe size: 13 US, 47 European
I've been backpacking regularly in the Rockies since 1986. I do at least one weeklong trip every summer, and often take three-day trips. I'm usually camping in alpine terrain, at altitudes 5000 to 10000 ft (1500-3000 m). I prefer base camp backpacking, a long hike in with day trips from camp. Recently I've been actively reducing my pack weight, but still sleep in a floored tent and often include my favorite camp conveniences. Outdoor activities in winter are often on telemark or touring skis.
INITIAL REPORT - November 17, 2012
Dahlgren 1 Dahlgren's Backpacking socks are crew length (over-the-ankle) wool socks listed by that company as "Heavy Weight" and intended for, well, backpacking. In addition to Dahlgren's signature use of alpaca these socks feature its new Dri-Stride technology. To summarize from Dahlgren's website, Dri-Stride employs Winking Rings and Wicking Channels (both of these are patented and trademarked) in the Transfer Zone - the fabric encircling the arch/instep area of the sock - to increase significantly the wicking from the Absorption Zones (heel and toe). The different areas of the sock have different fabric content, presumably to facilitate wicking and add strength. The toe and heel [solid brown in the photo below] are 55% merino wool, 28% nylon, 17% alpaca; the arch/instep and Wicking Rings [double-knit flecked tan, then oblong pattern] 70% recycled polyester 17% merino, 8% nylon, 5% alpaca; and the upper [tan "striped"] 75% recycled polyester, 23% nylon, 2% Spandex. From a diagram on the tag attached to the socks (which I tried unsuccessfully to copy) Dri-Stride works by having each sock's construction drive the wicked-away perspiration to the transfer zone and up to the top of the sock for evaporation.
Manufacturer: Dahlgren Footwear, Inc.
Product: Backpacking socks [located in Dahlgren's "Outdoor/Hiking" category]
Size: XL [for Men's US 11-13; also available in L for 8-10½]
Color: Bark [the only color for size L; also available in XL in Moss or Pitch]
Weight, measured: 4.0 oz (113 g) per pair
Height, measured heel to top: 9.5 in (24 cm)
MSRP: $20.95 US
Country of origin: All Dahlgren socks are made "exclusively" in the United States.
Warranty: I couldn't find one on Dahlgren's website, though the company does provide instructions on returns and suggests that it will replace defective products. Customer pays for return to Dahlgren's facility in Oregon.
"Cozy" may not be a word often associated with backpacking gear, but it's the best one-word description of these socks. The alpaca makes these socks exceptionally soft against my skin, and they have kept my feet warm on a couple of chilly days around the house and on my daily walks with my dog. Another first impression is that these are relatively thick for crew-length socks, which in my experience more closely resemble street-wear bulk in this category.
Dahlgren 2 Fit is good, in fact just about perfect, with my heel sitting flush inside the heel of the sock, even though I am at the upper end of Dahlgren's stated size range. The socks come several inches/centimeters above the cuff of the boots (one pair full-grain leather, one pair GORE-TEX) I ordinary wear when hiking or snowshoeing in winter. The same is true of my ski touring boots, but, alas, the socks are too short to wear with either my telemark or randonèe ski boots. Fit is tight but not constraining at the top of the socks.
These socks are so comfortable that but for this test and my reporting obligations I'd be tempted to limit their use to the front country. But I'll do my best to put them through their outdoor paces, when hiking, snowshoeing, and ski touring this winter in the Rockies.
My Initial Report ends here, with thanks to Dahlgren and BackpackGearTest.org for the chance to test these socks. Check back next March for my Long Term Report and the results of a winter's wear.