Ted-Dahlgren Dristride FR
- My Dahlgren Dristride FR is now available for edit. Beware Yahooisms
in the text below. I'm a bit befuddled this morning (too late to bed
last night) so I'm hoping this reads well. If not, a revision will
The html form is available in the tests folder. It is currently at
Dahlgren Footwear Dristride Alpaca Backpacking Socks
Product information in brief
Field and test information
Product Use and Performance
Future Testing Strategy
Field Report (the second of three)
My Initial Report may be viewed here.
Report Date: January 3, 2004
* Name: Edward Ripley-Duggan
* Age: 51
* Gender: Male
* Height: 6' 1" (1.85 m)
* Weight: 215 pounds (98 kg)
* Catskills, New York State
I enjoy walking in all its manifold forms, from a simple stroll in the
woods to multi-day backpack excursions. Though by no means an extreme
ultra-light enthusiast, from spring to fall my preference is to carry
a pack weight of 12 lb (5.5 kg), more or less. In recent years, I've
rapidly moved to a philosophy of "lighter is better," within the
constraints of budget and common sense.
Product information in brief
* Manufacturer: Dahlgren Footwear
* URL: http://www.dahlgrenfootwear.com
* Product: Dahlgren Dristride Alpaca Backpacking socks
* Size: Extra Large (XL)
* Color: Black
* Manufacturer's weight: 4.2 oz (119 g), size unstated
* Weight (as measured): 4.4 oz (125 g) for XL size
* MSRP: US $17.00
* Fabric content (as noted on packing):
* Toe & Heel: 45% Merino Wool, 45% Alpaca, 10% Stretch Nylon
* Arch/Instep: 75% Wickspun Acrylic, 25% Nylon
* Leg: 90% Wickspun Acrylic, 10% Nylon
Field and Test Information
For this field report, the Dahlgren Dristride Alpaca socks were used
for a mix of day hikes and overnight backpacking trips in the Catskill
Mountains, at elevations to 4180 ft (1280 m). Most of the hiking
involved off-trail excursions, "bushwhacks," and included a number of
the more difficult Catskill peaks. Minimum pack load was 12 lb (5.4
kg) or so for day hikes and up to 28 lb (11.3 kg) for backpacks. The
lowest temperatures experienced during the testing period were at
elevation at approximately -10 F (-23 C). Most of the hiking involved
at some point traversing light snow or ice on the summits, although
due to a mild November and December there was overall far less snow
cover than usual. Still, these were unquestionably winter conditions,
albeit not as severe as in some years. The highest temperature at
which the socks were worn was around 50 F (10 C).
Product Use and Performance
The socks were generally worn with a pair of midweight Scarpa
backpacking boots, although as the temperatures cooled off as winter
approached I used a pair of insulated Vasque Arctic boots. Plastic
mountaineering boots are not required in the Catskills, which is where
I was hiking over this first test period. I was not generally wearing
a liner sock. Trips included both trail hikes and bushwhacks, day
hikes and backpacks.
I found the Dristride Alpaca socks exceptionally comfortable in all
settings over the test period, and would, without question, give them
a very high rating for sheer tactile pleasure. This is not an
insignificant factora sock that feels coarse against the foot is not
only displeasing, but is likely to cause blistering. I am pleased to
report that I experienced no significant chafing or blistering over
the dozen or so outing on which these were worn.
A concomitant factor that can lead to blistering is dampness. My feet
seemed to stay exceptionally dry in the Dahlgren socks, even when they
were worn under gaiters. Dahlgren's sock design is supposed to wick
moisture away from the footbed, up to the ankle and out of the boot.
So far as I was able to determine (bearing in mind that judging such
matters in the field is somewhat subjective) they are extremely
capable in this regard.
Even with a boot that had been improperly waterproofed, and in
consequence let in some dampness on water crossings, etc., my feet
remained quite comfortable, although on one occasion I noticed some
discoloration to my toes that at first I took to be bruising. This
disappeared after showering, and must have been dye, but whether it
originated with the sock or the boot lining (black Cambrelle) I have
yet to determine. I will try to pin this down in the months to come,
but it was, in any case, a minor inconvenience.
More to the point, I found the socks exceptionally warm in cold
conditions, yet comfortable enough at warmer temperatures. I wore them
on the first day of one brutally cold winter camping trip. Combined
with a pair of insulated boots, my feet were perfectly comfortable,
even when I was standing still or moving slowly while setting up camp.
I believe that, by the time I rolled into my tent, the temperature had
dropped to a chilly 10 F (23 C). I had no sense of chilly toes. I'm
not sure that I want to test these to the lower limits of comfort,
given that I retain my full quota of toes and intend to keep things
that way, but I was at least as comfortable as I would have been
wearing a pair of expedition weight socks from another manufacturer,
as I did the following day.
The socks have now been washed numerous times, with no especial
carethey go in a regular load for a cool wash and rinse, and are
tumble-dried low. They show no apparent wear at heel or toe (or
anywhere else, for that matter). They have retained their full pile,
based on a visual inspection (an important point, as it is presumably
said pile that provides much of their insulating ability). They have
also maintained their shape and fit, and I can't say that I have
noticed the reversible shrinkage that the manufacturer mentions in
their literature. I've not noticed any bunching, which can be caused
by a loss of elasticity and which often leads to blistering. The socks
have, in the short term, proven entirely durable.
The slight slop in the boot that was noted (under "Initial
Impressions") in early testing seems to have been caused by careless
tying of my boots, combined with perhaps some slight stretching of
their leather. The socks were certainly not at fault. To date, when I
evaluate the claims made by the manufacturer of enhanced thermal
control, maximum durability, superior moisture management, softness,
and better warmth than trekking socks, all have proven valid.
To date, the Dahlgren Footwear Dristride Alpaca Backpacking Socks have
proven to meet all their marketing claims. They have provided
excellent comfort and warmth, resilience to wear and have kept my feet
dry under sometimes difficult conditions. They have withstood repeated
washes and wearings without any significant evidence of deterioration.
Future Testing Strategy
As the winter progresses, I expect to wear the Dahlgren socks with a
variety of additional socks, including vapor barrier socks as an
under-layer, or (for example) Serius Stormsocks as a top layer. I will
also wear the socks while wearing crampons on my boots, as these tend
to act as a heat sink and will make the soles of my feet colder. The
end of the test period is in April, and I will at that point be
experiencing warmer temperatures, and I'll attempt to find the upper
limit of comfort, temperature-wise. Meanwhile, I will continue to
monitor wear and fit.
1. Fit. Does this continue to remain true?
2. Warmth. How well do these socks work with other layers in extremely
cold conditions? Are they comfortable with a vapor barrier sock or
with over-socks? Do over-socks alter the breathability of the Dahlgren
3. Wear. Do they continue to stand up to repeated wear and laundering?
Is there any noteworthy loss of pile, or other evidences of
deterioration? Does the elasticity of the sock continue to keep it in
place on my ankle?
4. Moisture. If they become wet hiking (e.g. rain, melted snow, etc.
slipping through the gaiter), can they be walked dry easily? This will
be interesting to test in spring melt conditions.
5. Other points. Is the staining to the foot noted due to the sock or
the boot? How well do the socks provide warmth when crampons are
attached to the boot?
I thank BackpackGearTest and Dahlgren Footwear for permitting me to
participate in this very interesting test.