IR - X-Socks Airforce 1 Socks - John Waters
- To the Un-named X-Sock Editor,
Below is the text for my X-Socks Airforce 1 Socks. HTML can be found at:
http://www.backpackgeartest.org/reviews/test/TESTS/IR-X-Socks%20Airforce%201%20-%20J%20Waters/ or http://tinyurl.com/5atlst
I will be OOP tomorrow (Saturday, August 2) afternoon until Wednesday, August 6), so edit corrections and uploading will have to wait until then.
X-SOCKS AIRFORCE 1 SOCKS
TEST SERIES BY JOHN R. WATERS
August 01, 2008
NAME: John R. Waters
LOCATION: White Lake, Michigan USA
HEIGHT: 5' 9" (1.75 m)
WEIGHT: 178 lb (80.70 kg)
My backpacking began in 1999. I have hiked rainforests in Hawaii, Costa Rica, and Puerto Rico, on glaciers in New Zealand and Iceland, 14ers in Colorado and Death Valley's deserts. I hike or snowshoe 6-8 miles (10 km-13 km) 2-3 times weekly in Pontiac Lake Recreation Area, with other day-long hikes on various SE Michigan trails. I also hike in Colorado and am relocating there, which will increase my hiking time and trail variety tremendously. My daypack is 18 lb (8 kg); overnights' weigh over 25 lb (11 kg). I'm aiming to reduce my weight load by 40% or more.
PRODUCT INFORMATION & SPECIFICATIONS
Manufacturer: X Technology Swiss GmbH
Year of Manufacture: 2008
Manufacturer's Website: http://www.x-socks.com
Listed Weight: N/A
Measured Weight: 3 oz (85 g) (XL)
Colors Available: Black/Gray and Dark Gray/Light Gray
Color Tested: Dark and Light Gray
Size Tested: 10-12.5 XL
Guarantee: 2 Years - "If your X-Socks are not top quality, please send us the socks (washed) with the purchase slip and the reason of your dissatifaction. We will then send you a replacement pair as soon as possible."
"Tech Composition: 26% Nylon, 22% Merino wool, 16% Robur, 13% Mythlan, 9% Elastane, 7% Silk, and 7% Silver Nodor. Materials: 42% Nylon, 22% Merino wool, 13% Polypropilene, 9% Elastane, 7% Silk, 6% Polyester, and 1% Silver." (quoted from X-Socks website)
Picture courtesy of backcountry.com - official online retailer for X-Socks
On the website, the only picture of the Airforce 1 socks isn't even a picture; it's a graphic outlining all the various features of the socks. There's not much to go on as far as the visual appearance of the socks. So, I was pleased to see the neutral gray color; a darker gray band which encompasses the toe box, wrapping under the outer sole and terminating at the heel, tipped with a small orange toe band.
"TK AIR FORCE 1" is stitched in dark gray on the other side of each sock along with "L'" or "R" indicating on which foot the sock is designed to be worn. The cuff of each sock has the X-Socks logo stitched in dark gray and a bit of orange.
When viewed straight out of the retail hangtag packaging and from a slight distance, the X-Socks Airforce 1 socks look like an ordinary mid-weight mid-calf sock. It was only when I examined the socks up close and felt all the various ridges, bumps and stitching that I could imagine their potential.
According to the X-Socks website and the retail packaging, there are twelve different features that together make these socks "Advanced Foot Protection". Upon initial inspection, I can clearly discern several of them such as the "Heel Protector", the "ToeTip Protector" and the "AirConditioning Channel". Others are not so noticeable, like the Traverse Airflow Channel System" and the "Achilles' Tendon Protector". And then there is the "X-Cross Bandage" which I can't see any indication of at all!
All of these features appear to be the results of various materials, stitchings and weaves which create vertical and horizontal bands in the socks. They start at the top with a "Self-adjusting Cuff", go vertical with the Rod-Padding and "AirConditioning Channel" ridges and continue onto the footbed with various "protectors" there. What these all accomplish will be discovered and reported on during my testing.
READING THE INSTRUCTIONS
Since this test is about socks, no instructions are needed, right? Well, yeah, except for washing instructions! The washing instructions were listed on the outside of the retail packaging using the international symbols for machine wash, permanent press cycle with 40 degree water, no bleach, no ironing, no dry cleaning and no tumble dry. I actually had to look up the symbols since there was no verbiage, but I learned something. Now the trick will be to not throw them in the dryer with the rest of the wash. Surprisingly, there is no mention of having to wash the socks inside-out as is the case with all of my other technical socks.
To register for the 2 year guarantee, there is a coupon inside the retail packaging as well as online registration. On the packaging of each pair of socks there is a serial number on a holographic label which also lists the size of the socks and "Made in Italy". This serial number is needed to activate the guarantee. It was very simple to complete the website form. I'm not sure how I (or X-Socks) would know which of the two pairs of socks belonged to which serial number if I had to replace one of them though.
TRYING IT OUT
Pulling on the Airforce 1 socks I could see immediately how the socks are tapered to be foot-specific. When the socks are on the correct feet, the toebox conforms to the curvature of my toes, longer on the inside of the foot and shorter on the outside of the foot. If I try to wear the socks on the wrong feet, there is extra material that bunches up over the little toe side of my foot and the orange toe tip is skewed. This orange tip when on the proper foot covers only three toes from the inside big toe outwards.
My feet slid into the socks easily and when fully pulled up the socks reach about 2/3s up to my knee. I couldn't feel any noticeable bumps or threads even though there are lots of fuzzy threads ending inside the socks. I've found the same sort of fuzzy threads in most of my other technical socks also.
There is a nice sensation of padding under my toes, but I didn't notice much difference between the outside and inside of the sole even though the padding continues from the toebox along the outside of the sole. The heel cup fits well and pads my heel.
The only initial minor irritation was a tightness at the cuff. I will see if it becomes a problem or if it loosens up a bit as get out on the trails and I wear the socks during various activities.
I wear my hiking boots/socks a lot. Not only do I wear boots on day and weekend hikes and while snowshoeing, but thanks to my work, I will be in Colorado for most of the next 4 months, hiking several miles almost everyday (60 or more miles (97 km) per month) to and from destinations that cannot be reached by vehicle. I wear hiking boots/socks almost every day on rugged trails and rough bushwhacked paths. So it's especially important to me that my footwear be very comfortable and well built. Since I encounter lots of rocks, my footwear must be durable and supportive enough to protect my feet scrambling over bedrock, through plenty of cactus, and the slick conditions of snow, ice and slippery mud as well.
Over the next four months, I will be hiking several times a week mostly in southeast Colorado with at least 2 days of each month dedicated to overnight backpacking (weekends). Plus, during the course of business, I have to hike into remote locations often for antenna/tower work. This has me climbing up rocky random paths and remote access roads which are not maintained. I always wear hiking boots and mid-to-heavy socks in these situations and may hike 4 or 5 miles (6-8 km) each day through this terrain, putting on as much as 30 to 40 mi (48 to 64 km) each week and 60 to 80 mi (97 to 129 km) or more each month. My feet get quite a work-out. During these hikes, I'll carry a pack with as much as 25 to 40 lb (11-18 kg) of gear while scrambling over very rocky sloped and slippery terrain.
Terrain will cover everything from flat sandy BLM trails to the shale-y mountainous Cooper Mountain region in Colorado. Also, lots of mud! Elevation will range from a low of 5000 ft (1524 m), and up to 13000 ft (3962 M).
I plan to wear the X-Socks Airforce 1 socks as much as possible throughout the testing period. I normally wear a heavy weight sock, often with a silk liner. I will be wearing the X-Socks Airforce 1 Socks both with and without a silk liner depending on weather conditions and will report on fit and comfort issues variations.
This concludes my Initial Report on the X-Socks Airforce 1 socks. My Field Report will be appended to this report in early October after my first two months of testing.
My thanks to Backpackgeartest.org and X-Technology for the opportunity to try out this unique product.
John R. Waters
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