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Wool is no longer just for cold weather. All of this season’s sock recommendations include natural fibers to take advantage of their inherent performance properties. Innovative construction techniques ensure that the resulting products are thin and light enough to be comfortable even in high temperatures, making fleece a reliable material for long-distance comfort in spring and summer.
Zensah Grit 2.0 Mini-Crew ($22)
Fabric composition: 52% polypropylene, 20% merino wool,
20% nylon, 8% spandex
The original Grit sock was one of our favorites, and it held up very well through high miles and frequent washes. This year’s update 2.0 tweaks the fabric’s composition slightly with more polypropylene and fleece, and less nylon and spandex. These updates make the 2.0 version a little softer with improved ventilation and wicking and a little less overall weight. Grit 2.0 socks are made with an anatomical left/right fit and have increased arch support for a very secure fit, even when saturated after crossing a river. The seamless toe eliminates friction points in the forefoot, and the reinforced hexagonal texture zones add abrasion resistance for long life. Grit 2.0 socks come in four height options: no-show, quarter, mini crew, and knee-high. Available at www.zensah.com.
Darn Tough Bolt Micro Crew Ultra Lightweight ($20)
Fabric composition: 50% nylon, 46% merino wool, 4% lycra spandex
Darn Tough loves to incorporate some flair into his designs, and Bolt takes inspiration from vintage truck lines and summer road trips. This new model in the company’s running line combines a high percentage of ultra-lightweight Merino wool with quick-wicking nylon in a thin layer well suited for warm temperatures, plus a slightly thicker layer of terry loop cushioning under the foot for comfort. Micro-gauge knitting of merino wool content gives a soft feel, with a seamless construction to eliminate potential areas of friction, while performance conformation and anatomical arch support help the socks stay securely in place.
The Bolt is Darn Tuff’s custom men’s model, but its female counterpart, the Glide Micro-Crew, features gorgeous artwork of a peregrine falcon. Both are available at www.darntough.com.
XOSKIN 5.0 Wool Crew Toe Sock ($26)
Fabric composition: 46% rapidrecooper, 11% nylon,
40% Zoool, 3% Elastane
This new model takes the exceptional dynamic XOSKIN RapiDriCopper fabric and includes a large percentage of American-sourced wool for added comfort and moisture- and odor-resistant properties. The PTFE (polytetrafluoroethylene) particles in RapiDriCopper give XOSKIN socks fast moisture transfer, low friction and high durability, while the copper elements provide antibacterial qualities. Small inter-toe perforations in each toe pocket improve airflow and a precise fit in the front, while an arched support bar and reinforced heel add stability and comfort in the back. For fans of toe socks, this will be one of our top picks for long distance runs, especially in wet conditions. This sock is available in three height options: crew, mid-crew, and quarter-crew. Available at www.xoskin.us.
Smartwool Run Targeted Cushion Crew ($23)
Fabric composition: 57% merino wool, 41% nylon, 2% elastane
The highest wool content in our test range again comes from Smartwool, whose fabric uses Indestructawool technology that reinforces the threads with nylon threads for increased strength and durability. Targeted cushioning areas in the forefoot and heel are just enough to add a bit of impact comfort without adding bulk, and Shred Shield technology in the forefoot helps reduce abrasion in the toe area. The X-patterned elastic fibers across the top of the sock provide a slightly compressive fit with natural flex channels, and combine with a performance-fit contour to keep the sock securely in place even when wet. Despite the high merino content, the mesh venting areas combined with the natural properties of the wool provide good ventilation, and we had no problems with the sock warming up in temperatures until the low 80s. Available at www.smartwool.com.
Feetures Merino 10 Cushion Crew ($24)
Fabric composition: 44% nylon, 27% merino wool, 26% tencel,
This is a quilted version of the iconic socks that debuted last year, and uses incredibly soft Merino 10 fabric that combines merino wool and wood-sourced Tencel fibers for the softest skin-to-skin feel of any socks in this test set. Tencel also speeds up the natural moisture absorption and drying speed of wool, and increases its overall durability. These socks stand up to stick a lot better than you might imagine from their soft feel. Zone-specific targeted compression provides support across the arch and midfoot, while lightweight, high-density cushioning in the heel and forefoot adds comfort. Merino 10 fabric is spun with a 200-thread count needle for a slim fit look, and this style is built with an anatomical design and split right/left stripes. Available at www.feetures.com.
Swiftwick Flite XT Trail Five $27
Fabric composition: 38% nylon, 24% merino wool, 22% olefin,
13% polyester, 3% spandex
An offshoot of Swiftwick’s popular Flite XT running socks, the Trail Edition replicates this material construction while adding stability elements to ensure a secure fit on erratic terrain. Merino wool with a full Olefin footbed moves moisture away from your feet very effectively, and moderate compression throughout the socks gives them a secure fit across the entire foot. Special GripDry fibers integrated into the heel and forefoot use micro-treads to provide increased traction and traction within your shoe, while AnkleLock technology around the collar creates additional support and stability on different terrains. The number “Five” on this sock indicates the height of the sock, and the Flite XT Trail also comes in two versions that sit under the calf. Both are available at www.swiftwick.com.