Buying Guide for Ski Socks
By Steve Kopitz
It is extremely important for skiers to own several pairs of quality ski socks. Ski socks are tall, cushioned socks made out of wool or synthetic fibers and provide skiers with additional warmth, comfort, and moisture wicking properties to ensure that you avoid frostbite. It is highly recommended that you carry an extra pair of ski socks in your ski bag in case your ski socks get damp or wet.
With the advancement in ski boot liner technologies, insulation from the cold is no longer the main responsibility of ski socks. This means the days of the thickest socks always being the best choice are long gone. Lightweight ski socks are good for warmer days, while medium and heavy weight fabrics have been tailored to fit specific weather conditions. Usually ski socks have a thicker cushioning section over the shins for padding, and thinner fabric on the instep and heel to minimize bulk. Unless you perform your winter sports in extreme temperatures, medium weight ski socks are often more than warm enough to keep your feet toasty in most conditions. Many men prefer lightweight socks to keep their feet from sweating on the slopes.
Ski socks are created to cater to the foot of a specific gender. In this case, it is important that men stick to men’s specific styles. As women’s ski socks are tailored to her foot and calves, allowing them to fit higher arches and thinner, taller calves. Ski socks tend to be very stretchy in order to create mobility and comfort for your foot as it moves around in your ski boot. It is important though, to make sure that your sock fits properly. A sock that is too lose can result in blistering from abrasion and the soaking up of moisture. A sock that is too tight causes discomfort and a decrease in circulation. Above all, the toe fit is critical. There should not be any loose material, nor should you feel the socks pushing against your toes. A taller sock though, may prove to be the most comfortable because it will fit higher than your ski boot, covering more of the leg to provide comfort and warmth.
Think about it. Your foot is trapped for hours inside of a large boot. With that noted, breathability is a must to sustain comfort while skiing. With the use of ski specific socks, you will experience built in ventilation. Ski socks are made for the purpose of providing, warmth, comfort and breathability. A ski sock provides ventilation for your foot so that your feet stay dry from perspiration, allowing you to remain warm after a certain amount of time riding.
Synthetics: Polyester, Nylon, Acrylic, Lycra and more.
Synthetic ski socks can be made out of a variety of material including polyester, nylon, acrylic, lycra, and more. Many synthetic ski socks are made from a few different materials to provide maximum comfort while retaining their shape and mositure wicking properties.
Polyester provides a good combination of moisture management, softness, and thermal properties. It is one of the most common materials used in the creation of socks, due to its excellent wicking ability. Polyester also provides top-level comfort.
Nylon is another popular synthetic fabric used in many ski socks. It offers a very high level of durability, as well as excellent abrasion resistance. Because of these properties, nylon is often used in the reinforced areas of the sock that get the most wear such as the shin or heel. Nylon is also anti-bacterial, helping with odor control.
Acrylic fabric can be an excellent wool substitute. Certain forms of this fabric are exceptionally soft, while remaining lightweight. These can make acrylic fabric a popular choice; and for those who love wool but are allergic to it, acrylic can be an excellent substitute. Acrylic socks keep their shape and are highly elastic. They are warm, can be quite soft, hold color well, and are both stain and wrinkle resistant.
Elastic and Lycra are two fabrics you typically find in a pair of ski socks. These two soft, comfortable and stretchy fabrics allow your socks to fit well. These fabrics also help to keep your socks from bunching and moving around as you ski.
Wool socks are of course great for comfort and warmth on the slopes but this particular fabric works to wick away moisture. Wool ski socks are also highly durable, lasting through numerous wears.
Wool / Synthetic Blends
Though we mentioned a list of individual fabrics, many ski socks are created with a blend of materials. This ensures perfect combinations to hit all the characteristics you need in a ski sock. For instance, you may find a sock comprised of 73% wool, 24% nylon and 3% elastic to give you the best characteristics of all of the materials. Be sure to choose ski socks with fabric blends that cater to your specific skier needs.
Ski socks are probably more expensive than your usual athletic socks, so protect your investment. Turn the socks inside out to wash them – this is where skin cells and dirt build up. It is best not to dry ski socks in commercial dryers. They get too hot. For best results, remove them from your home dryer before they are completely dry and finish drying them at room temperature.