Doctor's Review: Medicine on the Move

December 10, 2017

Darn Tough men's bike socks

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A yarn good thing

You may not know it, but there’s a sock war going on.

Ric Cabot, the president of Darn Tough socks, calls his line "the world's most uncompromising outdoor performance sock." He backs it up with a promise to replace any pair that gets a hole in it — ever.

Mark Satkiewicz, president of perhaps the best-known performance sock maker says, "Our 100 percent SmartWool guarantee applies to everything we make.”

Another competitor, Point6, owned by Peter and Patty Duke who started the company after they sold SmartWool 10 years ago, claims “once you’ve experienced Point6, your socks life will never be the same again.”

Most socks at this level are made from at least 60 percent merino wool. The high-quality antimicrobial wool wicks away moisture so efficiently that you can supposedly wear them for days, even weeks, and they still smell as fresh as when you first put them on. No small feat: a pair of human feet have 500,000 sweat glands and can generate up to 115 litres of “moisture” a year.

Many top-of-the-line makers depend on merino wool, but not all of them do. Some Swiftwick compression socks — which are tighter around the ankle and foot, and believed to help venous disorders — rely on a synthetic that gets raves from professional athletes especially cyclists, long-distance runners and now hockey players.

Performance socks generally retail for between $15 and $45. Few stores carry a full range so shop online (try amazon.ca. Here are some top players.

Darn Tough

Made in Vermont and proud of it. Boast: 1441 knit stitches per square inch. Unconditional lifetime guarantee. I’ve been wearing a pair of medium-cushion hike socks for two weeks. Washed once. No odor. No holes. darntough.com.

Point6

Not all merino wool is equal, says Peter Duke. They promise that their longer fibre compact yarn is the best there is and produces a softer feeling sock. My Point6’s are certainly comfortable. The company, based in Steamboat Springs, Colorado, is making socks in the US again after a shift to China, which lost them points with customers. point6.com.

SmartWool

The granddaddy of merino wool socks has lost some cachet in recent years. That said, many wearers love them so much they’re loathe to try anything else. smartwool.com.

Swiftwick

The compression socks loved by professional athletes makes a line called Sustain made of post-industrial recycled nylon that’s as much admired for being environmentally friendly as it is for its performance. swiftwick.com.

This article was accurate when it was published. Please confirm rates and details directly with the companies in question.

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