Sunday, 23 May 2010

Trekmates Amphibian Gore-Tex socks review

 

Not many features to write about with socks. The all have a hole in one end and a foot shaped bit of fabric at the other. Waterproof socks follow the same premise just with a waterproof fabric. I initially tried tracking down a pair of the highly regarded Rocky Gore-Tex socks but failed. Then someone (I can't remember who, but it might have been Martin) wrote about Trekmates Amphibian Gore-Tex socks which proved to be far easier to get hold of on this side of the Atlantic. Usually costing around £30 they are currently on offer at £9.99. They weigh 81g a pair (size Large 10-11) and are made with 3-layer Gore-Tex, taped seams and a stretchy Gore-Tex centre panel to aid getting them on and off. The shape isn't particularly fitted and looks like it could cause some bunching when worn inside shoes all day but that's not a problem for me. I don't try and keep my feet totally dry when out on the trail. 'Waterproof' socks and shoes, like gloves, suffer from one major design flaw: they all have bloody big holes in them where your hand/feet go in. Sooner or later water will find it's way in and inside waterproof/breathable membranes it's going to stay wet for a very long time. So how do I use the Amphibians...

I wear unlined, highly breathable, mesh trail running shoes with good wool based socks and totally expect my feet to get wet at some point in the day, either from dew, rain, snow or river crossings. It's not a problem this time of year, you're not going to die just because your feet got a little damp and if anything mesh trail runners allow you shoes to dry out a lot quicker. If I get to camp with wet feet I slip off my shoes and whip out the insoles (to speed up drying and create extra volume). Then I'll carefully wash and dry my feet, slip on my dry, fluffy, wooly sleep socks that have been cocooned in my dry bag, put the Amphibians over the top of those and slip my feet back into my wet shoes to go and gather firewood, make dinner and sit around camp toasting marshmallows. This way I don't have to carry separate camp footwear and when it's time to snuggle under my quilt I take off the Amphibians and my feet are warm and dry. My hiking socks often get dried next to the fire and finished off in one of my pockets overnight so they're dry by the morning. Unlike a pair of plastic bags which can, at a pinch, do the same job, the Amphibians can also be worn as traditional waterproof socks in unexpected very cold, wet weather, without so much of the sweatiness of plastic bags and are far more durable.

So far the Trekmates Amphibians have been perfect. They're coming with me on my trip to Sweden and I'm guessing they'll really be put through their paces again there with all the water we'll encounter along the way. Lined footwear still has it's place, in the Scandinavian winter, but for the rest of the year I'll take trail runners, 2 pairs of wool socks and my Trekmates Amphibians every time.

15 comments:

Thomas W. Gauperaa said...

Thanks for that review and the link to the 9.99 deal. I have forwarded that to a friend.

I like the idea of using the gore-tex socks with the sleeping socks (and wet shoes) to use as camp footwear. Clever. Will have to try that since I've up until now only used the sleeping socks for sleeping. Taking off the sleeping socks in the middle of the night and slipping my feet into wet socks and wet shoes, or just wet shoes, is not a nice experience :)

Btw, I'm currently testing out the Sealskinz mid calf socks. So far they've worked great. They look, fit and feel just like a normal hiking sock so I use them on their own with no liner. Will do a review after a while.

Joe Newton said...

Thomas - £9.99 is a bargain "It's a deal, it's a steal, it's sale of the f@*king century!"

Using the Amphibians inside wet shoes is great, you should try it. No more "Ewww!" moments when stuffing bare feet into muddy, wet, cold shoes.

Tried Sealskinz socks. Didn't get on with them. They we're ok for a days cold, wet mountain biking but once they get wet, inside and out, they take a couple of days to dry out completely.

mcalisterium said...

This pretty much chimes with my experience of the Amphibians, The look like a baggy mess, but work very well and are comfortable too!

Joe Newton said...

Fraser - I'd like to run a left-foot-right-foot test with these and a pair of the Rockys. I think the Rockys might be more 'fitted' and therefore more comfortable to hike in.

Roger said...

Great! Thanks for the review. have to order a pair asap. Will this summer try the same setup with mesh shoes. Afraid my feet will need better support. Have the last years had problems, escpecially with my heels. My doctor mumbles something abt age. I doesn't agree... ha ha!
Will att least use the setup for shorter trips.

Joe Newton said...

Roger - good luck tracking some down, I think Thomas said they were out of every size but small :-( There should be some retail outlets with stock though. If not try searching for some Rockys.

Mesh shoes? The Salomon ones? Yeah, heel support is lacking in that model.

Roger said...

Yupp! The Salomon ones. Waiting for ansver abt Treckmates.
Will be intresting to try. Have Jörgens reports from Fjäderlätt with great pleasure.

Joe Newton said...

Roger - A friend of mine has them. She likes them for easy walking, especially when there is lots of water but she doesn't like the lack of heel support when walking across a slope. I know Jörgen loves his and he's planning to wear them on our trip in Sweden later this week.

Roger said...

Got an answer from Trekmates.
They have ONE pair of xl for me. My lucky day?! Freight cost to Sweden as much as for the socks :-)

Gaute said...

I picked up a pair of Rocky's and so far I'm a very happy customer. They handle wading though melting snow and ice cold water just fine. With just wool liner and midweght wools socks I felt cold at first immersion in the cold water but then two minutes later it's clear that despite wading in snow and water in mesh shoes my feet will stay warm.
My size 13 weighs 85 grams which is weight I'll happily will carry in order to have dry feet in camp even though my hiking shoes got wet during the day. Who knows, I might even stop and put them on before I get my shoes and socks wet?

Joe Newton said...

Gaute - I think the Rockys, with their more fitted cut, would be the better socks for using whilst hiking. I have to admit I often use lined footwear in the winter but I really should try these waterproof socks in more breathable footwear. Maybe next winter. So, who makes 3-pin telemark boots in mesh then... ;-)

Dave Sailer said...

I've had two pair of Rocky Socks. The first lasted about a year, and the second about two months before leaking. I think they'd be better for cycling than hiking.

I'm now on my second pair of Sealskinz. Nice and cushy. Warm. They get wet both inside (from sweat) and outside (from water) and need, indoors, at my place, at least three days to dry, by which time they take on a perverse vile smell of their own, despite intense washing.

I still haven't found anything good for wearing while hiking, which is a problem since my feet don't do well when wet, so poop on it.

But it is important to get your feet warm and dry overnight.

I do have a tube of Hydropel, which Andrew Skurka uses. Haven't really tested it yet. It's something like floor wax for your feet: put it on, let it dry, and shed water all day. Supposedly. Might work better for me.

Joe Newton said...

Dave - yup, I'm not sure there is any way to keep your feet warm and dry 100% of the time. If it's cold AND wet in winter I'll wear lined mids, gaiters and try to keep them as dry as possible. Foot care at night might be even more important. Fluffy sleep socks mmmmmm....

Yes, Hydropel works a treat. It's a bit sticky in use but it seriously reduces pruning and blisters. Foot salve of champions!

Martin Rye said...

I want some more pairs as mine have been used a lot. Still going strong, I cant fault them and used in all sorts bog, tussock, scree and the like. 5 out 5.

Joe Newton said...

Martin - I finally got to see some Rocky socks at the weekend. They are edefinately more fitted and it seemed a tiny bit harder to wiggle in to. If they were easier to get hold of I might even try a side-by-side test with the Trekmates (which were absolutely critical to foot care and comfort on the Sweden trip)