Top of the cycling socks
Top of the cycling socks
As one leaves childhood behind, the prospect of socks for Christmas doesn't seem the dreadful prospect it once was.
If you still need convincing then maybe the wise words of Cycling UK’s President Jon Snow might convince you:
"As a vibrant sock wearer of some renown, I would urge cyclists never to dismiss this item of footwear as a Christmas present. The right sock can say so much about the recipient and giver, and will always have a place in anyone’s wardrobe – even if it is wildly fluorescent and hidden at the back of the drawer!”
For Cycling UK’s gallant team of sock reviewers: Victoria Hazael, Lucy Watherston, Victoria Heywood, Georgi Cox, Helen Cook, Nik Hart, Adrian Wills, Sam Reedman, and I, we’ve taken our President’s words to heart. We each took the opportunity to get some more winter miles in, all to ensure that we gave the latest offerings from cycling brands Endura, Findra, Cafe du Cycliste, Rapha and of course Cycling UK's new sock a good run through the mud and wet.
The right sock can say so much about the recipient and giver, and will always have a place in anyone’s wardrobe.
Jon Snow, Cycling UK President and Channel 4 Newscaster
It’s important to bear in mind though that a single pair of socks, no matter how thick, will always struggle with the coldest of days. Always consider the benefits of layering – just as you would with most other items of clothing – and in the case of your feet don’t forget overshoes if your shoes will take them. If they don’t, then you might like to try the Global Cycle Network’s top tip in the video at the bottom of the article!
It was a treat to have a pair of merino wool socks on outside of the ski slope; being a cycle commuter covering the grand distance of three miles per day, they aren’t something I’ve ever felt the need to invest in. But these Findra stripies opened my eyes. Getting home didn’t have to be a race before the chill set in anymore, and my toes didn’t seem to notice the difference between outside and inside. The socks fitted snuggly in my short boots and stayed in place all day, not revealing my hauntingly pale winter ankles to the office. Although I didn’t mind the odd flash of orange beneath my trousers, I would probably go for the more demure plum shade in future – and there are a lot of colours to choose from. They washed well, and I recommend wearing them straight from the radiator – it’s a good way to start a winter day. Maybe the plum ones will make their way onto my Christmas list… Victoria Heywood, Communications and Media Officer
Grown in Australia, spun in Italy and woven in Scotland this Merino rich blend (85%) of sock, are a warm woolly hug for your feet on the coldest of days. Snug but not tight, you’re stepping into luxury when you slip these onto your feet. Made of merino, if you choose not to change your socks regularly (eurgh!) then one of the added benefits to the warmth is that these socks are made of an odour resistant fabric.
Coming in three colours charcoal (tested), heather and midnight blue, sock wearers conservative and outlandish are all catered for. Sizes range from 3.5 to 9, so these socks are more for people with a small to average size foot. I like a bit of a longer sock, so found the ankle length shorter than I’m used to, but they still peep above a low walking boot. They’ve been through the wash a couple of times (wool cycle, 30 degrees) and still look like new, promising plenty of wear for the winter months ahead.
These are a luxury sock and I can guarantee that if these are in your stocking this year you won’t be disappointed. Sam Jones, Senior Campaigns and Communications Officer
These socks arrived in a lovely zipped up pouch which instantly gave them the feel that I was receiving special socks and once opened the design didn’t disappoint, the bold colour and criss-cross pattern was striking. As well as aesthetically pleasing they also had breathable elements which meant that my feet didn’t sweat, and they maintained their heat throughout my ride. The only downside was they were a little too tight and left an imprint of the sock on my leg for while after I’d taken them off. However, all in all they feel good quality and I imagine them lasting for a long time. Lucy Watherston, Digital and Social Media Officer
These socks are soft with 38% merino wool and warm enough on a cold day, but if temperatures dip below freezing they are thin enough to be your first sock layer. I have quite wide feet and they fitted well with no mark on my ankle at the end of the day and they didn’t roll down either. They wash well, no bobbles after 4 washes so far and they don’t need to go in a wool wash like someone of my other cycling socks so they don’t languish at the bottom of the laundry pile. The pattern is a bit boring, but you’d get away with wearing them to somewhere smart before you cycle home. They are toasty warm and comfy and not too thick. Victoria Hazael, Website Editor
Endura Pro SL Primaloft Socks - £22.99
First impressions of the Pro SL Primaloft socks were great. They’re extremely comfortable, fit well and look good. Made from a blend of polyester, nylon, elastane, wool and silk they are incredibly comfortable, and have lasted well through several washes. As a ‘roadie’ I like tight fitting, mid-calf length socks and thin enough to squeeze into my road shoes and these fit the bill perfectly.
On the bike they perform great, having been tested through multiple commutes and a couple of longer rides. They wick moisture well and are comfortable even when you get several hours into a ride and have been hit by the worst of the British weather. If there is a downside, they struggled to keep my feet warm when the temperature got close to freezing – but in fairness, very few socks do. I’d certainly recommend their wear throughout Autumn and Spring. Nik Hart, Marketing Officer
The packaging is pretty nifty, and I found of use on a recent expedition for storing documents securely – the contents were even better. Like Lucy, I found these socks probably better suited to warmer months, but I loved the gallic flair they brought to my cycling outfit. They rise mid-shin, fit like a second skin and don’t shift while riding. They’re merino rich
I had no issue with breathability and can see these becoming my go to sock in the spring months when I’ll have a chance to show them off properly! Sam J
When I first received these Endura socks, I was sceptical that any sock could claim to be waterproof….but as I love anything with a hint of teal colouring, I was sure I was going to like them. Have suffered from wet shoes and subsequent freezing feet on night rides I was keen to find something that would prevent my tooties from getting cold and wet even if my shoes couldn’t.
They are a good quality mid length socks, not bulky, with the subtly of black with a hint of colour on the toe and heel. To test the comfort, I also wore them round the house and the breathability works well making them a comfy pair of socks.
The ingenious part for me, was the texture. I envisaged a magical blend with neoprene (the same stuff they make wet suits out of) but still with the smoothness of cotton. The construction may be far simpler of Nylon 45%, Polyester 42% and Elastane 13%, but they do what it says on the tin: dry feet - they're a winner for me! I think they are worthy purchase. Helen Cook, Head of Engagement
We’ve collaborated with custom cycling kit brand Primal to produce these bespoke Cycling UK socks, so it’s only fair we took them for a spin to test them before we let you have them.
Made from a 50% Acrylic, 25% Nylon, 15% Spandex and 10% Lycra blend, the socks are close-fitting, stretchy and comfortable to wear. They function well, and the wicking properties of the sock are great, as well as keeping your feet dry. Primal claim “the seams and stitching of the socks are designed for a comfortable fit without any slippage inside your shoe” and through testing we’ve found no reason to disagree. Not the thickest or warmest socks on this list, but they’ve performed well in our recent autumnal wet and windy conditions.
Primal are known for their funky designs, and these are no exception. Bright and colourful, these socks will ensure you stand out as well as showing your support for Cycling UK. Don’t forget, all proceeds from the Cycling UK shop go straight back into our work – making them even more of a bargain! Nik
Rapha Deep Winter socks - £25
These deep wool socks were lovely and snug without being itchy or overly boil in the bag. I found them with their thick soles that they were bouncy and springy to walk on. My one concern though is with thick socks there is the risk of making your shoes tight which can cut off circulation and actually make your feet colder. This is particularly a problem if you wear cycling shoes which are quite a tight fit anyway. This can also be an issue if you wear cycling tights as the socks nearly reached my knees - giving you the dilemma of over or under the tight! Georgi Cox, Head of Marketing
Rapha have designed a high-quality product here, from the moment they arrived I was looking forward to putting them on. Originally tested by Rapha during the 2015 Transcontinental, a 4,000km journey across Europe, while I have not managed that distance in these I have no doubt that they would stand up to the job. I have been using them for my commute to and from the office, performing excellently in the dry and just as well while raining. Soft, quick to dry, foot hugging and with Rapha’s typical aesthetics a winning combination. Sam Reedman, Membership Officer
Coming in five colours (Hi-vis pink, white, black, green and chartreuse) these oversocks are designed to be worn with road shoe cleat systems. They’re made of Cordura and have a reflective yarn woven into the fabric to help provide an extra element of visibility. Cycling UK’s three roadies gave them a whirl.
I tend to go for thicker socks in cold weather, and overshoes in the wet – so these Rapha oversocks seem like a handy middle ground for cold dry days. I picked the Hi-viz pink, and the main benefit was great visibility especially with the reflective strips. They were easy to fit over my road shoes due to the stretchy fabric and the mid-calf length is great. The thin material – and lack of testing in cold conditions – means I’m not sure how effective they would be for really cold, wet days but they provide a decent extra layer of protection from the wind and the visibility is reassuring when commuting at night. Nik
The oversocks were interesting having only worn shoes before. I've ripped several pairs of thinner overshoes and when stretching these over the cleats, I could imagine these wearing fairly quickly if you wear / walk in them regularly. I thought they might look a bit sleeker over my shoes, but I think because I tried the chartreuse yellow and I'm a bit vertically challenged but with big feet, I was still rocking that cartoon Smurf shoe look.
As a commuter on unlit, traffic heavy roads - I did like the colour and reflective stripe from a visibility point of view. They also were easy enough to stretch on and half pull off to get my feet out, which can be a major flaw with some overshoes if you're in a commuting hurry. I'll definitely wear them for added warmth on a dry day though. I also imagine they'll get pretty grubby, especially underneath, but hopefully that won't be a problem after the wash. Georgi
I'm a persistent sufferer of cold feet, so the Rapha oversock was a little too thin on its own to keep my toes toastie in the depths of December– but I found combined with my regular neoprene overshoe, it provided a great extra level of warmth for those particularly cold riding days. Best suited to cooler spring rides rather than full-blown icy winter trips. Adrian Wills, Head of Communications