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.
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
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: Lauren Purdy, Victoria and Noah Hazael, Robby Spanring, and Cycling UK's triumvirate of Sams: Jones, Reedman and Waller, 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 Findra, Sealskinz, Primal and Alpkit a good run through the mud, wet and cold.
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.
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!
Skye Herringbone Merino Plum/Charcoal £16
To paraphrase Leonard Cohen’s recollection of what Janis Joplin told him one night at the Chelsea Hotel, I usually prefer colourful socks, but for FINDRA I’d make an exception.
That’s because with the supersoft 100 percent Australian merino this Scottish company uses, they’re like a second woolly skin which wraps your feet in a comforting cuddle.
Coming in five colours featuring the classic herringbone pattern, these midweight socks have been perfect for autumnal and early winter rides down south where temperatures have hovered around 5 degrees at times.
Rising about an inch above the ankle, they should eliminate any annoying gap between trouser cuff and sock. True to size (tested 6 – 8.5) They’ve yet to slip and several washes later still look as good as when they emerged from the sustainable packaging they came in.
Being merino, they should work across a range of temperatures and be ideal for touring or bikepacking when washing socks is not always possible. Highly recommend.
Bikepacking Sam Jones
Skye Herringbone Merino Moss Green/Charcoal £16
I was excited to be assigned socks from ethical merino wool specialists Findra – based about 40 miles down the road from me in the Scottish Borders.
These socks are 100% merino and are beautifully soft to the touch. I’m a size 11 with fairly wide feet and I found the 9-11 size a little tight, so worth bearing in mind if you’re at the top of the sizing bracket.
These socks feel fairly lightweight, so I was keen to test them on a two hour ride when the ‘feels like’ temperature had dropped below zero. They performed brilliantly! My toes felt totally snug the entire ride and the socks are nicely breathable.
I look forward to getting plenty of wear out of these over the winter.
Scottish Sam Waller
Café du Cycliste
Merino cycling socks Nordic Red £21
What a lovely pair of socks the “Nordic Socks” from Café Du Cycliste are. Merino wool keeps the feet comfortable, warm and importantly breathable.
Used on around 5 rides some in some less than favourable weather and the quality of the socks is not failing to shine through. No staining from the dirty roads, tracks and bridleways which is some going for white socks.
A highly recommended premium pair of socks, perhaps the design is not all year round but impressed with the quality.
Working from home can be frustrating, but one benefit has been no longer enduring unwanted odours of your colleagues. Which is why I have no idea how I got selected to test Alpkit’s odor-defeating socks, since I am obviously absolutely never the offender.
However, I set out to test the socks as soon as they arrived. They have been my daily wear as I sit and work, collect my shopping (by bike of course!) and generally gallivant around.
Although I believe these socks have been designed with the serious multi-day tripper in mind, I’m too much of a fair-weather adventurer to have put them to such a challenge yet. But I’m happy to report that after three days of continual use (all be it mainly under household conditions) so far none of my flatmates have keeled over, which I’ll put down to the added natural silver thread and its anti-microbial qualities.
Not overly warm, these socks would suit warmer months and a high heart rate.
Videographer Rob Spanring
Flipper Feet sock & Panda cycling socks £10.99 each
Primal do an eclectic range of colours and patterned socks to fit feet sized 3.5 -12. There’s actually 48 patterns to choose from, it was a bit overwhelming if I’m honest so we chose our favourite animals.
They look super cute but the socks are made of curious mix of 70% Cotton, 20% PU (aka as Polyurethane) and 10% Polyester. Primal call this their advanced air transfer system.
Practically this means they aren’t super soft or absorbent, but will minimise your feet feeling sweaty as the wicking is great. They are not socks for the depth of winter as they aren’t the thickest material, but they are very comfy and most importantly on a ride they don’t fall down and are long enough to bridge the gap so your ankles don’t get cold.
If you love ironing socks (why?) I’m afraid you can’t with these, but they wash well and dry quickly and most importantly they are a lot of fun to wear.
Perfect for the person who loves penguins, pandas and pedalling.
Mummy panda tester size 7, child penguin tester size 4
These Sealskinz Waterproof Cold Weather Mid Length Sock with Hydrostop were tested on a mild dry day mid-December on a 50-minute road ride, temperature 12c.
This sock is quite thick, so I was anticipating my feet would be kept warm and toasty on my ride. They feel a little stiff at first, which I would put down to the waterproof quality. The socks are quite long (mid-calf length) and I would probably be more likely to wear these off-road.
Colour-wise, there’s not a great choice and I would have preferred the Cycling UK-like blue option but they were out of stock at the point of ordering. I went with the red/grey, which are inconspicuous and match some of my kit, so no tears here! I did notice there’s an unsightly seam-like line in the middle of the sock from toe to cuff which isn’t very nice, but I doubt anyone would notice once they’re shoved in a shoe or boot so I didn’t let that put me off.
Fit-wise, they’re not bad, I went for 6-8’s and generally I fit 6-6 ½ shoes. They’re quite roomy around the bottom half of the foot which I’m not too keen on but after a few minutes of wear they stop feeling ‘gapey’, at the same time they have enough room to wear a thin pair of socks underneath, should that be preferable. They were comfortably tight on the calf, this I assume is to aid the waterproof quality along with the ‘hydrostop’ - a silicone-like elasticated barrier around the cuff, keeping rain and mud out.
I didn’t wear other socks underneath, and wore my shimano clipless road shoes over the top.
After around 20 minutes of gentle riding (just over 12 mph), my feet felt noticeably cold and by the end of the 50 minute ride my feet felt slightly numb which was disappointing given the rest of my body was comfortably warm and it was not a windy day or particularly cold.
Once I got home, I tested the waterproof quality by spraying them with the shower head on the cold setting in several directions for around five minutes. When I took them off, my legs and feet were still perfectly dry! So I have confidence they would keep my feet completely dry in the rain and mud, but I could be much happier with how warm they keep my feet, which is my biggest concern when out on a ride. I’ll definitely test their heat retention again over the Christmas break.
Almost-a-gravel-rider, Lauren Purdy