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Integral Designs VB socks / Vapor Barrier socks

in Footwear - Boots, Shoes, Gaiters

Average Rating
3.00 / 5 (2 reviews)

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paul johnson
( pj )

LazyBoy in my Den - miss the forest
Integral Designs VB socks / Vapor Barrier socks on 03/04/2007 04:13:34 MST Report Post Print

Rating: 3 / 5

I use these as rain gear for my feet when wearing trail runners.

I'd prefer to use Rocky GTX socks, but, for me, they just don't work due to fit issues.

As in my Rocky GTX socks review, I'll use a GBU categorization for this review.

The Good
1. relatively inexpensive (but there's a "catch")

2. very easiy to don and doff.

3. do what they're intended to do, i.e. keep one's feet dry from outside moisture.

4. add some warmth due to its VB nature.

5. packs very small

6. "packs" very light.

7. very thin, so both liners and thicker socks may be worn at the same time as the ID VB socks.

The Bad:
1. wear out/through relatively quick (as compared to, for example, Rocky GTX socks which, based upon 2nd hand info fr/those who can use them, last 10+ yrs of normal use). Note that wearing them between two sock layers helps a bit to prolong their longevity before they wear through. Wearing them over all of one's socks results in faster wearing out. Hence, if use in warmer weather, a second pair of liners (if only wearing one pair) should be added. Of course, in warmer weather, one always has the option of just letting one's feet get wet. Of course, some might argue that the problem isn't primarily with the nature of the silnylon VB socks, but with poor fit of my footwear or the fact that the footwear loosened up a bit during hiking - hence, the friction developing which wears through the VB sock. I wouldn't argue with anyone on this point as I feel that, perhaps(???), they could be right. I've only worn through one pair. My second pair is lasting much longer, so perhaps footwear fit is a major contributing component. I doubt that i'll get the remainder of the 10yr claimed Rocky GTX sock service life out of this pair however.

I would only add here that the UGLY-factor, mentioned below, comes into play here also. It is just a little challenging at times to get a second, somewhat snug, liner over tha extra material, and have that xtra mat'l "dress" nicely. I find it far easier to just place the VB sock outside of all of my socks, but this has the downsides of getting them all sweat-soaked and also, perhaps, contributing to faster wear of the silnylon VB sock.

2. one's feet still get wet, but it's from the inside, viz. one's own perspiration. So, any socks worn inside of the ID VB socks will eventually get sweat-soaked if the VB socks are worn long enough.

3. while the initial cost of these socks is 40-45 percent of the cost of the Rocky GTX socks, in the long run, they don't have the same VALUE. That is, they, presumably don't have the same length of service life as the Rocky GTX socks (based upon other's claims of 10+ yrs of service for the Rocky GTX socks - a claim which i accept w/o reservation). So, they will require replacement more frequently, and in the long run could end up costing more.

4. They don't breathe at all since they are a VB. Hence, under high exertion, they will build up moisture inside faster than a WPB sock.

The Ugly:
1. these socks are sized to easily fit over other socks layers. In fact, in some cases they might just about fit over one's Trail Runners too! This results in the same issue that I experienced when sizing up two size with the Rocky GTX socks (cf. my Rock GTX Socks Review which can be found in the Review Index under Footwear), viz. there are several inches of extra material sticking out past the end of my stubby lil' toes. So, why isn't this a functional problem in this case instead of merely an aesthetic problem? Good question. Answer: the ID VB socks are thinner and less bulky (NOT that the Rocky GTX socks would be considered "bulky" - it's just a relative term in this case) than the Rock GTX socks. So, scrunching that xtra mat'l up in front of my stubby lil' toes, or folding it underneath (or above) still allows a decent fit inside of my trail runners, unlike, in my case, attempt the same with the Rocky GTX socks.

The Bottom Line:
For me, personally, I'd give these socks a 4, as, for me, personally, there aren't any other options out there that I'm familiar with except for these, Rocky GTX socks, and SealSkinz socks, and they are a FOUR for my intended use (not a 5 due to VB nature and fragility, and the minor impact of the extra length), but if one is looking JUST for socks to keep one's feet dry during rain or shallow streams crossings, then, IF they fit, the Rocky GTX socks, or SealSkinz (which i have no first hand experience with at this time) would be a better choice.

So as VB socks - to be worn in the cold, or when sleeping for added warmth (though i, personally would question doing so - as i like my feet to breathe at night - but IF frostbite was an issue, then...), i'd probably give them a 4 or 4.5 (this is a guess as i haven't worn them in this capacity), but as a rain sock, they rate only a 3 for the BAD aspects mentioned above.

Edited by pj on 03/06/2007 04:58:13 MST.

Price comparison from GearBuyer:
Integral Designs VB Socks priced at: $22.97
Sealskinz Socks priced at: $55.95
john flanagan
( jackfl )

New England
Integral Designs VBL Socks on 03/04/2007 06:45:09 MST Report Post Print

Rating: 3 / 5

I'll mirror PJs remarks with a focus on their intended use as vapor barriers for winter use.

In fairness, they work as vaporbarriers. So do produce bags!

These are poorly tailored - I don't think it's possible to avoid bunching somewhere under foot or around the toe, which at best is irritating and at worst blistering. The central design flaw is the seam running down the center of the underfoot - they're sewn from 2 pcs of fabric rather than adding a seperate shaped footbed.

They are oversized - even a size smaller than recommended is too big.

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