Subscribe Contribute Advertise Facebook Twitter Instagram Forums Newsletter

TechSpun Environmental Sock System SPOTLITE REVIEW

TechSpun makes some strong claims for these socks; is it hype, or do they really work? We tested them in summer and winter to find out.

Print

by Will Rietveld and Janet Reichl | 2006-07-22 03:00:00-06

Overview

TechSpun Socks are marketed as an “Environmental Sock System”, consisting of a Coolmax liner sock and a very cushy wool blend outer sock. The key word is system, the liner sock and reversed terry nap outer sock need to be worn together to obtain the warmth and comfort benefits claimed for these socks. There are two versions - the All-Weather Sock System is for general use and is claimed to be comfortable from 0 °F to +100 °F, and the heavier Extreme Weather Sock System is claimed to be comfortable from -40 °F to +120 °F.

A unique feature of the TechSpun sock systems is the outer sock is intended to be worn with the terry nap to the outside to increase moisture dispersion. It also slips on over the liner sock easier that way.

The liner sock is made with Coolmax® fabric and Lycra® to wick away moisture. It incorporates FreshFX technology, which uses silver to retard microbial activity. The outer sock is 45% wool, 45% polypropylene, 8 % nylon, and 2 % Lycra.

TechSpun Environmental Sock System SPOTLITE REVIEW - 1
The TechSpun All-Weather Sock System (left and right) consists of a Coolmax liner sock plus a wool blend outer sock. The outer sock (middle) has a reversed terry nap on the inside that really cushions your feet.

The first thing we should take into account is the socks’ weight and bulk. Many ultralight and lightweight backpackers use trail runner shoes with very light socks to minimize weight. The TechSpun sock systems weigh 7.3 ounces and 8.5 ounces for the All-Weather and Extreme Weather systems in size Large, so they are not light. Also, both systems are bulkier than a single pair of socks, so shoe fit needs to be taken into account. One general recommendation is to get the socks first, then fit the shoes/boots with the TechSpun socks (especially the Extreme Weather Socks, more on that later).

Who would wear these socks? Well, if you have really toughened feet like many thru-hikers and adventure racers, you probably don’t need them. But if you are prone to sore, blistered, or cold feet, then you might want to give these sock systems some serious consideration. If you hike thru-hiker style, putting in 12 hours or more on the trail each day, you can fall in love with these socks.

Will gave the All-Weather Sock System a thorough testing in late winter, spring, and summer conditions, and it quickly became his favorite sock for sheer comfort. He wore the socks in a variety of footwear and found the socks to fit well in most of them without being too tight. However, he wears wide hiking shoes/boots, which usually have some extra volume to fill up. On trail or off-trail the TechSpun Sock System helped enable him to hike from dawn to dusk with no foot problems. The socks are a wool/synthetic blend, and he did find them to be quite dry and comfortable over a broad temperature range, as claimed. However on long days it definitely helped to take boots off at midday and dry everything out.

The outer sock is 45% polypropylene, which is legendary for its foul smell with prolonged wear. However, Will wore the socks continuously for six days/80 miles on the Continental Divide Trail with no unusual odors in the outer sock. However, the liner sock, which is claimed to contain silver to retard microbial activity, developed a rotten stench reminiscent of polypropylene underwear. This doesn’t quite make sense, but we verified it several times.

Winter Use

We both tested the TechSpun Extreme Weather Sock System in various snow activities. A key point we want to make here is that these socks are very bulky, so you really do need to purchase the socks first then fit the footwear to the socks. We found the Extreme Weather Sock System to be too tight in most of the shoes and boots we already had, so we had to size up one full size on new low-cut Gore-Tex XCR shoes and pac-type boots in order to get a loose enough fit.

TechSpun Environmental Sock System SPOTLITE REVIEW - 2
The TechSpun Extreme Weather Sock System (left and right) consists of a Coolmax liner sock plus a very thick outer sock. The outer sock (center) has a thick terry nap on one side for warmth and cushioning.

As with the All-Weather Sock System, we both liked the dryness, cushioning, and comfort the Extreme Weather socks provided for our feet. As far as warmth, the socks were warmer than a single pair of Merino wool socks, and easily kept our feet warm while we were active. However, these socks are a wool/synthetic blend, and are not extremely warm in less active situations. This is verified on the TechSpun website: “These socks are not a substitute for insulation in conditions where insulated boots are required.”

While winter camping in igloos we built, we usually left the Extreme Weather socks on (if they were fairly dry, and they usually were) and wore insulated booties over them. We also slept with the socks and booties on.

Specifications and Features

  • Manufacturer: TechSpun (http://techspun.com/)
  • Products: Coolmax Liner, All-Weather Sock System, Extreme Weather Sock System
  • Fabrics: The liner sock is made of Coolmax polyester and Lycra, with embedded silver to retard microbial action. The outer socks are 45% wool, 45% polypropylene, 8% nylon, and 2% Lycra
  • Sizes Available: 7-9, 9-11, 10-13, and 13-15
  • MSRP: Liner sock $9.50, All-Weather Sock $16.95, Extreme Weather Sock $18.95

Citation

"TechSpun Environmental Sock System SPOTLITE REVIEW," by Will Rietveld and Janet Reichl. BackpackingLight.com (ISSN 1537-0364).
http://backpackinglight.com/cgi-bin/backpackinglight/techspun_environmental_sock_system_spotlite_review.html, 2006-07-22 03:00:00-06.

Print