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The cold world of skimo & alpine climbing

The cold world of skimo & alpine climbing

Tuesday, July 26, 2011


So why socks? Kinda goes with feet really. Boots, socks, insoles and feet right?

The thing that got me here though was Tracy sticking my best Merino wool ski socks in the drier. I'm thinking it was my best ski socks now fit Tracy, but they no longer fit me!

I get a little ahead of myself once in awhile looking for high tech stuff.

 Lorpen's Tri-Layer Medium Ski .  These rock!

38% primaloft eco polyester, 37% merino, 15% nylon, 10% lycra

OK, I am reaching.  Socks?  Come on!  I am not climbing much, skiing is winding down and I am trying to get some work done in the shop.

Socks play a crucial role in keeping you comfortable. Be it running, cycling, hiking, mountaineering or just spending a few hours walking, foot comfort is key.

Tri-Layer sock design is a combination of three layers that work together. These layers provide three benefits; better moisture management, more comfort and serious durability. The result is a sock that performs well over and over again.

Here's how they say Tri-Layer works:

Layer 1 (the layer that is next to your skin) is synthetic.
Synthetic fibres are better at wicking moisture away from your feet than natural yarns. Hydrophobic (non-absorbent) in nature, these fibres work quickly to move moisture away from your foot and into Layer 2.

Layer 2 (the middle layer) is natural.
Natural fibres are hydrophilic (absorbent) and actually suck the moisture away from Layer 1 spreading it out to speed up the evaporation process. The result is feet that stay dry for longer periods of time.

Layer 3 (the outer layer) is synthetic.
Nylon is knit as the outer layer to add durability to the sock and provide greater resistance in high friction areas. Commonly used for military applications, Nylon is renown for its excellent abrasion resistance. As the outer layer of our unique Tri-Layer system, it helps your socks to last longer and retain their comfort, even after many washes.

At almost $20 a pair for the ski socks you have to ask why?  Or at least I did.

"Trilayer design - synthetic next to the skin wicks moisture away to keep foot dry; middle layer is natural yarn that spreads out the moisture over a large surface; synthetic (nylon) is the outer layer for durability,
light cushion, over calf height, excellent moisture management, fast drying, mchine washable, tumble dry, no bleach, made in Mexico

"Over the calf height" is mandatory soem times, as I like to climb in a knicker length soft shell on occasion.   These days getting a sock long enough to cover the gap can be trying.
The company?
"Before Lorpen was founded in the early 1980's, our founders were disappointed with the socks they were using during their treks through the Pyrenees. The need for more comfort and durability drove them to start Lorpen.   Today we still rigorously field test all of our socks in the Pyrenees before they ever get near your feet. This ensures that you get the most technical, well crafted socks available today. And that means comfortable feet no matter what activity you choose to do.

Lorpen is a strong believer in giving to the community. Over the years, Lorpen has given many 1000's of pairs of new socks to organizations that support people and families in need."

I have a trail running version of this sock as well the, Tri-Layer Trail Light XTR.  Which is a different combination of materials, 36% Tencel®, 35% Coolmax®, 18% Nylon, 10% Lycra®, 1% Modal®.  Cost?  $14.00

I use it for trial running and on my bikes.  Down side it feels really slick internally to me.  But the obvious intention is to eliminate friction in the shoe.  Which it does.  On the bike my feet stay drier as well..

But it is the Merino wool combinations that I really like and will eventually purchase more of.   Socks for both my ski boots and my climbing boots.  And some of them will surely be mid calf height :)   The typical shin bite you get from being in tight ski boots all day is gone.  My AT boots seem to be the worst offenders.  TLT5s that go from a tight cuff to no cuff with the flip of a lever.  Back and forth yo/yo skiing them in the back country I get sore shins from my other merino wool socks..that cost anywhere between 10 and $20.

Noticeably less chafing from the Lopren's.    Interesting company, some great products...and now the best socks I own :) 

Like most reading this I'd bet the majority of socks I own come in bulk packages from places like Costco.  Good enough most days.  Socks I'll sometimes wear knowing that a hard day out will totally trash them.   Fair enough.  But there are days that the socks I wear will be an important part of my kit.  $20 a pair will be cheap in comparison to the time and effort involved.   Those are the days I'll likely be in a pair of Lopren's now. 

High tech socks..for Pete's sake!  Who would have thought? 

There have to be dozens of quality socks available....but not all are created equal. $20 plus seems to be the going price.   Pays to shop around.


Crosley Bendix said...

Have you tried using vapor barriers on your feet or hands?

Dane said...

Hi Crosley,
Yes I have used VBLs on feet, hands, tents and as a sleeping bag liners. All have uses if the conditions are right. At least for me best used on the feet on in a sleeping bag in really cold temps.

Some of the current dbl boots have inner boots that are VBLs so no additional sock is needed. Intuition and Palau liners come to mind.

In the past I have generally used VBLs to extend the comfort range of lwt gear. These days the gear is so much better (warmer) that I haven't bothered with a VBL in any form.

Jim Thomas said...

Hi Dane,

It sounds like the tri-layer has a synthetic layer next to the skin. Does this mean that liners are not longer necessary?

Dane said...

Hi Jim, I wondered if anyone else caught that. With these socks and a couple of others I am now no longer using a synthetic liner next to the skin. One sock in my dbl boots, and in my ski boots.

Single boots I ma still undecided, but usually two layers for friction and comfort.

Tried it for the first time this winter with the zero approaches in the Alps. It worked and no chewed up feet so far. But I would be careful where you try it. Long walks in stiff boots generally require a liner layer for me. TLT5s have been the exception to the rule with the Lopren socks.

Big advantage is no more sock combos for spares in the pack.

Unknown said...

Hi Dane,

Thanks for all of the great info.

Which particular Lorpen sock would you use in a pair of 6000s (no liner)?

Dane said...

this is the sock I am using right now ..pretty basic lwt wool.