Sealskinz Thin Ankle Length Socks bring three seasons' waterproof practicality to snug-fitting race shoes, while offering excellent defence against blistering and abrasion. Despite almost three week's daily service and the best efforts of my deformed toe, my test pair still look and smell like new.
While extremely practical, the science bit isn't terribly revolutionary. We've a three-layer sandwich that employs a merino wool/nylon/elastane mix to spirit moisture from the skin, maintaining good hygiene an of course, banishing those nasty niffs. Then we've the waterproof, breathable membrane that prevents rider-induced and external moisture from inviting trouble, while the predominantly nylon outer wall minimises friction, and therefore blisters and premature wear.
These have a thermal rating of two - middle of the road perhaps, but adequate for all bar the most extreme of temperatures.
Temperate they are. I ride year round come hell and occasionally high water. Shoe preserving qualities aside, I find overshoes cumbersome and often uncomfortably warm - even when the temperature dips below zero. Haring along the lanes, November rain cascading along my calves, it made no impression whatsoever for three hours - maybe longer.
Immersing both feet to the cuff lines in salt water couldn't faze my feet, but the sensation of soggy outers/dry inners takes some adjustment. You'd be very unlucky to fall victim to soggy feet during a 'cross or MTB meet. I was also relieved by their tenacity over slippery surfaces, suggesting they'd be a good bet for cross-country running too.
Performance in cold, dry weather was also a pleasant surprise - that membrane blocks icy blasts. That said; man-made fibres always have an element of compromise. Previous summer experience with their socklet siblings suggests they're not ideal warm-weather companions, when their waterproofing overtakes their wicking qualities.
Ultra-practical socks for everyday riding.
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road.cc test report
Make and model: Sealskinz Thin ankle length socks
Size tested: Large
Tell us what the product is for, and who it's aimed at. What do the manufacturers say about it? How does that compare to your own feelings about it?
"Thin, lightweight, totally waterproof socks offering protection up to the ankle. Ideal for use with lightweight boots in spring and autumn conditions". No quibble here.
Tell us some more about the technical aspects of the product?
* Anatomically designed ankle length fit
* Close fitting knitted construction
* Fine Merino wool lining for warmth and moisture control
* Elasticated instep and Achilles ankle panel provide support and a comfortable fit
Tell us how the product performed overall when used for its designed purpose
These socks are extremely hardwearing, generally waterproof and fairly breathable too. Some may find the thermal rating a little too low for winter but my tootsies have remained very temperate.
Tell us what you particularly liked about the product
I was particularly taken with their snug fit,excellent water/ chill resistent properties and durable construction.
Tell us what you particularly disliked about the product
Nothing given the design brief but there's always a bit of compromise between weatherproofing and wicking.
Did you enjoy using the product? Yes.
Would you consider buying the product? Yes.
Would you recommend the product to a friend? Yes.
About the tester
Age: 38 Height: 1m 81 Weight: 70 kilos
I usually ride: Rough Stuff Tourer Based around 4130 Univega mtb Frameset My best bike is: 1955 Holdsworth Road Path and several others including cross & traditional road
I've been riding for: Over 20 years I ride: Most days I would class myself as: Experienced
I regularly do the following types of riding: cyclo cross, commuting, touring, fixed/singlespeed, mtb,
Shaun Audane is a freelance writer/product tester with over twenty-eight years riding experience, the last twelve (120,000 miles) spent putting bikes and kit through their paces for a variety of publications. Previous generations of his family worked at manufacturing's sharp end, thus Shaun can weld, has a sound understanding of frame building practice and a preference for steel or titanium framesets.
Citing Richard Ballantine and an Au pair as his earliest cycling influences, he is presently writing a cycling book with particular focus upon women, families and disabled audiences (Having been a registered care manager and coached children at Herne Hill Velodrome in earlier careers)