The lowdown on the latest technical apparel for your feet.
So, what comes between you and your foam-injected, custom-insoled ski boots? If you said a pair of cotton tube socks you bought by the dozen at Kmart, we need to talk. A bad sock choice can completely undo the benefits of being well shod. What you need, friend, is a high-tech sock -- one that's adept at moisture management and temperature regulation. Maybe even an antimicrobial, anatomically correct, variably cushioned sock. And when choosing a sock, make sure it's a good match with your ski boot. With snug-fitting boots, choose a thin sock; with a roomy fit, go thicker. In fact, get the right sock, and the foot problems you blamed on your boots might just go away.
Thorlo's new High Performance Ski sock ($20) is a warm midweight sock with variable-density padding at critical areas -- shin, heel, ball of foot, and instep -- to protect against pressure points in ski boots. It's made with ThermoLite, a synthetic fiber designed to insulate and wick moisture.
SmartWool has figured out how to take the itch out of wool, making for comfy, cozy socks. Each SmartWool fiber contains thousands of moisture-wicking micro-pores, keeping your foot warm and stink-free. SmartWool has an entire line of snow-sliding socks, including the Snowrider ($17), a midweight, midcalf sock with a cushioned design for warmth and shock absorption.
THE FAIRER SOX
There are ski boots for women, so why not socks? The Fox River for Women line of socks includes two ski-specific models ($14, $15). They feature more rounded toe boxes to eliminate bunching, narrower heels, and shorter lengths for shorter legs. The socks combine a wicking microfiber, merino wool, and Lycra.
Rohner's Ultra Light ($20) is a soft, low-volume sock ideal for a snug-fitting boot. Made of a merino wool and polypropylene blend, the sock features ribbed channels that are designed to circulate air and transport moisture to keep your foot dry and warm.
The X-Static OTC Liner ($10) from Fox River is an ultralightweight polypropylene sock made with a silver-coated nylon fiber that fights odor-producing bacteria and helps regulate foot temperature.
Dahlgren offers two ski socks -- one medium weight, one thin ($15, $17) -- made with alpaca, which the company says is "extremely soft and three times more durable than wool." A superfine alpaca yarn is used at the heel and toe to absorb moisture, while MicroSupreme synthetic fibers are used at the arch and instep to wick wetness away.
For skiers with precise-fitting boots, there's Thorlo's Ski Light with ThermoLite synthetic fiber. The sock is lightly padded at the shin, heel, and toe, but it's still thin.
Wigwam's Outlast Ski sock ($14) is cushioned merino wool with Outlast, a fabric innovation said to regulate temperature by absorbing and storing body heat when you're hot, and releasing it when you're cold.
Fox River: foxsox.com
Rohner: 800-567-9503; rohner-socks.com
SmartWool: 800-550-WOOL; smartwool.com
Thorlo: 888-846-7567; thorlo.com
Wigwam: 888-472-5678; wigwam.com