Harpo and I first hiked the Bogachiel River trail when we were starting to train for the Appalachian Trail hike in 2013. It was as wet as we remembered. And although it’s hard to romp hip deep in icy water, we did our best. The trail was muddy, wet and due to recent storms there were numerous blowdowns – but it provided a welcome (if not wet) few hours of hiking.
Real northwest wizard beard vibes…
Everything soft, green and glistening – quite a bit different from our recent hiking in the desert, where everything is super sharp and pokey
People laugh at us for hiking with umbrellas, then I remind them we’re from the PNW.
Afternoon light filtered through the mist on a mostly abandoned trail – once hitting the Bogachiel River Trail proper, we’ve never run into ANYONE…
I get my chance to test the neoprene socks. Also the Lone Peak trail runners by Altra
We got to test some new gear – NRS Hydroskin .5 neoprene socks. These actually worked great when paired with wool liners – tho to say they are ‘waterproof’ is a misnomer. Neoprene works by allowing the body to heat a small area of water close to the body – so like using a wetsuit, you’re wet but warm.
I tried the neoprene socks alone, wool socks alone, and the wool/neoprene combo. The wool/neoprene combo was definitely the warmest, allowing for a quick reheat every time our feet were drenched again. Both Harpo and I remarked we’de like try the neoprene socks if we hiked the AT again, especially towards the end of the season. I used lightweight DarnTough no show socks as liners the first day, and DarnTough hiker crew socks the second day – my only complaint is the wool socks retain too much water, causing the feet to feel super heavy. I’m excited to try the combo with thin REI wool liners, as well as experimenting with poly liners. These beat a bread bag for sure! Tho considering carrying the weight just for those times when your feet are wet all day is tough….
Ok so I actually LOVE Darn Tough wool socks, so the above might not be the best representative photo. Darn Tough are made in America, and are overall the best constructed wool socks currently on the market. I finished my AT thru hike in these, and they seem to be the socks of choice for thru hikers on the PCT as well. The photos detail how the Darn Toughs wear when, after an unexpected sock failure, I ended up with a single pair of socks for over 300 miles. They got a little thin on the balls of the feet, but otherwise great!
Wool sock on general are my everyday jam – I started rockin Smartwool in the late 90s (probably about when REI started carrying the brand) and haven’t really gone back to cotton ever. Sadly, I think Smartwool’s quality has slipped a bit over the years – I started my AT thru hike with a couple pairs and burned through both pairs within a hundred miles. I still use their thiny thin running sock, tho I don’t expect more than 50 miles without some repairs.
I also tried out Icebreaker socks, which are better manufactured than Smartwool, but still don’t hold up to the rigors of the trail. That said, I do love the Icebreaker merino tank I’m hiking in this season… I used a customized Patagonia silk weight base layer for the AT. I’m interested in how they compare at 2200 miles.
And don’t get me started on REI store brand… I’ve been through more than a few pairs of them – the thinner socks’ elastic falls out almost immediately and the thicker socks are too thick to breath. Harpo and I do love the REI generic merino sock liners tho – she’s been sporting those on the PCT. the pair pictured below is one of three after 500 miles. Not bad for lightweight liners. They’re not intended for serious hiking, but are great inexpensive (and well made) all around socks.
So yeah. Darn Tough. Love. And at the end of the day your feet don’t small like death when you take off your shoes, which is about the best you can ask for. Tho I’ma go straight Ray Jardine in Oregon and wear nylon thiny thin socks for better ventilation and quicker drying. I’m a little afraid you’ll be able to small my feet coming. We’ll see how it goes… 👍
Not only are these modified Smartwool socks ultralight and super breathable, they’re super sexy too! Show a little toe!
As we continue our tireless journey not only as hikers, but also as philosophers and inventors, we seek to develop the newest modern concepts and products to facilitate our successful reintegration into polite society.