Richard of FireBase-Alpha was so kind to send us over his latest review about “socks”!… yes, you got it right socks! Read the full review below:
“SOCKS, socks..you dont need no stinking Socks”
Before we begin I would like to pose a question to all the readers of this article. The question is “How important are your feet to you?” It is a simple enough question to ask and for me a very easy question to answer. They are an essential part of me and without them I would not succeed in my current environments. Now I am sure some of you have already thrown your hands in the air, turned the page or clicked the button. Socks, Socks….wow cutting edge gear here! Well YES it is cutting edge gear, it is essential, it is expensive (for those like me that have come to expect a very high failure rate) and it should not be dismissed with a nonchalant attitude of “whatever goes on my feet”.
I have been wearing socks for the past 37 years, in fact I would be as bold enough to say that 95% of the readers of this article are wearing them right now. My mother made me wear them, then the school prescribed what colour they should be and then the Government issued them to me and I still smile at Christmas when my extended family wrap them for me. However over the past 5 years I have looked at socks evaluating them on the same criteria that I buy all my gear both as civilian and for more aggressive uses.
Like many of you I have tried many different manufactures products over the years and they always seem to fail me, but this does not preclude me for requiring a sock, flip-flops are not all-round footwear for what we do. So I keep looking, buying, trying and binning and that is when I discovered these socks. The socks you see pictured are designed and manufactured by a European company called APPLIED ORANGE (http://www.ao-store.com/). I have been wearing several pairs of their socks both for everyday as well as excursions since late January 2013.
Now by no means should aesthetics be the main factor of why you should buy something, especially in socks, whose going to see them?, but look at these and tell me they are not the sexiest sock you have seen? Take into account they have been designed specifically for an aggressive (user & climate) environment! When I contacted Applied Orange I was fortunate enough to have an exchange with the CEO and through our conversation, inquiring about the socks he kindly explained the following.
“The Applied Orange Tan Knee-height sock has its origins in the construction sector. This is a sector where the health of feet is of vital importance just like the professional military and Law-enforcement market. Maximum support of the feet and ergonomic fit make for the sock to be very comfortable when worn for longer periods of time. Along with this there is unique blend of fibres that make up the value add to buy a premium sock like this one”.
I don’t know about you but I love these types of statements, I saw it as a challenge and as I had already purchased the socks it was just good to know how strongly the company felt about its product. OK time to wreak them and put them in the pile, that was 8 months ago and I am pleased to say they are just as good now as the day I bought them.
1) Specifically designed for both left & right feet > I have tried wearing them on opposite feet but it is like putting on a pair of pants backwards. It still works, but it feels weird and uncomfortable and you know it’s wrong.
2) Anti-microbal > Yes, it works very well. The longest period of use (not removed from feet) were 72hrs, 17hrs active & 7hrs resting, in Scotland over the hotter climate (circa 25C) before wearing them in a Mediterranean climate (circa 28C). A smell test was performed by a few minions I keep and the response was “what smells because it isn’t the socks”.
3) Knee High > for me on socks like these it’s a given as most of my footwear is high leg and I also prefer the extra layer of comfort & protection on the back of my calves in colder climates. I understand that Applied Orange are producing a shorter length sock.
4) Lightweight > Pounds = Pain ladies & gentleman.
5) Fibre Blend ‘Black’ > denotes the cordura areas for durability and comfort focusing on the toes & heels where most abrasions & hot-spots occur. To date I have not suffered either of these common ailments wearing any of the pairs in a variety of footwear, climate and ground conditions.
6) Fibre Blend ‘Blue’ > denotes the anti-macrobal, where silver is smelted into the yarn prior to complete manufacture with a less than 1% reduction in silver over its expected lifetime making it very environmentally friendly both to mother nature, your feet and your comrades.
7) Coolmax > these have been worn with a variety of footwear in several climates and environmental conditions and I have not recalled nor experienced the ‘sweaty foot’ syndrome.
The construction of these socks is outstanding, recall at the beginning I implied I went to wreck them! I have used them outside of their intended purpose (walking around concrete, steel and wood) with no protection and cold wash by both hand & machine (not recommended). They have shown little fray or wear and tear and are still an optimal sock that performs.
They are designed for temperate / hot climates and so when I used them in temperatures dropping down to minus 1 & 2 that did have an impact on the comfort of my feet. I did raise this with the CEO a few months ago and I was told that a ‘cold weather’ sock was being constructed for T&E (Testing and Evaluation) so I am looking forward to the outcome of those.
The Applied Orange sock is still evolving as we speak and I am sure a few of you eagle eyed readers are wondering what that little mesh vent is on the left hand sock and why the stitching around the ankle & opening are different. All I can say is that the pair I reference are a Gen2 version that I have been using for around 2 months now and for those that ‘Play for keeps’ that little mesh vent helps in no-light scenario.
Now I am no sock connoisseur but I told you socks were more interesting than something that goes on your feet. Please feel free to contact http://www.ao-store.com/