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Inline Skating & Cycling Socks

eebee's picture

The subject of suitable skate socks crops up occasionally in skate discussion groups. Honestly, I've been trying to replenish my skate-sock supply now for over a year. Whenever I find the perfect pair, that very make and model disappears off the face of the Earth a year or so later when I have worn and washed the life out of the old ones.

Regular boutique socks have filled an urgent skate-sock need for a few months, and although much cheaper, those generally wear out faster than a sturdy pair of cycling socks by The Sock Guy, Pearl Izumi, or DeFeet. I have found this out not by shelling out $12 a pair on good quality cycling socks, but by winning some in door prizes at various bike rides.

Your feet are unique, just like everybody else's.

Earlier this year Journeys had some sufficiently springy socks for sale in their mall stores. Such socks pass my buy-it-now test by my stretching and squeezing the fabric to see how cushy they are to start with, and how taut or springy they are. These Journeys socks come in a brightly-colored tie-dye design. Unfortunately they'd probably migrate within my boots as the cuffs are far too low.

Many a Saturday this Summer I wandered into the Tanglewood training bike shops, post-ride, to check out their sock displays, yank at the material and pine for a sock sale. Once or twice I even staggered on my 35 mile legs back to the car to get my wallet, only to get another case of cold feet while staring paralyzed at the sock display. I'm sorry. I just can't afford $12 to $15 for a single pair of socks. Although it might be worth biting the bullet and buying the best pair on display, taking them for a spin and then stocking up later via online stores. But how do I know they're going to work out before buying them? For that price it's not worth it to me to experiment.

It's not as simple as noting the fabric's composition and buying some online with the same make-up, either. The position of the ribbing is also important to me while skating. Some of DeFeet's Air-Eator kinds might look high tech, but that thin Air-Eator strip is just too rough.

Today at Performance Bike in Greensboro I finally found some cycling and running socks in the $4 - $7 price range, so I have bought some of the Performance Bicycle brand and a Sock Guy pair that were somehow deemed aesthetically imperfect, or seconds. That's worth it!

I almost bought this pair for fun. Check out the skull in place of the face, and the wording on the bottom: Che is Dead. Get over it.

Any other suggestions for circumnavigating the great skate sock dilemma?




eebee's picture

Sock Investment

I had a chance to test skride some of my new socks yesterday during a 51 miler (Carolina Century route). In spite of them fitting my feet well, the Sock Guy pair turned out to be a bit too chunky and I developed a blister at about 25 miles. It was a hot day. I don't think it was a boot issue. I think these socks will be useful for Winter cardio-base training sessions under 1.5 hours. Glad I didn't spend $13 on them!

I even toted a well-worn, reliable extra pair with me in case the new socks were a disaster. But my feet hurt so badly after 25 miles, I felt that removing my skates at a rest stop and putting them back on again would be more painful than just letting them be.  

Will try the Performance brand next, probably day 1 of Tour to Tanglewood on Saturday. 

timv's picture

My sock story

About a decade ago, I found some socks that I really liked at K-Mart of all places: "Athletech" brand super-thin Spandex Coolmax* liners that were just high enough for skate boots. I bought four pair, two packs of two pair each at $3.99 per package. Something like a year later I thought about this very thing and went back to get some more, but they were long gone. "Athletech" is apparently a K-Mart trademark, but where they were once US-made, the current stock I've seen is all from China or Cambodia.

A couple of years I played a hunch one day and searched eBay, and I happened to find an auction for six pair of the same socks from a seller in Hickory, NC. I grabbed them and they were identical to the socks I had already, right down to the K-Mart wrappers! I assumed at first that the auction seller was the hosiery mill that made them for K-Mart. (Just checked: that's Moretz Mills, which has a post office box in Newton, NC--county seat of Catawba County and birthplace of NASCAR great Dale Jarrett!--but I also found a street address in Hickory.)

I think I figured out later that my eBay vendor was selling stock from many different companies in the Greater Hickory-Lenoir-Morganton metropolitan area. Moretz still shows up in some online directories, so I don't know if they were just surplus stock or liquidated assets. There are a number of online articles that mention how badly that industry has suffered lately.

I'm still holding two unused pair of those in reserve. Some of the older ones are a bit threadbare by now and I've thrown out two socks that developed holes, but t'll take a very special occasion for me to pull out one of those two remaining pairs.

This same idea seems to come up a lot: not so much looking for the thing of our dreams that's too perfect to exist in reality, just trying to find something that worked well enough but doesn't seem to be around anymore, or to find a substitute that works about as well if it's well and truly gone. Jack posted about trying to replace his 10-year-old shorts earlier this year and this thing comes up all the time, whether it's socks or skate wheels or golf balls or vacuum tubes for guitar amplifiers. For all the talk over several decades about The Third Wave and mass customization and The Long Tail, we're still generally at the mercy of some strangers' decisions about what to mass-produce and mass-market.

Not that any of that is likely to help you find your socks, I know. There's still a Hosiery Technology Center listed in the Catawba Valley Community College directory! And free high-tech socks apparently are, or were, a choice perk for Lenoir-Rhyne College students. I guess there are still a few sock manufacturers left in that region, about an hour west of here, who might be able to help.

*Edited to insert the correct ends-with-an-x fiber trademark. They contain some Spandex but Coolmax was what caught my eye and it's probably what matters..

eebee's picture

Not just fickle fashion then

Good point, Timv, about tried and trusted products disappearing, no matter what industry. For a minute there I was tempted to blame it all on fashion, because the same thing happens with other wardrobe staples.

Every so often a fed-up female entrepreneur manages to design and manufacture a wondrous garment that will solve all female clothing discomfort or sizing/body style frustrations, but these too ride a wave and become harder to find. I read Sara Blakely picked the name 'Spanx', partly because of the 'kx' sound. From the Spanx website, about naming the product:

"I knew that Kodak and Coca-Cola are the two most recognized names in the world, and they both have a predominant "K" sound in them. Also, from doing stand-up comedy, it is a known secret that the "K" sound makes people laugh. So for good luck, I wanted my product's name to have the "K" sound in it, and SPANKS hit me like a lightning bolt. I immediately knew it was perfect! At the last minute I changed the "KS" to an "X" after doing research that made-up words do better for products than real words (and are easier to trademark)."

So there's your X sound again. But these wonder-garments are still usually mostly effective for the body type of the person who invented them. It's still a niche thing and one concept definitely doesn't fit all. 

My recently-purchased sock ingredients...

Sock Guy's: 75% Ultra Wicking Micro Denier Acrylic (!), 15% Nylon, 10% Spandex

Performance's: 60% Micro Nylon, 30% Spandex, 10% Texture Nylon

Honestly, I'm not sure of the differences in these materials. But they are at least (supposedly) both made in the USA - the Performance pair in Chapel Hill.

I'm to wash the Performance brand in cold water. Glad I looked at the label now!

Your K-Mart find was a good one! Wal-Mart comes up with some great socks once in a while but then they're gone again.

I once drove to every single Goody's store between Atlanta and Greensboro, looking for a certain brand and size of discontinued jeans. I was able to find just one more pair in Winston-Salem. I'm not above doing that again for comfy skate socks!

(Yes I realize the contradiction - spending gas/oil/tyre/mileage money and trashing the environment even more by driving all those miles to avoid paying $12 for a pair of socks...but the difference is *knowing* they'll work!)

skatey-mark's picture

Drymax socks are my current favorites

I've been skating on Drymax socks all year.  They're reasonably priced, and have a variety of styles to accommodate most sports.

After some thinking, it occurred to me that cycling socks aren't necessarily the best choice for skating.  Why?  because cycling socks aren't padded.  Running socks, I think, are a better choice - for me, anyway.

I swear I was able to find some for $5-$6 a pair when I got mine, but I can't find them for that price now.  I'm using the "1/4 crew low" running socks.  I also have one pair of the "maximum running" socks, which allegedly have teflon integrated into the material to reduce blistering.  I'm skeptical, and don't think the $20 price tag is worth it.  But, since I had them, I did skate A2A on them, and will likely use them for Carolina Century.  Most times, though, I just use the cheaper running socks.

If I were going to try another style, I'd try the walking sock, which has a slightly denser padding on the bottom.  That should increase the comfort over the rough roads.

More info at: http://www.drymaxsocks.com/

Also, zombierunner.com and amazingsocks.com carry the socks.  I've ordered from both stores and have been satisfied.


- SM -


skatey-mark's picture

How I found drymax socks

One more thing...  I stumbled onto this website:


That's how I found out about drymax socks and zombierunner.com...


- SM -

eebee's picture

Thanks for the sock info

Thanks for your sock report, Skatey-Mark! I think one of the pairs I bought from Performance Bike were actually running socks. Haven't tried them out yet, though.

I have generally had better luck with cycling socks rather than running socks because in the past when I tried running socks, I couldn't find them without some sort of extra-tight arch ribbing around the middle of the foot. I don't have much of an arch, so the transition point from the ribbing to the rest of the sock rubbed really badly inside my boots and I got blisters from that. I have, as yet, been unable to find any running socks that don't have this arched-ribbing. This is a shame because otherwise these socks usually pass my on-site stretch & pull test in a store and I'd probably buy them there and then.

What a great idea for a website: fixingyourfeet.com. I imagine A2A skaters would pose the toughest questions! We should all bombard him with our feet issues.

And for that drymax website, we should get them to add inline-skating to their list of activities.

OK so I won't discount running socks completely then. I'll give 'em another look.

I used to have to wear two pairs of thin socks, but not for blister reasons, more for bone-bruise prevention. I don't skate in custom boots so my foot tends to bounce around inside my skate like a pinball.  Wearing two pairs of thin socks helps give extra padding where I need it, yet is still thin enough to be comfortable.

Argh. After A2A I don't want to even think about my feet any more.

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