Team Colorado was lucky enough to test out some 100% 'merican made Swiftwick Socks, and with all the running we are doing, boy did we put them to the test. Some were skeptical, others have to guard them from significant others. Some just careened off into frozen creeks and hoped for the best.
For the past few years I have been wearing toe socks but was never really happy with the durability and material. Then a few months ago I received a few pairs of socks from Swiftwick and ever since I haven't wanted to wear anything else. I love the feel of the lightweight Olefin fibers and compression aspects of the socks. I run in a minimal shoe and this sock works perfect because it gives me a hardly-there feeling. I even caught my wife stealing them when I wasn't looking, so she could wear them to work. Swiftwick has the best socks on the market and I would recommend them to anyone!
Too fast for the frame, Justin Ricks shows off his swiftness and his Swiftwicks! photo: PikesPeakSports.us
Earlier this year, I realized something about my socks. I realized that my socks were more comfortable and less likely to cause blisters if they were inside out. The seam across the top of the toes in most socks seems custom built to cause blisters, and most performance socks have a more pronounced seam than cheap socks.
When I told other mountain runners about wearing my socks inside out, many of them shrugged with a “Do what you have to do” look. But everybody who runs on Swiftwick informed me that if I had to wear my socks inside out, I was wearing the wrong socks. It peaked my curiosity, but I wrote it off to people trying to give their sponsors a good word.
Then Team Colorado President Peter "The Prez" Maksimow asked if I wanted to test out some Swiftwick socks and write a review on them. He explained that I’d get free socks out of the deal, so I agreed. I received a few pairs of Swiftwicks, Vibe and Aspire. I was somewhat skeptical of the claim on the packaging that these are “The best socks you will ever wear, guaranteed,” so I decided to hold them to that standard as I tried them out. If you’re going to make ridiculous claims, I will hold you to them.
To make a long story short, these are the best socks I have ever worn. My only hesitation in stating they are the best sock I will ever wear is that the Swiftwick website lists several other types of socks. They are the first socks I have ever worn that are more comfortable when worn correctly than when they are worn inside out, which really shouldn’t be a compliment, but sadly, is. Comparing them to other socks, the best way to describe Swiftwick Vibes may be “They won’t ruin your day. That is up to you.” I really wish I knew of some other quality sock to compare Swiftwicks to, because they are a good enough sock that they deserve competition. They just don’t have any. They are like the Harlem Globetrotters of socks, and make it look like everybody else has tried to be the Washington Generals.
Durability: I’ve done the vast majority of my running in the last two months in two pairs of Swiftwick Vibes. A decent amount of it has been on trails, but since World Mountain Running Championships, it’s almost all been on sidewalks and bike paths. Cheap socks would be tattered into bits by now. The socks don’t look new anymore, but I can’t find any signs that they are about to get holes.
Comfort: I’m going to lump this in with being blister free, because for socks, they are really one and the same. The fact that I can wear these socks as the designer intended them to be worn says a lot. In my first four marathons, I always finished with at least one blister, and have had marathons in which blisters have popped before the finish. I recently ran the Chicago Marathon in Swiftwick Vibes, and if the rest of my body felt like my feet did, I would have had the greatest race ever. They don’t move around on my feet; they don’t have massive seams in awkward places. Somebody put a lot of thought into these socks so you don’t have to.
Compression: I don’t really notice compression one way or the other. I can say the Vibes don’t overcompress. I know some people are sold on compression. I just ran in some other socks to see if I could notice a difference, and I guess there is a little difference, but not much of one. Granted, it was only a short run. And maybe my feet are just too calloused from a lifetime of running in sub-par socks to really feel compression.
Moisture wicking: I have one huge question for Swiftwick: Where does my foot sweat go? Because it isn’t on my feet or in my socks.
Just to check whether I’m glorifying these socks unfairly, I took a break from writing this review and did a short run in my previous favorite socks. Things Swiftwick socks do better: moisture wicking, less foot tickling from awkward seams, less moving around on my feet, compression probably makes my feet feel a little better after a run. Things my old socks do better: I’m still trying to figure that out.
Glenn Randall at the 2013 World Mountain Running Championships…NO BLISTERS…and they were not even inside out! photo: Rich Bolt
Those Swiftwick socks held up pretty damn well. Not a single hole to speak of and they were comfortable after getting soaked in the radioactive Moabian Government superfund cleanup site river runoff.
|Jared Scott taking 2nd the at the USATF Half Marathon Trail Champs in Moab, UT…yes, there is a toxic cleanup site near there. photo: Rich Bolt/USMRT|
|Big McD and The Prez being loving friends…and rockin' the Swiftwick Aspire 12 photo: Nora Duane|
Recently, I was running in the Siberian cold of the first Colorado winter storm. The temps were in the single digits and so, being as skinny as I am, I was moving at a rapid rate of speed in order to keep my skin color from turing blue--although, it is a nice color.
As I scampered through the snow, I found myself rocketing towards a small, ice covered bridge at an angle and speed that was not conducive to reaching the other side. Rather than cutting a sharp corner and possibly having my feet leave the earth and my hip meet the bridge, I opted for creek below. I broke through the ice and my feet discovered the icy water underneath. Happy that I did not take a hip busting spill, I jumped from the water and pondered whether I should turn back or continue on with the hour left of running I had before me. Unfortunately, I did not have Tauntau, like Luke Skywalker did in Star Wars, to cut open and crawl inside of, so I decided to continue to run. Well, being a male in his mid-30's with health coverage and a car that was paid for, I had nothing to lose.
Luckily, for my feet, I had the Swiftwick Pursuit Four, a Merino wool compression sock that keeps it warm even when it is cold outside. The Australia Merino Wool fibers, that are able to absorb up to 30% of their weight in moisture, are the most hydrophilic of all natural fibers and allowed my feet to feel warm and dry on the rest of the run. The snug fit and compression cuff on the ankle keeps my Achilles warm and stable while absorbing all of that annoying snow that finds its way into the top of my shoes and melts.Thanks to the sheep that supplied the material and Swiftwick for turning it into a sock I was able to continue the run and even have warm feet the whole time. I think I will keep these on the whole winter!
|Not a winter picture, but a Mt. Washington Road Race picture with the Swiftwick Aspire 12 on. Peter says, "Hey look, I can see Vermont!" photo: Far North|
Top ten “Colorado’s Best Smelling Men” (unofficial)
I consider myself a ‘no-frills’ runner. My hi-tech watch is a Sony calculator model and I haven’t kept a training log in over 5 years. When I started seeing every Lycra clad endurance fanatic jaunting around in retro high socks, I yawned. But I had a dilemma; training for the Olympic Trials Marathon while living in the desert outside of Phoenix would require some sort of training adaptations. Twenty plus mile runs seemed to be taking an unusually taxing toll on my legs. I just wasn’t bouncing back the way I had hoped. The desert heat left me feeling flat for days following hard training sessions.
While out of town running a big race I saw a Swiftwick booth at the pre-race expo. Desperate at this point for any relief from zapping efforts in the desert, I purchased a pair of Aspire Twelve’s. Still skeptical I gave them the full blast treatment right into heavy training. Around the two-hour mark I constantly found progressively unavoidable lower leg cramping to interrupt steady pace long runs. Admittedly the sensation with the Aspire Twelve’s was unique, but what blew me away was the absence of any noticeable lower leg fatigue. That alone would have made me a believer and firmly on the Swiftwick bandwagon. Bonus benefits included significant decreased recovery time from hard and long effort training runs. I still don’t keep a training log but you’ll never catch me without Swiftwick’s on a long run!
Big McD on his way to a Greenland 25k victory and new course record…swift wicking it photo: Nora Duane