SNOWSHOE MAGAZINE GEAR REVIEW:

Icebreaker Socks Designed With Snowshoers in Mind

I’ve mentioned it before, and I’ll mention it again: Merino wool is all the rage nowadays.  The difference with many companies is how the wool is handled before going into commercial production and the overall design of the gear.  Icebreaker stands by its wool, which originates in the mountains of New Zealand.  The company also stands by its designs.  I believe the Icebreaker’s socks are designed and manufactured with snowshoers in mind: They wick-away moisture, protect with an additional layer, and are designed to support all foot types.  They can also withstand a great amount of pressure and abuse during a long snowshoe race or backcountry outing.

Throughout January, February and March, I was able to test five different Icebreaker socks:

  • Skier Mid O-T-C: Medium/Heavy Cushion and Medium Weight
  • Outdoor Hiker Lt Crew: Medium Cushion, Lite Weight
  • Alpine LTD Lite: Ultralite/Lite Cushion, Lite Weight
  • Skier Ultralite O-T-C: No Cushion, Ultralite weight
  • Alpine LTD Lite: Ultralite/Lite Cushion, Lite Weight

The Icebreaker socks provided the warmth and comfort I needed during my travels to the deep Canadian snow of Quebec City.  The socks also performed well while full moon snowshoeing at Devil’s Thumb Ranch in Colorado.  And, the Icebreakers socks came in handy while adventuring in Glacier National Park, which boasted some extreme sub-zero temperatures.  Of course, those are my extended travels on snowshoes.  I should also note that the Icebreaker socks performed well on my day-trips into the Rocky Mountains

Each pair of Icebreaker socks offered a combination of Achilles support, instep support, reinforced heel and toe, LIN toe seam, breathe zone, and more benefits.  Particularly with snowshoeing, the socks didn’t shred my feet throughout my snowshoe excursions.  Each pair – no matter their cushion features – eliminated problems with abrasion and blistering on the Achilles and the pads of my feet.  In addition, they’re comfortable enough to wear as everyday socks when the weather is cold and snowy.

The Alpine and Skier socks are long enough to stretch over the ankles and calves – a boon for snowshoers.  Because the socks are made to be warm and thin, a good base layer can stretch over the socks and reinforce the legs during cold weather.  No matter how much they stretch, the socks’ elasticity doesn’t wear out and doesn’t fray over time.  

Of course, keeping the feet warm is imperative when snowshoeing, but keeping the ankles and calves warm and dry is duly important.  If not wearing a proper base layer and sock combination with wick-away features, it’s most likely that the moisture will travel to the feet.  The Icebreaker socks do a good job of keeping feet dry and allowing moisture to escape during an intense workout.

In some cases, moisture is inevitable when out in the snow.  Icebreaker’s socks prevent odor from ruining the aftermath of a long snowshoeing experience.  Of course, their performance – especially after prolonged use – continues far into the future, which adds to their dependability.

Icebreaker has a lot to offer the outdoor industry.  There are too many advantages to note.  However, the company prides itself on its environmental stewardship.  From how the Merino sheep are treated in New Zealand’s farming communities to how it cleans the wool fibers for manufacturing, Icebreaker stands by its ethics.  For more information on Icebreaker’s responsible environmental philosophy, click here.

Here’s a selection of Icebreaker men and women socks for purchase:

To read my review of Icebreaker’s base layers, click here.  To read Sara Montgomery’s review of Icebreaker’s trail running ultralite t-shirts, click here.

For more information on Icebreaker, visit http://www.icebreaker.com