July 21, 2014
Posh foot underwear (funderwear?). Do you get what you pay for?
This is a tale of two socks. Well, a tale of two pairs of socks, though in the interests of comparative testing I’ve just been out for a ride in one of each. I don’t think anybody noticed…
Embers specialises in merino outdoors kit and these are its winter-weight socks. At a near 50-50 split between sheep and synthetic fibres (there’s a bit of elastane in there for stretch and shape retention too), they wicked well and stayed warm. The double-knit construction adds padding and insulation; they’re extremely comfortable and exceptionally cosy, with just one problem: they don’t wash well.
I know the whole point of merino is that you don’t have to wash it as often as some other fabrics, but that doesn’t apply to socks; these came out of the first 30ºC wash feeling like cardboard and haven’t improved from there. A bit of a major flaw in a product that is going to see repeated dirtying and washing.
At the other end of the spectrum is Falke: a sock specialist making everything from cycling socks to suspenders. The BC3s have complicated, multi-weight (and multi-fibre) construction, with a thicker knit under forefoot, heel and over the ankle bones to provide a little more cushioning, while midfoot and arch get a tighter, lighter knit for more support with ventilation. They’re still soft, snug and comfortable after just as many wears/washes as the Embers and have held on to their stretch nicely, too. Are they worth the extra £4 a pair? After three months of wash and wear, they still look – and, more importantly for my delicate toes, feel – like new. So yes, I think they are.