Never in my life or career as a journalist did I envisage sitting down to write an article about socks. But here we are. This stuff just needs to be said, because as any backpacker will know, the whole socks issue is a burning one (or certainly can be if you’re not wearing the right pair).
Put simply, a good pair of socks are what could stand between you and a great big honking set of weeping blisters. As with shoes and boots, socks are a personal thing and you should always listen to what your feet are telling you.
Back in 2013, I discovered what – to me – felt like the Holy Grail of socks….the 1000 Mile Socks. Before my epic find, I was forever in bother with my socks. I would find them rubbing in the wrong bit, pinching my toes or worse, gathering under the arches like giant, frustrating sock pillows. Ugh!
However, the 1000 Mile Socks are to socks what the Clifton Suspension Bridge is to engineering.
They consist of two layers, meaning that one layer stays with your foot whilst the other moves with the shoe. This means no friction, which means no blisters. And incredibly they work. And no, I’m not being paid to say all this.
The 1000 Mile Tactel Liner sock is what I’ll be wearing for Walking Wales. I’ll have a few pairs of these little bad boys in my rucksack.
Last year I took some advice on trail and mountaineering footwear. I made the foolish mistake of listening and trusting someone else’s views instead of listening and trusting what my feet were telling me. The boots I bought as a result turned out to be a hellish nightmare. They pained my feet, made the soles burn and generally made me feel as though I was dragging a couple of lead clumps around on the bottom of my legs. They also altered my gait which led to me dislocating my left knee and further damaging my broken back (more on that delight another time). But for some bizarre reason, I soldiered on in them, up and down mountains here and there before finally giving up on them before Christmas.
I have nothing against Mammut, which is a brand that makes great mountaineering clothing and gear. I’m sure that these boots have worked well for thousands of other feet. But that’s the point… those thousands of others feet are not my feet.
So, for Walking Wales I have been markedly more sensible when it has come to choosing footwear. I went with a make of shoe which took me around Wales and the Inca Trail for hundreds and hundreds of miles in 2013 and 2014. They were so comfortable, I wore them until the soles were dangling off. Not a single blister or hot spot or sore point were suffered in these and frankly, I was a fool to not get another pair sooner. Better late than never though.
For £121 cheaper than the Mammuts, I present the Hi Tec Penrith. It’s not always about the brand or the attached price tag. Never again will I let anybody tell me that more expensive means better. Yes, the Mammuts are Gore-Tex and they have this feature and that. But who cares if they tear your tootsies to shreds?? I’ll take my £29 set of Hi Tecs, thanks all the same. They may not be Gore-Tex and come with all the bells and whistles but my feet couldn’t be happier inside them, and ultimately, that’s all that counts.
(Since writing this post, I’ve since bought another two pairs of glorious Hi Tec Penriths in a fit of worry that they were going out of production!)