As my German chum Willi keeps quoting “there’s no such thing as bad weather, only unsuitable clothing”. Which implies that the winter cycling socks I’ve been wearing have been unsuitable for many a year!
I’ve got different grades of base layers, warmer jerseys, softshell jackets, and some gloves that help keep my hands warm, and a skull cap to go under my helmet and a merino neck tube, so just about all of me stays warm – except for my toes!
Back in May, we were sent some winter cycling socks to try out and review. They were described as the “ultimate thermal sock” to which there were two reactions: “oh yeah, marketing hype!”, being the first, with the second one being to put them away till there was some cold weather to try them out then. (Cold toes is not normally a problem in May/June!)
After cutting short a Saturday morning ride when it was +3°C with a “real feel” of -5 because my toes were getting icy, I thought it was high time to carry out the review! To be honest, I didn’t expect to feel much difference.The Habanero Chilli of Winter Cycling Socks
I was surprised to see a mention of a TOG rating on the cardboard sleeve, something I had only ever come across when buying a duvet! I knew it was a measurement of warmth for my summer and winter duvets, but that was it. It turns out that TOG stands for “Thermal Overall Grade” and it’s an independent laboratory standard; the higher the value, the better it will be for keeping you warm.
My standard, cotton cycling socks rate TOG 0.33 and some thermal socks come in at TOG 0.89, neither of which come anywhere near the TOG 2.34 of the “Heat Holders”. That makes them 7 times warmer than my cotton socks and 2 ½ times warmer than thermal socks (which rather fill my cycling shoes and make them a bit on the tight side). That is a stunning difference.
Sunday’s ride at 2°C saw me cycle longer and return home with a smile, as my feet were actually warm. So, I hope my initial cynicism will be forgiven. These socks are an absolute blessing: ideal winter cycling socks!
How Do You Make Winter Cycling Socks?
How do they do it? You can feel when you put them on that they feel soft; this apparently is part of a brushing process which maximises the amount of warm air held inside each sock. But the key part is subject of a UK patent (GB 2382106 if you want to look it up): it’s described as “innovative knitting technology” which produces an extra-long looped cushion pile to hold in more warm air, thereby increasing the TOG rating. I take my hat off to the guys and girls that worked out the science and applied it, even making sure that the thermal yarn retains moisture breathing abilities.
Another delightful thing: the socks have a low retail price!