Sealskinz Socks Buying Guide
We have a commitment to making the best outdoor accessories on the planet. And with that commitment comes the idea that we can never stop improving.
That’s why when our community let us know there was a little confusion about which socks were right for the activity they were doing and in the climate they were doing it in, we saw it as a huge opportunity to improve how we do things.
In 2019, we re-conceptualized our system to be better aligned around weather and climate. The idea was that it would better enable Sealskinz customers to easily find the right sock that works best for them.
Every system, even the best ones, need a little explanation, so let’s get into the (somewhat) quick guide for buying Sealskinz socks.
The Weather Rating System
To make it as easy as possible, we’ve included the intended weather type as a part of the product name. It seemed to be the best solution for getting someone quickly to the products most likely to be a fit.
Here's a little walkthrough how we named our socks.
When you see the word solo in our product names, it simply means that instead of a three-layer construction like all of our waterproof socks, it is a one-layer, or solo, construction. Meant for everyday use, these socks have a comfortable close fit and allow maximum breathability and moisture management.
While solo socks aren't waterproof, they are quick-drying and intended to give you the perfect amount of temperature regulation and breathability in a variety of climates.
Warm Weather Socks
Crafted with minimal insulation, when you see a sock named with the term ‘Warm Weather,’ it means it’s suitable for warmer climates as well as wet conditions. The inner lining is made of a bamboo blend designed to keep you dry and comfortable during warmer weather activities.
All of our waterproof socks are designed with a seamless construction which means they have hand-linked flat toe seams as well as the addition of elastic support on the ankle, heel and instep. Basically, you won’t notice the seams but you will definitely notice the extra comfort and fit.
All Weather Socks
Our All Weather sock line provides the perfect balance of both breathability and warmth. The products in this line have a Merino wool blend interior for moisture control, breathability, and the perfect amount of insulation. It’s our ‘all around’ fabrication making it perfect for both cooler and warmer conditions alike.
Like with all of our socks, there is an unmatched breathability when it comes to our All Weather socks. The use of a hydrophilic waterproof membrane as the middle layer in our sock construction releases perspiration steam and warm air from inside the sock. Not only does this make wearing our socks extremely comfortable, but it also prevents rain, mud, and sand from getting inside the sock.
Cold Weather Socks
Crafted with additional insulation, Sealskinz Cold Weather socks are ideal for cold and wet conditions. A Merino wool blend interior lining with added terry loop stitching helps to keep you warm by trapping and retaining heat.
Think of it like the hairs on your arm. When it’s cold outside, tiny muscles around the hair follicles cause the hairs to stand up to trap more heat close to your body. This is the same idea with the extra terry loop stitching in this product line. It gives you that extra heat retention on the coldest of days.
Extreme Cold Weather Socks
The word extreme should tip you off with this product line. These socks are crafted with the thickest insulation. They are the perfect fit for when you’ll be outside during extremely cold and wet conditions where thermal retention is of the essence.
Using our traditional three-layer bonded construction, a 100% waterproof hydrophilic membrane is sandwiched between a premium Merino wool interior for warmth and a durable nylon exterior with 4-way stretch. We've also bulked up the Extreme Cold Weather socks by adding a layer of terry-loop knitting as well as extra padding at the ankle.
The terry-loop knitting is actually pretty magical. It traps heat within the air pockets created by the knit which keeps you even warmer in extremely cold conditions.
Hiking in the winter months, cold weather running, and frigid days on the trail are ideal activities for Sealskinz extreme cold weather socks.
How our Waterproof Socks Work
You've probably been asking yourself, how do these magical waterproof socks actually work? And, do they feel like plastic bags on my feet?
We're proud to say that Sealskinz waterproof socks actually feel like socks. They just do a much better job at protecting you from the elements than a normal pair of socks.
It all starts with the way our socks are constructed.
Waterproof socks are constructed using an inner layer, usually made of Merino wool or bamboo depending on the thermal protection, a mid-layer membrane that is the main waterproof portion of the construction, and an outer-layer knit exterior.
The superhero of our layered construction is that middle layer which is actually a waterproof membrane. Specifically, a hydrophilic waterproof membrane to be exact. If you're into science, here's a little lesson on hydrophilic membranes. Feel free to skip the next two paragraphs though if you're not into that sort of thing.
- science part starting -
Hydrophilic membranes are actually solid structures that stop water droplets from migrating through the membrane from the outside in. It creates an extremely waterproof barrier keeping water from the outside from getting past the membrane and near the skin. This membrane, which when translated literally means 'water loving', is made up of hydrophilic groups that attract water vapor molecules.
The heat from your foot then pushes the moisture from one molecule to the next (think of it like skipping stones,) until it is pushed out of the sock. Therefore, with a hydrophilic membrane, the hotter your feet get, the drier they become, keeping you dry and warm from both the inside and outside. Hence this membrane's true superpowers.
-science part ending -
Some of our waterproof socks also come with the addition of Hydrostop™. While we had mastered how to create a waterproof sock from the outside, we were really trying to solve the puzzle of how to prevent water from coming in through that pesky hold at the top of the sock.
Enter Hydrostop™ technology. Hydrostop™ is a silicone-like (although it is silicone-free) elastic taping around the inside cuff of the sock. This added protection reduces the chances of water dripping down your leg into your sock during heavier downpours.
I think we've covered enough technology in one post so if you want to learn even more about Hydrostop™ technology, feel free to check out our Hydrostop™ FAQ here.
Sealskinz Sock Materials
We wouldn't be doing our socks justice without talking about the incredible materials we use to make sure they stand up to water, wind, dirt, mud, sand...you get the picture.
Merino wool is one of those miracles of nature that has so many amazing properties. For example, Merino wool has natural thermal properties so it actually keeps you warm when you're cold, and cools you when you heat up.
This type of wool is actually super soft. None of that itchy-bulky-wool-sweater stuff here. Merino wool fibres are smaller, thinner and very flexible. This means, it’s all about softness and comfort with the Merino Liner Socks or our Waterproof All Weather Socks.
Merino wool also prevents odour due to its naturally occurring antibacterial properties. A little technical, but it's mostly because of the waxy lanolin in the fibres.
The versatility of Merino doesn't stop there. It is actually also really good at moving sweat and moisture away from the skin. Since Merino is pretty porous, this vapour can move through the sock keeping you dry.
We use Polycolon® a lot when it comes to our waterproof socks. And the main reason really is durability. Polycolon® synthetic fibres are soft, lightweight, fast drying and incredibly tough. While it can feel wet to the touch when it is used in our waterproof socks, it doesn't matter, because the moisture is blocked by the hydrophilic membrane (remember that science stuff above?) from entering the inner layer and getting anywhere near your skin.
Waterproof socks are amazing, but often it's all about the waterproof part. There's an incredible additional benefit to Sealskinz socks that sometimes gets overlooked and that's the fact that they protect from blisters.
Waterproof socks are different from regular socks in the fact that they’re, well, waterproof. If you are wearing normal athletic socks, go out for a trail run and step in mud or a puddle, that water will permeate your shoe, then seep into your sock reaching your foot. This will create moisture within your sock which can cause all sorts of problems including chafing, blisters, coldness, etc.
Those pesky blisters are actually caused by a combination of heat, moisture, and friction. Excess friction on your skin, along with softer skin due to moisture, are the perfect storm for blisters. When you protect yourself with waterproof socks, you are eliminating the moisture piece, and if you buy a well-made sock that fits close to skin, you’re also eliminating friction, making blisters a non-issue and a comfortable hike or bike ride the priority.
Waterproof socks need to have a next to skin fit for them to work effectively and efficiently. If there is room for air to get trapped between your foot and the sock, there is room for friction and condensation from sweat causing uncomfortable blisters, chafing, or wetness. When you aren't at risk of having water and moisture next to your skin, your risk of developing blisters is diminished.
What are Waterproof Socks used for?
Waterproof socks are one of the most versatile pieces of kit out there. Not only are they appropriate for so many activities, they can also cross over to the professional arena as well.
Outdoor Activities and Sports
There are so many activities you can perform outside that get your heart pumping and your blood flowing. And why would you want to stop all of this because of a little cold or rain? Waterproof socks are great for outdoor activities such as ice climbing, cycling, mountain biking, running, trail running, and hiking. But, they also serve a great purpose for more traditional sports that continue play even in the rain. Sports such as football, rugby, soccer, lacrosse, baseball and even horseback riding.
Many outdoor pursuits would be hindered with wet and cold feet. Water activities such as paddle boarding, kayaking, and fishing would all be a little more comfortable with a pair of waterproof socks. Other outdoor activities such as hunting, golfing, walking, gardening, and even being a spectator at a sporting event are all perfect times to have a pair of cosy waterproof, breathable socks on hand.
And let’s not forget about the multitude of uses waterproof socks have for professionals who spend a great deal of their working day out in the elements. Farmers, construction laborers, emergency responders, postal carriers, transit workers, and even crossing guards are all professionals who could benefit from having dry, warm, blister-free and cosy feet during their day.
Waterproof Sock FAQs
You're pretty much an expert on waterproof socks at this point, but we wanted to close this novel with some frequently asked questions to make sure we've covered everything you could ever want to know about waterproof socks.
Do waterpoof socks really work?
Why yes, we can say with confidence that they do work. The three-layer construction and the use of premium materials helps to ensure that you're getting exactly what you're expecting. A sock that feels like a sock but protects you from water (and all of those other things we keep mentioning...)
Are waterproof socks comfortable?
Yes they are extremely comfortable. Not only are they comfortable because your feet aren't wet, blistered and cold. But they're also comfortable in that they're a cosy sock that feels pretty much exactly like a regular sock. Close-to-skin fit, premium materials, soft exterior and interior, these are definitely some comfy socks.
How do I wash waterproof socks?
This is one of our favourite questions. And mostly because we have a great answer for you. Imagine you're out on a muddy trail and you come home and take off your wet and muddy clothing. You're probably expecting us to say that you have to carefully hand-wash your Sealskinz waterproof socks and hang them out to dry.
We're happy to say that's not the case with our waterproof socks. This is the type of sock you can throw in the wash along with the rest of your kit. No need to line dry or wash with special detergents. Since the membrane is a solid barrier, you’ll never need to re-waterproof. Take a look at our Care Guide here for individual sock washing and drying instructions.
Want to check out more Sealskinz FAQs? You can find them all here and no, our socks are not made of seals (it is a top asked question).
Now you’re an expert…
So there you have it. The rundown on everything you could possibly want to know about Sealskinz waterproof socks.We hope this allows our incredible Sealskinz community to find the sock that works best for them. Because after all, our goal is to enable you to stay outside longer, push hard and never turn back.
All the love,