By T.C. WORLEY
Last winter, working as a photographer in Chile’s Wenger Patagonian Expedition Race, I ran — camera in one hand, a map in the other — over streams, through swamps and beaver ponds, and into wilderness as deep as I’ve ever seen. Sloshing through water, my shoes were constantly soaked. But my feet were fine — thanks to my Seirus Hyperlite Stormsock, a $28 pair of “weatherproof” nylon/polyester/Spandex socks made to help keep your feet warm in harsh conditions outside.
Notice I did not say “waterproof” when describing the Seirus socks. They are constructed of three layers, including a thin fleece next to the skin, a breathable membrane, and a synthetic exterior. Like a thin wetsuit bootie, the socks fit snug. And like a wetsuit, they will allow water in — mostly at the seams — but they continue to keep feet warm even when wet.
Seirus markets the socks as “specifically for ski boots.” However, I found them useful for other things as well. On snowy, cold bicycle commutes in my home town of Minneapolis, the socks acted as a wind break. The thin fleece lining kept my feet warmer than my usual wool socks. And through all but the shoe-soaking runs in Patagonia, these socks kept my feet dry. Chilly springtime runs in dew-soaked grass, for example, were painless.
Cons? Do not buy these if you want dry feet. To reiterate, they do not claim to be waterproof, and they definitely are not. (Note that Amazon, REI and a few other major retailers are marketing these socks as “waterproof” — buyer beware!) Another thing: During active outings, the socks will “trap” foot sweat, creating a clammy environment.
For fit on the foot, getting the Seirus socks on takes more time than usual. They do not stretch like a knit sock. Make sure you fit them correctly before buying. They feel weird at first. But once you are moving, you’ll forget all about them.
At $28, the Seirus socks are about double the price for a performance sock I would normally buy. But in certain scenarios, they can really shine. In Patagonia, the “wetsuit socks” were a savior for my cold feet, beaver ponds and cold Chilean streams no match for Seirus’ thin, warm ply.