Christmas 1996: The colorful Toys R Us catalog beaming with electric neon displays of Nintendo 64, Aquazone Lego sets, Laser Challenge and the all-new Gameboy Pocket. Arnold Schwarzenegger plays father Howard Langston in Jingle All The Way in his incredible journey to make everything right with his son by getting him a Turbo-Man. I race down the stairs to the cornucopia of presents and tear at them like a cheetah in the Serengeti. But despite months of anticipation, what is hidden behind the shiny colorful wrapping paper?
Yes. A 24-pack of Champion ankle-high socks. How could my mother do this to me?
“Well, all your socks have holes in them,” she tells me, as I cast them aside.
Who would have thought over 20 years later, the one thing I’d want more than any Lego set would be a solid pair of socks. As a runner, my life and soul sit somewhere between the connection of my feet and the road. A good pair of socks are pure gold, and thanks to the awesome people at Feetures! Socks, Christmas came in April this year in the form of a box with a huge range of products they offer. Their socks come in 5 fabric options, 6 heights and 3 levels of cushion, so you basically get to dial in your exact sock type for the kind of workout you want.
Pictured here, my beautiful feet and a pair of Elite Ultralight No-Show Tab. ($15.99 US)
First: who are Feetures? Feetures! is a family-based company from Conover, North Carolina that began in 2002. After spending 25+ years manufacturing athletic socks, father Hugh, and his sons John and Joe Santher began the company under the principal of a “lifetime guarantee” and a ridiculously generous return policy.
Some technical stuff: They boast iWick fabric, which is a combination of polyester and nylon fibers which are mixed and engineered with the goals of providing outstanding moisture-managing properties and enhanced breathability. The website says that these socks will “…hug your feet, prevent blisters, and keep feet dry and comfortable all day long.”
When I read this, I scoffed. Yeah, but can they handle 4-hour trail runs, river tracing, mud, and my cat? I slipped a pair of the Elite Merino+ ($15.99 US) on my feet and right away noticed what kind of feels like a “click” as they snap onto my feet. Along the sides are kind of a soft spot that can extend as it comes onto your heel, then immediately compresses around, with tabs that run up the back of my achillies and up the front of my foot for extra blister protection. And that’s about the last time I thought about the socks at all. I laced up my shoes and ran out the door, completely forgetting that I’m supposed to be evaluating them. I wore these a few times for runs, alternating between different cushion levels depending on the weather and what I was hoping to do, searching for something to dislike these socks for, and every time I snap them back off my feet, I’m impressed.
All this month, I’ve been splashing in puddles, running in downpours, sprinting in racing flats and actually using them to wear around town. One particular pair–the “High Performance” ankle-high with cushion level 2 ($10.99 US), somehow keeps ended up on my feet every time I’m leaving for the train into the city, and it still looks (and impossibly smells) like it’s fresh from the pack.
I’m still going to keep trying to destroy them, just to test their return policy, but to be honest, I can see myself losing them before I can break them. Unlike the Compressport “elite performance racing” socks with a price tag twice the size as Feetures! that literally lasted a few weeks before ripping open, I can see myself becoming best friends with these things.
Anyway, Mom. You know what to get me for Christmas this year.