Sealskinz MTB Mid Mid With Hydrostop: £35.10 [was £39.00] – Staff Reviews
We’re a shop for cyclists by cyclists. We don’t stock products that we wouldn’t want to use ourselves. And we’ve put it to the test! Here we’ve given Sealskinz socks to a couple of co-op members and here’s what they said.
Tester: Graham from our Leeds shop:
Wearing for: riding in non-waterproof shoes and golfing
Size tested: L (regular shoe size: 11)
Pluses: Totally waterproof and comfortable
Minuses: Take a while to dry after washing
I rarely used my last pair of Sealskinz socks because generally I ride, and walk, in waterproof boots or shoes. However, I tried these out with a pair of Haka One One shoes whose waterproofness had become dubious and with a pair of golf shoes whose low cut meant wet feet whenever I missed the short grass (which is every other shot for me). And they work! Just as expected, and just as my previous pair had. No water gets in and your feet stay dry, even when your shoes are completely sodden as you push the bike through deep mud or wade into a pond to retrieve another errant ball. These are properly waterproof.
But so were my old ones and I didn’t use them much, so what had improved in the five years since my last purchase? Well the grippy thing at the calf is MUCH better. It used to grip fairly poorly, be prone to pulling up or down, and to be a weird sticky material which felt a bit odd against the skin. But now it’s ‘Hydrostop’ and it is much more effective, and much more comfortable. The other noticeable improvement is the texture of the lining. These are softer, more wicking, and less clammy than my previous pair. As a big fan of comfy socks, these get a tick from me on the comfort front.
My only gripe is that they take quite a while to dry out after washing. You might be better with two pairs if you’re planning to wear them on consecutive days because it’s hard to wear them, wash them and dry them, ready to wear again the next day.
If you want waterproof socks, buy these Sealskinz socks. You can’t have mine as I will be using them much more than the last pair.
PS – size Large were perfect for me as per the size chart saying they were 9-11 UK. I’m an 11. You don’t need XL unless you like a liner sock, a very roomy sock, or you have mahoosive feet.
Tester: Albie from our Edinburgh Canonmills shop:
Wearing for: riding in wet and dry conditions
Size tested: L (43-46)
Overall score: 4/5
Pluses: Scarily waterproof, good length, breathable thanks to the Merino lining.
Minuses: Ever-so-sightly baggy around the ankle.
Try telling 8 year old me that he would get to the stage in his life where receiving socks as a gift would fill him with unbridled joy rather than unconcealed disappointment/borderline rage. I am indeed at that age where a colourful set of footgloves – as the Germans call them – is welcome, so imagine my glee when a (relatively pedestrian black-and-grey coloured) pair of Sealskinz MTB Mid socks with Hydrostop found their way into my hands then onto my feet.
Before going into the witchcraft that is their waterproofness, a few words on what they are like to wear. Imagine slipping a pair of very flexible wellies – with padded toes and heels – on with bare feet. Now imagine that said wellies have a silicone band around the top that prevents them sliding down your shins AND reduces water ingress. “But they’re SOCKS!” I hear you cry. “YES!” I respond with equal enthusiasm, “SOCKS!” before adding, now sounding somewhat crazed, “WATERPROOF! SOCKS!” This is a bit of a mind melter, one that requires a subtle readjustment when approaching the tricky subject of layering. Conventional wisdom when it comes to riding in cold, wet weather is that you want something wooly/wicking next to your skin, then something warm to prevent your sweat from cooling you down, then something waterproof and/or breathable so the moisture going in (from the rain/sleet/snow) does a little soft-shoe shuffle with the moisture going out (perspiration); net result being that you are neither boil-in-the-bag nor shivering like a hairless newborn. Granted, the equation is somewhat simpler when it comes to footwear, but nothing curtails a day on the bike quicker than having soggy, frozen extremities. A proper pair of winter gloves paired with decent woollen socks (sometimes with the addition of tinfoil-clad feet, as my pal Andy swears by) and neoprene overshoes will see you through most of the rough stuff, but could the Sealskinz MTB Mid socks with Hydrostop represent a different approach?
Sealskinz Socks in the Dry
In the interests of doing a full, real world Co-op review, I set off for a rainy ride clad in just socks and Giro shoes (I was wearing clothes on the rest of my body!), leaving both overshoes and tinfoil at home. Alas, and I can’t quite bring myself to say this for fear of angering the cycling gods, it did not rain. No, it would not rain. So I could only initially test the windproof and breathable properties of these foot gloves and they performed admirably, keeping my tootsies toasty. You’ll need to loosen ratchets/laces on your shoes since they are about 7 times thicker than even a pair of alpaca hiking socks, and perhaps readjust mid-ride, but they attain the “fit-and-forget” gold standard of cycling apparel in that you largely don’t notice them once you’ve put them on.
A slight word of caution; gentlemen/ladies with a less-than-baby’s-bum-smooth lower leg may find that the silicone grippers will try and tear off some of the hair on your shins, leaving you with a kind of Maginot-line band where the socks have most definitely gripped. Given that I am blessed/cursed with hirsute lower limbs – like a centaur – some care needs to be shown when putting on or removing with this in mind. Only minor gripes prevent these from being a total game-changer; I had to cut off the unnecessary Sealskinz tag sewn into the left sock as it flapped about in the wind and reduced my power output by 0.00003W. Whilst being marketed for MTB rides, perhaps they could do with some kind of reflective element on the back, like a lot of overshoes have. An inherent “shapeform” to them means there’s a bagginess around the front of the ankle but I should point out that I have the slender lower limbs of an impressionable teen debutante. Or, indeed, a centaur.
Sealskinz Socks in the Wet
Nonetheless, as I discovered on the 10 or so wet commutes of around 30 mins each, my feet remained absolutely bone-dry whilst my shoes were a crud-speckled horror show. I’m not sure my feet would emerge from a moist 5 hour ride in these puppies without resembling Darth Vader’s dehydrated phizzog but for shortish rides they were spot on.
They withstood 3 days wear in a row before succumbing to the washing machine as breathability met foot funk in a game with only one, detergent-based winner. So, should you buy these sockwellies? They are, after all, a £35.10 solution to a problem you can reasonably counter with overshoes/not going out in the rain, but I did find myself surprised at how well they worked. And, yes, I did test them out by wearing them in the shower like a novelty version of Vivien Leigh in Psycho minus the stabby denouement, in case you were wondering.