You’ll often hear skiers and snowboarders complaining about their boots – pain, discomfort, cramps, the list goes on. Leading Aussie boot fitter Andy Burford from The Bootfitter says “having cold, painful feet is the number one problem complained of in boot fitting shops around the world. I see it all the time in my shop, people present with all sorts of problems but I always start by asking them what socks they are wearing.” While there’s lots to be said for a proper boot-fit, quality liners and the rest of it, many skiers and snowboarders neglect the important interface between foot and boot; their socks. At the end of the day, your boot can only perform as well as the sock you wear inside it.
WHAT MAKES THE PERFECT SOCK?
There are a number of important functions that a good ski-sock should provide.
1. Form fit.
The most important consideration is a proper form fit, a sock with specific close ratio sizing where each sock only covers a small size range to give a closer fit specific to each size. Look for elasticated support in all the right areas to keep the sock firmly in place all day long, notably over the instep of your foot, around your ankle and along the top of the leg. This avoids slipping, bunching and wrinkling which lead to blisters and pressure points that can end your day. The vertical and cross-stretch of the sock are important to provide some flexibility in the fit of the sock while maintaining a nice firm finish, moving with your body as the foot moves around in the boot. And critically, there should be no loose material or threads around your toes.
2. Sock weight.
The next consideration is the sock’s weight, providing the right amount of insulation and cushioning for your needs. With great advancements in boot liner technologies, insulation is no longer the core responsibility of socks - gone are the days where thicker was better. Generally, the sock will have extra cushioning under your foot and on the front of your shin for comfort, and is thinner over the instep to minimize bulk. Ultra-light weight is for a close boot fit often preferred by racers and high end skiers. Light-weight is the most common cushioning providing some additional comfort and keeping you warm in most conditions. Medium and heavy weights are used in more extreme conditions for extra warmth. The key is finding the weight that keeps you warm but doesn’t make you sweat.
3. Breathability and ventilation.
Your foot is trapped for hours on end in a large boot making breathability and ventilation critical to keep your feet dry and warm. If your feet don’t breathe, you start to sweat a lot. The combination of cold air and wet feet combine for discomfort quickly. Socks with a good, breathable material and strategically placed mesh ventilation will help moisture evaporate away from your skin leaving you dry and warm all day long.
You’d be amazed at the forces that are placed through your socks and into your boots, particularly when skiing off-piste or in a race environment. For this reason, the use of quality materials and stitching will help to make sure you get the most from your equipment. A lot of socks now use nylon or another synthetic fibre as a strong skeleton for the sock providing additional durability.
There are a bunch of different options on the market. Synthetics, such as polyester and acrylic, are very common providing good softness and thermal properties along with mixed wicking and moisture management. On the natural end, merino wool the most common and well known for its excellent comfort, thermal regulation and moisture wicking properties. Rayon from bamboo is also becoming more widely used providing all the same benefits plus a super soft finish for those who suffer irritations to wool. In addition to these main materials, almost all socks will have a combination of secondary fibres added, elastic for stretch and nylon/polyester for durability.
THE SOCKS OF LE BENT
The Le Bent story was born from a boot fitting and professional skiing background. Our team spent years fitting boots in ski resorts across the globe, which led to an in-depth understanding of how feet and boots interact, and the importance of quality socks. If there’s one area that can benefit from all-day comfort, odour control and a hypoallergenic fabric it’s your feet, right? Our socks are designed, with the needs of performance skiers and snowboarders at the front of mind.
The Le Definitive range has been designed from the ground up to incorporate anatomically correct designs that enable proper articulation of the foot and ankle while still providing support where it’s needed. The Definitive Fit System supports your foot where it needs to most - around the achilles, upper and lower instep and around the ankle’s malleolus. This supportive design allows the natural fibres to breathe, while providing adequate insulation from the elements and fostering proper circulation through the ankle and into the forefoot.
Impact cushioning has been built into the shin and under the foot, providing an extra layer of padding in high-stress zones for added comfort without adding bulk all over the sock. We also have Le Definitive ultra-light with no cushioning under the foot, a sock that’s designed to offer a true performance fit for those who are looking for a closer boot-sock fit.
Strategically placed mesh ventilation zones on the foot promote breathability, helping to evaporate moisture during heavy use. This is especially noticeable during times of high activity such as ski touring and hiking. Dry and warm feet all day long.
Our signature Platinum Blend of bamboo rayon and merino provides a soft, warm, dry and stink free layer on the skin.
The elastic cuff is designed to stay where you want it to sit, without being uncomfortably tight, the top of the sock will hold tension across your leg with all-day comfort. The toe of the sock is stitched with a flat seam, meaning you’ll never experience bunching or twisting in the toe box of your boot.
The benefit of all of these design features creates a sock that is able to provide comfort during periods of extended use, from chairlift loops to long days on the skin track and multi-day touring.
As always, our gear is tested extensively by our Line-Up of athletes who’ve put these socks through their paces in some of the most demanding conditions. The feedback is always the same, the Le Definitive sock offers the highest levels of performance and comfort available for your feet.
Most skiers and snowboarders place little importance on the sock they wear, but as anyone who has tried our Le Definitive range will tell you, once you’ve worn a sock like ours you’ll never go back to anything else. With a perfect fit, odour and super soft feel, the Le Bent sock is the perfect interface between your foot and boot.
Freeskier Magazine certainly think so, including our Definitive Light sock in their Top 5 picks for 2017.