Gear Review: Lorpen and Merrell Socks
Lorpen Trail Running Multisport Sock
$13, 2 oz. (men’s medium)
Lorpen Midweight Hiker Sock
$21, 3.5 oz. (men’s medium)
Lorpen Merino Light Ski Sock
$22, 3 oz. (men’s medium)
Sizes (for all models): men’s M-XL women’s S-M
Merrell Men’s Chameleon Stretch/Women’s Siren Sport Sock
$18, 2 oz. (men’s medium)
Merrell Men’s Courant Solid/Women’s Scamper Solid/Stripe Sock
$18 2 oz. (men’s medium)
Sizes (for both models): men’s and women’s S-XL
How much can you say about socks? The best feel comfortable, keep your feet dry to prevent blisters, and hold their shape for more than just one day—important when you’re on a multi-day backcountry trip. After numerous days of trail running, dayhiking, backpacking, and backcountry and resort skiing, I’ve picked out some favorites.
Three layers of yarn comprise the Lorpen Trail Running Multisport sock—a soft, biodegradable yarn called Tencel against the skin, a layer of Coolmax to move perspiration to the outside, and a layer of nylon and stretchy Lycra for durability. Besides numerous trail runs of varying lengths and many gym workouts, I was most impressed when I wore these socks on a 25.5-mile, 4,600-foot, seven-hour trail run-hike (mostly running) in the Boise Foothills. During that outing, the temperature rose from around 60° F into the 80s; with no shade, I was hot, and only took my shoes off once, briefly, to dump out sand and stones. Still, when I got home, these socks were virtually dry. They’ve become a go-to sock for long trail runs and dayhikes in low-cut shoes.
My Lorpen Midweight Hiker socks endured three very wet days with soaked boots in rain, wet snow, and a lot of puddles and stream crossings in Norway’s Jotunheimen National Park without losing their shape. Buy them if you like a little more warmth and padding than is found in lightweight hiking socks.
For backcountry and resort skiing, I slip on the Lorpen Merino Light Ski socks. Through two long days of backcountry skiing during a four-day yurt trip in Idaho’s Sawtooth Mountains, these calf-high socks stayed dry inside my plastic telemark boots, even in temperatures well above freezing. They delivered the same performance on several individual days of resort and backcountry skiing in those same telly boots. Although the socks aren’t particularly thick, my toes stayed warm.
The Merrell Men’s Chameleon Stretch and Women’s Siren Sport sock combine Merino wool with nylon and spandex, and incorporate nice heel, underfoot, and toe padding, an arch-support band, and mesh zones on top of the foot for breathability. This sock stayed remarkably dry and comfortable for me on hot, humid July dayhikes in New Hampshire’s White Mountains—including a 19-mile, 7,000+-foot traverse of the Carter Range, when I sweated profusely for hours. I’ve turned to these socks many times for trail runs, too, especially in cooler temps when I wanted an ankle-height sock.
The Merrell Men’s Courant Solid sock (women’s is the Scamper Solid or Stripe) also uses the same combination of Merino wool with nylon and spandex and sports a good, though not overdone amount of heel, underfoot, and toe padding and mesh on top for breathability. They kept my feet dry and blister-free on numerous trips: a 22-mile August dayhike in Wyoming’s Wind River Range, when I removed my shoes to cool my feet only once; two hot days backpacking in Oregon’s Eagle Cap Wilderness; two very wet days in Norway’s Jotunheimen National Park; backpacking for three low-mileage days with my daughter in Idaho’s Smoky Mountains; and on two of four days backpacking in Washington’s Olympic Mountains (getting soaked one of those days). The light weight of these socks proved warm enough in boots on days in the 30s Fahrenheit, but not too hot on days in the 70s.