As a brand Sealskinz have a long established reputation for waterproof socks and I’ve had pairs in the past. They also make gloves but I swore off the brand many years ago after a pair of their gloves fell apart after approximately five minutes of use.
That was one of their early efforts, probably at least twelve years ago, but it was enough for me to say ‘never again’.
What changed my mind?
A couple of things conspired to change my mind. First, Lloyd has been sporting the knee length socks for a couple of winters now and if I think back, I recall D’Andy was an afficionado too. Worn with shorts, they are dangerously close to foppish but they clearly did the job they needed to.
Second, we’ve become accustomed to wearing winter trousers to ward off the worst of the mud and slop that we have to contend with over winter months. And spring. And autumn. Sometimes summer…
Coupled with winter boots, long MTB trousers has been the single biggest improvement in riding comfort over past years.
The downside is, most winter trousers lose their DWR treatment pretty rapidly and it’s not terribly effective in the first place. I have a pair of Endura Singletrack winter trousers and while their durability isn’t in question, they wet through almost immediately when there’s slop about.
Cold and dry? Perfect. Cold and wet? Ugh, yuck. You are soon left with cold, wet shins.
Which is where the Sealskinz knee length waterproof socks come in.
I reasoned if the socks worked well enough without the long trousers, then using long socks under my winter Singletrack trousers might solve the problems I was getting with wet shins. And that has quickly proved to be the case.
I can now ride out in the grimmest conditions with warm dry shins and when I get back it’s easy to hose off the trousers and step out of them, my modesty – such as it is – maintained by my bib shorts and knee length socks underneath. Seriously it has made such a difference to my comfort.
What are the Sealskinz knee high waterproof socks like?
The Sealskinz waterproof socks are a little different to previous incarnations.
That they come up to the knee is one thing, but they are not restrictive to get on and off as before. It used to be that Sealskinz socks were pretty inflexible around the ankle, making getting them on and off a bit of a hassle.
The knee high socks I have are the opposite if anything, with a relatively loose fit. They are held up by soft stretchy fabric at the top near the knee which I hope won’t lose grip over time as that’s the bit doing all the support work. They don’t slip down in use, which bodes well for the future.
The rest of the sock is more of a loose tube on my size 9/10 UK feet, which equates to size L in Sealskinz-speak but I would say the actual footbed is not terribly long. I have narrow ankles and the fabric is somewhat loose – if you have fat ankles (!) or wide feet you will be fine!
As for warmth, I find these are middling when you get down to around 0-2°C temperatures. My feet seem to get cold after an hour or so; but that was happening with my ever dependable thick merino socks, so it’s possible my winter boots are deteriorating after 4 to 5 seasons of use.
The Sealskinz socks are lined with merino wool and never feel clammy as they might have done in the past. They are a nice place to be but if a lot of walking is involved I’d be worried about the looser material rubbing.
Overall, I would say the idea of using long socks under winter trousers works well. The trousers can focus on providing a practical shield against the muck, while the socks can focus on keeping your lower legs and feet dry. I’ve been really pleased with this approach so far.