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Gear talk: new socks!

We all get a little excited with the opportunity of trying out a new piece of gear or clothing. For the past few months Three Points of the Compass has, quite literally, been putting some new socks through their paces.

Silverlight Ankle socks
Silverlight Ankle socks

Every hiker spends a great deal of time on their feet. Trail miles are hard on the body, shoes or boots and the barrier between them- the socks. For the past few years Three Points of the Compass has primarily been using Darn Tough socks. The Hiker 1/4 sock light cushion are 51% nylon, 45% merino, 4% spandex though other models have slightly differing composition. These are comfortable socks that I have worn for thousands of miles, not least a two-thousand mile continuous hike across the UK. These are a tight weave sock with lifetime warranty, though personally, I have never has any issue with simply purchasing replacement pairs when they are worn out. And they do, all socks will, particularly if fine grit works its way through breathable mesh trail shoes into the sock pile where it will grate and wear away at the sock.

New and old Darn Tough socks. All socks will eventually wear thin
New and old Darn Tough socks. All socks will eventually wear thin

Now there is a new kid on the block. I first heard of Silverlight socks when company founder Ralph was crowdfunding his vision, then branded Ventury, through Indiegogo but held off to see what came of them. Earlier this year, seeing there was a multi-pack offer available, I took the plunge and purchased three pairs of crew length Silverlight socks. The quality was immediately obvious and I followed up with a further order for three pairs of ankle length hiking socks. Not only that, but Mrs Three Points of the Compass had also been impressed enough to put in her own order. It takes a lot to impress a normally cynical Mrs T…

Silverlight Crew length socks
Silverlight Crew length socks
Silverlight socks with Altra Lone Peak shoes
Silverlight socks with Altra Lone Peak shoes

Owner Ralphs aims are pretty simple, to bring the World’s best hiking socks to market. Silverlight attempts to be ethical and sells direct to customers to keep costs down. That said, these are not cheap socks. But you get what you pay for, not least a lifetime guarantee with the socks.

Silverlight Ankle length socks
Silverlight Ankle length socks
Silverlight Ankle length socks with Altra Lone Peak shoes
Silverlight Ankle length socks with Altra Lone Peak shoes

Silverlight socks are dual layer, knitted together, which helps to minimise or eliminate blistering. Certainly I have had no foot issues while wearing these. There no seams and the construction comprises of a wool and silver yarn inner layer with nylon and spandex outer layer. Durability in the sock is mostly as a result of a majority nylon content. Note that nylon is more durable than polyester. The second major material component of Silverlight socks is Australian merino wool. Wool is also naturally antibacterial and it is this that sits directly next to the foot.

Then we come to a big selling point for these socks and what gave the company its name. Many readers will have heard of silver technology. Silver naturally inhibits bacterial growth. It is bacteria that is primarily responsible for sock stink. The current designs of Silverlight socks utilise silver yarn instead of sprayed silver ions as some other brands do. By using actual silver yarn, it isn’t going to wear or wash out. That is the theory at any rate. I mentioned the fairly high cost of these socks, around half of that cost comes from the 6-7% silver content. Future sock models will have an altered silver content, using broken up pieces of silver yarn in ‘silver spun’ construction instead of the unbroken silver yarn. This will ensure a more even distribution of silver throughout the sock. It proved difficult to find a factory that could work with silver yarn and a factory in China was finally found that could manufacture to a high standard. Silverlight are looking to combine their anti-stink technology into a baselayer/t-shirt product in the future. It will be interesting to see what transpires.

There is a fourth component- compression comes from a small amount of spandex. I am not a fan of spandex, or elastane (a stretchy polyurethane based synthetic fibre) as it takes longer than many materials to dry and stinks a bit in itself, but it is a very minor material in these socks and probably essential for the form fitting. We are informed that the spandex helps provide arch support which can aid people with Plantar fasciitis. As someone who has suffered with this in the past, one can only hope. With these four materials the socks hug without being constrictive and are super comfy. Does the silver work? All I can say is that I haven’t had stinky Silverlight socks following a hike yet and have used them on multiple days without washing in between.

Silverlight socks on the left have completed over one hundred trai miles, compared with new pair on right. All socks are turned inside out
Silverlight socks on the left have completed just over one hundred trail miles, compared with new pair on right. All four socks are turned inside out. Future Silverlight socks will utilise silver spun thread which should reduce the abrasion in padded areas and distribute silver more evenly. See further down in this post for two hundred miles of wear

“we offer an unconditional, no hassle, no questions asked lifetime guarantee”

Silverlight

Three Points of the Compass is very impressed with these socks. They are smooth, snug, do not ruck or creep down. After just a hundred miles of hiking and four washes, a pair of ankle length socks were certainly looking like they had done some hikes when turned inside out but they aren’t worn. After two hundred miles with a second pair they hadn’t noticeably deteriorated any further. Nor should they and I need to put a lot more miles on these before deciding if these socks have completely usurped my Darn Toughs. As things are though, initial impressions are very positive. The slight padding is appreciated. Socks dry reasonably fast when wet, but there is a lot of sock here and these are never going to dry as fast as thinner single layer socks will. I find the sock toe box a little too tight for my preference but have learnt to accept it, for now. A change to the XXL size when released might be in order. An asymmetrical shape for ‘left’ and ‘right’ socks is being developed however I find the existing sock shapes just fine and do not think such a change is necessary. One old time hikers wheeze is to swap over socks on feet if they start to feel weary toward the end of a days hiking. It is probably due to a change in the way the pile lays but whatever it is, it can work. Not that I have had to do that in recent years. A bit of care has to be taken when washing these socks as they can shrink if instructions are not followed.

And remember, there is a lifetime ‘no quibble’ guarantee on these socks. Though from what I can see, that is an exchange or credit note after 90 days.

Each pair of socks comes in a small and simple resealable sleeve
Each pair of socks comes in a small and simple resealable sleeve

Socks are available in S, M, L and XL, an XXL is to be added to the range. Mr and Mrs Three Points of the Compass purchased two sizes.

Weights:

  • Pair Ankle, size Medium- 54g
  • Pair Ankle, size XL- 61g
  • Pair Crew, size XL- 82g

Material specifications differ between ankle and crew socks slightly:

  • Ankle: 45% nylon, 44% merino wool, 7% silver yarn, 4% spandex
  • Crew: 51% nylon, 39% merino wool, 6% silver yarn, 4% spandex

There is another point that helps establish this company’s credibility. A tree is planted with each pair of socks sold. This is with the Eden Reforestation Projects. A move to recycled nylon for manufacture of socks is also in the offing and work underway to improve the ethical sourcing of the merino wool used.

If you want to give these socks a go, you can get 15% off the price by following this link.

Silverlight Ankle socks two-hundred miles in on left, brand new on right
Silverlight Ankle socks after two-hundred miles on left, brand new on right
Silverlight Ankle length sock in trailrunner
Silverlight Ankle length sock in trailrunner

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