Sunday, September 20, 2009

Drymax Trail Socks Review

I've been meaning to post my review of Drymax trail running socks for a long time, but have been enjoying too much blister free running to get around to it.

First, the backstory:

My feet sweat... a LOT. Wet feet are more prone to blistering and get cold easier in winter. I've tried many different socks, most of which claim to have "wicking" fibers to help keep feet dry: Thorlo, WigWam Ultimax, Injinji, Teko, Smart Wool, Wright double layer socks, you name it. My feet never felt any drier while I was running - the socks just seemed to dry faster after my feet came out of my shoes and my socks came off my feet. So, I was a little reluctant to plunk down more money to try yet another brand of sock that claimed to keep my feet dry, but read some independent reviews that convinced me to give Drymax socks a try (they also offer a full money back guarantee if you don't like 'em).

Drymax socks are made with a dual layer system that interweaves two different types of fibers: water repelling fibers are on the inside of the sock next to your skin, fibers that attract moisture are on the outside of the sock so that sweat and water are pulled away from your skin. My Drymax socks also fit very close to my foot so that I don't have any creases or bunched up parts of sock when I put my shoes on. I also appreciate the flat seams across the toes, which is an area where I tend to get blisters from some of my other socks. A nice snug (not tight) sock that actually fits properly!

I started running in Drymax Trail socks this spring and have had hot spots only twice in the 6 months since. The first time was during an early spring ultra marathon where I was wearing Gortex shoes, which can also prevent sweat from evaporating (the same properties that keep water out of shoes also keep it in). The second was just a few weeks ago when I began getting a hot spot on the medial side of the ball of my right foot - still not sure why as it hasn't happened since. I just got a pair of Lite Trail Running socks which I haven't tried yet, but they may come in handy at my 50 miler in two weeks if my feet start to swell a little during the race and I don't want to change into larger shoes. I also got a pair of the Cold Weather Running socks on sale at Zombie Runner that I plan on trying in a few months.

The good:
Great fit with no bunching or creasing.
Flat toe seams.
My feet stay drier.
Very comfortable sock - maybe because my feet stay drier?
Seem very durable so far.
No blisters - just hot spots twice in the last 6 months.

The not so great:
Spendy (but worth it).

Right now, all of my trail running is happening in Drymax Socks!

Saturday, February 14, 2009

Camelbak vs Nathan Revisited

My previous post mentioned some preliminary notes comparing a Camelbak Day Star to a Nathan Intensity 2.0 Women's 2-Liter Hydration Race Vest hydration system for trail running. After many more runs in both, here is an update:

The Nathan vest is superior in warm/hot weather primarily because I have never had any problems with chafing and it's open mesh makes it cooler to wear.

No problems with the Camelbak chafing during cold weather runs since I'm wearing more layers. I've been using the Camelbak during winter primarily because it has a little more storage capacity (gloves, hat, etc) and the bite valve doesn't leak.

I LOVE the front pockets on the Nathan vest! It's nice to have instant, easy access to a few small items without having to take off the vest.

The Nathan bite valve SUCKS! It is awkward to use and leaks. Constantly. Every run I've done with the Nathan results in water/sports drink dripping out of the bite valve and down the front of my shirt, shorts, and legs. Unfortunately, the drink tubes between the 2 systems are different diameters, so that they cannot be interchanged.

My solution which is so far working wonderfully:

I bought a CamelBak 72 oz Omega™ HydroTanium Replacement Reservoir, which fits the Nathan vest nicely (most of the CamelBak reservoirs are the wrong shape and don't fit at all). The Omega reservoir has a lifetime warranty and actually holds a little more than the original 70 oz (2 liter) bladder that comes standard with the Nathan. The only odd thing - the Omega has the big bite valve, but no Bite Valve Cover or Hydrolock, so I have to snag them off of my DayStar or just buy them separate.

Anyhoo, now I've got a vest that doesn't chafe, has front pockets, is light weight, and doesn't leak :)