Perhaps the strangest love most cyclists have is for socks. The +1 rule applies to bikes, sure, but it always, always applies to socks. I once stood in front of the Cannondale Pro Team bus and tweeted 16 times in order to win a single pair of Team Cannondale socks. Why am I telling you about my weird obsession? Because I own a LOT of socks. I’m a sock connoisseur. And you probably are too–c’mon, don’t lie. But I have found a sock that lays waste to all my previous favorites. It’s the holy grail of sockdom.
What is this marvelous sock? The Swiftwick Aspire. I happened upon the Swiftwick booth at Interbike on my final day, and, after a few days of walking around the massive convention center, some pretty new socks spelled relief for my aching feet and legs. The folks at Swiftwick kindly provided my husband and I with two brightly colored pair in an appealing purple (the Four) and a nice blue (the Twelve).
It didn’t take me too long to succumb to the draw of the purple, and I took a break to change into the new footwear. The relief was almost immediate, and, though I thought they were a bit tight at first, they soon seemed to almost disappear. It’s not usual that a compression sock feels like you’re closer to barefoot–in fact, I have been blessed (or cursed, it’s all point of view) with muscular calves and wide width feet, and most compression wear makes me cringe. Not the Aspire.
The material does not bunch anywhere, and the seams are perfectly gathered at the heel and toe box (these are very minimal seams, trust me). The sock provides such a light and thin fit that it leaves no chance of gathering up to cause numb pinky toes–which I’ve experienced–or achy calves caused by those deep ridges in your average compression sock. These feature only the tiniest of ridges to keep the proper fit and promote strong support and blood flow for your arches and calves. Oh, and yes, they have compression in the footbed as well.
Care & Cleaning
Once I got home, I washed them and took them on a ride/run brick. I mention that I washed them because the fellow at Swiftwick told me they can be worn three or four times between washes because of the true moisture wicking and anti-microbial properties. I am a slight germaphobe, so I have trouble wearing things twice in a row, but I was slightly amazed to find that even after a full day on my feet these had no odor. Even the pair my husband wore seemed fresh.
As an aside, these socks are not dyed in the traditional sense. In fact, they’re made of a Nobel Prize winning fiber that is basically like pellets that are extruded and woven together. In other words, the fabric is the color: it won’t bleed in the laundry. Now I didn’t try washing it with whites, but there was absolutely no color transfer or leaking. Apparently, you can pop these in with any jerseys and your colors will stay bright and awesome.
How They Performed
As I mentioned, I wore the Four on a ride/run brick. I am particular about my cycling socks because any extra density creates serious hotspots and numbness for me (I blame the lack of width options in women’s cycling shoes). These never shifted, bunched, fell, or slipped throughout my ride. The height of the Four is perfect for the trending sock lengths these days–just about a crew cut, so I didn’t feel like I was breaking any unwritten rules of the bike by wearing them. With seven or so colors to choose from, you’re certain to find a pair or two that match your favorite kits (white is always an option).
At my transition to the run, these slipped into my running shoes with ease. Again, the same performance as with my ride. The socks nearly disappeared and left me focused on getting my muscles ready for the switch from riding to running.
The craziest thing, after a long brick, I didn’t feel that sweaty feet misery that can sometimes set in with other socks. These stayed totally dry. My husband reported the same thing after a long run in the Twelves.
As an added bonus, since he often runs near the end of the day, he felt that the bright blue, over-the-calf length socks added greater visibility for the traffic on the road.
The one problem I found with these socks is that I want more of these socks. I would throw out an entire drawer full of my usual footwear for just a couple more pair of Swiftwicks. Get yourself a pair or twenty, you won’t regret it, and you won’t go back.
We tested the Aspire Four, which sells for $16.99 and the Aspire Twelve at $35.99. If you’re not a fan of higher lengths, you can also get the low-cut Zero for $12.99. Each comes in several colors, so you’re bound to find one you like.
You can order your own Swiftwicks, including kits that come with laundry bags and SLEEVES (arm warmers) at www.swiftwick.com or you can search their site for your local retailer. You’ll also get free shipping when you spend $35, which is pretty darn doable.
So, did you order yours yet?