Tighter and lighter: Summer 2015 socks achieve more compression at lower weight

See what's ahead for hiking, running and compression socks to hit shelves at outdoor retail in 2015.
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This Outdoor Retailer Summer Market recap is brought to you in partnership with Gore-Tex.

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With advancements in manufacturing technology — and design flair — socks have surpassed the “one type fits all” stereotype and entered the realm of performance-enhancing gear.

Athletes looking for that extra edge are gravitating toward graduated compression socks said to increase performance and reduce recovery time. Upgraded compression socks for next year intensify the compression from the top of the calf to the ankle. This is meant to enhance blood circulation as deoxygenated blood returns to the heart faster, speed recovery from inflammation and swelling and allow a faster warm-up. But just like athletes who wear them, not all compression socks are created equal.

Runners are the focus for IceBreaker’s new Run+ Compression Ultralight Socks (MSRP $45) and Run+ Compression Sleeve (MSRP $40). Born from a minimal mindset, “ultralight” is a growing trend in socks and gear targeted at the running market at Summer Market. To lighten up its socks, Icebreaker re-engineered the ventilation zones to increase breathability, comfort and sleekness. Farm To Feet also debuts an ultra-lightweight graduated compression running sock in The Blue Ridge (MSRP $30). It’s 16 inches in height and available in varying compression strengths from 12.5 to 22.5 mmHg. The lightweight calf is matched with half-density cushioning underfoot to create a second skin feel.

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Focusing on a wider outdoor segment, Wigwam's Tall Trekker Fusion(MSRP $19) marries its patented Ultimax technology with compression. It offers the sock and liner knitted as one piece of seamless fabric. The inner synthetic layer of Olefin works with the outer layer of merino wool to transport moisture away from the foot. Falke’sStabilizing Sock(MSRP $40) targets hikers with compression just around the ankle to enhance stability as well as a two-layer sole to wick away moisture.

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Lorpen brings a redesign of its trail running and multisport socks and sleeves with enhanced ventilation and wicking thanks to blended yarn technology using a combination of Coolmax, Tencel and nylon. Its Compression Calf Sleeves are available in midweight (MSRP $35) and lightweight (MSRP $30) versions, and have been designed to coordinate with the company’s new line of Trail Running and Multisport Socks (MSRPs $11-$13).

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Waterproof sock technology is lightening up for the summer, too. SealSkinz’s Thin Ankle Length Sock (MSRP $40) is the brand’s thinnest yet, increasing breathability while maintaining protection.

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When the trail ends and the real world begins, no one wants to be the guy pairing athletic socks with dress shoes. Vim & Vigrensures continued recovery in the best-looking way, using an advanced gradient pressure knitting technique in its new men’s collection of graduated compression socks(MSRPs $30-$35) with lifestyle fabrics. Offered in wool, nylon and cotton, the line adds a touch of taste to any outfit with argyle and thick stripes in varying compression strengths from 15 to 20 mmHg.

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--Jessica Hamel

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