We don't normally wax on poetically about a particular brand of socks. We see a million of them, and they can be very much a matter of personal taste – thick or thin, low or high cut, wool or man-made materials, etc.
What you will find SNEWS® saying is that a really good sock for running or other fast-forward or intense activities is mandatory equipment. Whatever is leftover on the bottom of the sock drawer just won't fit and perform like ones designed for a foot in motion. A good athletic-performance sock will not only cradle and cushion, but also fit like a dream, breathe well, not stink after a time, offer a true men's AND women's fit, and help you avoid blisters and chafing. And, yes, you may have to pay what seems like a lot for a really good sock, but it will also last for awhile. Or should.
X-Socks are relatively new in North America and doesn't have the market recognition or penetration as the name and company does in its home region in Europe. The company began three generations ago in Northern Italy as a supplier and manufacturer of other companies' socks, but launched its own X-Sock brand in 2000 after spending three years developing the concept. X-Socks are the epitome of what manufacturers these days call "zoned" or "bio-mapped" apparel and socks, meaning the piece has been designed with different materials, thickness, construction, and cushioning depending on the area of the body or, in this case, foot it will touch and what that area's specific needs are.
The X-Socks are channeled, knit, ribbed, cushioned and contoured in so many different ways and places, we can't begin to explain it all here. For a true technology education, you'll need to go to www.x-socks.com and click on "technology" to read about what the company calls airflow ankle pads, anatomically shaped footbed, instep protector, self-adjusting cuff and much more.
We have tried both the Run Speed One running sock (71 percent nylon, 15 percent polypropylene) designed as its most lightweight piece for shorter distances and sprinting, as well as its Run Sky Run sock (54 percent nylon, 23 percent polypropylene, 11 percent polyester) with a touch more cushioning and a higher ankle cut and support for moderate to longer distances. Some, including the Run Speed One, come in women's cuts too. One of us likes the Speed; another prefers the Sky. What we can agree on is these are two of several favorite socks now in our rather overflowing sock drawers. They fit across the toes, instep and Achilles like a second skin. The cuff doesn't cut in or flop around. The toe box doesn't have any extra bag or room. The heel feels firmly cushioned. The instep feels supported. And the knit-in ventilation channels do seem to help cool the foot and help it feel more comfortable over medium to long runs.
Can we say all the promises about ankle support and channeled ventilation work because of X-Sock technology? No. What we can say is that they fit divinely, perform superbly and make us want to reach for it in our sock drawer on many of our short to medium-length runs.
There is also a laundry list of other categories the company knits socks for, including backpacking, cycling, skiing, motorcycling and snowboarding. We haven't tried any of those.
The only drawback is the dent one pair will make in your bank account. These are an investment! Depending on the targeted activity, they can run from about $12 to $37 a pair, with the higher-cut and more complex snowsports ones costing the most. If the company could ever do something to help these cost a bit less, they'd be utterly perfect.
We hope at these prices they will last a long time in our sock closet. But we'll have to get back to you in a year or two on that one.
SNEWS® Rating: 4.5 hands clapping (1 to 5 hands clapping possible, with 5 clapping hands representing functional and design perfection)
Suggested Retail: $19.90, Run Speed One
For more information:www.x-socks.com