We’ll be publishing a few select gear reviews moving forward. It’s not business as usual for FS or readers: we are posting gear reviews as a brief respite from grim news. We know minds are on more serious Coronavirus related issues.
The sock drawer: part no-person’s land, part nod to orderliness with pairs folded using techniques like the roll & tuck, the fold over, the konmai, and part Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds kaleidoscope with mismatched socks paired together. Honestly, if you are like most outdoor folks that are hard on gear, you’ve probably got 30 percent of your sock stock as single sock one-offs — that’s due to many socks simply lacking durability. Drilling down further, my guess is that 50 percent of my socks from SockGuy, DeFeet, and Pearlizumi don’t last a season of biking/running, or rollerskiing. The ailment? Holes in the heel, or holes in the toe region. Thus, the sock mash-up in my dresser.
I’ve got an older child with a part-time gig at a local biking/xc ski store. He began coming home with socks from Swiftwick. No five-finger-discounts here, he paid for them. Anyhow, in the course of two years, he went from a U.S. size 8 to a size 13. Let’s say we are sock rich in the house – I’m roughly a men’s large and his growth spurt meant more socks for me. In particular, socks from Swiftwick. Swiftwick crafts, made in the U.S., burly socks. They last. They breathe. They offer stylee designs and more traditional looks like a straight-up black sport sock.
With that multi-paragraph backstory, we’re here to review Swiftwick’s Flite XT sock. (Samples were provided by Swiftwick.) The Flite XT comes in a Zero, meaning no cuff, and Five, with a five-inch cuff. We tested the Five. Swiftwick markets the Flite XT as an athletic sock for activities like running. We’ve run in the socks, cross-country skied in the socks, backcountry skied in the socks, and last weekend, I gardened in them. Two months of abuse — no obvious fabric distress. Not in the cuff, not in the heel, not in the toes.
Swiftwick adds what it calls Gripdry fabric to the heel and the underside of the toes. In other words, Gripdry is touted as a non-slip fabric. Do we feel slippage? Not really. But honestly, we don’t notice slippage with other sock brands either. What we noticed is that the Gripdry appears to make high wear areas, areas susceptible to deal-breaking holes, more durable. That’s a huge plus.
The design also incorporates several different weaves of stretchy fabric that provides a snug fit. And any sock touted as an athletic sock should wick properly. The Flite XT reigns supreme in the wicking department. Yes, they breath too.
Socks these days, like seemingly every sector in the outdoor product world, are susceptible to specialization. For some consumers, gone are the days when the L.L. Bean Ragg wool sock was the ultimate all-arounder. And socks now aren’t necessarily cheap.
The Flite XTs can be had for $17.99 a pair. They come in a variety of colors in both the women’s and men’s versions. For those aspiring to the white tube sock look in the Flite XT, you’ll be at a loss. Here’s the only complaint; we’d like to see the Flite XT offered in a seven-inch cuff height model.
If you are looking for great socks with an athletic fit and purpose, the Softwick Flite XT could become your go-to. Note, they are not your typical wintertime warm when it is brrrrrrrrr sock. That said, if you have good circulation and the temps are around freezing, you might find this sock a perfect fit.
Size ranges can be found here. I’m between a men’s U.S. size 9 to 9.5 in a running shoe and a large in the Flite XT fit great despite it being recommended for a U.S. 10-12. Accordingly the XLs fit great on a size men’s U.S. 13 foot.
Jason lives in Bend, Ore., and can often be seen chasing his two boys around town. He’s a self-proclaimed audio geek. That all started back in the early 1990s when he convinced a naive public radio editor he should report a story from Alaska’s, Ruth Gorge. Now, Jason’s common companion is his field-recording gear.