Brasher Gender Specific Socks
I am a big fan of socks !! that's pretty weird right ? I would imagine that many people would view socks as a necessary inconvenience, why spend money on socks when you could spend money on something that could enhance your life... and that's precisely why I ALWAYS ask for socks for Christmas.
Let me explain.. I recently had a conversation with one of the archers at our club, he had won 8 straight 3 D shoots, he attends the 9th and comes nowhere... can't shoot for toffee, not even a minor bit of tin to soften the blow of one of his worst shoots to date. I heard him tell others that he had "just had one of those days", in fact he was too embarrassed to tell the real truth. Which was that his cheap underpants had let him down. I have no doubt you have seen them ( cheap pants that is... not his.).. 6 pairs for a quid style underpants - the elastic had lasted as long as it had taken him to get dressed, drive to the shoot, sign in and get as far as the 2nd peg, throughout the rest of the day they made a non stop bid for freedom down his left trouser leg. Me.. I would have ripped them off and shot commando, however ( in the interest of anonymity..let's just call him Mr Rand), well Mr Rand being a civilised fellow, had no desire to shock his shooting companions by producing his own pants as an excuse to poor shooting and persevered the rest of the day to suffer a two fold humiliation - no medal whilst also finding himself unsupported and uncontainable... a salutary lesson to us all.
I am a fan of socks that perform above and beyond being a simple covering for the foot, so I tend to steer clear of 8 pairs for £2 styles and prefer that folks buy me a pair of quality socks at Christmas and birthdays... proper expensive top Johnny socks, I can't bear to wear rubbish socks that don't provide an extra level of comfort and protection and that last more than a week or two before you get holes in them.. which brings me rather neatly ( don't you think) to the purpose of this review.
Brashers new gender specific outdoor socks, no doubt to complement their excellent range of boots. Brasher socks are designed, tested and manufactured in the UK.
With 4 pairs on test we have 2 Womens and 2 Mens. Hillmaster and Fellmaster.
I guess these are called "technical" socks, in that it would seem a huge amount of research has gone into the design, foremost is the fact that they are gender specific - now, I don't want to regurgitate all the Brasher sales pitch but it is important to know that we have a choice here of a majority Merino Wool sock - The Hillmaster or a majority Coolmax sock ( polyester) in the Fellmaster. The coolmax wicks away moisture efficiently and it is worth noting that even in the Wool sock there is around 12% coolmax and in the coolmax sock the ladies get 25% Merino and the guys get polymide and lycra... phew ! if you are a real tech head and want the full low down you will find it all here brasher.co.uk/technologies/socks
The real test of course is when you wear them, what are they like ?
I was drawn instantly to the Hillmaster as the packaging tells me that they are anti blister and sport high density cushioning, a recipe for comfy feet.. and I do like comfy feet. There is a rather nice diagram on the back which divides the sock into 7 zones and points out the whys and wherefores ..
It was these socks I chose for the first test, a Medieval Roving Mark in the grounds of a country estate in Kent. These shoots are always fun and involve a lot of walking as each mark is shot from the last, you can find yourself trudging across fields, traversing ditches and through thickets- I understand that 10 000 steps is the equivalent of 5 miles walking and it is possible to chew through the miles when roving as you are constantly thinking about the shooting rather than the distance walked. The first thing you notice when you put them on is that they really are padded, the toe and heel area especially and they are a very nice fit, gripping the foot all over with no saggy spots behind the ankle. Once laced into my Supalights I was as comfy as I have ever been in a boot.
To be honest I didn't think about them once during the day and that can only be a good thing, when you start noticing the clothing you are wearing it usually means there is a problem. There will also be a bonus to wearing a technical sock, under extreme exertion it is inevitable that your feet will sweat,the hi tech fibres that get that away from your feet as quickly as possible ( in conjunction with, say, a gore tex boot) will mean your feet and boots will stay fresh - These socks really appealed to me, the fit was superb with stretch and ventilation panels along the side and top, an important thing to note is that each foot has been individually shaped, to avoid the harrowing discovery of a mixed up foot/sock experience they are helpfully "named" with an "L" and a "R". These are going on my Christmas list.
The fell Master socks are a tad longer, they are advertised as fast wicking so I would suspect that if you were engaging in a lot of scrambling up and down then these would be the first choice. So when I knew I would be taking on a rather strenuous shoot I decided these would be my best bet. They were of course exactly as I imagined they would be, although mid October the weather wasn't particularly cold and these are 3 season socks - I would say they would be more suited to when it really gets cold as I did find my feet were actually pretty hot. If you suffer from cold feet then these will keep you toasty.
The thing about buying a brand like Brasher is that footwear is all they do, so you know you have a state of the art product. These socks are billed as 3 season but they have a whole product line of socks that will take you from summer through to the following spring. There is something about owning a quality product that makes it so much more than just a utilitarian item, I actually enjoy spending a large sum on something I really want. The item then becomes more valuable and there are few things more enjoyable than when an item of clothing becomes a friend.
Reviewed By Caroline, 16th October 2012
These socks have an excellent fit, snug but not uncomfortably tight. When wearing with my Brasher boots they did not slip or move out of place. I hate socks that ruck up inside my boots, causing discomfort and blisters. No troubles on that score, the ample cushioning at the toe and heel gave extra comfort in this area. My boots are already worn in but even with new boots I imagine you would have enough support to eliminate blisters.
The shaping of each sock is individually made for each foot. One shaped for the right foot and one for the left foot. To distinguish one from another there is an R and L woven into the socks so you can put them on correctly and quickly in an instant. They have all the usual features of a three season Brasher sock, temperature control, cool when needed and warmth for the cold weather with a ventilation panel in the top panel to prevent overheating.
I loved the longer length of these socks. I often complain of cold ankles in the winter months but these socks are going to make the difference, they are not full length but reach mid calf. They do have a band of ribbing across the instep of the foot to ensure the sock does not slip but they are a looser fit than the Hillmaster. Again they are three season and have a moisture control that wicks moisture away. If you want lots of wriggle room in the toe area then these have it. The flat toe seams give comfort and space. Although not as padded as the Hillmaster you can definitely feel the extra cushioning in the heel and toe.
Features & Design
It would seem that there is as much R&D in Brasher socks as goes into their boots, gender specific socks is more than just a catch phrase here, men and women have different feet.. so it should come as no surprise that the socks will have different shapes and ingredients.
Value for Money
On the face of it you could in theory buy a whole bunch of socks for very little. However paying a premium for quality is always the smart move. These will outlast any number of nasty socks, but not only that they perform better.
Don't be put off by the price, in fact a trawl on the net will often find a dealer with a promotion on which can reduce the cost still further, either that or make it known that you DO want socks for Christmas ..