BRIDGEDALE STORMSOCKS LIGHWEIGHT ANKLE SOCKS
110g (large) £35.99 Long Term (6 Month) Test
The Bridgedale Stormsock Lightweight Ankle Socks aren't cycling specific but lend themselves well to touring and general wet-weather riding. Despite their heavier tog weights, I've had no problems with MTB style booties, traditional touring shoes, right through to race slippers.
They also lend themselves nicely to walking, running and other outdoor duties. However, while waterproof in the everyday sense, like several competitors, there's some trade-off, when it comes to breathability.
Pros: Versatile, good fit with cycling shoes.
Cons: Breathability and wicking prowess could be improved.
Thirty-five quid buys a three-layer design, available in black or grey. Subtle enough to compliment or contrast the cycling and civilian wardrobes. The inner lining (next to skin) is made from Merino wool, which bodes very well for wicking and odour management.
The outer is made from a durable nylon and serves to protect the impervious Hydrotech (PU) membrane from abrasion. Lycra runs throughout, for a snug, performance orientated fit. Elastic at the arch and a flat toe-box continue this theme and are designed to prevent bunching/hot spots. They also come with a lifetime warranty.
Their sizing guide seems accurate, so click to cart shouldn't present any surprises. I was surprised to discover these were a unisex design, but in practice, this shouldn't make any difference., if you have “regular” feet. I'm a size 9 (43) in street shoes, 10 (44) in cycling shoes, so went for the large. Essentially an "ankle" fit, these are intended to extend a few centimetres above and supposedly prevent heat build-up in the calves and lower legs. An obvious choice for cyclo cross/winter gravel duties where there's a mix of riding and running.
I've tested ours through some very changeable conditions and overall performance is above average. Some lined socks, especially those with impervious linings can be a bit hit 'n' miss with snugger fitting sportive type touring shoes but these literally slid in/out with no bunching or related discomfort.
In the saddle, with temperatures in the low teens, I only noticed the cushioned comfort and could relax and enjoy some long, mixed terrain escapes. 3/4 lengths helped but the relatively tall profiles and fabric density offered some additional protection from nettles, stones and thorns.
I was grateful for some additional warmth during March and early April too. Moisture transfer was closer to that of a traditional synthetic blend, turning faintly clammy, before kicking in, spiriting it away. Genuine leather uppers also help in this respect. Synthetics tended to remain consistently sweaty, rather than damp per se.
Things remained temperate, until the mid-twenties. At this stage, the clamminess persisted, even with leather shoes and at the close of a 70-mile ride, I really needed to bathe my feet. More so than usual, to retain good hygiene. To be fair, this wasn't any worse than some iconic, impervious brands but a consideration, if you're prone to athlete's foot/similar fungal infections.
Subtle cushioning around the heel and toe-box also helped counter fatigue, particularly around the 50-mile mark. Save for the depths of winter/expedition touring, fully impervious socks are a little OTT.
During some very wet outings, I never noticed anything creeping past the cuff-line and deliberately submerging my feet in puddles made no impression. On another occasion, I was caught by a coastal tide. Slowly but surely, they began taking on water, around the cuff line but with a decent tempo and gentle breeze, my feet were, effectively dry, given an hour.
Talking of washing, they're very straightforward to live with. Machine wash at 30/40 degrees with minimal detergent and they'll emerge smelling fresh. Ours wound up in the tumble drier (caught up in bedding) but more by luck than judgement, emerged unscathed.
£35 is very much at the upper end of this market, even allowing for merino and other sophisticated fabrics. Its comparable with Seal Skinz Waterproof All Weather Mid Length Sock, which as the title suggests, is fully impervious and being a longer may be a better choice for cooler trail duties, or those of us who default to 3/4 lengths through milder winters. Its ankle length counterpart is £5 cheaper, which might get the deciding vote.
Steve got along very well with the Dexshell Pro Visibility Waterproof Cycling Socks, which are bike specific and cost a tenner less.
By no means a poor choice, especially if you're not keen on overshoes and still want dry feet. As an option for milder winters and chilly/changeable early seasons riding, I'd take a closer look. However, there are fully impervious designs boasting similar specification and for less dough.