CHAPEAU WINTER WOOL SOCKS
41g 44-47 Mixed Pattern Tall Haldon £11.99
Chapeau produce top-end cycling gear, so I expected a lot, even form the potentially plain old sock. Wool rich, stretchy, natty, they meet their design brief very well, and offer all ‘types’ of cyclist a lot.
Pros: Very well-made and adaptable to the seasons.
Cons: Need an ally on really cold days (which I’d expect), vulnerable to ‘nicking’ by non-cyclists.
I suppose a half-calf length sock is the way to describe Chapeau’s Winter Wool Socks – longer than the summer siblings. In seasonal context, it’s worth pointing out that wool generally offers good temperature control whilst holding warmth when wet: in climates like the UK, they may not be disappearing to the bottom of the draw at the end of spring.
Of course, they are really a wool blend. The other 35% is there to keep the shape, pad the sole, and allow a comfortably snug elasticity. Box toe and heel, calf-grip elasticated top, along with anti-odour properties and moisture wicking, these have all the basics covered and more.
Designs are natty without be garish, in my humble opinion. The sort of thing that you, or your beloved, will not feel out of place in away from the bike.
Also available in 40-42.
Size and fit 3.75/5
I went for a larger size than usual. Even so, they fit very comfortably, with just the right combination of stretch ‘n’ hold to stay in place without threatening the circulation of the
blood. I usually go usually take a 9.5 UK shoe size, putting me on the cusp of the sizing chart. My impression is that I could have got away with the smaller size, but am very happy with the larger. These are very stretchy wool socks, indeed. This puts them in good stead with Chapeau’s Tempo Bib Tights, or others without a stirrup.
Putting them through their paces throughout autumn, has given a decent test; from freezing icy mornings to mild mini-monsoon.
Nice and warm at 10C, in approach-type Shimano SPD shoes, when very wet, at 8C, they did not feel cold until off the bike, but on wet or very cold days I’d consider bootees or overshoes or even just go the waterproof sock route, for example Dex Shells Pro Visibility. On that front. The wool rich blend keeps things fresh and comfortable in combination with additional socks, overshoes, and so on.
After forty-five minutes, in non-waterproof shoes, splashing through lots of surface water in steady rain, they were, as you’d expect soaked. Three hours later they were dry enough to go again. Add a little warmth from the radiator cut this shorter, but do not overdo.
Mind you, in the dry, you get the natural temperature control of wool. As things warm up, wicking properties spring quietly into action. I’ve noticed no clammy sweatiness, provided shoes allow a little breath of fresh air. On that front, I’ve been able to wear them day-after-day with no nasty niffs, hence touring potential.
Box-heeled-and-toed beautifully around the foot, they’ve stayed equally beautifully wrinkle-free both on and off the bike. On that front, I've not noticed the seams.
The padded sole is unobtrusive, but still adds something to the inner sole and sole of your shoe. I’ve noticed this most when wearing my old-fashioned, trad leather touring shoes – very little in padding – rather than with the thicker in-sole of the Shimano MTB SPDs. Even so, potential hot-spots have remained cool on rides of five to sixty miles. True, not just a matter of socks, but I see no reason why they should not go further.
I have a personal perception that longer socks generally hold up better than real ‘shorties’, Chapeau’s Wool Socks certainly did nothing to undermine my theory. Could be that I have unusually slim ankles …. or fat calves … but there’s plenty of elasticity here to avoid having to pull your socks up.
30C wash is pretty mainstream. Fortunately, the Tempo Bib-Tights and Club Thermal Jersey wash pretty well at this temperature, too. Emerging from a spin-cycle pretty much dry, a short airing finished the job. Despite being wool rich, I’ve found no need to shape. Mind, I’ve not needed to wash them too often either, due to the odour control and strong wicking.
Wool is a remarkably adaptable material. Many cyclists like merino, or merino blends, such as the Challenge Ride Sock, from Polaris. RRP is higher than Chapeau’s plain wool, but it offers many common features. Note, too, that not all 'merino' blends are equal.
Other non-cycle specific merino blends from Smartwool have functioned very well off the bike as well as on it, but are
generally significantly more expensive. More recently, we have the advent of Alpaca wool, as with Follow Hollow’s Alpaca socks. These are Jacks-of-all-Trades, pricier, very effective.
Many will look for combinations of sock and/or, shoe, over-shoe, over-sock, bootie, to deal with winter conditions. In that context Chapeau’s slim fit wool rich sock, scores well.
There are a lot of socks in the sock-drawer. Chapeau’s are ideal for late autumn, early spring, and as part of combined operations on the very cold front. Summer touring and all-year day riding are, I think, also their natural habitat – that, and stretching your legs in front of the fire or relaxing at the work desk. They are a good all-round bet, but keep them away from those with a lax attitude to domestic sock-ownership.