Fi’zi:k Winter Cycling Socks
38g M-L (41-44) White £17.99
The Fi’zi:k Winter Cycling Socks aim to do just what one is led to expect. My experience of other Fi’zi:k products would lead me to expect them to do it well. I have not been disappointed on any count.
Pros: great fit, tactile, do the job, dry quickly.
Cons: only one colour choice.
Spec and materials
The Fi’zi:k Winter Cycling Socks are calf-length (15cms) with a number of neat features which, for those familiar with the brand, you will have come to expect. The first thing I noticed was the smooth fabric. Tactility is further enhanced by the seamless construction - well, there are seams, but the only noticeable one is on the end of the toes and part of the anatomic design. There’s another on the hem, which is elasticated.
You’ll feel the reinforced thickness stretching from the boxed toe across the sole to the boxed heel. The upper is less thick, but equally tactile. There are ribbed sections on the ankle-calf and around the arch and mid-foot which compress the fleshier parts of the foot.
The Fi’zi:k logo is to be found on the toe top and the calf.
A blend of 4% Lycra, 37% Nylon, and 59% Q-Skin. Were all familiar with Nylon and Lycra which should provide suitable stretchiness, but maybe less familiar with Q-Skin. This is a highly breathable polyamide microfibre with silver ions inserted during weaving. This should keep your socks odour free. That’ll continue to be the case even after repeated washing. It’s a combination of fabrics which should also be quick drying. Fi’zi:k claim that the blend and structure also keeps you feet warm whilst managing in-shoe climate and avoids bulky fabrics to keep the winter chill out. Breathability should be increased by “ultra-breathable, ultra-light” bands on the shin and top of the toes.
Size and fit 4/5
Ours were the M/L size which cover the EU 41-44, UK 7.25-9.75 range. My feet come in at the top of that, but there’s no sign that the socks are overstretched in any way, quite the opposite, they feel roomy and comfortable. That’s a contrast to some summer cycling specific socks I’ve used, but you’d want that, given the season they are designed for. The sizing guide seems like a very safe bet.
They are also available in XS/S (EU 36-40 UK 4.5/6.5) and XL/XXL (EU 45-48 UK 10.5-12.75). There’s only one colour available.
Care and durability 3.75/5
Whilst the Q-Skin should take care of odours for a while, dirt and water will get in and you’ll need to wash them. I have found no specific washing or care instructions that I could find. Generally, I tend to treat quality technical gear with kid gloves. In this case a 30C wash with normal laundry detergent seemed to get things really clean. Even better, with a spin, they emerged nearly dry. A couple of hours on the indoor airer, with no additional heat, and things were ready to go. Drying took longer after a hand-wash – as you might if things got soaked during a winter tour. Even after a good ringing out, you are thinking several hours. Either remember your overshoes or just let them dry dirty if you need things quickly.
Personally, I’d like a colour option that might hide dirt a little.
Just remember winter means different things to different people: the UK is not Green Bay! These have been tested in the UK at temperatures ranging from 0C to 14C.
Pull you socks up and the thicker fabric the cradles the lower foot is immediately felt in contrast to the thinner, faster wicking fabric above and on the lower shin. Although not especially thick, I found it was more comfortable to loosen the laces and Velcro tabs om my cycling shoes a touch. That may well be a personal thing.
Heavy showers and sunny intervals with the temperature fluctuating from 7C-12C. That should be a tad warm for winter socks, but I never felt uncomfortably warm. Then the temperature dropped and some frosty mornings at 0-2C let them prove their worth. Given the light-weight materials and construction, I was quite surprised that my feet felt perfectly snug after two hours.
I have worn these now for four hundred miles of cycling, eighty hours around the day-job office, at home, and under walking socks for a couple of hikes in the Peak District. I’d hoped to get a bit of a stink going, but I’ve failed. These seem like bunk-house-friendly socks – even the wife has noticed when overnighting in the campervan that something is missing – the scent of dirty socks.
When soaked by heavy rain and road spray – yep, I forgot the overshoes – do not expect things to dry speedily inside your wet shoes. As the temperature fell after the rain, toes did start to feel the chill a bit more. You’d expect that from any sock, although merino performs well in conditions that are both wet and cold, in my experience.
The socks maintain their shape and snug fit after washing.
Cold feet can be a ride spoiler, and over-stuffing you shoes with layers can make things pretty uncomfortable. An obvious candidate is merino, or often a merino blend. There are lots on offer, for example, from Pearl Izumi (£20 plus), Endura (£18), and Decathlon (less than £10). Blends vary, as does support and reinforcement. Price is often a fair indicator, but there are bargains about.
Michael liked the Follow Hollow Alpaca socks.
Le Col offer wool cycling socks at twenty pounds or less. This is a competitive field. There are plenty of very good non-cycling specific socks that serve well.
On the synthetic front Michael tested the Prendas Ciclismo Coolmax Winter socks, feeling that they did well for synthetics but did not match the various natural-synthetic blends.
Over all, I have become very fond of the Fizik winter Socks and feel they represent very good value for money for all kinds of cycling – especially if you remember the overshoes - and they are equally nice off the bike.
Whilst I’d go for a natural-synthetic blend in really cold and wet conditions, the Fizik Winter Socks score well on keeping the foot warm, on padding and reinforcement, wicking, odour control, and ease of care. Durability looks good, and although there are cheaper alternatives, these are very much worth a look for winter day rides or multi-day rides in the chillier months.