The Sealskinz Waterproof All Weather Ankle Length Sock with Hydrostop do a good job at keeping light spray out and fending off the wind, but struggle to stand up to a proper deluge. Their price makes it difficult to justify purchasing them above just getting a set of overshoes.
Not very breathable
Water can pool inside the sock
Sealskinz is a British brand that has been battling the elements for the past 25 years with a wide range of waterproof clothing. Socks present a somewhat unique challenge; not only does a balance have to be struck between water resistance and breathability, but also something has to be done to stop the water getting in from the top and pooling around your toes.
These cycling socks (opens in new tab) do a commendable job at a challenging task, but unfortunately, they are not entirely effective.
To provide waterproof properties—without making you feel like you’ve just popped some plastic bags on your feet—Sealskinz has utilised a three-layer construction in these socks.
The outer layer is a nylon-elastane blend that is said to provide the sock with durability. The middle layer is a hyrdophilic membrane that’s naturally waterproof, so it won’t need reproofing and shouldn’t degrade in washes. The inner layer is a merino blend, intended to feel comfortable against your skin and provide a little warmth.
A silicon gripper—similar to what you’ll find on the hem of many cycling jerseys—is designed to keep the sock snuggly sealed against your leg and to prevent any water coming in from the top.
The neon yellow highlights of the sock are a welcome inclusion for increasing visibility—a particular benefit as these socks will mostly be used in foul weather. That said, very often they will be hidden under bib tights or legwarmers, which somewhat mutes the effect. But if you prefer a stealthier look, they are also available in grey.
Although Sealskinz makes bold claims that these socks are supposed to feel like any normal sock, this really wasn’t my experience.
The socks really aren’t very stretchy at all, so getting the sizing spot on is important or you will end up with too baggy a sock or too tight. Fortunately, Sealskinz’s size guide seems pretty well calibrated and the recommended size large fitted the length and width of my feet well.
However, the cuffs were a little large for my ankles, leaving a visible gap. Given how water coming in from the top is one of the biggest issues for a waterproof sock, this was not exactly encouraging. Admittedly I do have fairly slim ankles, but they aren’t that much smaller than average, so definitely something to be aware of if you sit on that end of the scale.
On the other hand, the height of the cuff is pretty spot on for my personal aesthetics. However, going for the longer length version could be a better decision for reducing the chance of water coming in from the top.
Despite the inner layer of the socks being a merino blend, putting on the socks still leaves you with that crinkly sensation reminiscent of a plastic bag. It’s not a deal braker, but it certainly is not akin to wearing a normal sock. The silicon gripper in the cuff felt fine against my skin and was unnoticeable while riding.
In terms of bulk, these take up significantly more volume than a standard pair of winter cycling socks, being most comparable to a set of old fashioned hiking socks. If your cycling shoes (opens in new tab) are already on the tight side, there is a fair chance you wouldn’t be able to fit your feet in them while wearing these socks.
When out riding in the pouring rain, my feet did get wet. This shouldn’t have been down to the gappy ankle letting the water run down, as I was wearing some wet weather legwarmers over the top, creating a kind of labyrinth seal. I would put it down to the outer material soaking up the water and by some form of capillary action, water getting through the membrane. But however the water got in, it pooled around my toes and created a kind of chilly bath.
On the bright side, I very much appreciated the windproof qualities of the sock, which enabled me to wear my summer shoes on cooler days than I would otherwise be able to get away with. They also did a good job at keeping my feet dry from road spray on mornings when overnight rain had left the roads slick with water.
Sealskinz claim that the socks are built for comfort and blister protection and, although they may be bulky and feel a little different to normal socks, I didn’t suffer from any hotspots or blisters—even on rides nudging four hours.
Breathability has been somewhat sacrificed in these socks. Going out on a cool—but dry—day, my feet were left quite clammy by the end of the ride.
At £32.50 these are boarding on the price of a set of overshoes. For example, the Dexshell Heavy Duty overshoes (opens in new tab) are £35 and impressed us enough to gain a 10/10 on test.
If the goal is keeping your feet warm and dry in deluge, these socks don’t compare particularly favourably with overshoes. If you're after extra protection from light rain or road spray, they're a solid choice - though overshoes could meet both needs.
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