Thick or thin or barefoot
What is your preference for hockey socks?
Guest blog by Mark Chapin of Lifetime Hockey
We all remember the stories of kids who were forced to wear skates too big for their feet, who wore several pairs of socks to make the skates fit–and keep their feet warm while skating outdoors.Today, we expect our skates to fit well and to have socks that cushion, wick and prevent chaffing. We’ll start this discussion with the premise that you have properly fitting skates (typically your skates are one to two sizes smaller than your shoe size, but proper measurement at a reputable sports shop is the key).
What socks to wear? Some players swear by going barefoot. Some like soccer socks that go up over the calf. Others tell me that they wear dress socks because they are thin and fit well. Some players claim they wear two pairs of socks on each foot.
The barefoot world is an interesting one. These folks are true believers. They don’t care that their skates reek (and their feet may slip around) and that their skates break down more quickly. They like the feel and mention that Paul Coffey, or Bobby Orr, or some other long-forgotten NHL star that didn’t wear socks either. It is a choice.
So what makes sense? The sock crowd argues that their feet feel better and that their skates are more responsive. Some say that the thinner the sock, the better the skate will feel and fit. My criteria are that my feet feel good, sweating is controlled and I don’t end up with blisters or chaffing. To be honest, I use thin silk socks from REI that are intended as the inner sock for hiking. They wick away the sweat and I don’t get blisters.
I asked Charles Pink, who manages the Hockey Giant in Bloomington, for some advice and what follows are his best pros and cons for socks made specifically for hockey skates:
Charles says that he uses a “mid-weight sock from the Elite Pro tech series, which is a compression-style sock.â€ He feels more stable in them and he has less leg/foot fatigue after playing. Charles told me that “the one thing that many hockey socks have in common is the way they are made. Both Elite and Bauer have a seamless construction on the toe area, which is more comfortable for the wearer. If you carefully look at the sock, the stitching is actually on the top by the toe knuckles. This allows a better fit and feel with the toe box area of the skate.â€
The price for the Elite ranges from about $8 to $16 per pair. Charles says that he has used three or four pair of these socks and for skating and prefers the heavier style–the pro tech series for skating–but the X700 is a great lighter alternative. Socks range from the Pro Liner, Pro Slim, X700 and ProTech lines.
Bauer has some new socks using the Core, Premium and Elite as the new models for 2012. Both the Core and Premium replace existing models (the Bauer Skate and Bauer Vapor respectively). The Core sock replaces the Skate sock and now is available in five sizes (XS-XL) versus (JR-SR) and a low or high cut. The Core sock is also made synthetic material versus cotton. This allows for better moisture and odor control. They also have what Bauer calls the “Y” construction that, like the Elite Pro Tech, provides a better fit and feel on the foot while skating.
The Premium sock replaces the Vapor sock and again is available in more sizes than its predecessor. Construction has changed in both materials and design over the Vapor. It has the same moisture and odor features as the Core sock, but also has a few key zones that aid in lace bite prevention. This sock is a mid weight and similar/maybe better than the Elite Pro Tech.
The Elite sock is new this year and has many of the features of the Premium sock. This sock is going to add Kevlar to the construction to help aid in cut prevention. As Charles points out, â€œWhy not? Common cuts can occur and this style of sock is used at higher levels of hockey and in the goalie side.â€
Reebok has a new line coming out, but the reviews are still out. Knowing Reebok, they should be as good as the Bauer line up.
Easton has three socks they offer in their hockey skate lineup: the Synergy, Stealth and the Senior Protective.
The Synergy is Easton’s lightest sock, but is heavier than the Bauer Core, This is a good hockey sock and is available in low-cut and high-cut and two sizes each for junior and senior.
The Stealth is a good sock but according to Charlie, for the money, the Bauer Premium is a better value for the same price.
The Senior Protective again offers skate cut protection like Bauer and Reebok offer; it is made in four sizes offer a better fit that most.
Other brands include Shock Doctor, CCM, Underarmor, Sockwise, and Tactics. While offering great products, these brands are not as big as the companies listed above.
Who knew that there were this many hockey specific socks to choose from? So what works for you? Do you go barefoot, or do you like any of the socks mentioned?
My guess is that everyone will have an opinion on this one and they are probably right.