Outfitted: Swiftwick Flite Trail | AspenTimes.com

Outfitted: Swiftwick Flite Trail

A technologically advanced sock

Meg Simon

Remember the wisdom of Lieutenant Dan? There’s one item of gear that can be the difference between life and death: socks. Although I’ve not heard of anyone dying in the outdoors strictly because of their socks, they sure can make a difference and socks can make or break your hiking experience. Especially on long, varied terrain, neglecting your feet gear can lead to blisters, swelling, lost toenails and just plain misery.

I’ve amassed some favorites over the years in the sock department, but I recently learned of new technology from Swiftwick that sounded intriguing. Started in 2008 by mountain bikers in Tennessee, Swiftwick set out to design high performance socks with superior fit and moisture-wicking properties. They’ve since grown a following with their state-side manufactured products that include special designs for everything from biking, running and snowsports to socks for amputees. This week Swiftwick is launching perhaps their most technically advanced sock to date, the Flite XT Trail.

The Flite XT Trail line combines natural merino wool along with GripDry Fiber to tackle the unique challenges of outdoor trail adventures. The GripDry Fiber is incorporated into the heel and forefoot and uses micro treads to provide traction and grip inside your shoe. It’s a great way to add a second layer of traction to your gait without feeling too much bulk. So far I’ve only tested these on snowshoe and local winter hikes, and the extra grip is noticeable but not invasive. I imagine they’ll be excellent for confident stepping precision and stability on those summer mountain hikes that encounter boulder fields.

To regulate moisture and odor, the Flite series incorporates a hydrophobic Olefin fiber footbed that maximizes moisture-wicking capabilities. In case you don’t know what Olefin is (I had to look it up myself,) it’s a synthetic polypropyline fabric that’s actually more sustainable than wool, cotton, silk or rayon. It has one of the lowest carbon footprints of any textile. Although this sounds super technical, it’s just an extra layer of comfy fabric on the bottom of the foot that increases the moisture wicking beyond the existing merino wool capabilities.

For extra support, AnkleLock Technology is used around the ankles by incorporating strong elastic. This feature is my one gripe about the sock. After trying out both ankle lengths available, I found the elastic to be a bit tighter than I prefer. While I appreciate the extra support, I prefer to not be aware of the tightness while I’m hiking. Maybe this will loosen up over time, but I’ll have to wait and see.

The Flite XT Trail is available in women’s and men’s two ($24) and five ($27) cuff height in gray or black. They can be found at swiftwick.com.

Hiking to blanca lake near Seattle, Washington

Meg Simon is an Aspen-based freelance writer, graphic designer and founder of Simon Finch Creative. She can be reached at meg@simonfinchcreative.com.

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