These socks are made in America. And like their country of birth, they’re powerful as hell. Managing editor Vince Hempsall explains why.
Founded in 2013 by North Carolina-based Nester Hosiery, the Farm to Feet brand exclusively features wool socks made with American materials by American workers. Which is a pretty impressive thing in our current age of globalism. This all-American recipe means less shipping is required to get products to distribution channels, which is a boon for the environment, and the company gets to slap “100% Made in the USA” all over its packaging and marketing materials. It also gets to showcase individuals who make up the Farm to Feet supply chain on its packaging – people such as Ken and Deloris Shumate who work together to produce Farm to Feet socks in Mount Airy, NC. When they’re not fishing, that is. When was the last time you knew the hobbies of the people who created your socks?
Snapshot: Farm To Feet Merino Socks
- Pros: These socks are comfortable, tough, warm, and breathe really well.
- Cons: They ain’t cheap.
- Price: US$18 to $30 for one pair of technical socks.
- Who Should Buy: Hikers, skiers, runners, hunters, mountain bikers…everyone who’s into the outdoors.
- Who Shouldn’t Buy: High-heeled urbanites.
- Helpful Hack: Throwing your merino socks in the dryer lessens their lifespan. Hang them to dry.
- Author’s overall rating: 8.5/10
I’m a sock snob. In fact, mass-produced cotton tubes have not touched my tootsies since 1989. That was the year Bill and Ted’s Excellent Adventure came out and after seeing it I resolved to only wear the chunky, itchy, hot, woollen offerings sported by Keanu Reeves’s character because, well, I was a stupid teenager. Thankfully, the introduction of merino wool to the mass market in the 1990s changed all that. No longer would I look like the world’s worst athlete’s foot victim scratching away at my wool-ensconced feet because merino wool doesn’t itch! It does have all the other great properties of wool, though: it has excellent absorption capabilities; it’s naturally antibacterial making it odour-resistant; it’s an excellent insulator and stays warm even when wet; and it dries quickly. The best part, though, is it’s ridiculously soft!
Since merino wool socks have come out, I’ve stuck to three main brands but when I heard about Farm to Feet, I reached out and asked to give them a try. I was not disappointed. In the past five months I’ve worn the Farm to Feet technical socks while mountain biking, hiking, alpine climbing, camping, rock climbing, attending business meetings and chasing my one-year-old around. I’m not embarrassed to say there were multiple days in a row when I used the same dirty pair because…did you read that last sentence about my one-year-old? Who has time for laundry!?
I was given a few different styles of the Farm to Feet socks to review but for the purpose of this article I’m going to concentrate on the technical series because those are the ones that I really put through the paces. And I can honestly say these are some seriously powerful socks! My first foray in them involved a two-hour hike into the Valhalla Mountain Range, scrambling to the top of a peak, rappelling down the face to suss out a new climbing line and then projecting the route. All while a cold wind blew through the col. But my feet stayed toasty. We then hiked out and after examining the socks that night, they looked and smelled like I had just pulled them from the package. In another instance, a pair went with me on a week-long road trip to Hood River and Smith Rocks and I rarely took them off. It was below freezing at night and we were in a tent so I slept in the same pair that I went biking, hiking and rock climbing in. Not only did they perform well during the daytime activities, they kept me warm in the sleeping bag at night and, even after one week of solid use, they never stank! But we’ve already covered the benefits of merino wool above. Let’s look at the intricate construction of these socks because this is where their true power lies. Here’s a list:
- A flat, seamless toe reduces bulking in the toe box
- Top of the foot cushioning and ventilation
- Circumferential ventilation channels
- Terry loop cushioning in heel and ball of foot
- Impact zone reinforcement
On top of all that, the socks incorporate lycra and nylon with the merino wool to ensure comfortable compression. In other words, they don’t sag. At this point you might be thinking, “But they’re just socks” so let me ask you this: what other item of your daily clothing gets punched 10,000 times a day? That’s essentially what you’re doing every time you take a step: your heel punches into your sock, followed by the ball of your foot and then your toes. Considering they’re the only daily attire that takes that amount of abuse, they deserve to be designed well with good-quality materials. And that is exactly what Farm To Feet has done. These socks are powerfully built yet wonderfully comfortable. They’re just as perfect for your business meetings in air-conditioned offices as they are for your long hikes in the sweltering sun. My only complaint involves the “Raleigh” model, which is the company’s low-cut sport sock, because the fabric started to pill after only about a month. The other models held up and continue to do so though. If buying American is important to you, I recommend these socks. And if having super comfortable feet wrapped in a powerfully tough merino blanket sounds appealing, I also recommend Farm to Feet.
Farm To Feet Merino Socks – The Deets
- MSRP: US$16 – $30
- Available in Men’s, Women’s and Kid sizes.
- There are approximately 80 different styles on offer in a range of colours.
- Classifications include: trail, snow sports, hunt/fish, tactical, sport and everyday.
- For more information: farmtofeet.com.