Gear Review: The North Face Multisport Socks

Having written one techy review after another lately, it came as something of a relief to my tired old brain when a pair of North Face’s latest sports socks dropped through the postbox at Jelly Baby Towers this week.

Surely, here at last was a low tech piece of kit that wouldn’t strain my somewhat overstretched powers of technical understanding.

No GPS. No batteries. No worries…

But then, it hit me: without a huge shopping list of high-tech wonderfulness to run through, what on earth was I going to find to say about a pair of socks?

The Fairly Impressive Technical Spec

Well, the secret of the North Face Multisports’ success, according to the blurb on the wrapper, is that they’re made from a 50/50 Merino wool and Polypropylene blend that ‘performs in a whole range of activities. It performs well, dries quickly and can take a beating.’

Well. Stone me. That means they can pretty much do everything that I can’t do personally…

And so, teaming the North Face Multisports with the recently reviewed North Face Hedgehogs, making my lower regions a symphony in tasteful black and charcoal, I parked up at the beach and headed for the (sand) hills.

First impressions, I have to say, were extremely favourable, as the clever construction of these things gives a really nice, tailored fit, especially across the top of the foot where a lot of socks tend to get wrinkled on a long, wet, muddy run.

The fact that they’re ‘quarter cut’ rather than the ultra short Thorlos crews I usually favour also gives a measure of protection to the lower ankle area that I quite liked.

The most positive effect however, was noted by the old mate I ran into down at the beach, who actually noticed that I had shunned my usual white, Thorlos mini crews in favour of the charcoal coloured and slightly longer North Face alternatives.

To offer a direct quote from him, they actually left me looking: “not quite such a Gaylord as usual.”

Kind, and indeed apposite words: which left me feeling quite braced and manly as I set off for the six miles of sand, spume and sludge offered by my favourite beach run.

The Summing Up That Admits I’ve Been Dipped in Cissy Sauce

Look, there’s only so much you can say about a pair of socks, so I won’t attempt to describe the effect that these things had on my run.

Suffice it to say that the combination of Merino wool and polypropylene creates the kind of comfort usually associated with mink-lined slippers: and while I like to think of myself as the rugged, manly, outdoorsy type, I for one could get used to such cissified levels of comfort from my running socks.

And so, I have to say that they fully deserve their 5 Jelly Baby Rating: and frankly, if you’re looking for a stocking filler for the runner in your life, at around £10.95, you could do a lot worse than the North Face Multisports.


In praise of the mighty Buff. Every runner needs one…

buffAs Winter kicks in for real across the UK, I have today entrusted my original Buff to my good lady wife for a bit of a wash, as, frankly, after a Summer’s use as a headband and wristband, mine smells pretty bad.

I first bought it a couple of years ago while we were skiing, just to keep the chill off my neck. But I soon fell in love with its versatility as a neckband, headband, skull cap, face mask and balaclava.

Just for once, here’s a product that is even better than the good-natured and fairly silly in-store video says it is. And I’m a copywriter for goodness sake. But I still spent the whole week of that holiday thinking (and probably speaking aloud) such old hat American ad-clichés as ‘I don’t know how I ever managed without one!’ and ‘It’s the best 20 dollars I’ve ever spent…’

So how much more excited was I when I realised that it was also great as a headband, sweatband and weirdo hat thing that protects your neck from the sun too? Well, very, is how.

But where the Buff really comes into its own is when Winter kicks in and I have to go out running in sub-zero temperatures along the sea wall. That’s when even if I’ve got hail and sand blowing into my face, the Buff takes care of it, by being just see-through enough to let me roll it completely over my face, while still seeing where I’m going.

OK, so one of these nights I’m probably going to be arrested for running in a full face mask and scaring the local hoodies. But more importantly, when the local fuzz run me in, I’m going to be as warm as toast.

And did I mention that a Buff also makes a handy sling for when you’ve ‘fallen down some stairs’ and even a makeshift tie for when you have a pressing appointment with the magistrates and need to look your best?

5jellybaby2Trust me, if you’re a runner, you need a Buff. And no, I haven’t been paid to say that. Yet. But if the good folks at Buff want to reward my pathetic sucking up with a new Buff, I’d like the record to show that I’m certainly not too proud to say yes.