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.

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Dyslexic nymphomaniac seeks socks…

Oh give me a break, it isn’t easy trying to write an interesting headline about socks that still makes sense.

In fact, if I’m honest, it isn’t all that easy writing an interesting article about socks, full stop. Or period, if you’re joining us from the USA. Socks, I’m afraid, just aren’t that fascinating.

But I want to write about socks tonight and dammit, I’m going to. And that’s because I’ve had three emails this week on the subject. Not to mention all of the disbelieving conversations I’ve had with my good lady wife that started with: “So you need another £10 pair of socks because…?”

The fact is, that if you’re even vaguely serious about running, right after you buy your first pair of decent performance running shoes, you need to get yourself a couple of pairs of ‘technical’ running socks. My own favourites are Thorlos running lights, which you’ll see pictured above; though I have been know to flirt with x-socks for half marathon use, which also cost around £10 a pair.

I’ve covered several thousand miles in these things over the last few years, and not once in all that time have I had a blister. And that’s because they offer fantastic cushioning underfoot and a seam-free construction to ensure that as long as your running shoes are big enough, there’s absolutely nothing to aggravate your feet.

They’re made from wicking fabric to keep your feet as dry as possible, with cushioning around the toes and underfoot to minimise impact, seam-free construction, and of course a flat knit underfoot to avoid any kind of friction between sock and foot. In short, next to my running shoes, they’re the most essential part of my running kit.

So it’s an enduring mystery to me why I still see so many people out running in tennis socks or football socks. They offer absolutely none of the technical advantages of running socks, except perhaps for a sporty logo: and contrary to popular belief, neither the three stripes of Adidas nor the Nike swoosh on your socks will offer your feet any meaningful protection against road miles.

White socks are fine for spotty shop assistants. But if you’re a runner, for goodness sake, splash out on some proper running socks.