Sunday, March 12, 2017

Hilly Socks: Spring Review

If you haven’t heard about Hilly Socks, no worries. I myself didn’t hear about them until recently upon browsing the web. I always get excited to test out new brands (or brands that I never heard of) coz more often than not, these brands are equally good or sometimes even better than those big competitors.

To give you a brief background, Hilly Socks is a company based in UK that was founded in 1992 by Dr. Ron Hill M.B.E. Ron himself is a highly-decorated runner, a former European and Commonwealth marathon champion. With his extensive knowledge and after receiving his PhD in Textile Chemistry, Ron decided to develop range of technical performance running socks…the goal is to create the finest and most comfortable socks in the world. That’s it…the rest is history!

You might be wondering what so special about it…it’s just a sock, right? Well, not really. Aside from a toesock (like Injinji) that specifically fit left and right foot, do you have any regular socks that are made like that? That’s where Hilly socks differ from the rest. Their socks look like the ordinary but it’s more than that. It is specifically made and designed anatomically to be worn left and right specific. Not only that, the technologies embedded in their socks are one of a kind, check it out and see for yourself.

Hilly Socks have different ranges of socks that will suit your needs so you can perform better:
Urban: Designed for comfort and refined performance. Whether it’s gym, running, cycling, long distance, cross fit or marathon.
Trail: Created to absorb the impact and uneven terrain of the trails.
Night: Ideal for night running. High visibility socks consisting of fluorescent colors, reflective yarns and mid-level cushioning.
Compression: Helps improve blood flow to flush out lactic acid during and after training or racing.

The range is also split into two more categories, Mono Skin and Twin Skin. As the term implies, the Mono Skin is a single layer while the Twin Skin is a double layer material.

Cushion Socklet ($12.95)

·      86% Polyster (Coolmax Extreme Performance)

·      12% Polyamide
·      2% Elastane (Lycra Sport)

·      Total cushioning
·      Wicking Coolmax yarns prevents blisters
·      Ventflex panels for improved breathability
·      Arch grip and “Y” heel for optimum fit
·      Flat toe seam

Recommended for
·      High impact sports like racquet sports and running

Fit and Performance
The fit is very moderate they’re very comfortable. Truly designed to handle the impact of road running.

The first thing that I noticed is how thick the Cushion Socklet is. Despite being on the Mono Skin category, it has a generous amount of fabric on the sole. The Hilly Socks are anatomically designed to be worn left and right so pay close attention to the “L” and “R” markings. It has a moderate fit but stretchy enough to give my toes freedom to splay and not constricted like a wrap burrito. If you’re new to running and still experience the dreaded blister then you’ll find this sock very comforting since the inside is seamless which prevents any protruding fabric to rub against the skin. The elasticity on arch section gives enough support and proper fit which also helps in keeping the socks in place. The socks are highly cushioned on the heel, toes and forefoot area to give you the extra protection you need from hard impact and longer runs. I’ve worn this for several hours during my training runs and the sock has a good breathability, thanks to the Coolmax technology that prevents any heat from forming and moves the moisture away from the body giving me a more comfortable run.

TwinSkin Anklet ($12.95)

·      58% Polyamide (Nylon)
·      19% Polyamide (Meryl Sport)
·      15% Polyester
·      4% Cotton
·      4% Elastane

·      25% improved drying rate
·      Double layer construction
·      Absorbs friction
·      Enhanced moisture transfer from foot to outer surface
·      Durable heel and Toe box fabric
·      Vented upper and arch grip
·      New vented inner sock

Recommended for
·      For all marathons and beyond

Fit and Performance
As the name implies, the TwinSkin Anklet falls in the Twin Skin category which means it has two layers of fabric sewn together to create a “very secured fit and well-padded sock” all throughout its entire area. The fact that you’re almost putting two socks together, the fit is obviously tighter than the Mono Skin socks but on the tolerable side.

The TwinSkin falls under the Urban category and is Hilly’s “ultimate anti-blister sock” – just what I need! I tested this on my 15-mile run with a temperature just below 60F and never did I experience hot spots or tenderness on any part of my feet. The socks feel light and there’s no movement or rubbing of the two layered fabrics against my feet. I never once felt the sock bunching down, slipping down or up my shoes which is a good thing. The inner fabric has a silky feeling which I found to be excellent in managing the heat, friction and moisture that is the potential causes of blisters. I tested this sock during winter and no complains at all, I’m just not sure how will this perform in warmer temperature.

Marathon Fresh Anklet ($12.95)

·      97% Polyamide
·      3% Elastane (Lycra sport)

·      Polygiene- permanent odor control
·      Mid-level anatomical cushioning in key pressure zones for optimum comfort
·      Upper foot venting
·      Under toes seamless construction

Recommended for
·      Superb running sock for all distances from 5k to marathon

Fit and Performance
The fit is really secured and very comfortable. Truly designed to handle the impact of long distance running. This sock falls under the Mono Skin, a single layer of fabric where most padding is located and structured on heels and forefoot for optimum comfort. The inside has a seamless construction and doesn’t rub against the skin.

When it comes to performance, the Marathon Fresh Anklet did pretty good on my 10-mile jaunt and never caused me any discomfort at all. The padding may not be as generous as the Cushion Socklet but decent enough to protect my sole from the impact. The material has a good breathability that lets the foot breath and wicks moisture out away from the body. Like the two previous socks, this also has a seamless construction which prevents blister. We all know that smell after the run, some are tolerable and some are not. This sock is equipped with Polygiene technology to keep the feet fresh. I’m just not sure how long the Polygiene will last as the effectiveness might decrease from constant washing.

Lumen Classic ($19.95)

·      97% Polyamide
·      3% Elastane (Lycra sport)

·      360 degree 3M reflectivity & fluorescent color for night time visibility
·      Zoned open knit structure for improved breathability
·      Mid-level anatomical cushioning
·      Under toe seamless construction

Recommended for
·      Night time running (cycling) and low light visibility condition

Fit and Performance
The fit is next to none…it wraps my foot evenly without any unusual feeling and it delivers a decent amount of compression where it’s needed.

I tested the Lumen Classic on my training runs and on cycling (after work) and I got to say that I was really impress with its performance. It did what they claim it can do: the vented panels for breathability located on the forefoot eliminates the possibility of hot spots and it wicks moisture fast away from my foot. The socks sit just below my calves and it has a decent amount of compression to hold it in place and never did it bunch down. I really appreciate the generous amount of reflective materials around the perimeter of the socks and it made me even more visible to motorists as the sun sets on me.

Vivid Compression Sock ($39.95)

·      64% Polyamide
·      31% Polyester (Coolmax)
·      5% Elastane (Lycra sport)

·      Bright fluorescent colors
·      Graduated compression in leg
·      Mid-level cushioning
·      Vented upper

Recommended for
·      Night time running and low light visibility condition
·      Added support and compression

Fit and Performance
There are so many compression socks in today’s market and I could probably bet that every single athlete owns one. The perceived benefit of a compression sock is that it compresses the veins, arteries and muscles making the circulatory channels smaller pushing the blood to travel faster back to the heart, thus supplying our muscles more oxygen. If this is your first time donning a compression sock, you might need a little muscle to get it on. It might be challenging at the beginning but you’ll eventually get the hang of it.

The Vivid Compression Sock has a graduated compression, meaning that it is looser on the calf and it gets tighter near the ankle (but not to the point that it’s constricting) and as it goes down to the foot. It has enough padding at the bottom that provides the extra cushion. I didn’t experience any hot spots, blisters or overheating during my test runs and never did I adjust them, it literally stayed in place and the breathability is next to none. It provided a good support and it minimized the jarring of my calf muscles which helps lessen the fatigue from the hours of pounding the road. Great thing about this is you are more visible to motorists, cyclists and pedestrians and let them aware of your presence. Safety is one aspects of being healthy and I applaud Hilly for incorporating this innovation.

My Verdict:
You could probably say the Hilly Socks is still a young company and haven’t had such many accolades yet under its belt, but one thing I can guarantee you is the QUALITY, CRAFTSMANSHIP and TECHNOLOGY they put into their socks. I found their socks highly comfortable and non-abrasive to my feet. It highly exceeded my expectations and I recommend that you give them a try, but don’t just take my word for it…see for yourself and feel the difference it can make on your feet.

Thanks again for reading and feel free to post below if you have any comments. 

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