Ski touring is hard on the feet, no doubt about it. The rubbing and long days in stiff and unforgiving boots can inflict some serious pain. I have used compression socks for recovery in cycling for three years and the benefits (increased circulation, minimized stiffness and soreness) are noticeable. I have never used compression for activity but the trend is all the rage in every sport from MMA, to cycling and general cross-training.
The concept is rather simple – strategically placed compression material helps promote blood flow which lessens fatigue. Compression technology has been used to improve circulation in Diabetics for years. I have had problems with blisters ever since I started ski touring – a very narrow heel, and walking in stiff ski boots naturally causes slippage and rubbing. The most common solution is applying mole skin or Red Green’s favorite tool: duct tape. One weekend after an 8 hour day and 3 blisters the size of loonies I was put in contact with the good folks at Dissent Labs.
Dissent Labs is a Whistler based company which was formed to solve the unique challenges faced with footwear and skiing, moto and cycling. This company in a little over a year has put itself on the radar and has been able to attract some great athletes including Whistler’s own Eric Horleifson among a few others.
For the next month I set out to see if it could. I didn’t want to make it easy, so instead of using a brand new liner, I toured with my my blown-out liners (70+ days used), with so much heal rub that there are holes in the foam (hint: if you’re getting blisters, it’s a definite sign that you may need new liners)
The socks were used with resort boots and touring boots, in and out of bounds, to test the performance in all conditions. I instantly felt the compression fit, and noticed my calf taking up slightly less volume in the ski boot (compared to my regular wool socks). Surprisingly though, this didn’t create additional slippage issues while riding. For individuals that may be suffering from tight boot situations, this may be a good solution to give you an extra bit breathing room.
For a lot of people cold feet is a reality for skiing. My feet get cold mostly because I have frozen my toes more times than I can count and thus they are very susceptible to low temperatures. The second thing I noticed with these socks, were the warmth of my feet. The increased circulation was evident even in -10C temperatures. My feet were warm, but more importantly, not sweaty. For those who crank down their boots, this is an important point to observe that the sock seems to prevent that sleepy feeling and subsequent cramping in the feet.
No taping required! Dissent initially sought out to eliminate the need for duct taping and Company Owner, Josh, was like many stricken with blisters on even the easiest day. With now over 10,000 vertical meters of human powered touring with the ProTour sock, I can report that I have not had one blister. The secret to eliminating friction is combining strategically placed medical-grade compression with a proprietary Teflon-injected yarn. Essentially the sock becomes a slick version of your outer skin.
Now that the testing is over it will be a pleasure to ski with new liners for the second half of the season.
Comfort in your feet is paramount. Nothing is worse than skiing all day and having your feet stop you dead in your tracks. Funny enough, as almost all skiing outerwear and hardware has evolved at feverishness pace, the subtle products tend to get forgotten. Socks however remain one of the most important piece of equipment. If you are having blister problems give them a try. Now my biggest problem… what do I do with all those other ski socks I stopped wearing?
DissentLabs Ski Pro Fit Compression Tour Socks
If you like this review, please take a second to share it with the world!