Foulie Gear for Your Feet: Socks from SealSkinz

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In our continuing effort to stay warm and dry this winter, testers took a look at a few pairs of waterproof socks from SealSkinz, the maker of cold-weather gloves recommended in the November 2008 issue.

Protecting feet from the elements typically involves trudging on deck in a pair of clunky, heavy boots. Waterproof socks, however, mean you can stick to your favorite deck shoes-or sandals for that matter-and still have your feet warm and dry.

SealSkinz WaterBlockers

Testers tried out two styles of SealSkinz waterproof socks (all-season and over-the-calf lengths) as well as the companys WaterBlocker sock. The SealSkinz socks have three layers: A nylon/Lycra spandex outer layer offers durability and flexibility, while the inner layer is knit from a wicking material, and the mid-layer is a Moisture Vapor Transportation membrane designed to keep water out. The WaterBlockers have the same weight, construction, and materials as the other socks, but they have the added benefit of an in-cuff seal intended to keep water out.

We wore each pair during a variety of activities-running, sailing, kayaking, and even in the pool-and found them to be very comfortable. All kept our feet dry from splashes and spray. Testers tootsies were even still dry after five minutes of wading in ankle-deep water. However, they didn't fare as well in knee-deep water.

The Sealskinz became soaked through once they were submerged. The WaterBlockers, designed to be completely submersible, also allowed some water to seep in. The seal held for about 60 seconds, then water began to leak in at the cuff.

The inner layer is designed to wick away moisture, but after a four-mile run in one SealSkinz sock, the testers foot was soaked. For comparison, her other foot was clad in a cotton ankle sock, and it was barely damp.

Both the SealSkinz and WaterBlockers can handle spray, rain, and deckwash. We don’t recommend these for trekking through deep water, but they will suffice for wet cockpits and ankle-deep wading.

These socks are a good addition to any foulie kit. Wear them as a boot liner in extreme conditions or with deckshoes in temperate climates to skirt the hassle of wearing boots. Expensive as socks go (Sealskinz, $35, and WaterBlocker, $42, www.rei.com), they are moderately priced for foul-weather gear.

Also with this article...
Darrell Nicholson, editor of Practical Sailor, grew up boating on Miami’s Biscayne Bay on everything from prams to Morgan ketches. Two years out of Emory University, after a brief stint as a sportswriter, he set out from Miami aboard a 60-year-old wooden William Atkin ketch named Tosca. For 10 years, he and writer-photographer Theresa Gibbons explored the Caribbean, crossed the Pacific, and cruised Southeast Asia aboard Tosca, working along the way as journalists and documenting their adventures for various travel and sailing publications, including Cruising World, Sail, Sailing, Cruising Helmsman, and Sailing World. Upon his return to land life, Darrell became the associate editor, then senior editor at Cruising World magazine, where he worked for five years. Before taking on the editor’s position at Practical Sailor, Darrell was the editor of Offshore magazine, a boating-lifestyle magazine serving the New England area. Darrell has won multiple awards from Boating Writer’s International, including the Monk Farnham award for editorial excellence. He holds a U.S. Coast Guard 100-ton Master license and has worked as a harbor pilot and skippered a variety of commercial charter boats.

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