As the cool kids say, it’s a thing. As in, wet feet are a thing, a thing you don’t want, as if its thingness was as easy to apprehend as a loaf of bread, like you could drop it in the trash or put it on a shelf. To be a cyclist who rides in places that are unpaved or simply to ride in the rain, means you have encountered wet feet. And the only thing worse than wet feet is a wet chamois, right?
Over the years I have tried all manner of booties. I’ve tried GoreTex socks. I’ve tried the latex VeloToze. They work to varying degrees and varying circumstances. None of those have been great in off-road situations. Of late, I’ve been wearing Sealskinz Waterproof Socks. Speaking of things, yeah, that’s a thing.
The problem I’ve experienced with so many solutions is that sooner or later water gets inside the bootie or your shoe and once that happens, the best you can hope for is that the water will at least be warmed by your body heat. Compounding these problems is the fact that I can’t fit booties over most of my shoes with lugged soles, and even if I could, I usually need those lugs at some point, so hiking around in booties, to use another term from the cool kids, is no bueno.
The Sealskinz MTB Thin Mid with Hydrostop is an unsual response to a common problem, but with an unfortunate name. It’s a mouthful that doesn’t mean much until you’ve really read through their site. Call it the Billy or the Runoff or something. Just give it a name and let the product description do the rest.
The MTB Thin Mid is, relative to Sealskinz, a thinner sock intended to keep your feet dry when mountain biking. Hydrostop is a gripper (not silicone) that lines the inside of the sock just below the top of the cuff. That eliminates the opportunity of water running down your leg from entering the socks. What keeps water from soaking into the sock itself is Sealskinz proprietary Stretchdry fabric which is breathable and still waterproof. Windproof, too. The sock comes to mid-calf (hence the “mid” in the name) and I can say stays put in a rowdy four-hour ride.
It features a Merino lining inside. Warmth is not an issue with this sock, though that might change if you’re wearing it down into single digits or are prone to cold feet any time it gets down to freezing. Construction on the socks is excellent; Sealskinz went to the trouble to give the toe a seamless finish to prevent chafing.
I’ve ridden through standing water, shallow streams and I’ve even stood around on wet concrete post-ride just to see if water might soak through. It didn’t. After one recent ride I contemplated leaving the socks on for the drive home because my feet were still so comfortable and wasn’t in the mood to change socks in the driver’s seat of my car.
Pulling a wet shoe off my foot and then removing the sock to encounter an essentially dry foot was surreal, like holding a chocolate bar for a half hour and it not melting.
It comes in a couple of colors, so if you’re not a fan of the olive, brown and orange, there is a black version as well.
My one caveat on these socks isn’t the $48 price tag. They do something that in some cases nothing else can accomplish and the combination of effectiveness and quality of materials and workmanship seems justified. What potential buyers need to understand is that Sealskinz’ idea of a “thin” sock is not exactly an objective measure. I suspect this sock is thinner than their other offerings, but they are the thickest socks in my drawer and I struggled to get my E-width Shimano shoes to open up enough to allow circulation in my feet. For anyone with a wide or high-volume foot, this will be a concern, but anyone who cinches their straps down to their limit, these might actually improve fit.
Final thought: Why try to waterproof a shoe when all you need is to waterproof the foot?
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