Anyone who dares hunt on foot instead of a tree stand understands the need versus the want for a quality sock. A good choice in footwear is validated with every warm, soft and even energetic step while a poor one comes with a lot more agony than just regret and can even cost you a hunt with sore feet, blisters, numbness and frostbite.
For years I wore cotton, and I thought it was as good as it could get. Sticking my feet out of the cave of my father’s socks allowed me to learn about the miracle of Merino wool. I did my first elk hunt last year and put a lot of vertical miles in near Yellowstone in Wyoming. I wore Merino wool socks and it was the most satisfying experience my feet had ever had. September in Wyoming can be anything from dry, arid soul-sucking heat to knee-deep snow and sub-zero temperatures. I drew heat and hunted in 90 degree weather logging mile after mile of rugged mountain hiking over rocks, dirt, cactus and dead falls. My shoes were tested, my clothes were tested and my socks were tested. They were magnificent. My feet wicked moisture, never got fatigued and I could securely feel each and every inch of ground beneath my feet as I trekked across 9000 feet cliffs. The Merino wool socks made cotton socks obsolete, and I thought I had found the sock I’d wear for the rest of my life. Then I met Shawn Malloy of Altera and he introduced me to the beauty of alpaca fiber and life got even better for my rifle-toting feet.
Alpaca fiber takes the very best attributes of Merino wool and gives me more of what I want. It’s warm but not stuffy. It’s cushioned but not weak and its silky smooth on my feet from the first minute I slide it onto my feet until later that night after tens of miles of hiking the rolling ranches of eastern Montana. I wore the Alpaca fiber socks during two weeks of hunting in Montana and as good as Merino wool was, and is quite frankly, Alpaca fiber socks are better especially when it comes to prolonged comfort hours into a hunt.
Technically alpaca fiber has quite a few advantages over Merino. Due to its higher tensile strength, it handles moisture better by drying faster and wicking moisture better, and it’s warmer. “Alpaca fibers have a unique hollow core, which aids in their ability to regulate temperature in both cold and hot environments, they are water resistant which helps maintain their warmth value when wet and are lighter and stronger than merino wool,” an Altera spokesman said. I also noticed while it is warmer, it also doesn’t get too warm when hiking in the hotter months allowing my feet to stay dry, cool and most importantly to me, comfortable. Even in October, the sun worked overtime this past mule deer season and testing the cold weather ability of the alpaca fiber socks didn’t happen until months later back in Virginia, and for the record, they’re as warm as I need them to be.
If you like Merino wool socks, you owe it to your feet to at least try alpaca fiber socks. Just be ready to throw your Merino wool socks in the same yard sale pile as your ancient cotton socks because alpaca will cause Merino amnesia.
For more information about Altera Alpaca fiber socks visit their website www.alteraalpaca.com or call Shawn at 859-481-8810.
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by James Pinsky