Rocky Gore-Tex Socks, as the tagline goes, are “Guaranteed to Keep You Dry”, and they do. These socks were a pleasant surprise in our Lightweight Footwear Systems for Snow Travel project (to be published soon). For snow hiking and snowshoeing, we wore them over wool socks in lightweight, non-waterproof, highly breathable trail running shoes, and they worked!
The Rocky Gore-Tex Socks are a three-layer construction (face fabric, membrane, lining). All seams are taped. The fabric on the top of the foot has a horizontal stretch.
Normally, Gore-Tex shoes and boots have limited breathability because the Gore-Tex WP/B liner is buried under several layers of leather and/or fabric. Rather, the membrane tends to act more like a vapor barrier and hold moisture in. The result is damp socks and the shoes are slow to dry out.
However, we found that wearing Gore-Tex socks inside breathable mesh shoes isn’t anything like that – they breathe! The reason is apparently the combination of: 1) a strong humidity gradient from the inside out, 2) a pumping action created by walking, and 3) mesh shoes that allow the moisture to escape. Obviously, we’re pleased with these socks.
The Rocky Gore-Tex Sock is designed to be worn over a hiking sock, and needs to be sized for a comfortable fit in that configuration. In this photo, the 11 inch high sock is worn over a wool sock plus a liner sock.
These socks are tailored for a trim fit and are left and right foot specific, which is labeled on each sock. There are two types of fabric on the outside, a durable tightly-woven nylon on the sides and bottom, and a horizontal stretch fabric on the front and top. Depending on sizing and the shape of your foot, the socks can be a bit snug to get on. On us, they were too tight in the instep area. Rocky cautions about jerking them or pulling too hard because it can damage the membrane, causing the socks to leak.
They are designed to be worn over a hiking sock, and come only in full men’s sizes. So it’s important to choose the right size. Men should order their normal shoe size, and for half sizes order the next larger size. Women should order 1 size smaller than their normal shoe size, and for half sizes order the next size larger.
We wore the Rocky Gore-Tex Socks in non-waterproof trail runners (shown without a gaiter for the photo) for snow hiking and snowshoeing in temperatures down to about 20 °F. Our shoes got thoroughly wet but we hardly knew it because our feet stayed dry and warm. When we weighed our socks at home, there was little or no moisture in them. We were impressed!
Because of the timing of our project, we were unable to test the Gore-Tex socks long-term or in wet hiking conditions, such as summer in the mountains. To provide some information on those factors, we consulted with our friend Don “Photon” Johnston, who has used Gore-Tex socks in mesh shoes for several years. Don’s response: “I only wear the Gore-Tex socks when the conditions warrant, particularly in the rain in my Salomon Tech Amphibians. They are useless if you can’t keep water from entering in the top because you will suspect they leak when they don’t. I have only used them in snow with mesh shoes on one trip and they were fine for the warmer end of winter conditions but at 10 °F you can’t be inactive or you will get cold toes. They are definitely a good three season combo. They do not breathe well enough for warm summer conditions so I can only use them in cooler conditions. That seems to work out ok because when it’s warm I can let my feet get wet. I wash them after each trip, and check periodically to see if they are still waterproof by filling them with water and kneading them. I have used these socks off and on for 5 years, and they are holding up well.”
Overall, we are pleased to find a product that really works, and we foresee these socks getting a lot of use.
Features and Specifications
- Manufacturer: Rocky Outdoor Gear (www.rockyboots.com)
- Product: Rocky Gore-Tex Sock (11-inch high sock tested)
- Sizes: 5-14, men’s full sizes only; two lengths (11 in and 13 in tall)
- Fabrics: Side and bottom are three-layer Goretex taslite, front and top of foot is three-layer Goretex stretch
- Features: Three-layer Gore-Tex, tailored for a trim fit
- Weight: Measured weight for size 11 is 2.7 oz/pair (77 g), size 5 is 2.3 oz/pair (65 g); manufacturer specification n/a
- MSRP: $56.99 for the 11 in tall sock, $60.99 for the 13 in tall sock