Gear Review – Swiftwick Aspire

We kick off this week with a simple sock review from Swiftwick with views from two of our Ultra168 Supporters, Karin Burgess and Glen Smetherham – we wanted to get the male and female perspective on these socks to give our readers the low-down as to whether they’re any good or not. As part of being a supporter, we send out gear for our reviewers to test and keep, just one of the perks of being a Supporter. These are completely unedited (bar the odd spelling or grammar), and are as told by these two.

First up are Karin’s thoughts

Initial impressions: Hot pink?!? These certainly won’t get mixed up with my husband’s socks (they come in 11 different colours). I like the low-cut, but they’re still high enough to prevent the shoe from rubbing. The socks feel lightweight and durable – made in the US, apparently knitted with 200 needles making them the highest density available in socks.Screen Shot 2015-10-26 at 9.29.02 AM

First feel: ‘Like a glove’ as Ace Ventura would say. Quick to pull on, these socks are lightweight and feel snug, like a second-skin. The built-in compression supports the foot arches and is supposed to reduce fatigue – big claim, but in an ultra, anything that can help sounds good.

First run: I did notice my feet slid around in my shoes when I went on a road run. It reminded me of running in stockings, and I’m used to wearing toe socks which have a bit more grip. However, on subsequent runs I got used to the feeling.

Blisters: Luckily my feet are pretty tough normally, and I didn’t notice any blisters or hotspots.

‘Washability’: My daughter has been borrowing these socks, and they’ve been through the wash many times in the last two months – yet they are still in perfect condition.

Would I buy them? Yes, especially if I knew there was a chance of my feet getting wet on a run. My usual socks leave my feet damp and shrivelled by the end of a long run. These socks wick the moisture away quickly with no squelching feeling. I’ll certainly keep wearing them to see if I can actually get a blister!

And here’s the male view from Glen:

First impressions: They have very comfortable compression without feeling too tight in the toes. Socks fit snugly with no bunching & no seams at all. The socks come in various cuff heights ranging from below ankle (zero) to over the calf. (Twelve) I had the four which is a standard crew height sock. Swiftwick used a double welt compression cuff that stays up on the legs. They give you the feeling of a compression sock above the ankle without being too tight on the foot. They also add a bit more protection to the lower leg and reduce the impact of any rocks or occasional clipping above the ankle from the opposite foot.

The first run was a 1-hour trail run on non-technical terrain. Initially, I felt the socks were too thin & may cause the foot to slide around in the shoe but after tightening the laces the feel was better. No problems during this run, but I just wanted to test them without risking being caught a long way from home with any irritations. I wouldn’t expect any from my normal socks.
 Screen Shot 2015-10-26 at 9.28.54 AM
The second run was similar to the first, but I took the opportunity to run through a deep puddle early in the run to test out the claim of minimal water retention. I only noticed the wet socks for a few minutes the didn’t think about it again until I ran past the puddle on the way back so that’s a tick for the olefin material used that is fast drying and retains less than .01% of its weight in moisture.
A couple more short runs with no problems, however not really anything that would test the socks so my final run was a night-time 40km hilly trail run with some technical trails, lots of pea gravel that would have the feet sliding around and plenty of puddles. During the run I had to stop a couple of times to remove some debris that had collected in the shoes.
One of the features that differentiates the Swiftwick socks from other brands is the 200 needle count, which results in a tighter knit & less chance of foreign material penetrating the sock. When removing the socks after the run there was nothing that had penetrated the socks to irritate the feet. No blisters or hot spots after the run, and my feet dried out quickly after stepping in a few puddles. They did not shift or bunch at all during the run.
I still feel the socks are a bit too thin during the early stages of each run, but that may simply be due to being used to running in thicker socks and may change over time. Probably the best endorsement for the socks is that I didn’t really think about them much while running, they just did what they claimed. I would definitely recommend them & will be picking up a couple more pairs myself. Probably the zero or one size for road running, use the four for trail running and cycling and the twelve for recovery.
I have a 100 miler coming up in a few weeks and I will probably be wearing these socks for a significant portion of it.
Thanks to both Karin and Glen for their thoughts. If you’re interested in finding out more, head over to the website and click here to see the socks at the Swift Sports website.
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I'm a mediocre runner who can bat above his average when I train hard. A man of extremes, I do enjoy everything life offers and consider it an absolute pleasure just to be able to put one foot in front of the other and let my mind wander somewhere different.

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