Velonomad Swiftwick Socks review: the best cycling socks in the galaxy
I can’t remember how I discovered Swiftwick socks but I am glad I did. They’re the best damned socks I’ve ever worn. I am sure if RM Williams was still alive, and they were made in Oz, he’d wear ’em. They’re that bloody good.
If you’ve never heard of them, don’t be surprised: they were previously really only available globally from their online stores but they’re now using local distributors so you might see them more.
In a world of flashy brands like Attaquer, 4Shaw and established sock behemoths like Capo and Assos, I wanted to give some air to this smaller, super authentic company that just makes incredibly good socks.
“Come now, Timbo, you are having a laugh? They’re just socks, surely?”
No jokes dear reader.
There’s a lot to like about Swifties so let’s dive in.
A brand to admire
At a brand level, here’s what I like:
- Company culture: making ultra good socks, sustainably and responsibly.
- Made in the USA: made in Tennessee, sweatshop free. Not outsourcing your social responsibility and environmental responsibility by outsourcing to developing countries is incredibly cool.
- Super high quality: Swiftwick uses 200-needle knit which is about the highest density socks out there. Practically this means foreign materials can’t infiltrate the sock. Also no bunching. Winning.
At a technical level, there’s LOTs to like.
- Managed compression: compression where you need it, without it being over the top.
- Moisture wicking.
- Blister free: I recently rode the Peaks Challenge on the Gold Coast, a 235km epic. I was woefully unprepared but did my feet suffer? No, they did not.
- Anti odour: sometimes, dear reader, yes my feet stink. But with Swiftwicks, no stink. Swiftwicks apparently have anti odour technology which I imagine to be little Disney Minions (TM, R, etc) living in the socks cheerfully deploying the “anti odour technology”.
- Merino wool throughout the line.
- Higher quality, anti abrasion T66 Nylon (most nylon is T6).
Now of course there is lots of marketing around any product but Swiftwick actually delivers on a sock that is softer, denser and more durable.
The Swiftwick sock line includes a dizzying array of colours and 3 key products: Performance, Pursuit and Aspire.
There’re different colours to suit everyone including a super “watch out for me” hi vis yellow which I wear on my commute on regional/rural back roads many of which have very limited line of sight visibility.
An aside on white socks:
I don’t wear white anymore. I live in an area with infamous “red soil” which literally stains everything. (To get it off concrete you need a Karcher with the power of a 5 trillion tonne nuclear bomb to dislodge the colour.)
White socks are great if you are a pro and get free socks all the time or have a secret sock bank account the Minister for Financial Transactions doesn’t know about.
White socks should also be worn by people with tanned legs (sorry most of Britain).
Here’s what I use Swiftwicks for:
- Compression socks on long haul flights
They’re perfect for all the above activities, and more.
The Performance is quite honestly the most comfortable sock I’ve ever worn.
No foot cramp. No sore feet. No blisters. Just bliss.
On my recent ultra-silly 235km-sportive-with-no-training (Peaks Challenge Gold Coast,video here), I wore this sock due to its comfiness and compression. No blisters, no collapsed arches, excellent blood flow.
Previous to discovering Swiftwicks, on rides much shorter, when wearing other socks, I’d frequently get really sore feet, to the point I’d have to get off the bike.
The uppers are slightly channeled (alternating thin/thick rows) for air flow.
The toes and heel of the socks are slightly thicker but still breathe really well. They just feel like bliss on your feet. Oh wait. I already said that. That should indicate how blissful they feel on your feet.
BLISSFUL. Got it?
Seriously, no BS, these socks are The Business.
The Aspire range is the newest range and is the go-to sock for athletes of all types: cycling, golf, running etc.
These socks are a bit lighter weight than Performance and Pursuit.
Here is a shot of my blue Aspires which very serendipitously match the colour of my running shoes.
The Aspire is made from 39% Olefin, which according to my trusty Wikipedia sources is some kind of magical textile weaved from unicorn hair, pixie tears and fairy breath.
Olefin fibers have great bulk and cover while having low specific gravity. This means “warmth without the weight.” The fibers have low moisture absorption, but they can wick moisture and dry quickly. Olefin is abrasion, stain, sunlight, fire, and chemical resistant. It does not dye well, but has the advantage of being colorfast. Since Olefin has a low melting point, textiles can be thermally bonded. The fibers have the lowest static of all manufactured fibers and a medium luster. One of the most important properties of olefin is its strength. It keeps its strength in wet or dry conditions and is very resilient. The fiber can be produced for strength of different properties.
I live in sub tropical Oz, so a fibre that wicks moisture, breathes well, doesn’t retain moisture, dries fast and resists degradation, sounds pretty fabulous to me.
Real world feedback
So how do Swiftwick’s perform really.
As in, “true dinks truly ruly.”
Here’s some honest feedback I can provide, through using these socks in situations they were probably NEVER designed for.
So, our farm contains an awful weed colloquially (and paradoxically) referred to as “Farmers Friend”.
(As an interesting side note, Farmers Friend, or Bidens Pilosa seems to be a great source of nutrition and medicine. It seems it can suppress certain luekemia cells. At the same time, the barbs on its “fruit”, or seeds, can injure flesh. Although this is an introduced species it further cements Australia as a place where everything is out to get you. Death snakes, death weeds, spiders, crocs….it’s never ending. To summarise: a weed. That can possibly suppress leukemia AND that can rip your flesh. This my friends is what my life has come to. Dodging a life saving flesh rending weed in my paddocks.)
These little devil-weed propagates itself via seed that sticks to practically ANYTHING. I’ve thrown countless pairs of socks out as they’ve been irretrievably infested by Farmers Friend seeds.
But Swiftwicks? You can walk these heroic socks right through a Farmers Friend hurricane and come out TOTALLY PRICKLE-LESS. (Note to the marketing team at Swiftwick: start targeting farmers!).
Why? The knit is so dense. It is like having little Deathstar Deflector Shields surrounding your socks.
“Cool Tim, so I can wear these through prickle fields. WHAT ABOUT THEIR LONGEVITY?”
These socks are also built to last. I’ve been wearing them in my farm boots, so they’re subjected to all manner of abuse. Holes in sock heels? No. Swiftwick socks seem impervious to the travails of wearing them in situations they frankly weren’t designed for.
I’ve got Capo socks and Santini socks that have practically fallen apart from normal use. Holes in the Capo heels, and the Santini cuffs have lost all their elasticity.
Swiftwicks are miles ahead on quality and longevity.
Swiftwick manufacture socks in a wide range of cuff heights from triathlete and female-golfer-friendly zero inch cuff heights to 12″.
My personal favourite is the 4″ cuff.
(And in case you are not sure of what sock height is right for you, here’s an article I wrote about it.)
If you are in the market for some new socks, definitely check out Swiftwicks.
In my experience, they simply will not let you down both in terms of reliability and comfort.
They beat all other socks hands down and are great value for money. Sure, they aren’t as cheap as a pair of socks from Target or and are about on par with brands like Assos but they’re seriously waaaaay ahead on quality.
I paid for all my Swiftwick Performance socks (5 pairs) and Swiftwick’s Australian distributor Swift Sports supplied 4 pairs of Aspire socks free of charge.
If you’re in Australia, you can obtain Swiftwicks from Swift Sports (Swiftwicks’ Australian distributor). If you’re elsewhere, you can buy them from Swiftwick directly.
Whether I pay for a product or not doesn’t affect my review.
Tim from Velonomad has plenty of other interesting this to say, click here to discover more
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