When you learn that a piece of clothing is made of wool, there’s a tendency to flash back to that scratchy winter sweater from grandma that makes you always just a little too warm and slightly uncomfortable (but I love you, Grammy, so I wear it anyways :) ). Okay – now take that wool that you’re thinking about right now and put it out of your mind. We need a clean slate and no past experiences with wool to cloud your judgement.
Today, we’re talking about wool performance socks, which have an entirely different design and construction from that fuzzy wool sweater you love to hate. Wool is used in a lot of performance running pieces, and socks are a hot item. Here are a few things you may not have known about wool socks, and why they have gained popularity.
Wool is not just for cold weather. When you think wool running socks, you may assume that they are best for winter running and will cause your feet to feel uncomfortably hot during summer running. The insulating properties of wool also allow it to work well during your warmer runs, helping your feet be insulated against the heat, maintaining your body temperature. It’s also important to know that there are thin, lightweight wool socks that don’t have that thick, winter sock feeling. Those are preferred for your summer runs.
Wool doesn’t retain bad smells. Which means you can get away with wearing it for multiple runs. (We would like to take this time to apologize in advance to roommates of runners who take this principle too far.) On a serious note, the natural antimicrobial properties of wool prevent odors from building up as you sweat. Which is nice when you are on a multiple day excursion or traveling with no time to wash your running socks. If you are a runner that has foot odor issues, wool socks would be worth a try.
Wool helps wick moisture. Like other performance fabrics, wool wicks moisture away from your body to keep you dry as you run. This helps prevent the formation of blisters.
Wool is eco-friendly. It’s biodegradable, and naturally renewable as a resource. So if you’re trying to go more green, purchasing products made of wool is an eco-friendly way to go!
Wool is easy to take care of. You can wash your wool running socks the same as your other running socks. Hanging them to dry is suggested, but that is no different from the care instructions for your other running socks. One difference, however, is how long it takes them to dry. It’s important to note that wool socks seem to take a significantly longer time to air dry after washing than socks with synthetic composition.
Verdict? The idea that wool is only for scratchy seasonal sweaters or, at best, keeping your toes warm on a cold run, is short sighted. Wool socks have applications for many reasons, including summer running, and they are a great tool to have in your running arsenal.