It’s About Time We Had the “Sox Talk”
You talk a big game, but are you a #Sockernaut? If you’re not familiar with the term #Sockernaut, that’s because I made it up. The definition is: a huge, powerful, and overwhelming force or institution pertaining to socks. Now you know.
Joking aside, when I worked in bike shops, one of the questions I often heard from people purchasing their first bike as an adult was, “I’ve got a bike, what’s the next thing I should get?” Over the years, my answers have changed quite drastically. When I was young I liked BMX, Freestyle, and riding in skateparks so I would have probably suggested something like pegs, or shin guards. In other years, it may or may not have been spandex — don’t judge. Fast forward 15 years, and my answer would unequivocally be socks. A pair of socks can make or break my ride. If my feet aren’t happy, I’m not happy.
Now you’re probably thinking, “How much difference could there possibly be in socks?” And the short answer is a lot! There are socks made from different materials such as cotton, lycra, silk, and my favorite, wool. Specifically Merino Wool for it’s wicking capability, sustainability, and natural ability to not stink! There are socks with arch support, padding for the bottom of your foot and many other anti-fatiguing designs. There are socks for cold weather, warm weather and everything in between. The truth is, we could talk for hours on the different design aspects of socks and how it translates to riding your bike, but the main reason I love a great pair of socks is they have the potential to improve your comfort no matter what kind of riding you do. We all know, if your feet are hurting, wet, cold, cramping or in any other kind of discomfort, you want to be off the bike, and studies show that this leads to overall less fun. If you ride road or mountain, you’ve probably already scored you some decent socks, but even if you’re not an “avid” cyclist, you can still benefit from a good pair of socks. Urban riders, commuters, BMXers, runners, hikers, and even mall walkers can get the same benefits as anyone else. Comfort.
Now that I’ve convinced you to up your sock game to achieve #sockernaut status, the question is, “What kind of socks should I get?” Wow, I thought you would never ask!
I recently had the pleasure of meeting some great people and touring a sock factory in good ol’ Mt. Airy, NC. Also known by the name “Mayberry,” and home of The Andy Griffith Show; it’s an enchanting glimpse into the past. You can eat at diners that are straight out of the 50’s, or catch some of the best musicians Bluegrass has to offer. If that’s not already awesome enough, you can get a BBQ plate from Aunt Bee’s (Lexington style of course), take one of the most scenic and rewarding bike trips you’ve ever done, or stop in at Cycleworks Performance Bicycle Shop and see Robert Marion — a Cyclocross legend. And if that’s not enough to impress you, now Mt. Airy is also producing the best socks ever made under the brand “Farm To Feet.”
From my visit, I could tell you everything you would need to know about their eco-friendly manufacturing process, or about how they use knitting machines with more needles than any other US sock manufacturer for a finer, smoother feeling sock. I could tell you about how they have been in the sock business since the early 90’s making some of the socks you know and love, or about their lifetime guarantee, something none of their competitors offer. I could also tell you about their seamless toe closure which reduces the bulk inside your shoe and eliminates blister-generating friction, but you can find all of that on their website.
I want to tell you about their commitment to America. As the name implies, they source all of their materials and labor from America, but it goes beyond that.
Jason is a NC local, born and raised. He was born in a small town near Mt. Airy called Backwater. He has a wife, two kids, and likes to buy, sell, and trade Oakley sunglasses. After working eleven years for Nester Hosiery — Farm to Feet’s parent company — he says it’s more like a second family. It was very clear from talking to Jason that Nester Hosiery has really promoted a pride in the craftsmanship their employees provide. Sometimes, when he and his wife are out shopping, he “likes to compare [Farm to Feet] socks to the competitors.” He makes note of things they do better and gets ideas of ways to improve their line-up.
Farm to Feet is the epitome of good American manufacturing. Continually in search of ways to make a better product; they’re aware of their environmental impact and aim to reduce it at every step. They have a corporate conscience, and believe investing into their employees and community benefits everyone. And that’s why they’re the best socks money can buy.