I will be testing 2 different belaga socks, the Hidden Comfort and the Hidden Dry. They are both from the Hidden line but they are pretty much on opposite ends of the spectrum as far as socks go. I am not sure what the Hidden line means exactly, but all socks in this line are low cut socks, but not the supper low ones I classify as invisible.
Before I go into each sock I’d like to share a little about the company. All belega socks are manufactured in Cape Town South Africa but utilize yarns made in the USA. I watched a few videos of the different socks on the belega website and it is obvious the socks are well thought out and feature a lot of small details that make a difference in how a sock performs. I was also impressed with the reasonable cost of what I consider high end socks. For example, the Hidden Dry are $11 and the Hidden Comfort are $12. The most expensive sock balega makes is a wool blend and are only $17.50. I say this because I find it interesting that some people will spend hundreds, even thousands of dollars on high end gear, not to mention travel expenses, and then wear cheap socks on that once a year hike or adventure. I have nothing against cheap socks and wear them more times than not, but when I plan on a long hike I try to do everything in my power to ensure foot comfort, and good quality socks are at the top of my list. Believe me, nothing can ruin a trip faster than a bad blister, and socks that bunch up under my feet can be a big distraction if not painful.
It is my impression that balega went to great lengths to ensure these socks stay positioned properly on the foot. One standout feature is that the heel is deeper so that it can reside further back in the sock in relation to the part around the ankle. Another great feature is the way the toe is connected to the rest of the sock. They call it the “Hand-linked seamless toe for seamfree comfort”.
The balega socks come in unisex sizing and there is an online chart to help pick the proper size. I normally wear a size 11.5 but can go up or down a size depending on the shoe. The balega sock fit guide places me in a size Large which correlates to a men’s 9.5 – 11.5. The same sock is for women’s shoe size of 10.5 or larger. They do not show a woman’s size for the XL.
And now for each sock I will be testing. The Hidden Comfort is a medium displacement sock. And by that I mean they are not thick like winter socks and not real thin like “dress” and some sport socks. The fiber breakdown is as follows. 84% Drynamix polyester, 11% nylon, 3% Neofil and 2% Elastane. They feature 200 needle point construction, whatever that means (I think it has to do with the tightness of the knit, the higher the number, the tighter the knit). I consider this style sock a good all-round sock for wearing with low cut shoes. I plan to wear them with my Sperry Top Sider Shocks Light shoes as well as several different trail runners I have. I have already worn them all day once while helping a guy move. We had already moved the furniture but still had a truck and car load of pantry and refrigerator items as well as quite a few odds and ends from the house and garage. Anyways, I found the Comfort socks very (wait for it) comfortable. I’ll have more to say in my next update and a few more miles in them.
The Hidden Dry is an extremely thin sock. It also is very stretchy. The fiber breakdown on this sock is 48% Drynamix polyester, 17% Microfiber, Nylon, 33% nylon and 2% Elastane. The package does not mention the same 200 needle point construction. When I first looked at the sock I though maybe they had mistakenly placed a kids pair in the box marked Large (my size). However, after tugging it on, the heel and everything else appeared to be in the proper position in relation to my foot. It looks like it would be great for running in hot weather but personally I will likely wear with tight fitting shoes since I don’t run. I plan to wear it with some of my minimalist shoes I bought online that are a little tighter fitting. I have been wearing dress socks with them, but the Dry socks seem much more suited for these shoes. I have worn the Dry one day so far. I found them to be comfortable and my foot did stay dry. I wore under my Merrell Mix Master II trail runners which are about a half size too small for me with normal thickness socks. These socks allowed me to wear the shoes all day. In addition to just wearing them around the house and yard I ended up planting my tomatoes in the garden and also digging a couple of holes in a flower bed with a shovel for a couple of roses my wife picked up.
Now both pairs of socks are ready to be washed. The care instructions for both are the same. They are: WASH WARM, TUMBLE DRY LOW, DO NOT USE BLEACH OR FABRIC SOFTENER, DO NOT IRON, DO NOT DRY CLEAN. Stay tuned for my next update to see how both pairs of socks are performing.
Update: July 2, 2014
I have worn both pairs of socks during the last month and a half but have worn the balega Hidden Comfort the most, mainly because the Hidden Comfort worked much better than the Hidden Dry with the Sperry Shock Light 2 shoes I have been wearing most of the time. This is because these socks are much thicker and the shoes in question are slightly bigger than I need. Therefore, I’m going to limit my comments to the Hidden Comfort and then try and wear the Hidden Dry more for my last update. Most of my wear was as an all day sock. On the days I wore them I usually put them on first thing in the morning and wore them till bedtime. Sometime this included hiking on some local trails or just walking in the yard doing chores etc. I also wore them to work several times but this meant I wore them 24 hours straight. I’m not on me feet all the time at work but do end up walking on concrete and tile floors quite a bit.
The conditions during the past several weeks have went from nice spring like weather to hot and muggy. I still found the Hidden Comfort socks were not too warm when I wore them even on the hottest days. Of course there were several times that I wore the Shock Light shoes without socks and other times I wore some sandals, again sans socks and even went barefoot quite a bit.
On a recent overnight hike I wore sandals during the 2 mile downhill hike to my campsite, then swapped over to my Shock Light shoes for hiking the last mile to the formations the Walls of Jericho is named after. I put the Hidden Comfort socks on when I got in my hammock for the night and continued to wear them with the Shock Light shoes the next morning. I took a long walk (at least a mile) while waiting for my hiking partner to get up, then did the 2 mile hike back to the truck. . BTW, it took 3 hours to make the 2 mile climb from our campsite to the trail head. The elevation gain is right at 1000 ft. This trail is said to be the toughest trail in Alabama and was certainly my toughest hike since my knee surgery just over a year ago and though slow, I made it without a lot of knee pain.I wore them on a much shorter overnight hike (about 3 miles round trip) on some local trails near my home a couple of weeks after the Walls of Jericho hike and the only thing I had trouble with was keeping the socks dry because the woods were soaked and I had on some cheap knock off Crocks. I have some other sandals I like to wear while day hiking but I chose the other shoes because I don’t like wearing the sandals with socks and wanted to get in a few more trail miles for this test. Anyways, they worked quite well in the knock offs. I slept in them and they kept my feet warm, not all that surprising since it only dropped down to 64 F overnight.
As for durability, the balega Hidden Comfort socks seem to be on par with other high quality hiking socks. I have averaged wearing them about twice a week. I have now washed them at least a dozen times The only real wear point I can see is right around the heel. The underside is still looking very good. I think the heel wear may be due to the shoes I have been wearing the socks with being a tad big which allowed some movement between my foot (and thus sock) and the shoe. Anyways, it Is not enough wear at this point to even notice unless looking closely. I found the socks have retained their original shape and have stayed on my foot (no sagging or bunching under foot) very well. As a matter of fact, this was probably more evident when I wore them as sleep socks and they stayed on without any sagging down all night. I have noticed my cotton socks have a tendency too come off during the night. I must toss more than I realize.
Final Update: December 20, 2014
belega Hidden Comfort sock was great in the TOPO Athletic Oterro shoes
I am pretty late with my final update but the upside is that I have now worn the balega Hidden Comfort socks enough to fairly say that that are outstanding socks. With cooler weather I have worn them less because I have been wearing boots more, but before that I was in low top shoes most of the time. I wore them in several different types of shoes, from casual loafers and trail runner type hiking shoes to dress shoes. The fact that the socks were black allowed this. The bulk of my use with this sock was while wearing the TOPO Athletic Oterro shoes I recently tested. It was a very good match. I have still not gotten over my Planter Fasciitis and that limited my hiking a little but I still made plenty of short hikes down to the creek and even more on flatter hikes on the trail around the bluff. I also wore the socks while deer hunting this fall during the early bow season. My tree stand and other gear was about 50 lbs so the cushioning of the socks was appreciated. I’ve lost count of how many times I washed the Hidden Comfort socks but I’m pretty sure it is well over two dozen times. They are still in good shape but not quite as nice as when new. I consider this normal and would not expect any sock to do any better.
I still have not worn the Hidden Dry as much as I would have liked but mainly because I was testing shoes that were not tight. The Hidden Dry is a really thin sock and made most of my shoes feel too big. However, I did wear them enough to be impressed with how well they wicked away moisture. I also wore them with my camo Crocs that I had found a little small. I ended up cutting the toe out of the Crocs so they look pretty bad and the white socks didn’t help.
I really do like the Hidden Comfort sock. I think they are as good as any of the other well know and respected brands of hiking socks I have worn over the years. I have looked for them in town at several outdoor type shops and have not seen them local but when I do I will be getting more. I would like to try some of their taller socks too if I can find them. If that don’t pan out I can always order some online.