One thing that was so enjoyable about attending the Outdoor Retailer Show was learning lots of arcane facts about textiles, including Fox River socks. Everyday items that we take for granted actually have a lot of technology and research behind them. Take socks, for example. You might think such a basic item is mostly manufactured in developing countries using inexpensive labor and materials. It turns out Fox River has a proud history dating back to 1900, making it the oldest sock manufacturing company in the U.S. Even more impressive than their longevity is that they still make their socks in America, in Osage, Iowa, near where they started in Wisconsin. They pay attention to things like women’s feet having a different shape than men’s—rounder in the toe box and narrower in the heel. Natural and synthetic fibers in Wick Dry work together to wick moisture away from the skin while a bit of spandex helps the sock hold its shape so it doesn’t bag or bunch up. Yarns ranging from merino wool to silk and an array of synthetics match performance to a variety of conditions and temperatures in different socks.
While skiing in Tahoe I tested a pair of ski socks from the new Peak series, made with Tencel and Merino wool, that had a fun, colorful design. Tencel, made from eucalyptus cellulose fibers, wicks away moisture by dispersing water vapor while Merino wools adds softness and warmth. The Peak series includes a special fit system called the Helix Fit, with volumetric compression, a heel pocket to fit snugly and anti-slip anchor zones. I can’t say that they lived up to the promise of quicker recovery (more a problem of tired muscles than sock performance) but they were comfortable and warm throughout a day of skiing. I didn’t feel any chafing, which sometimes happens on my shin, with these socks. The geometric design of light blue and green dots and dashes was stylish and fresh. The women’s medium (size 6-10) fit well, though for my size 9 foot I didn’t think there was any extra room. The Tremblant model I tested won’t be out until fall but women’s Peak socks retail for about $18-20.
Fox River has a couple of innovative programs. When the Nelson Knitting Mill closed their doors in 1992 Fox River acquired the storied company that gave us the first seamless sock-knitting machine in 1869, Perhaps more importantly to continuing generations of kids, the tradition of the sock monkey, which is made with the Original Rockford Red Heel sock, was continued also. They have updated the legacy by adding new colors and creating a sock monkey kit, pattern book and accessories. You can even purchase pre-made sock monkeys. See related video, profiling a gentleman who has collected 2,000 sock monkeys.
Fox River also makes special socks for the military, for training and combat. They have a Socks for Soldiers program where people can send socks to military personnel who sign up for their wish list, along with a note of support. Deployed soldiers or entire units can sign up to be on the wish list. Fox River will pay the postage to APO addresses.
Fox River has put a lot of thought into their many lines of socks, creating specific socks to meet particular needs. The Peak series of ski socks are light weight, warm and soft, making for happy feet.
Disclosure of material connection: I received a test sample from Fox River but the opinions expressed are solely my own.