Swiftwick Aspire Four Socks
- Excellent fit
- Never thought about once on your foot
- High quality, no fraying during review period
- Tight fit so harder to put on
- Can be difficult to adjust with shoes on
Socks are socks, right? Well, I’ve come to realize that, like all other cycling gear, there are definitely levels of quality in socks.
I’ve been cycling for nearly 15 years and have recently become a convert to higher quality socks, which are not even that much more expensive. It turns out that some socks simply are better than others. What I’ve been looking for is socks that wick, that “disappear” so I don’t notice them on a ride and that are still reasonably priced.
I’ve been testing socks from Swiftwick and Showers Pass since October, which has given me a chance to re-evaluate the way I think about this little-thought-about clothing item. I’ve come to really appreciate these socks, which now are my first choice in specific but quite different riding conditions.
Swiftwick socks are made in Tennessee and they offer a “best socks ever” guarantee. The company says that if you have any issues with their socks, just “reach out” and they will take care of you.
Here’s how the company arrives at its guarantee: It claims an active rider will purchase and destroy 12-24 pairs of cotton socks during the lifespan of one pair of Swiftwick socks. Swiftwick socks are actually a better value in the long run in that you’ll buy fewer socks.
I’m not sure I have gone through that many pairs of socks, and I would doubt many of you have. However, there’s a pronounced difference that’s immediately clear when pulling on a pair of Swiftwicks. The socks are knitted using very dense knitting techniques with the aim of creating a second-skin feel. This eliminates any shifting or bunching and also reduces discomfort as the socks stay where they are placed.
I tested a bright orange pair of mid-calf socks with black accents – you either love the looks or not, and they clash with just about every cycling kit I own, but they are good match for the orange in my RBR kit! There are, of course, other color choices available, including a very usual and sedate black.
There are no customization choices, since this is a technical fabric, aiming to maximize the characteristics they are seeking.
Exact fit stays in place for the duration
These socks fit very closely, to the point where, once you have them on, they simply don’t move out of position. The downside of this is that they take a little more time to pull on than other socks. You need to be sure you have the socks fitting exactly to your feet, as any small ripple will be felt later and will be difficult to adjust once your shoes are on.
The socks have a certain amount of compression, something I found I really liked. They claim to be blister-free and were instantly comfortable. The first time I wore them was at Interbike last year. After walking around the huge show all day long, my feet felt better than I had any reason to expect. They have continued to feel that way on every ride, including century riding.
They do seem to ‘disappear’ during a ride
I’ve worn these socks for many miles now, and continue to be impressed by the fit and feel of them. They breathe really well and I finish long rides without ever noticing the socks – which to me is the true test. My goal is always to ride my bike without noticing any of the contact points.
For those looking for a cheap way to upgrade your overall riding experience, you might try a pair of these socks.
Showers Pass Socks
- Thick, warm
- Nice reflective accent above the heel
- Fits snugly to the feet
- Will cause some shoes to feel a bit small (might need to loosen your normal fit))
- Best suited to temps below 55F (13C), as the merino wool is comfortable but warm
Showers Pass is based in Portland, Oregon, and has a wide range of cycling products, including jerseys, jackets, base layers and the socks I reviewed. Although I’ve never visited, I know Portland is known for being a damp and chilly town – which seems to color the product line and the array of fabrics the company uses.
A smorgasbord of technical fabrics
These socks, also mid-calf, take an interesting approach to dealing with damp and cold weather. They are thicker than any other cycling sock I’ve used before, with a complicated-sounding weave of fabrics. All of this technology aims to improve comfort and durability.
In a nod to safety, there’s also a reflective 3M logo that sits just above the heel to provide night-time visibility. I found this a nice touch, since the movement of feet pedaling helps drivers with pattern recognition to understand that there’s a cyclist ahead of of them.
The socks have varying thickness zones, with more padding on the toe, heel and balls of feet to increase durability and comfort. The seam that meets at the toe seam stops pressure points and again increases comfort.
On the road – best in cooler weather
These have become my favorite cool weather socks. They are quite thick, so you will need to set loosen up your shoe buckles and straps to get a comfortable fit. On the road I found I could use these socks in place of a light shoe cover. However, I would start to get too warm once the weather got above 55F. This from a rider who tends toward cold feet.
They also breathe and wick moisture well, meaning the socks continue to provide warmth throughout a ride of just about any length and conditions.
Socks may be one of those “marginal gain” items that Team Sky are famous for.
As a result of testing these socks for an extended period, I appreciate the way they disappeared, so that I failed to notice them at all on the bike. As a result, I focus more on my riding and less on little annoyances, which is exactly the way it should be.
Paul Smith regularly reviews products for RBR. He’s an avid recreational roadie who lives in thePiedmont area of North Carolina. He commutes often, and his car is worth less than any of his bikes. Click to read Paul’s full bio.