Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Christmas Stockings

Okay, okay -- I promise I won't turn Velophoria into one of those blogs that feature mile-long posts on the minute details of the writer's every piece of gear. But it's Christmas time, and I have to give a shout-out to the good people at Smartwool. The above is a (bad) photo of my gift to myself this year. (Yes, the budget is tight for us this year, as for all "Main Streeters.")

I've only owned one other pair of Smartwools, also in the "Hiking" style. I've had them for nearly ten years, and worn them countless times per year. They are, hands down (feet down?), the best pair of active-wear socks I have ever owned. They might even get my vote for "Best Piece of Active-wear, Period." They are soft inside -- softer than flannel pajamas, soft as a newborn lamb. They support my arches. They wick like crazy. And they are warm.

When I say they are warm, I mean I-have-a-wood-stove-in-each-of-my-shoes warm. I haven't yet been able to afford a pair of winter booties for cycling, so I wear my toughest socks and my very worn-out toe covers over my cycling shoes. If I have the Smartwools on, I can ride down to the mid-20s (Farenheit) and my toes will be fine. I can even ride down to the teens, and it will still be tolerable. Amazing. And then, I'll get home and my feet will be dry. Dry and warm. Doesn't that thought bring a wistful smile? If you do any kind of winter training, it does.

So, I bought my second pair. And I brought them home and compared them to my old pair. And here's the best part. After fiddling with both pairs for a minute, trying to see what changes they'd made to the product, two things happened: 1) I realized they'd made no visible changes whatever to the product, and 2) I got them confused, and it took me a full minute to figure out which two were the new ones. That's how little wear the old pair showed after ten-plus years of steady use. Can you think of a more ringing endorsement?

Thorlos. Sock Guy. The fashionable ankle-highs from the big-ticket European cycling gear manufacturers . Each has its place. But I heartily doubt they'll ever supplant the Smartwool in my footwear pantheon.

I get that happy, jumpy feeling inside when I think about them: My present to myself. Is there a better way to spend $17 in this austere year?

(Actually, I got them on sale, and paid way less than that. Stick that in your Christmas stocking and smoke it.)

No comments: