Socks–you gotta have ’em, but which ones? A million brands stare back from the wall at REI, Neptune’s, or the Bent Gate: Darn Tough, SmartWool, Bridgedale, just to name the more popular ones. Here’s a name in socks many of you haven’t heard: Lorpen.
Made in the Basque Country, Lorpen uses Merino wool, Primaloft Eco Yarn, Lycra, nylon, and occasionally acrylic (in their lower-priced models) in their ski-hike-casual-hunt-work socks. I did a small copywriting project for them nearly six years ago and they were generous enough to flow me a few pairs…and I still wear them! Running, cycling, climbing, traveling, hanging out–I have put hundreds of days in these things and they are bomber. Period!
Don’t get me wrong, I love my SmartWools, but I’ve nuked many a pair over the last six years. They have, to their credit, improved the durability in the PhD models, but I haven’t had the chance yet to test them long-term. Stay tuned.
Some of Lorpen’s durability comes from using more synthetic material than SmartWool or other brands. The downside? They’re definitely not quite as soft as some of the competition. A newer model, the “TriLayer Ski,” uses Primaloft Eco Yarn (spun from post-consumer recycled materials) to enhance wicking, nylon for durability, and Lycra for compression. I’ve used this sock eight or ten days already, including during a randonnee race, and the bit of compromise in terms of comfort returns great fit and support, as well as plenty of warmth.
As in life, it comes down to choice. Soft-as-a-baby’s bum, hard-wearing six-year durability, or superb fit? Your call. There are definitely times when I really enjoy pulling on my super-plush SmartWools…but as expensive as things are today, it’s hard to beat getting six years out of a pair (or three!) of my Lorpens.
Thanks, Lorpen–let’s see if I can get a decade out of these things!