Hiking or cycling along muddy trails, crossing streams, and adventuring into snow, slush, or ice usually means wet feet (unless you’re wearing solid rubber boots. Not so if you’re wearing the new waterproof socks from DexShell. The trick is in the three-layer design — particularly the middle layer, a slim, flexible polyurethane micro-porous membrane that totally bars water entry. Indefinitely. (I tested them by standing in a tub of water for nearly an hour and when I peeled them off, my feet were dry). The company makes 18 waterproof styles, from crew length to knee-highs, ultra-light to thick thermal. The middle layer is always the same waterproof membrane.
Depending on the style selected, the inner layer next to the skin may be made of nylon, bamboo rayon, merino wool, or some combination of the three, all antibacterial and designed to wick perspiration away from the body. (Given the waterproof layer on top of it, that wicking is not always completely successful — the sweat has to go somewhere — but you’ll feel less clammy than with regular socks). The outermost layer usually is made of a chemically treated water-resistant nylon elastine blend. It is not waterproof (that’s the middle membrane’s job) but is quick-drying; watch the water fly when you shake them; wringing gets rid of a lot of the excess. The socks come in four unisex adult sizes and are necessarily close-fitting, so when using the fitting guide, err on the larger side. There’s also a lightweight model sized for children. Though some styles have an extra in-cuff seal to resist water entering at the top, don’t expect to stay dry if the water level is higher than the sock.
The color choices tend to combinations of black and bright neon accents or stripes. Of the several styles I tested, my favorite was the thick Hytherm Pro. The inner layer’s merino wool/acrylic nylon blend had a soft, toasty terry-cloth feel — but it was a really cold day and perhaps thinner would have won out on a hot one.
DexShell Waterproof Hytherm Pro Socks are $45.99; other styles are $29.99 to $52.99; children’s socks, $20.99 at www.dexshell.us.