Gear Guy

Is there a sock suitable for the desert heat?

Sala, Gear Man! So, you've hooked me up with advice on altimeter watches (I'm very happy with my Suunto, by the way) and Pac NW raingear (which ce in handy when I got reassigned to Ft. Lewis). Now, however, I have a more pedestrian question. Socks, actually. It is rather warm here in the scenic Middle East and my feet are sweating like crazy. I started out with the basic, military-issue black wool socks and got fed up in a few weeks. I've tried the newer poly-something socks they gave us, and they weren't bad. The only problem was that they tended to stretch out over a few wearings (laundry opportunities can be few and far between here) and gave me blisters on long walking patrols. So, any advice? My feet are in your hands. Larry Somewhere hot, Iraq

A: Hey, Larry—good to hear from you! Hope things are going pretty well for you there, and that your tour lets you and your buddies come home soon.

I certainly understand the sweaty-foot problem. What's it been hitting, 120 in the shade most days? But solving it won't be that easy. A lot depends on what kind of socks you can get in hand. I'd actually recommend something in the wool spectrum because wool socks do the best job of soaking up sweat (the wool fibers have little pockets in them that hold water). My guess is that your basic black socks are military issue, and while not of the worst quality, they won't be as good as you might get on the civilian retail market. So if you can find some, get two or three pairs of SmartWool Expedition Trekking socks ($17; These are good-quality socks with lots of the high-end Merino wool that you want. Pair them with liner socks made of CoolMax or some similar lightweight, wicking, fast-drying material. And get enough pairs so you can dry them out for at least one day, preferably two, between wearings.

You might also try to reduce the sweating itself. Spray your feet with an anti-perspirant each day before donning socks and boots. You'll be surprised at how much that cuts down on foot sweats!

Stay safe!

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