Holy Socks, Batman!
January 25, 2009 9:39 AM   Subscribe

My dad is constantly wearing holes in the heels of his socks. After recently going through about $100 worth of new socks, it's time for a new course of action. He realizes that this means spending $10-$20 for each pair of socks, and he wants to make sure that his pricey new socks are going to last. Any personal recommendations for amazingly durable socks?

For the record, he already has a great pair of slippers, but he always seems to go back to just wearing socks around the house -- or out the mailbox, or wherever .... My mom calls them his "Polish shoes" (we're all Polish). After some online searching, I've found a few brands that have hole-less/durability guarantees, but I'd like to hear what really does stand up to wear.

BTW - I did see this thread, but there weren't a whole lot of brand-specific recommendations.
posted by roundrock to Clothing, Beauty, & Fashion (28 answers total) 5 users marked this as a favorite
It might help to know what brands he has already tried.
posted by 6:1 at 10:00 AM on January 25, 2009

i'm a fan of smartwool.
posted by Stewriffic at 10:01 AM on January 25, 2009

I think it depends on why he's wearing them out. If his feet are rough and scaly around the heel (been there, done that), he's just going to go through the new socks too. Maybe invest in some loofa/pumice/chainsaws. I wore out socks on one foot until I realized what was happening, and then I started taking care of my feet.
posted by cashman at 10:03 AM on January 25, 2009

Response by poster: Basically, he's just been wearing standard department store (or Target, etc) brands -- I know he goes through a lot of Gold Toe socks.

His heels themselves are fine -- not overly rough or scaly, so I don't think that's it. He's convinced that his feet are secreting some sort of sock-eating acid. :)
posted by roundrock at 10:08 AM on January 25, 2009

I have been wearing out a lot of socks during the last year too (and admittedly tend to wear just socks around the house when the weather makes the floors cold to go barefoot). I do think rough dry heels are part of the problem but I have lately also begun to suspect the slip-on shoes I wear all the time maybe a bigger part of the problem, since pulling them on without a shoe-horn is tough of the heel of the sock.
posted by aught at 10:08 AM on January 25, 2009

So... he wears his socks around the house? That reminded me of something I used to have. The first hit for "slipper socks" was


I haven't had these in a while but I recall liking them in the past. Obviously I'm not sure if the slippers he is currently rejecting are already of this style.
posted by Wood at 10:09 AM on January 25, 2009

Could be his shoes? Maybe he could try some sock-friendly insoles.
posted by orme at 10:11 AM on January 25, 2009

Wigwam Ultimax socks come with a 2 year warranty at about $13 (CAD) a pair.

I was skeptical, but they survived through their first two years, plus one, and would still be around if not for the evil sock-stealing-dryer monster.
posted by sunshinesky at 10:15 AM on January 25, 2009

just an idea to solve the root cause of the problem: ask him to go to a good shoe store and have his feet (both feet) measured; maybe he's for a surprise, maybe he's been buying the wrong size
posted by matteo at 10:25 AM on January 25, 2009

I can't imagine any brand of sock is going to stand up to outside use (ie.-going to the mailbox). I find that I wear my moccasins around the house a lot more regularly than slippers. Some nice soft deer or moose hide one wold be nice. Buy to fit snug because they stretch a lot over time.
posted by bonobothegreat at 10:30 AM on January 25, 2009

Gold Toe brand socks (which he already has tried) have always worked well for me. One data point.
posted by JimN2TAW at 10:32 AM on January 25, 2009

I don't really think the answer to this problem is different socks. I think it is a different lifestyle. Any sock is going to wear out if it's being worn outside to go to the mailbox. He either needs to start wearing shoes or slippers or resign himself to the fact that all of his money is now devoted to buying socks since he's not willing to make the obvious necessary adjustment to his lifestyle to save money.
posted by snugglebunny at 11:02 AM on January 25, 2009 [2 favorites]

I have some cheap "Hike" socks I bought off ebay nearly 2 years ago, and they're still going strong.
posted by Solomon at 11:31 AM on January 25, 2009

I bought a bunch of pairs of socks at Clark's, the shoe store, because they told me they had a life time warranty and any time they had a hole or tear I could just bring them in for a replacement. I haven't tested them out yet, but in the mean time the socks were pretty cheap (on sale) and are comfortable and fine so far.
posted by Salamandrous at 11:49 AM on January 25, 2009

I think it's unlikely that really expensive socks will last any longer than the ones he's wearing at the moment if he insists on wearing them without slippers/shoes to protect them (and his feet). So I'd go for the cheapest socks going and just replace them as required. If he does want to extend the life of his socks I would 2nd slipper socks or such to wear round the house - I don't like slippers either but will wear slipper socks.
posted by koahiatamadl at 11:58 AM on January 25, 2009

My husband is incredibly rough on socks also, but since he started buying his socks from Costco, they last much, much longer. I can't remember the last time I threw a pair away. He swears by both their gold tips and regular white athletic socks.

Why waste money on expensive socks if a cheaper brand will give you the same results?
posted by LuckySeven~ at 12:16 PM on January 25, 2009

Tilley's UnHoly socks. With lifetime warrantee.
posted by Hildegarde at 12:46 PM on January 25, 2009 [1 favorite]

I've gotten a good amount of wear out of my trusty Thorlo socks.
posted by Thorzdad at 12:58 PM on January 25, 2009

Oh Smartwool most definitely. You can usually find some good bargains at REI.com's outlet, Backcountry.com's outlet, and Sierra Trading Post. Regardless, they're a bargain at any price and I usually get 4-5 years use out of a given pair of socks with weekly wear in-season (I have "thick socks" for late Fall-Winter-early Spring and "thin socks" for late Spring-Summer-early Fall, as well as a bunch of cycling-specific socks that usually get worn in the warm months as daily-use anyway).
posted by The Michael The at 3:09 PM on January 25, 2009

Sock holes usually come from friction- you rub through the sock. That rubbing probably isn't from wearing them around the house or out to the mailbox- the wear from waking around in socked feet is mostly pressure, not rubbing, so it would manifest as the balls of the socks mashing thin and wearing out. Or maybe the underneath of the heels. But that kind of wear takes a long time and usually a fair amount of moisture. So talcum on his feet might help a little.
However, my guess is that wearing the socks around isn't the problem- I wear mine around the house and out on the deck and they don't wear out that fast.

I predict his problem is holes in the heels that begin near the achilles tendon part of the heel (not right underneath the pad of the heel). The achilles holes are the result of the sock being "sanded" thin, either by scaly heel skin, which you say he doesn't have... or, more often, by the sock rubbing up and down against the inside of his shoes. My guess is he habitually wears his shoes a half-size too large and his heels bob up and down in the shoe while he walks, sanding at the sock with each step.

Get him a $10 pair of cushy insoles from the drugstore (the fabric-covered ones that extend to just past the arch- like these- are the most comfy, in my opinion, and if he likes his shoes a little loose they won't make his tows feel cramped). They will snug up the fit of his shoes and remove the friction-- and I'll bet the socks will last much longer.
posted by pseudostrabismus at 4:28 PM on January 25, 2009

tows !? toes.
posted by pseudostrabismus at 4:30 PM on January 25, 2009

I also wear socks without shoes way more than I should and recommend Darn Tough socks.
posted by meinvt at 4:49 PM on January 25, 2009

I highly recommend everything from The Walking Company.
posted by ashabanapal at 5:03 PM on January 25, 2009

Thorlo have been very good to me. I typically get about three years out of a pair, worn once every couple of weeks.
posted by maxwelton at 8:46 PM on January 25, 2009

Im not sure if they will be available in USA, but i have been using Holeproof Explorers. they are damn near indestructable to the point I have an odd sock that is almost 9 years old and still in service.
posted by dent8101 at 10:53 PM on January 25, 2009

I managed to wear a hole in one of the Tilley Unholy socks mentioned above in less than a year, but I may have just got a defective one because the rest have lasted quite well. However, this might also be because I don't find them very comfortable and avoid wearing them!
posted by Kirjava at 4:26 AM on January 26, 2009

Norm Thompson Wick Sport socks, in white. I wear them around the house, slipperless, constantly. They last for at least two years being worn and washed roughly every 10 days. When I do toss them, it's not for holes, but they get less fluffy. $4.50 a pair, cheaper in volume. For some reason white is better than black, though, as the black material seems to shed more and get thin.
posted by CruiseSavvy at 9:19 AM on January 26, 2009

N-thing Thorlo. I rarely have a pair wear out. Wait for a few months, in the Spring and Winter they have a "Buy Three get a pair free" promotion. I personally like the ones with "CoolMax" for wicking properties.
posted by 6:1 at 2:51 PM on January 26, 2009

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