Relief for the Feet
Stocking the right socks can give your customers a leg up in their game.
If you’re selling the hottest $125 tennis shoes, make sure you stock that other footwear essential — socks that are up to the task of long, hot hours on court.
Customers spend so much time seeking out the most comfortable, technically savvy shoes, but they often take for granted what they wear inside the shoe. Socks provide comfort and cushioning, and should limit or prevent moisture and friction, which causes blisters.
Construction, fiber variation, design and fit qualities vary from sport to sport. For tennis, fashion notwithstanding, many believe the crew sock design is the best to keep feet friction- and blister-free. Padding or double layers also are beneficial for court movement. Acrylic, lycra and some sort of moisture-wicking/moisture-prevention blend are what to look for.
While most of the major tennis brands also make socks worthy of long battles on the court, we tested models from these sock-specific manufacturers. See what fits the bill for your pickiest court warriors.
Balega is a high-quality, seam-free sock that is scoring high marks with runners for comfort, cushioning, breathability and durability. Balega’s Hidden Comfort (a no-show) and Soft Tread are recent additions and are particularly geared for tennis. The non-abrasion aspect and deep heel well keep the sock snug and in place and the ventilated top ensures comfort and coolness.
The Hidden Comfort features cushioning without adding bulk. Balega claims the Soft Tread is revolutionary because its shock-dispersing fibers (which the company says is the same fiber NASA uses) help at impact absorption. The socks also are left/right specific for a more precise fit. Balega’s hand-linked toe construction provides seam-free comfort and eliminates abrasion, and its proprietary technology wicks moisture from the foot.
What makes Drymax unique is the proprietary fiber. Drymax is made with Teflon-like dual-fiber where the poly comprises the outer core and the Drymax makes up the inner fabric. Together they reduce friction and keep feet dry and blister-free, says the company.
Drymax says its socks are not moisture-wicking, like other socks, but instead are “hydrophobic,” so moisture doesn’t bond to the sock in the first place. (According to Drymax, wicking socks spread moisture out more but still keep the skin wet.) Drymax says its tennis socks are unique in this respect, plus the denser fabrication in the heel and forefoot pad the foot bed, while keeping a lighter weave on the upper half of the foot for breathability and coolness.
Feetures! offers the ‘Feetures! original light cushioned sock, along with an “Ultra Light” version. Sock characteristics focus on iWick fiber technology, Durasoft, which is a merino wool/rayon blend, and a “sock lock” support system, which supports the arch, and keeps the foot and heel snug inside the shoe.
Lycra spandex gives Feetures! its fit properties and durability and the hand-linked toe seams ensure comfort and a smooth feel. Feetures! socks have a lifetime guarantee.
Jox Sox makes its socks in a cushioned and “super light” variety. They come in no-show, low-cut, quarter-length and crews. The dominant cotton fabrication allows for a natural feel but is fused with a lycra layer on top.
With these features, a padded bottom, non-slip Y-shaped heel and smooth toe seam, Jox Sox claims a secure heel fit while also keeping feet dry. The company’s air-flow technology is designed to promote air circulation to keep feet cool.
thorlo.com, 888- 846-7567
Thorlo was the first to make activity-specific socks, including those for tennis. The company says its socks have been on the feet of more grand slam winners than any other sock on the market.
Thorlo socks protect the foot by keeping impact and shear (friction) down, which occurs with lateral and stop/start movements. The socks have an engineered padded design in the heel and ball of the foot, which protects the toe area. Knitted with a propriety blend of acrylic yarn, nylon and a spandex combo, the socks incorporate moisture-wicking and resilience, and they retain their shape.
Styles include crew, mini crew, no-shows, and quarter-length. Thorlo has introduced different trim colors and has added solid black for men.
Billing itself as a specialty technical sock, Vitalsox, from Italy, says its socks have a compression feature — from the toe to heel, they sport a tight fit that keeps the sock in place in the shoe so there’s no blister-causing friction. The compression feature also aids in blood circulation, says the company.
Vitalsox are comprised of something called Polypropolene SilverDryStat, a fiber that the company says wicks moisture better than anything else and has a moisture-retention level of 0. Silver ions are injected into the thread and act like a healing agent, which prevents bacteria from forming and eliminates odor. The Vitalsox Court series, which comes in four styles, also has unique toe-to-heel looped padding for shock absorption, and which also prevents bunching and provides a channel for ventilation.
See all articles by Cynthia Sherman
About the Author
Cynthia Sherman is a contributing editor for RSI magazine.