In the beginning of 2020, we received hiking gear from the French outdoor brand CimAlp for testing. When we opened the package, we were happy to see that they also included socks. Both me and my girlfriend received a pair of their Merino wool socks which are labelled as extra warm on their website. That was perfect because the temperatures in January were often below 0° C. We’ve been wearing the CimAlp Merino wool socks throughout the winter for hiking, mountaineering, travelling and everyday use. I also wore the socks on the demanding Velika Planina trail in February where I tested how they perform on longer hikes. Below is what we learned about the CimAlp Merino wool socks.
The CimAlp Merino Wool soocks are suitable for:
- Everyday use
The CimAlp Merino wool socks are made of Merino wool (64%) and polyamide (36%). Polyamide fibers are added to the fabric to increase the durability. This is a standard practice when it comes to Merino socks because 100% Merino wool is simply not robust enough for a garment that is subject to so high abrasion as socks. A 100% Merino sock would get worn out very fast. Therefore, more sturdy fibers have to be added. In terms of sustainability, the material is certified by the Oekotex Standard 100 meaning that it is free of harmful substances– not least because the used dyes are organic and the Merino wool is chlorine-free. Wool fibers have to receive some sort of treatment to be washable (without felting and shrinking), and while conventional chlorine-treated wool poses no risk to the wearer, this chemical treatment has a huge environmental impact as it creates very toxic wastewater – so toxic that most wastewater treatment facilities in the States do not accept it. Choosing chlorine-free Merino wool apparel like the CimAlp socks is thus a sure way to decrease your clothing’s environmental footprint.
When I unpacked the CimAlp Merino socks I immediately noticed that they are somewhat thicker than my other Merino socks. That was to be expected as the CimAlp Merino socks are primarily designed for cold conditions, and thick socks are obviously warmer than thin socks. Nevertheless, the socks are not too thick. The density of the material seems just right to me. I was also positively surprised over the fabric which is robust, yet soft and pleasant to the touch. In my experience it’s very important that socks are made of comfortable materials because otherwise they can chafe your skin and cause blisters.
So, when it comes to hiking socks it’s also important that they are moisture-wicking, breathable, quick-drying, odor-resistant and durable. This are the qualities on which I focused while testing the CimAlp Merino socks on trails.
I started wearing the socks on trails in January and they were perfect for the season. They provided just the right level of insulation so that my feet stayed warm but not too warm. They also always nicely pulled the moisture from my skin and transported it to the lining of my Salewa hiking boots. The breathability is also good, and I never felt that my feet are sweaty because of the socks. Now, since the socks are a bit thicker/warmer, they obviously can’t dry as fast as thin summer socks. Nevertheless, I must say that they dry surprisingly fast. I wore the socks on the Velika Planina trail which was a rather long hike (21 km and +1300 m of ascent) and by the end of the hike, the socks were almost completely dry.
The CimAlp Merino socks have a relatively high percentage of Merino fibers and thus they also provide some level of odor resistance (Merino wool is naturally antimicrobial). I often wore the socks for several days/hikes before washing them and they never became particularly smelly.
I was also impressed over the durability of the socks. It’s true that I’ve worn them for only a couple of months, but they do really seem robust and durable due to the relatively thick fabric.
Functionality, fit and sizing
The CimAlp Merino socks are in my opinion best for hiking and mountaineering in very cold to cold conditions (temperatures below 5° C), while they can also be used for everyday wear in warmer weather. They were perfect for hiking in January and February but at the end of March they were already becoming too warm to be worn on demanding trails. Nevertheless, this differs from person to person – some get cold feet faster than the others. The socks also provide very good cushioning and are thus suitable for longer backpacking trips as well as for those who prefer heavier footwear.
I’m very satisfied with the fit of the socks and so far, I haven’t encountered any chafing or discomfort while wearing them. All seams are smooth or hidden and both the heel and toe area are reinforced for extra cushioning. The elastics in the cuffs are also not too tight or too loose. I got the socks in the EU size 42-44 – and I generally use shoe size 43-44 (my Salewa boots are size 44; my Lowa shoes 43½). So, it seems that the socks are true to size.
Washing and drying
The socks can be machine washed at 30° C, but steer clear of softener, bleach or other additives. As other performance socks, they shouldn’t be tumble-dried. Since the socks have a relatively high content of Merino fibers which are antimicrobial, they also don’t have to be washed as frequently as synthetic socks.
The CimAlp Merino socks were amazing for hiking and mountaineering in the winter. They provide just the right level of warmth for adventures on snowy trails and are moisture-wicking, breathable and quick-drying. I was also very satisfied with the fabric which is comfortable and soft to the touch. Therefore, I would be very surprised if these socks caused chafing or blisters to anyone. The CimAlp Merino socks also excel at cushioning and due to the Merino fibers, they are somewhat odor resistant. So, if you need a pair of good and warm hiking socks for winter, I do really recommend the CimAlp Merino socks.
If you have any questions about this product, drop me a line in the comments below.