Gear Review: Balega athletic sock

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phile

Trad climber
SF, CA
Topic Author's Original Post - Aug 3, 2010 - 03:24pm PT
Product:
Balega athletic sock

Evaluators:
me
Crusher

Overall rating:
4 out of 4 stars

Pros:
Durable
Comfortable
Fits wide range of sizes
Flexible--multiple applications

Cons:
Poor traction in some applications

Protocol:
Our testers bought a pair of these at Sports Basement about a year ago. After a year of conventional use, they were put to the real test. At the 9th belay on Crest Jewel Direct, one of our testers' [my] approach shoe worked its way off of a non-locking biner and plunged hundreds of feet to its likely death. Retrieving the shoe would have required descending the bushwack from hell a 2nd time (in the dark this time), finding the shoe (in the dark), and then either doing the climb again (in the dark) or reversing the bushwack from hell (also in the dark). So the shoe was left to die, a la Joe Simpson in Touching the Void.

I'm having slab, slab, slab, slab, and slab! Wonderful slab, lovely sl...
I'm having slab, slab, slab, slab, and slab! Wonderful slab, lovely slab.
Credit: phile

Slab cowboy.
Slab cowboy.
Credit: phile

Foreshadowing?
Foreshadowing?
Credit: phile

Tester #2
Tester #2
Credit: phile

The potential buyer should note that a Balega sock is not, in and of itself, adequate footwear. Our testers started with a doubled-over wool hat as an insole. The hat was secured to the foot with a bandana, and the package was then wrapped with climbing tape (3 feet worth, the testers' entire repair/first aid kit). Despite being a women's size small, the Balega sock fit over the bulky materials admirably, providing an important layer of protection, cushioning, and stability.

Tester #2 (l) and Tester #1 (r). Tester #1 is attempti...
Tester #2 (l) and Tester #1 (r). Tester #1 is attempting to smile, but thinking about his shoe (RIP) and the hike out.
Credit: phile

Test Protocol Step 1
Test Protocol Step 1
Credit: phile

Test Protocol Step 2
Test Protocol Step 2
Credit: phile

Test Protocol Step 2 (complete)
Test Protocol Step 2 (complete)
Credit: phile

Test Protocol Step 3. Note roomy fit and pink accents.
Test Protocol Step 3. Note roomy fit and pink accents.
Credit: phile

On the trail, the Balega caused mild to moderate supination, primarily due to an imprecisely placed insole/hat. However, it made it the entire 4.5 mile hike without developing any holes--amazing. For this level of durability, our testers gave the Balega sock 4 out of 4 stars. Testers' notes also complimented the sock on its attractive pink accents.

One of the testers, referencing renowned alpinist Steve House's dropped boot on the North Face of North Twin, remarked, "I'm Steve House, bitch!"

While not strictly relevant to the subject at hand, the testers would like to admit for the record that it took a few falls to get up the crux pitch. The testers cite the hot weather and consequently greasy rock as the likely culprit.

--test team

[edited--fixed House route reference; pics!]
Mighty Hiker

climber
Vancouver, B.C.
Aug 3, 2010 - 03:34pm PT
Bwahahahaha! And then there was that guy who climbed the north face of North Twin with only one boot, in the upper part. And someone else who dropped two ice tools on Robson...

So the shoe was left to die, a la Joe Simpson in Touching the Void.
Did it fall in a crevasse? What knife was used to cut its cord?
phile

Trad climber
SF, CA
Topic Author's Reply - Aug 3, 2010 - 03:47pm PT
oops, thanks MH, I meant NF of north twin--i've edited it...

p.
Mighty Hiker

climber
Vancouver, B.C.
Aug 3, 2010 - 03:49pm PT
OK, but that still doesn't explain the pink bunnies. Pictures, please!
bergbryce

Mountain climber
Oakland
Aug 3, 2010 - 04:25pm PT
Strong work.
Now I'm anxiously awaiting the rip-off threads this will generate.
phile

Trad climber
SF, CA
Topic Author's Reply - Aug 5, 2010 - 02:35pm PT
now with pics, as requested!

--a satisfied customer
msiddens

Trad climber
Mountain View
Aug 5, 2010 - 02:47pm PT
Phile- fantastic and glad you made it back to the trail in one (sorta) piece.
Captain...or Skully

Big Wall climber
Transporter Room 2
Aug 5, 2010 - 04:29pm PT
That's a good story, man.
Serious sock test, eh?
Mighty Hiker

climber
Vancouver, B.C.
Aug 5, 2010 - 04:33pm PT
Darn it! Another funny thread. The hole thing had me in stitches.
phile

Trad climber
SF, CA
Topic Author's Reply - Aug 6, 2010 - 07:03am PT
darn... hole... stitches... "i see what you did there."
medusa

Trad climber
culver city
Aug 10, 2010 - 01:11pm PT
Socks on granite kinda dangerous! Vermont Darn Tough socks for me! Smart wool and all others just step aside!!
phile

Trad climber
SF, CA
Topic Author's Reply - Aug 10, 2010 - 10:11pm PT
Balega athletic sock: one is all you need.
Mighty Hiker

climber
Vancouver, B.C.
Aug 10, 2010 - 10:14pm PT
Here's the website for Balega. It has some interesting graphics and stuff.
http://www.balegasports.com/

Maybe they'd sponsor you, or give you some free socks or something?
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