Topic Author's Original Post - Aug 3, 2010 - 06:24pm PT
Balega athletic sock
4 out of 4 stars
Fits wide range of sizes
Poor traction in some applications
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 slab.
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 attempting to smile, but thinking about his shoe (RIP) and the hike out.
Test Protocol Step 1
Test Protocol Step 2
Test Protocol Step 2 (complete)
Test Protocol Step 3. Note roomy fit and pink accents.
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.