OK, so who really knows how many running-related products I have tested over the years - everything from shoes to clothing to foods to hydration systems. I can't say that I've lost count because I never really kept count. All I know is that with this upcoming Beast of Burden 24-hour race, I have been in perpetual test-pilot mode. This event is something totally new to me; I have never done a 24-hour event and I have never done any extremely long stuff in the middle of winter. So in the planning process I am trying to be completely prepared. My biggest concern, as with any ultra, is my feet. If you don't take care of your feet, you're cooked. So I have to say that this area has been my biggest focus in preparing for The Beast.
I already have a pair of Seirus Stormsocks that I absolutely love. They keep your feet toasty and dry and fit like a second skin. But I recently learned about another cold-and-wet proof sock that I thought beared some investigation. SealSkinz sounded like they may provide a bit more protection if the conditions turn out to be either very wet or extremely cold. So, wanting to be prepared for anything, I bought a pair.
Yesterday it was a sunny and 18 degrees F outside. Not brutally cold, I thought, but I thought I would take this chance to test-drive the SealSkinz. Once I got out the door I realized that it wasn't the balmy 18 degrees that it appeared to be looking out the window. The wind was kicking-up pretty good and the windchill was certainly in the single digits, if not below zero. Excellent opportunity for the SealSkinz. I ran 8.8 miles and my feet stayed toasty warm the whole time. The one thing that I did notice is that the SealSkinz are a bit bulkier than the StormSocks. And toward the end of the run (probably about 1 1/4 miles left) I found that my feet were actually too warm. My conclusion is that the SealSkinz, unless the daytime conditions are brutally cold (near or below zero) will likely be reserved for the night-time running of The Beast when I am likely to be moving slower and the temps dropping down even colder.
The one thing that I discovered about the SealSkinz, which I found pretty cool, is that they really are a very weatherproof sock. When I finished my run I took my sneakers off on the porch and walked around in the snow for about 5 minutes in just the SealSkinz and my feet stayed just as warm and dry (dry meaning no sock leakage from the outside, but my toes were already somewhat sweaty from the run). Pretty cool.
So my conclusion is that the SealSkinz socks should be reserved for either the very wet or the very very very cold. I really like them but I can see that it may take me a couple of runs in them to adjust to the bulk, since I am used to a thin sock. And I think that no matter how wet and disgusting your sneakers may get, the SealSkinz will keep your feet warm and dry.
Some (Joe) may think that I have gone a bit over the deep end with my weather-proof socks, but I think that for conquering The Beast successfully, foot care is priority 1.