Are socks the most underrated piece of outdoor gear? Chris Townsend assess the best for hillwalking. On test Sealskinz Mid Weight Length socks

Sealskinz socks are unusual as they have a waterproof/breathable membrane inside. This does make them waterproof, at least when they are new. Unfortunately I’ve not found them to stay waterproof very long. I think rubbing in footwear along with tiny bits of grit working its way through the material tears and punctures the membrane.  This pair failed the first day out when I hiked for five hours in wet boots in the rain. I’d previously only worn them the evening before in the tent. I checked them under the tap at home and found it was the soles that leaked, large damp patches quickly appearing. I guess this was due to rubbing against the footbeds in my boots.

However although my feet were wet they stayed warm as the socks are windproof, which stops much heat escaping. This windproof quality is especially useful when wearing shoes with mesh panels. On one occasion my feet only stayed warm on a freezing snowy ridge when wearing wet mesh shoes because I had SealSkinz to keep the wind off.

Being stiffer than most socks the SealSkinz aren’t quite as good a fit though I still find them comfortable. I wouldn’t choose them to keep my feet dry or to wear regularly but I do like them in cold weather for the windproof qualities and for wearing in camp. In temperatures above +5C I find SealS

Reviewed in January 2015 Issue