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It’s hard to get excited about socks. Despite all the marketing hoopla about strategically placed cushioning and support panels, most pairs wind up feeling the same. And by the end of a long day, even the best are usually just smelly, damp, and stretched out. Swiftwick’s Flite XT Trail ($27) is one of the first to grab our attention.
Also available in quarter-crew ($24) and crew heights, the Flite XT Trail boasts a host of features that amount to the best-fitting, most resilient sock we’ve ever put on our feet. For starters, there’s the synthetic fiber, called olefin, that spans the sole; it’s hydrophobic and thus promotes incredibly fast wicking. Then there are the toe and heel portions, which are lightly padded with polyester-olefin nanofibers that grip the inside of your shoe to prevent your foot from moving around and thus reduce the chance of friction blisters.
All these features have popped up in socks from Swiftwick and other brands over the years. But here, the brand has combined them all with a merino-nylon fabric that confers natural anti-odor properties and is perfectly tuned to stay put and hold shape, even when wet, without feeling too tight. Credit just the right amount of compression around the midfoot and a strong elastic added in around the ankle. Neither of these things is groundbreaking; Swiftwick simply nails the balance between compression and comfort. Five testers wore the Flite XT Trail for four days through the hot, humid, muddy, river-filled Panamanian jungle. Our feet oscillated between damp and soaked (rarely dry); still, the Flite XT Trail held its shape and remained comfortably snug—no drooping, no bunching, no blisters, and no pinching from too-tight cuffs. In other words, this is a high-tech sock for daily running and hiking.