Many elements go into properly screwing up your feet on a long run – poor conditioning, bad hydration, poor nutrition, weather (extreme heat or rain), environment (puddles, creeks, etc.), inappropriate gear choices such as bad sock/shoe combinations, even slightly wrongsized insoles (paid for that one in full), or proactive mistakes – such as the wrong blister powder (which DNFed a mate running top 30 in the Sydney Marathon with only about 8km to go) or other supposedly helpful product.
Heading towards this year’s Great North Walk 110-miler, I’ve tried out a few different products since last year’s utter debacle on the 100km course. The Great North Walk’s first stage goes through a gorgeous chunk of darkly humid remnant subtropical rainforest, complete with crystal streams which are an icy pleasure for the feet, in what eventually becomes a bloody hot day mostly spent scrambling up steep slopes and melting on a dry haul through hot unshaded valleys. Last year, this meant that my feet were utterly soaked during the first two hours while I dehydrated slowly during the following six. For a combination of reasons, my shoes and socks, and of course feet, didn’t dry in any hurry at all and it set me up for a world of skin-chewing barefoot-on-a-hot-plate suckitupness. You can definitely run like that, but you don’t really want to.
Enter, Sealskinz. The brand boldly claims that their socks are waterproof and breathable, and they charge accordingly. Seeing their potential for trailrunning in wet conditions and seeing a number of positive reviews from other runners in the UK, I paid close to $30 for a pair of the Hi Vis Waterproof Socks and also grabbed a pair of their Ultralight Breathable Waterproof Bike Socks for about the same.
How did the Ultralight Breathable Waterproof Bike Socks go during a 2-hour, 20km hit out in conditions that varied from calm to stormy? Check out this awesome video review:
That’s right, trailrunners. Sealskinz suck and will do you no favours come race day. As well as soaking and wrinkling your feet as fast as any cheaper sock, the other thing I noticed is that they then bunch up with wetness, pulling back toward the heel where they bunch. Because they’re infused with a plastic fibre, they don’t stretch like a normal sock. This means they then exert a strong pull back on the more vulnerable parts of your feet, namely your longest toes. Awesome – wet feet, crowded heels, snapping toes. Funnily enough the ads and reposted reviews don’t mention this, but you can apparently stand in creeks in Sealskinz and enjoy panty-fresh dryness all day long.
But I have to call ‘bulls&#t!’. Where it says “Waterproof Breathable Close Fitting”, you need to read “Waterfilled Overpriced Non-Responsive”. When I got in touch with Sealskinz to ask just what the f&%k all the numpty UK fellrunners had been smoking when they were deluded into thinking their crappy plastic socks had worked, I got no reply.
To be fair, I actually had some hope for this second pair of Sealskinz because the Hi Vis pair that I tried and reviewed here were utter shit as well. They failed on a 5-hour run where the harshest water features encountered were 3-inch-deep puddles. I thought they deserved a second chance after failing on an evening run in drizzle around the bay. But no, Sealskinz don’t deserve a second chance.
For trailrunners looking for an emergency option in case of wet conditions in your racing during the coming Aussie summer, look anywhere else.
It would be interesting to hear what solutions runners have come up with for managing wet feet in heavy conditions on long runs. You’ll notice that I’m not asking whether Sealskinz have worked for you because if they did you’re either talking bollocks or didn’t try hard enough.
Sample Sealskinz review:
“Having spent $30 and received my Sealskinz cock-rocking rainstopping waterproof wonders of modern science I promptly popped them on my feet and went straight to bed. I awoke in the morning with no blisters and only a mild case of herpes. Thanks Sealskinz.”
1. Sealskinz are shit, don’t ever waste your money or hope for dryfooted running on them.
2. How do you manage aforementioned conditions when you’re running the long stuff?