Walk a mile through any wood or run down a ragged trail, and the chance of collecting a twig or pebble in your shoe is fairly high. For backpackers and hikers, a tiny intrusion--say a small stone wedged under your sock--can easily sprout a hot spot or blister.
As such, some hikers employ gaiters, which seal the top of a shoe off with a cinching sleeve of nylon or mesh.
Inov-8 Ltd., a U.K.-based footwear company, recently debuted a gaiter-equipped sock--the Debrisoc--that has a built-in flap of fabric that folds over a shoe's opening.
A pair of these socks, which come in a merino wool variety ($22) or made with CoolMax material ($18), takes the hassle out of pulling on and managing gaiters while on the go.
The design is simple: A flap of material on the ankle cuff folds over the shoe's opening; a small hook stretches the gaiter flap over the laces, locking it in place; and an elastic band loops underneath your sole to keep the Debrisoc tight.
During my test earlier this month, the Debrisoc fit well and stayed solidly in place throughout six miles of hiking, including about a mile of bushwhacking through thick woods.
As promised, the socks kept all debris at bay. I never once had to dump out my shoes during the hike.
However, one issue: In a particularly nasty backwoods section of my hike--most likely when I was negotiating a forest of deadfall--one of the Debrisoc's elastic bungee cords snapped off and disappeared.
This left me with a semi-functional gaiter for the rest of the day.
Had I brought some cord along, this would have been a simple fix, as the Debrisoc was made to be rethreaded ad hoc with line or a replacement bungee. Instead I simply tromped on with a flapping gaiter for the final few miles.
No other complaints with this product--a cool innovation all around.
Stephen Regenold writes The Gear Junkie column for eight U.S. newspapers; visit www.thegearjunkie.com for video gear reviews, a daily blog and an archive of Regenold's work.