Merino Wool Socks: point6 reviewOverview
: point6 is the company created by Peter and Patty Duke AFTER they founded SmartWool (de facto leader of the merino wool revolution), rose to awesomeness, sold the company to Timberland, and waited several years for their non-compete agreement to expire. If you can't tell, their story of the second-time underdog and "cutesy nomadic" branding makes me kind of smile, so I wholly admit a fond fuzzy bias for anything point6 does. But their background also makes me first and foremost compare them to SmartWool.
So, what's different from SmartWool? Main thing is that the p6 socks are "compact spun" yarns. The way my co-workers explained it to me (when I worked outdoor retail) was that the compact spinning process pulls a lot of extra air out of the sock as the wool fibers are put together--meaning, more merino strands per cubic inch than conventional spinning processes.
Why do we care? Because more strands in the same space means more durability without additional bulk
Point6 is in my mental category of "two-thirds merino." Like SmartWool, and FITs, they are about 60-70% merino to 20-30% nylon, with a few other things thrown in at less than 5-10%. While this means you get better thermoregulation (warmth in the cold, breathability overall) than more synthetic-based socks, this means that the socks are at risk of wearing out faster than their 40% nylon counterparts (example, Bridgedale socks). Unless, of course, you add more and more tightly woven merino strands. The compact spinning process for point6 socks means that a midweight compact spun sock can now have durability closer to a heavyweight conventionally spun sock, except you don't have to worry as much about fitting your sock-covered feet into everyday shoes. At least, that's what it's felt like to me when I wear them.
Point6 is also messing around with optimizing their sock shape (like pretty much all of the legit companies nowdays*)--adding arch support, tapered calves, deeper pockets, and [seamless toe boxes]. A (rather skinny) co-worker criticized the elastic band at the top for being too loose during serious outdoor activity, but he was the only one who mentioned it, and I personally have yet to notice any issues, and think they're done a nice job with getting a good fit.
*SmartWool's "PhD" line is an earlier example of making socks more "foot-shaped" and addressing the durability weak-spots of two-thirds merino (e.g., adding more cushion to the heel to keep it from wearing out, adding arch support).Which models do I have?
Hiker Medium x2, Active Light, Cushioned Work/Boot Sock (Hiker Medium)
Note, companies are increasingly putting size and cushion type on the sock itself--makes getting two socks back together after the wash a little easier.How long have I had them for?
Since December.How have I used them?
7-hour work shifts in a retail store (so, lots of low-impact standing and walking around), general use on non-work days, day hikes/paddles, and around the house for warmth (inside my house shoes).How is their wear/durability?
Great so far, but I don't usually run shoeless around the house in just my nicer merinos, or walk outside in only them (ever), so I'm not an extreme short-term tester. Minimal pilling, if any, fuzzies--they look good, even with my once a week washing compulsion. No rips.How is their performance?
What I expect from high-quality merino socks. There is good cushioning in several models (the "boot" crew line, for example) for standing for long periods, and a they're warmer than similar weight socks of other brands, so great for cool weather. I didn't end up testing them in my cold-water dunking adventure (they weren't the "back-up" socks that I changed into, they were the primaries that I changed out of, sigh...), so I'm still not sure I know everything about them, yet.How is their comfort/fit?
Great! The wool is noticeably softer/smoother than my SmartWools. A friend with foot problems who I gifted a pair too have commented that arch support originally made her suspicious, but has since found them really comfortable. I have high arches, so my main perception is that the sock shapes to my foot like, well, like it was made for a foot
Do keep in mind the greater density--I wore insulated hiking boots at work quite a bit (they were my most comfortable shoes, so I dealt with the sometimes inappropriate temperature range). On those days, I always found the point6s ARE warmer and made my feet reach the overheated stage a little sooner than all other wool socks I've worn of comparable bulk.Conclusions:
I haven't had point6 socks for long enough. I'm still interested in more testing to get an even better idea of how I will use point6 socks compared to the other merino socks in my collection. (More testing will come with my recent relocation
That said, the company obviously knows wtf they're doing, and they're bringing some excellent ideas to the table. If you like SmartWools, you owe it to your feet to give point6s a try. And if you're testing out the higher-quality two-thirds merino wool sock market, you won't go wrong with just going for P6s right off the bat.