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Test and Assessment of Armaskin Socks as Blister Protection

davebugg

A Pilgrimage is time I spend praying with my feet
Year of past OR future Camino
2019
ArmaSkin Socks for Blister Prevention

Entering Blister Discussion Season, there are a couple of reposts of what I had previously written which may be helpful. I will also post my assessment of Engo anti-blister patches later in a separate thread.

First, let me say that I have no vested interest in Armaskin Socks. I have never been in contact with the company that manufactures the product, nor do I have any wholesale or retail or stock market, etc. connections which will earn me cash if someone purchases this product. Buy them or don’t buy them, curse them or praise them, I Don’t Care.

Conclusion and Bottom Line: When used properly, Armaskin Anti-blister Socks can be effective at preventing blisters.

The Specifics

Background


A lot of forum members know that I am hired by various backpacking gear, footwear, and clothing manufacturers to test their products for quality assurance, usability, and the workability of modifications and prototypes. My reports go to the company that has hired me for their internal use; I do not publish reviews, or test stuff to provide public recommendations.

ArmaSkin did not hire me to test their product. Nor did I inform ArmaSkin of my intentions. I purchased the ArmaSkins myself from an online vendor.

I decided to post about Armaskins after recently learning of them. I was curious as to the claims made about them. As a Forum member, I know a lot of others might also be interested in the blister prevention claims, too. There are also some participants who have tried them previously and recommend them.

This post is not a recommendation for or against this product. I am providing the information based on experienced observation, and I make no specific claims that my findings will equally apply to anyone else.

Rationale and Motivation to Test Armaskins
I wanted to know if Armaskin Socks effectively implements the known and effective blister prevention strategies which it appears to incorporate. I also wanted to provide more objective information for those who interested in trying Armaskins but are hesitant to do so because of their price point. It is my hope that having additional information will make the price point less of an issue should one really want to give Armaskins a try but are concerned over cost-benefit.

As a gear tester, I felt I have the skills and objectivity to cut through the hyperbole and marketing claims and look at the individual ‘ingredients’ of these sock’s manufacture for their actual effectiveness toward blister prevention.

Armaskin socks have been around for a while. Until recently, I was not aware of them until a Forum contributor posted a bit of information about them. That post intrigued me, so I did a quick online look about the sock; specifically, what is the makeup of the sock that is special or different which functions to prevent blisters.

After a bit of research, and ignoring the glowing marketing testimonials, I felt like the Armaskins deserved a hands-on look. What got my attention was the fact that, unlike other ‘anti-blister’ socks, this sock incorporated stated and proven techniques to either prevent blisters, or to prolong the time for blister formation to occur. Prolonging the time for blisters to form is also important in preventing blister formation, because it allows more time for a person to recognize the formation of irritations and hotspots on the feet so that they can be effectively dealt with.

What is the big boogeyman of blister formation? Shear force friction. In a nutshell, you want to keep the friction causing heat of the shear force between the sock and the shoe, and away from the sock and the skin. Do this and there will be no blistering in 99.9% of all cases.

It appears that Armaskins accomplish this goal in three primary ways:
  • A snug fit of the sock.
  • A sock material which reduces the coefficient of friction.
  • Providing a material buffer between the shear friction force and the skin of the foot.
Gear Test
The socks are made of a slick feeling synthetic material, with a defined seamed area at the toes and the heel. More on the seams later. Applied to the interior of the sock is a flexible, durable, and grippy rubbery-type compound. It is a silicone-based menu of stuff, but it is inert and is said to be breathable.

There are four basic sock sizes. One picks the Armaskin sock size based on their sizing chart; the sizing chart utilizes your sock size to determine if you need a Small, Medium, Large, or Extra-Large size. As with some others whose review had stated that the Armaskin Chart guide selections were too small, I had to go with a Large, rather than the Medium that the Chart said I needed. I had purchased two pair, one in the size the Chart indicated was my size, and the other was a size larger. I ended up returning the Medium sized sock.

Each of the socks in the pair have a defined shape to them --- when looking at them, it is easy to see which sock is for the right foot and which for the left. I experimented putting them on in the dark, and it was simple for me to feel the shape of each sock, so the proper match would be made to the foot in question.

My technique for putting the sock on was to scrunch the top of the sock down to the toe. Then, once my toes were successfully ensconced, I would roll-tug them up, over the heel and up to final position. I always made additional adjustments to getting things properly aligned. With my foot size, the required sized sock which fit, had the heel location up above the back of my heel onto the lower part of my Achilles tendon. It couldn’t be helped, it was just the way it was.

Important Note: If you are a user of a lubricating medium on your feet to help prevent blisters -- like Body Glide or Vaseline, etc. – you cannot use such things with Armaskin socks; such stuff will make the socks ineffective.

Even with a larger size Armaskin, the fit is very snug. My initial reaction was concern that the amount of compression on my foot would create problems with hours of wear. For me, such turned out not to be the case. I can understand where it would be possible for some folks to find this level of snugness objectionable, and even constricting enough of blood circulation in the foot to cause cramping or other discomforts. In my case, none of those issue appeared.

Once on, the Armaskins do not slip or really move around on the foot. The snugness and the ‘grippy-ness’ keep things in place. This is one of the reasons it is important to have the sock lay smooth on the foot with no lumps or rucks of material; get the sock smooth and it will stay that way.

Here is where the Armaskin Socks are not really a liner sock, or a part of a dual sock system in the traditional sense. With the old-school technique, the traditional use of a thin liner sock is used under a thicker sock as a system to try and prevent blisters. The Armaskin does not need an outer sock to prevent blisters; it only needs the outer sock to protect the Armaskin from premature wear and tear. Thus, it is not a "double-sock liner system".

If one does not care how long their Armaskin Socks will last, you can wear the Armaskin by itself and will still do the job it was designed to do. The Armaskin, by itself, will keep the shear force’s blister-causing friction from the skin on the foot, and keep it between the Armaskin and the shoe where it belongs.

I spent over 160 miles hiking in all sorts of backpacking terrain, under all sorts of backpack weights, using the Armaskin in a variety of shoe and insole combinations, using them with and without an outer sock, and subjected to all kinds of dirt, grit, mud and wet. I never really felt at-risk of getting blisters. One caveat, though, as a full disclosure: It is unusual for me to blister.

That being said, I have gotten blisters before and I do, infrequently, deal with hotspots and recognize the conditions which put me at-risk for developing those hot spots. I took great pains to recreate those kinds of conditions with gusto.

Many users posting reviews have stated that the Armaskins didn’t make their feet warm or hot. All I can say is that my feet did get warmer, sometimes much warmer, than with my usual socks and footwear combination. I typically will wear a single, lightweight and light padded Merino wool sock. Being much warmer wearing a double sock combination with the Armaskin didn’t surprise me, though. I will note that my feet also did become a bit damp from sweat a few times; while the Armaskin may claim to be breathable, that breathability is restricted to the ability of airflow within a shoe. Wearing an outer sock and being in the confines of a shoe means that there must be an overall decrease in the ability of water vapor to escape.

The Armaskins never got ‘funky’ smelling. They washed well; the washing would ‘renew’ the 'grippy-ness’ of the sock's interior coating, probably because washing removes body oils, dirt, skin cells, etc. Just be sure to carefully follow the manufacturer’s washing instructions. Because of the Camino application, I washed these Armaskins by hand in cool water, with just barely enough soap to get them clean. The soap I used is what I used on Camino. The socks wring out fairly well and do not take overly long to dry. To help preserve the materials and longevity in the socks, I would not dry them in the harshness of direct sunlight… that much UV radiation will affect the synthetic materials, as will the high heat of direct radiant energy. If using a dryer, I would air dry as a preference; or at most, the lowest heat setting possible.

End of the day comfort? I always enjoyed removing the socks and letting my feet out of the snugness factor of the Armaskins. While they were on, though, I never had my attention focused on my feet and I never felt that my feet were distressed at all. Even my persnickety Left Foot – who hates me with its entire being – kept quite about the socks.

Are Armaskin Socks the best method, or the surest method, for blister prevention? In my assessments, no. Armaskins are potentially just one method, among others, which can be effective. As with everything gear related, there can be some downsides, and they are a bit finicky. I don’t think that should keep potential users from trying them out, though.

If someone:
  • Uses the socks as directed
  • Takes care of them
  • Does not put absolute trust in them by ignoring the need to stay focused on potential hot-spots and other indications of blistering so they can be dealt with before a blister appears:
then I think that the Armaskins may work well.

NOTE:
The same principles which Armaskins use to prevent the shear force friction which causes blistering has existed prior to Armaskins. The materials and techniques to achieve this are cheaper to employ, more flexible and adaptable to unique situations by targeting the specific problem areas on the feet, and are easier to obtain if replacement is necessary.

So, for what it’s worth that is my assessment of Armaskins. It is my hope that this informs the group of another tool for potential blister prevention.
 
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Jean Ti

Active Member
Year of past OR future Camino
.
ArmaSkin Socks for Blister Prevention

Entering Blister Discussion Season, there are a couple of reposts of what I had previously written which may be helpful. I will also post my assessment of Engo anti-blister patches later in a separate thread.

First, let me say that I have no vested interest in Armaskin Socks. I have never been in contact with the company that manufactures the product, nor do I have any wholesale or retail or stock market, etc. connections which will earn me cash if someone purchases this product. Buy them or don’t buy them, curse them or praise them, I Don’t Care.

Conclusion and Bottom Line: When used properly, Armaskin Anti-blister Socks can be effective at preventing blisters.

The Specifics

Background


A lot of forum members know that I am hired by various backpacking gear, footwear, and clothing manufacturers to test their products for quality assurance, usability, and the workability of modifications and prototypes. My reports go to the company that has hired me for their internal use; I do not publish reviews, or test stuff to provide public recommendations.

ArmaSkin did not hire me to test their product. Nor did I inform ArmaSkin of my intentions. I purchased the ArmaSkins myself from an online vendor.

I decided to post about Armaskins after recently learning of them. I was curious as to the claims made about them. As a Forum member, I know a lot of others might also be interested in the blister prevention claims, too. There are also some participants who have tried them previously and recommend them.

This post is not a recommendation for or against this product. I am providing the information based on experienced observation, and I make no specific claims that my findings will equally apply to anyone else.

Rationale and Motivation to Test Armaskins
I wanted to know if Armaskin Socks effectively implements the known and effective blister prevention strategies which it appears to incorporate. I also wanted to provide more objective information for those who interested in trying Armaskins but are hesitant to do so because of their price point. It is my hope that having additional information will make the price point less of an issue should one really want to give Armaskins a try but are concerned over cost-benefit.

As a gear tester, I felt I have the skills and objectivity to cut through the hyperbole and marketing claims and look at the individual ‘ingredients’ of these sock’s manufacture for their actual effectiveness toward blister prevention.

Armaskin socks have been around for a while. Until recently, I was not aware of them until a Forum contributor posted a bit of information about them. That post intrigued me, so I did a quick online look about the sock; specifically, what is the makeup of the sock that is special or different which functions to prevent blisters.

After a bit of research, and ignoring the glowing marketing testimonials, I felt like the Armaskins deserved a hands-on look. What got my attention was the fact that, unlike other ‘anti-blister’ socks, this sock incorporated stated and proven techniques to either prevent blisters, or to prolong the time for blister formation to occur. Prolonging the time for blisters to form is also important in preventing blister formation, because it allows more time for a person to recognize the formation of irritations and hotspots on the feet so that they can be effectively dealt with.

What is the big boogeyman of blister formation? Shear force friction. In a nutshell, you want to keep the friction causing heat of the shear force between the sock and the shoe, and away from the sock and the skin. Do this and there will be no blistering in 99.9% of all cases.

It appears that Armaskins accomplish this goal in three primary ways:
  • A snug fit of the sock.
  • A sock material which reduces the coefficient of friction.
  • Providing a material buffer between the shear friction force and the skin of the foot.
Gear Test
The socks are made of a slick feeling synthetic material, with a defined seamed area at the toes and the heel. More on the seams later. Applied to the interior of the sock is a flexible, durable, and grippy rubbery-type compound. It is a silicone-based menu of stuff, but it is inert and is said to be breathable.

There are four basic sock sizes. One picks the Armaskin sock size based on their sizing chart; the sizing chart utilizes your sock size to determine if you need a Small, Medium, Large, or Extra-Large size. As with some others whose review had stated that the Armaskin Chart guide selections were too small, I had to go with a Large, rather than the Medium that the Chart said I needed. I had purchased two pair, one in the size the Chart indicated was my size, and the other was a size larger. I ended up returning the Medium sized sock.

Each of the socks in the pair have a defined shape to them --- when looking at them, it is easy to see which sock is for the right foot and which for the left. I experimented putting them on in the dark, and it was simple for me to feel the shape of each sock, so the proper match would be made to the foot in question.

My technique for putting the sock on was to scrunch the top of the sock down to the toe. Then, once my toes were successfully ensconced, I would roll-tug them up, over the heel and up to final position. I always made additional adjustments to getting things properly aligned. With my foot size, the required sized sock which fit, had the heel location up above the back of my heel onto the lower part of my Achilles tendon. It couldn’t be helped, it was just the way it was.

Important Note: If you are a user of a lubricating medium on your feet to help prevent blisters -- like Body Glide or Vaseline, etc. – you cannot use such things with Armaskin socks; such stuff will make the socks ineffective.

Even with a larger size Armaskin, the fit is very snug. My initial reaction was concern that the amount of compression on my foot would create problems with hours of wear. For me, such turned out not to be the case. I can understand where it would be possible for some folks to find this level of snugness objectionable, and even constricting enough of blood circulation in the foot to cause cramping or other discomforts. In my case, none of those issue appeared.

Once on, the Armaskins do not slip or really move around on the foot. The snugness and the ‘grippy-ness’ keep things in place. This is one of the reasons it is important to have the sock lay smooth on the foot with no lumps or rucks of material; get the sock smooth and it will stay that way.

Here is where the Armaskin Socks are not really a liner sock, or a part of a dual sock system in the traditional sense. With the old-school technique, the traditional use of a thin liner sock is used under a thicker sock as a system to try and prevent blisters. The Armaskin does not need an outer sock to prevent blisters; it only needs the outer sock to protect the Armaskin from premature wear and tear. Thus, it is not a "double-sock liner system".

If one does not care how long their Armaskin Socks will last, you can wear the Armaskin by itself and will still do the job it was designed to do. The Armaskin, by itself, will keep the shear force’s blister-causing friction from the skin on the foot, and keep it between the Armaskin and the shoe where it belongs.

I spent over 160 miles hiking in all sorts of backpacking terrain, under all sorts of backpack weights, using the Armaskin in a variety of shoe and insole combinations, using them with and without an outer sock, and subjected to all kinds of dirt, grit, mud and wet. I never really felt at-risk of getting blisters. One caveat, though, as a full disclosure: It is unusual for me to blister.

That being said, I have gotten blisters before and I do, infrequently, deal with hotspots and recognize the conditions which put me at-risk for developing those hot spots. I took great pains to recreate those kinds of conditions with gusto.

Many users posting reviews have stated that the Armaskins didn’t make their feet warm or hot. All I can say is that my feet did get warmer, sometimes much warmer, than with my usual socks and footwear combination. I typically will wear a single, lightweight and light padded Merino wool sock. Being much warmer wearing a double sock combination with the Armaskin didn’t surprise me, though. I will note that my feet also did become a bit damp from sweat a few times; while the Armaskin may claim to be breathable, that breathability is restricted to the ability of airflow within a shoe. Wearing an outer sock and being in the confines of a shoe means that there must be an overall decrease in the ability of water vapor to escape.

The Armaskins never got ‘funky’ smelling. They washed well; the washing would ‘renew’ the 'grippy-ness’ of the sock's interior coating, probably because washing removes body oils, dirt, skin cells, etc. Just be sure to carefully follow the manufacturer’s washing instructions. Because of the Camino application, I washed these Armaskins by hand in cool water, with just barely enough soap to get them clean. The soap I used is what I used on Camino. The socks wring out fairly well and do not take overly long to dry. To help preserve the materials and longevity in the socks, I would not dry them in the harshness of direct sunlight… that much UV radiation will affect the synthetic materials, as will the high heat of direct radiant energy. If using a dryer, I would air dry as a preference; or at most, the lowest heat setting possible.

End of the day comfort? I always enjoyed removing the socks and letting my feet out of the snugness factor of the Armaskins. While they were on, though, I never had my attention focused on my feet and I never felt that my feet were distressed at all. Even my persnickety Left Foot – who hates me with its entire being – kept quite about the socks.

Are Armaskin Socks the best method, or the surest method, for blister prevention? In my assessments, no. Armaskins are potentially just one method, among others, which can be effective. As with everything gear related, there can be some downsides, and they are a bit finicky. I don’t think that should keep potential users from trying them out, though.

If someone:
  • Uses the socks as directed
  • Takes care of them
  • Does not put absolute trust in them by ignoring the need to stay focused on potential hot-spots and other indications of blistering so they can be dealt with before a blister appears:
then I think that the Armaskins may work well.

NOTE:
The same principles which Armaskins use to prevent the shear force friction which causes blistering has existed prior to Armaskins. The materials and techniques to achieve this are cheaper to employ, more flexible and adaptable to unique situations by targeting the specific problem areas on the feet, and are easier to obtain if replacement is necessary.

So, for what it’s worth that is my assessment of Armaskins. It is my hope that this informs the group of another tool for potential blister prevention.

This is interesting I just check these socks on this web site and on July 13 2018 this same text was written about the same socks!


 
Peaceable Projects Inc.
Peaceable Projects Inc. is a U.S.-based non-profit group that brings the vast resources of the wide world together with the ongoing needs of the people who live, work, and travel on the Camino de Santiago pilgrim trail network in Spain.
Rent a house in Santiago (1 month minimum)
300m from the cathedral and around the corner from the fresh food market in Santiago. Perfect place to tele commute from (1GB symmetrical connection).

davebugg

A Pilgrimage is time I spend praying with my feet
Year of past OR future Camino
2019
My simple test tell me that the outdoors merino socs that I purchase at Costco are very good for the Camino. I did 2500km with them and change them twice a day. Never never any problem with them.

For the price a very good purchase!
The purpose of the post is a review, rather than a comparative analysis or specific recommendation of socks. I do not use Armaskin socks myself, I use something different.
 

trecile

Camino Addict
Year of past OR future Camino
Francés (2016 & 2017), Norte (2018), Francés-Salvador-Norte (2019), Portuguese (2019)
My simple test tell me that the outdoors merino socs that I purchase at Costco are very good for the Camino. I did 2500km with them and change them twice a day. Never never any problem with them.

For the price a very good purchase!
Interesting, but there are umpteen threads about socks on the forum. This thread is about a specific type of socks, and the work that @davebugg put into evaluating them. 😉
 

RemysMimi

Hooked on the Camino!!
Year of past OR future Camino
Frances (2018)
Frances or Portuguese (2020)
My simple test tell me that the outdoors merino socs that I purchase at Costco are very good for the Camino. I did 2500km with them and change them twice a day. Never never any problem with them.

For the price a very good purchase!
Agree. The armaskin are pretty pricey.
 

mikebet

Active Member
Year of past OR future Camino
SJPdP to Pamplona (2016); Baiona to Santiago (2018); Sarria to Santiago (2018)
Now I'm no podiatrist -- treating stinky feet seems to me just a jot less unpleasant than proctology -- but I would posit that the problem of blisters is a matter of shoe choice, not of the socks in them. That is certainly the case for me. I tried a pair of expensive Asolo hiking boots and developed instant blisters -- but with Merrell boots I can put my flat feet into them on right out of the box and walk until my legs give out with nary a hot spot. Sock type, material and/or thickness seems to be irrelevant. So to each his own, but if I were bothered by blisters I'd sure look to my shoes or boots first.
 

Mick McQueen

https://www.facebook.com/groups/
Year of past OR future Camino
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If you blister you will blister, just a cheap pair of Marino socks will do as I haven’t had a blister since my very early days in the Army working in the jungles.
 
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Peaceable Projects Inc. is a U.S.-based non-profit group that brings the vast resources of the wide world together with the ongoing needs of the people who live, work, and travel on the Camino de Santiago pilgrim trail network in Spain.

lt56ny

Veteran Member
Year of past OR future Camino
CF(2012) Le Puy/CF (2015) Portugues (2017) Norte (2018) CF (2019) VDLP?
This is interesting I just check these socks on this web site and on July 13 2018 this same text was written about the same socks!


Yes. That was my post
Dave as I always do I think you for your knowledge and generosity in answering everyone's questions based on your testing and results for a variety of products and of course to help pilgrims pick the proper shoes, backpacks and a whole host of other gear. I always felt like the moderators should create a thread that collects your information that you have written here. I know there are others who have done a wonderful job imparting knowledge but no one does it quite like you. I also want to thank you for always answering me on PM's when I have had questions. I am sure I am far from the only one who has asked for your advice or clarity on an issue.
 

davebugg

A Pilgrimage is time I spend praying with my feet
Year of past OR future Camino
2019
Now I'm no podiatrist -- treating stinky feet seems to me just a jot less unpleasant than proctology -- but I would posit that the problem of blisters is a matter of shoe choice, not of the socks in them. That is certainly the case for me. I tried a pair of expensive Asolo hiking boots and developed instant blisters -- but with Merrell boots I can put my flat feet into them on right out of the box and walk until my legs give out with nary a hot spot. Sock type, material and/or thickness seems to be irrelevant. So to each his own, but if I were bothered by blisters I'd sure look to my shoes or boots first.

The primary (not only) interface for the cause of blistering, shear force friction, takes place where the skin and sock meet. As you suggest, ill fitting footwear, or heavy and stiff materials in boots that require time to mold to the feet and to become less rigid, can force more movement to the sock in various areas of the foot.

Flexible, out-of-the box footwear, like trail runners or trail shoes/boots, are far less likely to be 'blister machines', as you've experienced. However, all categories of hiking shoe footwear, be they trail runners, trail shoe or boots, or street runners have caused blistering to a good percentage of folks.

There are a number of ways that footwear can exacerbate sock movement to cause blister-forming shear force friction, including incorrect fitting shoes, to shoes that are too tightly tied, to insoles that are 'grabby' and will force the sock to slide against the skin rather than let the sock slide against the insole, etc.

It is far easier to control shear force friction in light trail boots and shoes, like your Merrells or my Hoka One One Bondi, so choosing this type of footwear can be part of a good strategy for blister control.
 

lt56ny

Veteran Member
Year of past OR future Camino
CF(2012) Le Puy/CF (2015) Portugues (2017) Norte (2018) CF (2019) VDLP?
I'm not sure what you mean here as all Dave's threads, like this one, are available to see in the "Equipment" section. Any of his threads and posts can be found by using the search function.
I realize that you can use the search function to find answers. My thought was that Dave has written some wonderful threads on a variety of physical issues, training and gear. For a new pilgrim, especially or for someone, like me who is just interested having them all in one place may be helpful.
He also just posted a thread on blisters that is really helpful also. For a new pilgrim and an inexperienced hiker, which so many people that walk fit this description they may not know the answers to their questions and they may not even know many pertinent questions to ask. I can tell you that I certainly didn't before my first camino. As an example Dave also just posted about blisters. Before my first camino I had no idea that blisters may be a big issue. I knew you could get them of course but it didn't really register that it would or could be important.
There I know in the past some threads about these issues can be very long and people may not read everything and may possibly miss @davebugg's wisdom and help. For this reason I think it would be valuable. To answer our questions and also to be made aware of things that we had no idea about because we have never done something like this before.
 

wayfarer

Moderator
Staff member
Year of past OR future Camino
2012
My thought was that Dave has written some wonderful threads on a variety of physical issues, training and gear.
So have many others on this and a variety of other subjects and it would be impractical to give everyone their own section, this is not how a forum works and I'm sure that neither Dave or anyone else who contributes would want that.
 
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lt56ny

Veteran Member
Year of past OR future Camino
CF(2012) Le Puy/CF (2015) Portugues (2017) Norte (2018) CF (2019) VDLP?
So have many others on this and a variety of other subjects and it would be impractical to give everyone their own section, this is not how a forum works and I'm sure that neither Dave or anyone else who contributes would want that.
Ok never mind and no biggie
 

trecile

Camino Addict
Year of past OR future Camino
Francés (2016 & 2017), Norte (2018), Francés-Salvador-Norte (2019), Portuguese (2019)
I'm not sure what you mean here as all Dave's threads, like this one, are available to see in the "Equipment" section. Any of his threads and posts can be found by using the search function.
Unfortunately, if one is looking specifically for threads by @davebugg using the search button they will only find those from 2021 onwards, because Dave left the forum for a while and his older, very useful posts show the author as "deleted member."
 

mgnswaus

Member
Year of past OR future Camino
Le Puy to Muxia 2012. Arles to Puente la Reina 2013. Puente la Reina to SdC 2014 European Peace Walk 2016 Portuguese 2017 Ingles 2017
I haven't used my Armaskins on a Camino yet, I wish.... but I have worn them to test them. I have never had blisters with Injinji 5 toe socks so I can make a fair comparison. So far, I love the Armaskins. I was very wary of the feel and snug fit, but they were so comfortable I was never aware of them. Yes, pricey but definitely worth a try. And, your feet will stay dry even in the wettest conditions. A bonus.
 

trecile

Camino Addict
Year of past OR future Camino
Francés (2016 & 2017), Norte (2018), Francés-Salvador-Norte (2019), Portuguese (2019)
I haven't tried Armaskin socks, but I have spent a fair bit of money on tape, which I put on my blister prone areas. Over time Armaskin socks may be a better investment. The only problem that I think that I would have is that they don't do anything for toes that rub together and cause blisters.
 
Last edited:
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henrythedog

Loved and fed by David
Year of past OR future Camino
Frances 2017, 2018, 2019, Ingles 2018, (Madrid 2019 partial - retired hurt!) (more planned)
Unfortunately, if one is looking specifically for threads by @davebugg using the search button they will only find those from 2021 onwards, because Dave left the forum for a while and his older, very useful posts show the author as "deleted member."
Dave’s putting a full shift in reposting his previous excellent advice under his own name once again. It’s like COVID never happened.
 

Hilarious

Hilarious
Year of past OR future Camino
Planning stage Camino Frances from SJPdP (Sept. 2019)
ArmaSkin Socks for Blister Prevention

Entering Blister Discussion Season, there are a couple of reposts of what I had previously written which may be helpful. I will also post my assessment of Engo anti-blister patches later in a separate thread.

First, let me say that I have no vested interest in Armaskin Socks. I have never been in contact with the company that manufactures the product, nor do I have any wholesale or retail or stock market, etc. connections which will earn me cash if someone purchases this product. Buy them or don’t buy them, curse them or praise them, I Don’t Care.

Conclusion and Bottom Line: When used properly, Armaskin Anti-blister Socks can be effective at preventing blisters.

The Specifics

Background


A lot of forum members know that I am hired by various backpacking gear, footwear, and clothing manufacturers to test their products for quality assurance, usability, and the workability of modifications and prototypes. My reports go to the company that has hired me for their internal use; I do not publish reviews, or test stuff to provide public recommendations.

ArmaSkin did not hire me to test their product. Nor did I inform ArmaSkin of my intentions. I purchased the ArmaSkins myself from an online vendor.

I decided to post about Armaskins after recently learning of them. I was curious as to the claims made about them. As a Forum member, I know a lot of others might also be interested in the blister prevention claims, too. There are also some participants who have tried them previously and recommend them.

This post is not a recommendation for or against this product. I am providing the information based on experienced observation, and I make no specific claims that my findings will equally apply to anyone else.

Rationale and Motivation to Test Armaskins
I wanted to know if Armaskin Socks effectively implements the known and effective blister prevention strategies which it appears to incorporate. I also wanted to provide more objective information for those who interested in trying Armaskins but are hesitant to do so because of their price point. It is my hope that having additional information will make the price point less of an issue should one really want to give Armaskins a try but are concerned over cost-benefit.

As a gear tester, I felt I have the skills and objectivity to cut through the hyperbole and marketing claims and look at the individual ‘ingredients’ of these sock’s manufacture for their actual effectiveness toward blister prevention.

Armaskin socks have been around for a while. Until recently, I was not aware of them until a Forum contributor posted a bit of information about them. That post intrigued me, so I did a quick online look about the sock; specifically, what is the makeup of the sock that is special or different which functions to prevent blisters.

After a bit of research, and ignoring the glowing marketing testimonials, I felt like the Armaskins deserved a hands-on look. What got my attention was the fact that, unlike other ‘anti-blister’ socks, this sock incorporated stated and proven techniques to either prevent blisters, or to prolong the time for blister formation to occur. Prolonging the time for blisters to form is also important in preventing blister formation, because it allows more time for a person to recognize the formation of irritations and hotspots on the feet so that they can be effectively dealt with.

What is the big boogeyman of blister formation? Shear force friction. In a nutshell, you want to keep the friction causing heat of the shear force between the sock and the shoe, and away from the sock and the skin. Do this and there will be no blistering in 99.9% of all cases.

It appears that Armaskins accomplish this goal in three primary ways:
  • A snug fit of the sock.
  • A sock material which reduces the coefficient of friction.
  • Providing a material buffer between the shear friction force and the skin of the foot.
Gear Test
The socks are made of a slick feeling synthetic material, with a defined seamed area at the toes and the heel. More on the seams later. Applied to the interior of the sock is a flexible, durable, and grippy rubbery-type compound. It is a silicone-based menu of stuff, but it is inert and is said to be breathable.

There are four basic sock sizes. One picks the Armaskin sock size based on their sizing chart; the sizing chart utilizes your sock size to determine if you need a Small, Medium, Large, or Extra-Large size. As with some others whose review had stated that the Armaskin Chart guide selections were too small, I had to go with a Large, rather than the Medium that the Chart said I needed. I had purchased two pair, one in the size the Chart indicated was my size, and the other was a size larger. I ended up returning the Medium sized sock.

Each of the socks in the pair have a defined shape to them --- when looking at them, it is easy to see which sock is for the right foot and which for the left. I experimented putting them on in the dark, and it was simple for me to feel the shape of each sock, so the proper match would be made to the foot in question.

My technique for putting the sock on was to scrunch the top of the sock down to the toe. Then, once my toes were successfully ensconced, I would roll-tug them up, over the heel and up to final position. I always made additional adjustments to getting things properly aligned. With my foot size, the required sized sock which fit, had the heel location up above the back of my heel onto the lower part of my Achilles tendon. It couldn’t be helped, it was just the way it was.

Important Note: If you are a user of a lubricating medium on your feet to help prevent blisters -- like Body Glide or Vaseline, etc. – you cannot use such things with Armaskin socks; such stuff will make the socks ineffective.

Even with a larger size Armaskin, the fit is very snug. My initial reaction was concern that the amount of compression on my foot would create problems with hours of wear. For me, such turned out not to be the case. I can understand where it would be possible for some folks to find this level of snugness objectionable, and even constricting enough of blood circulation in the foot to cause cramping or other discomforts. In my case, none of those issue appeared.

Once on, the Armaskins do not slip or really move around on the foot. The snugness and the ‘grippy-ness’ keep things in place. This is one of the reasons it is important to have the sock lay smooth on the foot with no lumps or rucks of material; get the sock smooth and it will stay that way.

Here is where the Armaskin Socks are not really a liner sock, or a part of a dual sock system in the traditional sense. With the old-school technique, the traditional use of a thin liner sock is used under a thicker sock as a system to try and prevent blisters. The Armaskin does not need an outer sock to prevent blisters; it only needs the outer sock to protect the Armaskin from premature wear and tear. Thus, it is not a "double-sock liner system".

If one does not care how long their Armaskin Socks will last, you can wear the Armaskin by itself and will still do the job it was designed to do. The Armaskin, by itself, will keep the shear force’s blister-causing friction from the skin on the foot, and keep it between the Armaskin and the shoe where it belongs.

I spent over 160 miles hiking in all sorts of backpacking terrain, under all sorts of backpack weights, using the Armaskin in a variety of shoe and insole combinations, using them with and without an outer sock, and subjected to all kinds of dirt, grit, mud and wet. I never really felt at-risk of getting blisters. One caveat, though, as a full disclosure: It is unusual for me to blister.

That being said, I have gotten blisters before and I do, infrequently, deal with hotspots and recognize the conditions which put me at-risk for developing those hot spots. I took great pains to recreate those kinds of conditions with gusto.

Many users posting reviews have stated that the Armaskins didn’t make their feet warm or hot. All I can say is that my feet did get warmer, sometimes much warmer, than with my usual socks and footwear combination. I typically will wear a single, lightweight and light padded Merino wool sock. Being much warmer wearing a double sock combination with the Armaskin didn’t surprise me, though. I will note that my feet also did become a bit damp from sweat a few times; while the Armaskin may claim to be breathable, that breathability is restricted to the ability of airflow within a shoe. Wearing an outer sock and being in the confines of a shoe means that there must be an overall decrease in the ability of water vapor to escape.

The Armaskins never got ‘funky’ smelling. They washed well; the washing would ‘renew’ the 'grippy-ness’ of the sock's interior coating, probably because washing removes body oils, dirt, skin cells, etc. Just be sure to carefully follow the manufacturer’s washing instructions. Because of the Camino application, I washed these Armaskins by hand in cool water, with just barely enough soap to get them clean. The soap I used is what I used on Camino. The socks wring out fairly well and do not take overly long to dry. To help preserve the materials and longevity in the socks, I would not dry them in the harshness of direct sunlight… that much UV radiation will affect the synthetic materials, as will the high heat of direct radiant energy. If using a dryer, I would air dry as a preference; or at most, the lowest heat setting possible.

End of the day comfort? I always enjoyed removing the socks and letting my feet out of the snugness factor of the Armaskins. While they were on, though, I never had my attention focused on my feet and I never felt that my feet were distressed at all. Even my persnickety Left Foot – who hates me with its entire being – kept quite about the socks.

Are Armaskin Socks the best method, or the surest method, for blister prevention? In my assessments, no. Armaskins are potentially just one method, among others, which can be effective. As with everything gear related, there can be some downsides, and they are a bit finicky. I don’t think that should keep potential users from trying them out, though.

If someone:
  • Uses the socks as directed
  • Takes care of them
  • Does not put absolute trust in them by ignoring the need to stay focused on potential hot-spots and other indications of blistering so they can be dealt with before a blister appears:
then I think that the Armaskins may work well.

NOTE:
The same principles which Armaskins use to prevent the shear force friction which causes blistering has existed prior to Armaskins. The materials and techniques to achieve this are cheaper to employ, more flexible and adaptable to unique situations by targeting the specific problem areas on the feet, and are easier to obtain if replacement is necessary.

So, for what it’s worth that is my assessment of Armaskins. It is my hope that this informs the group of another tool for potential blister prevention.
Many thanks Dave for your very informative and unbiased review of the Armaskin socks. As always it is great to read one of your posts.

I use the Armaskins personally every day when training or hiking. I wore them every day on my Camino Frances in September 2019 from SJPdP to SdC.

I live in North Queensland in Australia which is very humid and hot in the summer months. When I was training for my Camino I suffered from bad heel blisters once I started my longer training walks of 20 kms or so. I knew my shoes had been properly fitted, allowed for my feet swelling and my socks were of good quality light merino wool.

I tried the Armaskins
and have never had a blister since. Although pretty pricey I just treat the expense as an integral part of my hiking equipment. It sure beats the pain and discomfort of hiking with blisters!
 

markf_syd

New Member
Year of past OR future Camino
Frances 2014, Portuguese 2017, Podiensis 2019
I haven't tried Armaskin socks, but I have spent a fair bit of money on tape, which I put on my blister prone areas. Over time Armaskin socks may be a better investment. The only problem that I think that I would have is that they don't do anything for toes that rub together and cause blisters.
Armaskin have a toe sock version you may want to try at https://www.armaskin.com/collections/anti-blister-toe-sock
 
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Pavels

New Member
Year of past OR future Camino
Oct-7-2014 to Nov-1-2014
I walked camino Frances in sandals, without any socks and without blisters. in September-October. Always wondered why some people wear goretex boots during 20C+ days and overheat their feet to the extent that their skin starts to disintegrate. I had to walk in the rain too, but that felt quite warm and my feet dried quickly after it finished.
 

Pepper_E

New Member
Year of past OR future Camino
2019
After reading a forum post about Armaskin, I ordered a pair to check them out. Although I’ve done a lot of backpacking and I didn’t care for the socks, I still tossed them in my pack for my 2019 Camino. I assumed I would ditch them a few days in. Instead a problem with my foot prompted me to give them a try and at end of first day wearing them, my foot was doing much better. Of course, I then had to wear them everyday - on my last day (Finisterre) my toe popped through the end. Observation, on most month long backpacking trips I’ve done, my feet have always toughened/calloused up - with the Armaskin nothing... Tickets booked to Barcelona in September and two pair of Armaskin will be going with me.
 

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