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Test and Assessment of Armaskin Socks

davebugg

DustOff: "When I have your wounded."
Donating Member
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Frances...
Sept. 2017: SJPdP to Burgos
Sept./Oct. 2018: SJPdP to Santiago de Compostela
#1
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 My reports go to the company that has hired me for their internal use; I do not publish reviews, or test stuff to provide public recommendations.

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.

How does it appear Armaskins accomplish this goal?
  • 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, and the washing would ‘renew’ the grippy-ness’ of the socks 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 Armaskin’s 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 hotspots and other indications of blistering so they can be dealt with before a blister appears ----
--- the Armaskins can work well.

However:
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.
 
Last edited:

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kelleymac

Active Member
Donating Member
Camino(s) past & future
March/April 2015, Late April 2016, Sept/Oct 2017
#2
I've been using leukotape on areas where I sometimes get blisters before I walk. (I also use it around my big toes, as the nail beds swells and gets red, and I want to give them a bit of support. I'm not sure they ever really healed after I wore too small shoes for 200 miles.) Anyway-- back to the blister question: Do you think the armaskin socks would work better than the leukotape? Also, can you wiggle and use toes while wearing the armaskin socks? Ever since my too small shoe episode, I have wanted room for the toes. thanks.
 

AndreaCT

Member
Donating Member
Camino(s) past & future
Fall 2016 Camino Frances to Leon
Fall 2017 Camino Frances to Finisterre
#4
Thanks Dave, I've been waiting for your review of the these socks! I appreciate your objectivity on this product because I have been debating about purchasing a pair, but needed more information. For simplicity and price (until a Canadian distributor comes along), I'll stick to vaseline and merino wool socks for now.
 
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Frances summer 2017 (SJPP to Fromista)
Plan on returning in 2019 (Fromista to Santiago)
#5
Great review Dave! I noticed that there is a difference between the U.S. & Canada size chart posted on their website and the one posted on Amazon.com. From the reviews it seems like they run small and the chart on their website may be more accurate.
 

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Rick of Rick and Peg

Veteran Member
Donating Member
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Frances, 2015
#6
Thank you for the review Dave. I haven't tried these socks but, in theory, with the left and right socks cut differently there should be no bunching of fabic by the little toes. I mention this in case anyone has this problem with their footwear. It will be cheaper to experiment with these socks than buying a new set of boots with a bigger toe box.
 

Camino Ariana

Camino Ariana
Donating Member
Camino(s) past & future
2011, 2013, 2015, 2016, 2017
#7
Thanks. I have used these socks on the Camino Frances during a hot September. Worked like a charm. Saved a lot of time in the morning. Saved a lot of product. One tiny blister when I did not check a wrinkle I use lambs wool between toes as well. For me the compression felt great. My feet were soft. Highly recommended. Looking forward to using them again on Via Tolosana this fall. Just bought more!
 

davebugg

DustOff: "When I have your wounded."
Donating Member
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Frances...
Sept. 2017: SJPdP to Burgos
Sept./Oct. 2018: SJPdP to Santiago de Compostela
#8
. . . . . Do you think the armaskin socks would work better than the leukotape? Also, can you wiggle toes while wearing the armaskin socks? . . . . . .
Hi, kelly...
No, Armaskins will not work better :) They do much the same thing as tapes and coverings (moleskin-types), but if you only need to target specific areas to prevent blisters, they are less flexible for that type of application.

Think of it this way: If one needs to remove a hot baking sheet out of the oven, a fireproof body suit will work to do the job. It is overkill, but it will work. However, you have the flexibility to target just that specific area of the body that needs protection from high heat by using oven mitts instead. Both do the same basic job in the same basic manner, but an oven mitt is cheaper, faster to deploy when needing to touch a hot handle, and much easier to find in small shops if your oven mitts get damaged and need replacing. :)

Yes, one can wiggle and use toes while wearing Armaskins, but not as freely as without. Their best use dictates that they need to be snug enough while touching the toes so that excess material doesn't ruck up and shift around. And that reminds me that I forgot to mention it is a good idea to keep toenails short and smooth so that they do not wear a hole in the socks. :)
 

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