balega sock six month review
I purchased a pair of the balega socks when I bought my Brooks Adrenaline ASR 10 GTX shoes in November. The idea was that combining these socks with the GORE-TEX lined shoes would help keep my feet warm.
The GORE-TEX lined shoes keep the wind and the water out of my shoes and the enclosed toe box hold in some heat.
I don’t always wear the shoes and socks together, as socks need to rotate through the laundry.
But the shoes and balega socks do go together nicely.
As I mentioned in my Adrenaline ASR 10 GTX review, no white lab coats and high-tech machines are in the Omni Running Labs. All products are tested under real world conditions.
I’ve worn the balega socks for five races and many training runs. Since I’m currently focused on 5Ks my training runs pretty much max out at 6.5 miles.
When I put these socks on for the first time it felt like a snug embrace of my feet. balega calls this the “Second skin fit.”
With many socks, I have to fool with them to get the toe seam properly aligned. Often there is a bunch in the seam over one toe or another. If you don’t get this bunch properly placed, you can end up with a nasty blister or raw skin after a long run.
The balega socks have what they call a “Hand linked toe closure.” The inside of the seam is completely flat. The seam on the outside of the sock is barely noticeable. I haven’t had to deal with seam bunching with these socks at all.
Winter sock comparison
Last year I purchased a two pair of the Darn Tough wool socks. The design was the #1723 “1/4 Sock Light Cushion.” These socks also have the flat toe seam with just a slight ridge on the outside of the sock.
Both socks use Merino wool. The Darn Tough use 51% Merino Wool, 45% Nylon and 4% Lycra Spandex.
The balega use 54% “Moh-rino”, 13% Pan, 30% Nylon and 2% Elastane. I thought “Moh-rino” was their way around a trade mark but ” Moh-rino is actually a combination of Mohair and Merino.
balega socks are made is South Africa and the balega site says that:
Nelson Mandela Bay is the unofficial capital of the global mohair industry, with South Africa leading the global mohair market with a 58% share of world production.
Moh-rino combines the best features of Merino wool and Mohair, as explained on their site. The mohair is produced locally in South Africa and the socks are manufactured there as well.
For testing purposes, I wore the Darn Tough socks with the Adrenaline ASR 10 GTX shoes when I ran with the Somerville Road Runners.
The Bur-Run was not exactly a cold night. The streets of Somerville were also dry for the most part. A few puddles but nothing like the Mt. Hood Golf Course.
Still, it was a wear test combining the same shoe with the comparison sock.
The Darn Tough socks don’t have as much stretch to them as the balega socks do. But they fit just as well as the balega and the toe seem is very similar.
My feet felt very comfortable during this 5K fun run.
I’ve worn the balegas for many training runs and several races over the winter. They were comfortable in the different shoes that I wear and kept my feet as warm as the Darn Tough socks.
For comfort and ability to keep my feet warm I would say these socks are equal.
The balega socks are $16.50 a pair and the Darn Tough Vermont are $17.00 a pair. Equal again.
The balega socks I have are grey and black with orange design and logo. The first time I put them on with the new Brooks shoes it seemed like they were designed together.
The Darn Tough Vermont are white socks like every other sock you own. They have a subtle design on the back of the ankle and a grey design on the top of the foot. Very understated, like a true Yankee.
I don’t pay much attention to fashion and color coordination. In most of my photos I’m wearing all black. I did like the way the balega socks and Brooks shoes matched. It was all by accident but it looked pretty good. I’ll give a point to balega.
I’ve been careful washing my new balega socks. They are part wool and I’m pretty good at ruining laundry. I’ve washed them in cold water and let then air dry.
Even with this level of care, they did have some pilling that you would expect from new wool socks. The Darn Tough socks have no pilling and look almost brand new, even though they are about a year old.
After six months of wearing the balega socks they are holding up nicely. I’ve worn and washed them about 25 times and they look the same as they did after two months. The initial pilling has not continued and they look great.
The Darn Tough are about a year old and have been worn many times. They are no longer spotless but they have held up very well.
For durability I think they are equal. The quality for both is good, they just use slightly different materials that react differently to wear.
The points break down as follows:
- Comfort and Feel: balega
- Style: balega
- Warmth: Tie
- Price: Tie
- Durability: Tie
I like the look and feel of the balega socks. All of my other socks are, or were, white. So the color was a bit of a novelty for me.
Both winter socks worked equally well at keeping my feet warm. I did have a hot spot on the bottom of one foot during a 16 mile run while wearing the Darn Tough socks. I have not tested the balega at this type of distance.
The balega do have the feel of a wool sock and have a nice fit. What they call the “Second skin fit.” Neither sock is inexpensive, but I think I’d buy another pair of the balegas first.
This assessment has changed since my initial review in December. A few extra months of wear and testing show both socks to be fairly equal. But balega has a better feel to the skin and I like their design.
- Have you worn balega or Darn Tough Socks?
- Do you wear heavier socks in the winter?
- Is there a brand that you prefer?
- How cold is to cold for you to run?
Run well me friends!