When it comes to searching for the perfect pair of socks, you want something that’s durable, cozy, and won’t make your feet sweaty. Between blisters and smelly feet, socks have the potential to ruin your day. A good pair of socks is imperative to the well-being of your feet. And a warm, breathable pair of socks can dramatically improve your outdoor adventures or time cuddled up on the couch. Enter: Alpaca socks. These socks take the lead for the best all-season sock. But what makes alpaca socks so great? Here’s everything you need to know about alpaca socks.
Are alpaca socks good socks?
Shearing is actually vital to the well-being of alpacas. So, wearing a pair of alpaca socks helps alpacas, their farmers, and planet earth. Great for both the environment and your feet, alpaca socks provide you with a way to tread mindfully. They are durable and long-lasting. And, because they are thermoregulating, they can even be worn from season to season. Alpaca fiber is also an all-natural, renewable resource. It doesn’t require any harsh chemical treatments during washing like sheep’s wool, cotton, and synthetics.
What are the benefits of alpaca socks?
We’ve coveted the sustainable properties of alpaca socks, and why they’re good for the environment. But here are some of the benefits of wearing alpaca socks.
Alpaca socks are covered by performance athletes because of their moisture-wicking properties. In fact, alpaca fiber is one of the best materials for evaporation and temperature regulation. Because alpaca fiber is hydrophobic, the socks repel moisture from your feet, moving it to the outside of the sock where it can evaporate. That’s great for sweat, but what happens if you get stuck in a rainstorm or step in a puddle?
Low water retention:
Alpaca fiber has the lowest water retention rate of all-natural fibers (8%), which makes them the ideal choice for wet and muddy environments. Alpaca socks are able to maintain their warmth and thermal properties even when wet. This low water retention is part of what keeps alpaca socks smelling fresh even after days of wear.
The reason most socks stink is that they retain moisture. This moisture allows bacteria to grow and replicate, ultimately creating moisture-absorbing stink bombs. Because alpaca wicks moisture so well, alpaca socks can stay fresh for days - it's a true challenge to make alpaca socks smell!
They wear for multiple days:
Most people are used to washing their socks after each use. This isn’t always necessary with alpaca socks. In fact, alpaca socks can typically be worn multiple days in a row because of their antimicrobial properties. This makes them amazing for hiking or road trips. Here at Paka, we get messages all the time from our community saying they forget to change their socks because they are so fresh and comfortable!
Thermoregulating and breathable:
The thermoregulating properties of alpaca socks are one of the socks’ best features. The fibers themselves are medullated with hollow air pockets that help regulate temperature. Alpaca is so breathable that the socks can be worn year round.
Extremely soft and cushiony:
Adventurers who have worn wool before know it can be itchy and rough against the skin. But alpaca socks are not! In fact, alpaca wool is hypoallergenic, which makes it a great pick for those with skin sensitivities. And the texture of the fiber is much softer to the touch than alternative wool types.
Finally, one of the best properties of alpaca socks is their durability. Alpaca fiber's tensile strength is 50 N/ktex. Historians write about the Incas making bridges out of alpaca wool. You could walk hundreds of miles in a pair of alpaca socks (which AT / PCT hikers frequently do), only to find that the fibers are still in great condition. And there’s nothing better than knowing that your socks will accommodate your needs for months to come!
Are alpaca socks good for sweaty feet?
At best, sweaty feet are annoying and embarrassing. At worst, sweaty feet can increase risk of hypothermia. If not properly wicked sweat can become trapped inside your clothing and in cold weather bring on an intense cooling effect. Alpaca fiber has the lowest moisture retention rate of natural fibers (only 8%). Comparatively, most wools have a water retention rate of 16-20%. The water, or moisture held in most socks is what creates a breeding ground for bacteria to replicate. It’s the bacteria that makes socks and feet stinky. Because alpaca socks stay dry they also stay fresh. We’re not saying your toes will smell like a rose… but we are saying you won't have to worry about taking your shoes off.
How often should you wash alpaca socks?
Alpaca socks are worn perfectly for days on end, but there will always come a day when you’ll want to give them a clean. Alpaca socks resist odors and moisture for much longer than cotton or synthetic options. This means that they don’t need to be washed quite as often as alternative options. Typically, you can wear alpaca socks for 2-3 full days before tossing them into the hamper.
Keep in mind that alpaca wool, like other wool types, is prone to shrinking from improper care. The combination of heat and agitation in the wash is what ultimately ruins natural fibers in the washing machine. As long as you wash on a wool cycle or hand wash cycle, preferably or gently, you’ll find alpaca socks wash perfectly and can be enjoyed for years on end. Drying naturally is best. If you are in a hurry, dry on a gentle cycle. It’s the moisture-wicking and antimicrobial properties of alpaca fiber that allow you to go so long without washing, making alpaca socks the perfect socks for long treks where washing is challenging or completely unavailable. But, due to the general comfort and regulated smell, alpaca socks are a great fit for nearly anyone!
Alpaca vs. other sock options
If you’ve made it this far, you know that alpaca socks are pretty special. But how do they compare to other sock options?
Cotton vs. Alpaca:
When it comes to staying warm and dry, alpaca fiber is far superior in a number of different ways. Cotton retains moisture, which can contribute to fiber deterioration, discomfort, yucky smells, and even blisters on your feet. But alpaca is lightweight, and it keeps your feet dry while regulating their temperature. Alpaca is also naturally odor-resistant, which is a must-have quality for extreme adventurers!
Merino vs. Alpaca:
Merino is an incredibly functional fiber; however, there are some key differences between the two: alpaca wicks moisture at double the rate of merino, is slightly stronger (50 N/tex vs 30-40 N/tex), 3x warmer (done by Yocum-McCall Testing Laboratories), and is hypoallergenic, meaning it doesn't contain the grease (lanolin) that most wools do - this is very important for people with sensitive skin. Alpaca fiber also tends to have a softer and comfier touch than merino wool.
Synthetic vs. Alpaca:
Manufacturing synthetics takes a lot of energy, natural resources, and it often results in waste and pollution (i.e. microplastics). On the positive, synthetics wick moisture and are very durable; however, they don't breathe as well and are known to get smelly. Alpaca, on the other hand, provides users with the breathability, thermoregulation, and comfort needed for long activities - and it accomplishes this without leaving a trail of microplastics on the environment.
When to wear alpaca socks?
The great thing about alpaca socks is that they're extremely versatile. You can wear them in a casual setting to keep your feet cozy. Or you can head to your nearest hiking trail, knowing that your alpaca socks will wick moisture and stay smell-free throughout your adventure. A high-performance sock option is likely to last longer in intense outdoor environments. But even your standard alpaca sock is built to last. They can also be worn year-round, thanks to their thermoregulating properties. You can wear the same alpaca socks on a warm summer hike, that you'd wear in a snowstorm.
Through ever seasons and adventure, alpaca socks will keep you cozy and comfortable. You can read more about alpaca socks by checking out some of our favorite pairs below.
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