Lessons from an analysis of sock testing that could have been more epic. What we learned… | Care Remote

Lessons from an analysis of sock testing that could have been more epic. What we learned…


America. It has been a country of tremendous wealth and prosperity. People come here from other countries and they are amazed at the choices that we have in our supermarkets. No, where not the only country that has supermarkets. I mean that we have a lot available to us. Innovation is in our blood. And setting out to make the best sock on the market was quite a feat. 

Recently, things have come to a halt due to the appearance of the Coronavirus. 

There is a transition occurring at this moment. I feel that this will provide unprecedented opportunity in entrepreneurs creating value. 

What we learned about our First Generation Sock. 

You can think of our First Generation Sock as a classic car - it gets better with time. This was our prototype sock which was 95% complete. It's challenging to keep pace technology. And advanced textiles are a slightly different beast. 

The best sock

Our sample included testers from all walks of life. Field testing was done here in the United States. 

Over the last year, an awful lot of testing was among family members, friends. And by approaching people in public and sharing our product. 

We tested prototype socks with our technology at the following heights: 

0" or hidden, 3", 6", 9", 12" with compression and without compression. Compression or  squeeze, ranging from 10-12 mmHg to 18-20 mmHg. 10-12 mmHg is considered light compression, whereas 18-20 mmHg is considered medium. 

We learned that most people were looking for something that performed. Testers had expectations that a sock would moisture wick, fight odor, breathe and that it would be durable. 

But, we wanted to know if there was something beyond that. We found that users could see the difference in both groups- friends and family and in our external 3rd party testing.

We’ll explore what those differences were in a moment...

What should we be testing? 

First of all, our products were tested by Mesh-01. The team is made up of athletes, fashion enthusiasts, travelers and a whole range of real life product testers. 

The company has worked with The North Face, Asics, Columbia, Salomon, Keen, Timberland and more.

Testing allowed us to learn about the following:

  1. Early-phase feedback
  2. Validation for our product
  3. Discovery of performance issues

We wanted to leverage a platform with an end-user community. We worked with actual end users to look deeper into our product. Using a community,  allowed us to get our product in front of the right people in the right locations. 

And our testers were performing the activities that we needed feedback on like hiking, skiing, camping, biking, playing tennis, skating, running, working in a factory or working in the garden. 

We were able to validate our design and the materials used in the sock. Some of the hypotheses that we wanted to test were to validate the claims that we were making.

For example, we claim that you can enter/exit any boot with ease. So this was tested and end users said that the sock made it very easy to enter and exit a boot. 

Of course, this is subjective. And the user’s responses showed consistent patterns across different segments for different activities. With that said, this gave us information that pointed us in the right direction. 

Our wool sock is a bit thinner than most socks. We had to wonder whether or not the sock would keep people warm. We tested this with end users, internal staff and with customers that wanted to try out the sock. 

  1. It was noted that someone could stand in cold water for hours and still be warm. 
  2. The medium weight wool sock also worked well as a boot liner. 
  3. The wool was found to be very comfortable. 
  4. Fly Fisherman preferred the 12” height wool sock 

By testing in this fashion, we were able to learn about the customer’s language. We learned about their internal and external dialogues. Knowing what people are struggling with allowed us to better understand the product. 

Using Data as a Product Team 

Data is one of the most important parts of our business. For many companies it has almost become like a natural resource for the company itself. How did we use this information? 

We tested assumptions quickly. Nordstrom was known for its quick lean methods of testing. Its approaches are akin to a start up. Imagine having small experiments running all of the time throughout your business. I am very curious about how Nordstrom will respond to the Coronavirus crisis. 

Future proofing. Companies need to adapt to the current climate. And now we have entered a new climate with the COVID-19. No matter what methods a company is using being able to adapt is critical. 

Over time our products will change. We take things into consideration like an uptick of people working in factories and warehouses. This gives rise, to the need of support for the legs and feet. 

People getting out there on more day hikes. With this information we can more accurately adjust our product’s features to support our users. 

We leveraged the right data to create products around user’s needs.

It was also important that the results were meaningful. 

We looked at a range of categories. Here are the basic categories that we asked testers about:

    1. Wool sock material
    2. Experience while putting the sock on
    3. The fit of the wool sock while wearing them.
    4. Visual appeal of the sock or how it looks
    5. Fit
    6. Blister reduction
    7. Moisture management
    8. Ease of entering/exiting casual footwear
    9. Feet calf exertion recovery
    10. Ease of exiting the sock
    11. Pain around socks
    12. Preferences between materials.

Rating System: 1-3 poor; 4-5 fair; 6-8 good; 9-10 excellent

So we asked our testers the following questions (Wool): 

Question Rating
Please rate and describe your thoughts on the feel of the wool sock material
 9.4 Excellent
Please rate and describe your experience putting the socks on
Please rate and describe how the wool socks fit while wearing
Please rate and describe your thoughts on the overall visual appeal of the wool socks 
Please rate and describe the overall experience with the socks 9.4 Excellent
Please rate and describe how the wool socks feel while wearing
Fit (compression/stretch) 8.3  Good
Moisture management and breathability
Chafing and blister reduction
8.9 Excellent


Ease of entering/exiting casual footwear 8.9 Good
Ease of exiting 10.0   Excellent
Feet/calf exertion recovery 6.7  Excellent
Fit (compression/stretch) 8.9  Good
Moisture management and breathability 8.3  Good
Chafing and blister reduction 9.4  Excellent
Ease of entering/exiting athletic behavior 8.9  Good
Feet/calf exertion recovery 9.4  Excellent
Between the wool and synthetic versions, which sock do you prefer for active pursuits? (consider comfort, activity level, performance, and odor-control) Synthetic 8.3  Good
Between the wool and synthetic versions, which sock do you prefer for low/moderate activities? (consider comfort, activity level performance, and odor-control) Wool 9.2 Excellent


So we asked our testers the following questions (Synthetic): 

Question Rating 
Please rate and describe your thoughts on the feel of the synthetic sock material 9.4  Excellent
Please rate and describe your experience putting the socks on 9.4 Excellent
Please rate and describe your thoughts on the overall visual appeal of the synthetic socks 8.9  Good
Please rate and describe the overall experience getting into out of footwear while wearing the socks 8.4  Good
Please rate and describe your overall experience with synthetic socks 8.9 Good
Fit (compression/stretch) 9.4  Excellent
Moisture management and breathability 9.4  Excellent
Chafing and blister reduction 8.9  Good
Ease of entering/exiting casual footwear 10.0  Excellent
Ease of exiting sock 9.4  Excellent
Feet/calf exertion recovery 10.0 Excellent
Fit (compression/stretch) 9.4  Excellent
Moisture management and breathability 8.9  Good
Chafing and blister reduction 9.4  Excellent
Ease of entering/exiting athletic footwear 9.4  Excellent
Ease of exiting sock 9.4 Excellent
Feet/calf exertion recovery 10  Excellent


To summarize, there was a difference between the wool and synthetic versions. Testers preferred synthetic for active pursuits? Testers came to this conclusion based on their assessment of the following criteria: activity level, performance and odor control. The overall rating for the synthetic was an 8.0 Good.

Users preferred wool for low and moderate activities. Comfort, activity level, performance and odor control were considered by the testers. 9.2 Excellent

For the wool sock the strongest points were:

  1. Feel of the wool 
  2. Putting the sock on
  3. How the sock felt while wearing
  4. The overall experience of getting into and out of footwear while wearing the sock
  5. Chafing and blister reduction
  6. Moisture management and breathability 
  7. Ease of exiting the sock

Areas that scored lower (ranked below a rating of 9 on a scale of 1-10): 

  1. The visual appeal of the sock
  2. The fit of the sock
  3. Feet calf exertion recovery
  4. Fit (compression/stretch)
  5. Moisture management

People preferred the synthetic version for active pursuits. And this consideration was made with comfort level activity levels, performance, odor control in mind

For low and moderate activities the wool was the preferred stock. People chose wool based on the same criteria as above. 


Our synthetic sock ranked highest for the following:

  1. Material
  2. Experience putting the sock on
  3. Overall experience getting into and out of footwear
  4. Overall experience 
  5. Moisture Management and breathability (which was a 10/10)
  6. Feet calf/exertion recovery
  7. Areas were the synthetic sock ranked lower included:
  8. Fit while wearing
  9. Visual appeal
  10. How they feel while wearing
  11. Chafing and blister reduction
  12. Fit (compression/stretch)
  13. Ease of entering/exiting athletic footwear
  14. Ease of exiting the sock

The synthetic sock seemed to be better for moisture management and breathability. This was important to us because moisture has been an ongoing problem for consumers.

It also showed a strong correlation with recovery. We started to think about the applications and possibilities of recovery. Especially, for people that are on their feet all day. 

Socks seem like a pretty straightforward item. However, there were areas where a sock could prove to aid in the testers performance. The hosiery could be customized beyond the users expectations by getting them the right sock.

A marathon runner would be best served by an 18-20 mmHg compression sock. It restores blood flow to the feet and legs allowing the runner to stay fresh. 

What in a sock matters most to people?

  1. To improve performance, ponder the areas that are likely to cause  issues:
  2. What are we using the sock for?
  3. What are common problems that I face with my feet?
  4. Are blisters a problem?
  5. Does odor cause discomfort and embarrassment? 
  6. Is moisture or wet feet something that you commonly experience?
  7. Are burning feet a problem?
  8. What about the ability to enter/exit a boot?
  9. How much do you perspire and how does this affect your performance?

Sometimes people really aren’t too sure about what they want. And during our R&D process we have had some responses that were not expected.

Feedback like this was hard to categorize because it was so honest and direct. Below are some examples of feedback on our prototype which was 95% complete. 

"There’s what feels like a harsh joint of the fabric at the heal. It didn’t effect anything but had me apprehensive at first."

Here were some other examples:

‘I never have tried a sock like this.’

‘This is the best sock I have ever worn.’

'I had an opportunity to try these stocks out last week while on a 30+ mile section hike on Superior Hiking Trail. I feel like these socks would work really well for a lot of people. Previously, I have had a lot of blisters and have been working on various ways to subdued them. Along with my new heel lock tie, I had no issues with heel blisters while using these. Unfortunately, these socks did not help with my under toe blisters (hammer baby toe). Let me break this down further based on my person experience:
Pros - if you are looking for a good thin sock that holds up well, even in rain and while wet, dries fast, mid-calf height, and limits friction, these are for you. Great customer service.

Cons - if you are looking for a mid-weight (or heavier), lower than mid calf, or have a hammer baby toe, these socks may not work for you.

Though for me personally, this is not a sock I will use for long hikes, I feel it would work for many other people. I also tried a 'toe sock' and find that was able to eliminate the previous hammer toe blisters. if this sock offered this 'toe sock' option I would use this sock on future hikes.'

'Well we finally had enough cold weather here in Texas that I got to wear them for a few days. I really like the weight and the thickness.  I also like the fact they don't have a huge seam in the toes that rubs your toes,  overall I would say they are very nice, probably my favorite ones that I have in wool because most of them are so thick I can't get them in my boots'

These types of insights were very insightful to the team- as well as inspiring. We acted on this data with our market-ready version by making structural modifications, to the toe and heel. 

Apple is a good example of a company that uses product feedback in testing. You’ll hear things like,

‘the mouse is X’

‘the keyboard is too Y’

As the product matches the needs of the customer brand loyalty increases. People feel like they're being heard. And the customer’s thinking becomes, ‘this product was made for me’. 

We knew that many people are into fleeces, synthetic insulation, etc. But, what is important about their socks? What would make a difference? 

For the most part people seem fairly content with socks. Therefore, we were striving to introduce a product that could take us to new heights. 

Your feet and legs are one of the most important parts of your body. Moisture is a recurring problem. 

Materials differ. We tested synthetic and wool. Merino wool seems to perform and manages moisture better than synthetic. We use a Merino/AlPaca blend that has a concentration gradient built-in which helps the water evaporate. 

Durability is another important factor in socks. The elastane in our sock allows for the sock to last. Fibers refresh after washings instead of bunching awkwardly. This results in a sock that fits like a second skin. 

What are some of the issues that people are having with other socks? 

Toe box 

Some socks cause the toes to get jammed together. The friction between the toes can cause blisters between the toes. 

Dealing with pungent odor

We have over 250,000 sweat glands on the soles of our feet. The problem of odor is a painful one for many people. After a long trail thru hike your feet may smell like a rotting corpse. The antibacterial properties play an important role here. The antibacterial should be safe for the skin. It should also be safe for the environment. 

By the way, we use 100% ALL NATURAL ANTI-BACTERIALS in our socks. 

Samples were received in a closed bag and we used ultraviolet sterilization of the sample prior to the test. This is a typical process for growing bacteria in a petri dish.

Anyway, we used a Letheen broth as a neutralizing solution. The contact time was 24 hours at 37 degrees celsius.

A Nutrient Agar was used as a medium for and incubation period of 48 hours. And the test culture was Staphylococcus and Klebsiella Pneumoniae.

For our antibacterials our facility followed guidelines set out by the American Association of Textile Chemists and Colorists (AATCC) Technical Manual.

The results showed a 99.9% reduction of Staphylococcus aureus and a 99.9 % reduction of Klebsiella pneumoniae

Athlete's foot and foot fungus are also big problems. The moisture management system helps alleviate fungal growth. We'll address this in another post. 

Other technologies like Coolmax

We learned from other technologies like Coolmax. It feels nice and it’s comfortable. Coolmax is able to wick moisture fairly well. And it’s cooler than cotton. It handles odor well for a synthetic sock. 

Which sock should I get? 

We’re working on a ‘Compact Guide: How to Choose the Right Sock’. So subscribe and we’ll let you know when this is ready. 

The right socks depend on your needs. Some people need a liner sock. It’s because of their skin type and the way that skin performs from person to person varies. Some skin types cannot handle the ‘shear’ stress. 

Some just need the thinnest sock possible. You may be prone to blisters, no matter what shoe or how dry your feet are. Other people need to change socks all of the time, and they have to treat their feet with a balm the night before.  

I would offer some general recommendations:

  1. Choose the thinnest poly sock out there. Our synthetic sock comes in a light and mid or medium weight. And our wool comes in a mid or heavy. Regardless, the wool is thinner. 
  2. Choose something that has enough room for the toebox. Your feet will swell and your toes need room to move around.
  3. Condition your foot before you go hiking by using an appropriate sandal.  

Wet Feet

Moisture is a big problem. To avoid blisters, you can make use of a liner. It will reduce the friction over areas of the foot. Many socks will get wet and the fibers will start to act funny. Breathability is important as well as durability. 

In some of our 3rd party testing we asked the users how they washed. Some said that the fiber refreshed after washes. This made the sock soft and more comfortable. 

Our sock outlasted other socks in trials. The 3-in-1 fabric and weave allows you to get more bang for your buck. 


Your legs and feet support your entire body. Throughout life we need the support from your shoes and socks. With a good understanding of zones of the feet and how they handle friction technology can be applied to give you that support.

Moreover, there are a host of factors and conditions that play a role in performance. We attempted to take these factors into consideration. Testing is an important part of strategy and as our product evolves we'll continue to improve.

Overall, we were happy with our testing process. I do think that our insights will improve overtime by adding additional testers. It would also be worth adding testers for specific uses and environments.

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