Long time readers know that I am very picky about shoes and socks. I stand a lot on cement floors, and walk several miles a day (or try to) on asphalt and cement. I won’t wear shoes I can’t run in. Socks have to be durable, have a little padding, and not rub. Most of what I wear are Smartwool and the house-brand dress socks from Vermont Country Store, all wool. In 2018, I got curious about the All-Things-Buffalo store (HerdWear) in Goodnight, TX, and wandered in. I wandered out with some snacks, some books, mitts, and socks. They are great socks, but they are a three wool blend and require special washing. Then I found these heavier-duty buffalo socks.
These are crew socks, made of buffalo fleece (or down), silk, nylon, and some stretchy stuff so they don’t fall down. They have smooth feet and ribbed legs, like most crew socks meant for heavier use. The toe seam is flat, and these are washable, but need to be air dried because of the blended fibers. They are made in the USA.
They are comfortable. I usually wear a medium, but they were out so I got a small (women’s 3-6) and hoped for the best. They fit well, not too tight. They have medium padding in the forefoot and heel, and are warm but not too hot. Now, since I wear long wool socks all year around, my “not over-warm” and your “not over-warm” may differ.
They have washed well so far, using basic laundry soap and then air-drying them. They dried in 3-4 hours (relative humidity 35%).
The down side, pun intended, is that nothing made from buffalo down/fleece is inexpensive. It is very labor intensive to either gather the shed down in spring, or to remove it from the hides after the buffalo are slaughtered for meat. There are only a few places that spin the fibers. I’m not going to fill my sock drawer with buffalo socks, but for days when I need something between my Canadian Arctic-weight socks and my every-day ones, these are perfect, and the should last for quite a while.
The other difficulty is that the socks (and other goods) are made in batches, so you may have to check back every so often to see if what you want is back in stock. The owners of the place are good about providing updates and information.
FTC Disclaimer: I bought these socks for my own use and received no discount or remuneration from the company for this review.
I’ve heard of pulling the wool over your eyes – but pulling the buffalo wool over your toes? We could have a lot of fun working out hidden meanings for that one! (Does that make you a feetishist?)
Never metatarsal she didn’t like?
Reading about how buffalo down is acquired, I thought, yeah, I don’t think you could find anyone willing to shear a buffalo like a sheep, that wold leave a mark that won’t buff out.
Yep, that is an ‘interesting’ little shop to browse through. I will admit that I took one look at the prices and passed on the socks! Wow…
The gloves are awesome. Though when I went through the shop, I came out with a pair of silver and mother of pearl earrings instead of a second pair! (Yes, I’m such a girl.)
I’m fairly particular about my socks but wool socks are spendy. I tend to wear cotton socks in the summer but wool about 6-8 months out of the year. I like the Fox River Outdoorsox for a semi-affordable heavy winter sock. One thing about good wool socks is that they will outlast other socks so you recoup some of the price.
My favorite wool socks were some that I got years ago for Christmas, never was able to figure out the brand and the person who got them for me didn’t remember. Never been able to find any like them. Grrr!
The wife knits and I just made her some sock blockers so she can try knitting some wool socks for me and I’ll see how those do.
I do a lot of hiking in rough terrain, and snowshoes, and my winter boots are 16″ tops so I need calf socks and ones that will stay up and not bunch around your toes.
Smartwool are nice, but most of them are lighter than I want for a full on winter sock.
Yes on the last. I’ve still got some of the very heavy Canadian winter socks I bought when I was flying in the Midwest and Canada. That was 20 years ago, and they are still in good shape. Something about doing outdoor work in -30F on ice and cement that draws attention to just how important good insulation is . . . (We stopped flying at -40F because we couldn’t carry enough gear for our passengers if we had to land out [to use the glider phrase], and the engines lost too much heat to run happily, even with oil-cooler blockers and the like in place.)
I have a couple pairs of heavy alpaca socks that I wear in winter. Warmer than regular wool, durable, and slightly more bulk than Smartwool. They work fine down to about 0/-5 deg F. Haven’t had colder than that for a few years, luckily.