Employing premium yarns such as Primaloft, Cordura and merino wool, these carefully crafted Keela socks balance everything you want in a winter sock – warmth, durability, comfort and performance.
Toe seam a little uncomfortable
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Keela Primaloft Expedition Sock: first impressions
The Keela Primaloft Expedition Sock comes from a brand that has built a reputation for turning out solid, no-nonsense outdoor kit – the sort of stuff that is ideal for bagging winter Munros (see: what is a munro?) and other mountain adventures. These socks are a perfect example.
They’re tough and hardwearing but also warm and well-cushioned as all the best hiking socks should be, with a practical crew-length fit that comes up to mid-calf. That isn’t as long as some over-the-calf dedicated mountaineering socks, but it still means they work well with chunky B1 or B2 boots, while also arguably making them a little more practical and versatile too.
Performance comes from a carefully chosen blend of PrimaLoft Silver yarns, merino wool, Isolfil polypropylene, hard-wearing nylon (including ultra-tough Cordura fibers in high-wear areas) and a little Lycra for stretch. That mix of synthetic fibers and natural wool is all about balancing comfort with durability, whilst also ensuring good warmth and excellent wicking performance.
They’re comfortable and generally well-finished, with tidy stitching, though the toe seam is perhaps a little more noticeable than in some other socks. But there are reinforced heel and toe areas plus ventilation channels along the top of the foot to ensure good abrasion resistance and breathability.
• RRP: £25
• Gender specificity: Unisex
• Sizes available: S / M / L
• Materials: PrimaLoft Silver yarn (28%), Merino wool (28%), Isolfil polypropylene (29%), Nylon (8%), Cordura polyamide (5%), Lycra elastane (2%)
• Colors: Carbon
• Compatibility: Winter hillwalking, mountaineering
Keela Primaloft Expedition Sock: on the trails
As far as we’re concerned, the acid test for a good pair of winter hiking socks is that you can put them on before heading out for a day in the hills and then forget you’re wearing them. Basically, you want them to do the job in a quiet and unfussy way. You don’t want to notice that your feet are too hot, too cold or too sweaty, and you definitely don’t want to have to stop and pull them up or worse, feel rubbing or hotspots – the dreaded first signs of a blister.
We’re pleased to report that the Keela Primaloft Expedition Socks delivered in almost every regard. We wore them for a full week’s walking in November in Snowdonia, and they kept our feet consistently warm and dry. While they aren’t luxuriously soft, they’re still perfectly comfortable, and though we initially noted the presence of a toe seam, it didn’t rub or cause irritation, so was soon forgotten.
The PrimaLoft Silver and merino wool blend offers a good balance of warmth and moisture management, while the Cordura reinforcement ought to ensure excellent lifetime durability. The merino wool content of 28%, which is slightly lower than some other winter socks, probably accounts for the fact that they aren’t the most immediately inviting socks we’ve ever worn. But they still felt reasonably warm and soft, while also delivering merino’s temperature-regulating and natural antibacterial properties. They also seem built to last – there’s plenty of nylon and Cordura yarns in the blend, both of which are known for their strength and abrasion resistance.
Obviously, they weren’t at their best after a week’s wear, with more of an odour than you tend to tend from pure wool or high-content merino socks. But they’re machine washable, quick drying and have good shape retention, so were soon returned to optimum freshness.
The crew length also makes these more practical than many high mountaineering socks. This means that as well as being well-suited to wearing with winter boots, they’ll also work well for cold-weather trail runs and other adventures.
An outdoors writer and editor, Matt Jones has been testing kit in the field for nearly a decade. Having worked for both the Ramblers and the Scouts, he knows one or two things about walking and camping, and loves all things adventure, particularly long-distance backpacking, wild camping and climbing mountains – especially in Wales. He’s based in Snowdonia and last year thru-hiked the Cambrian Way, which runs for 298 miles from Cardiff to Conwy, with a total ascent of 73,700 feet – that’s nearly 2½ times the height of Everest. Follow Matt on Instagram and Twitter.