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I'm not the most susceptible to cold, but I'm pleased to report that dhb's Classic Thermal socks have kept my feet comfortable on some long and occasionally bitterly chill rides. They're decent value too.
The recent cold snap has proved a perfect environment and I've shunned winter booties for summer-weight sportive/training shoes with generous helpings of mesh to really test the socks' prowess.
Merino weaves do crop up at this end of the market, but these lightweight winter designs are 50% polyester, 25% polypropylene, 20% elastane and 5% polyamide. According to dhb, their hollow-core fibres are engineered so they'll trap air to provide warmth and comfort without additional weight or, crucially, density, which can spoil the snug fit of your shoes.
Even with temperatures wheezing up to just 1 or 2°C, I've been surprised by just how well they've regulated temperature, keeping my feet warm and enabling me to focus on enjoying the ride.
I tend to alternate between fixed gear and tubby tourer when winter hits, and to some extent the one-cog scenario tends to compel a continuous and relatively high cadence, maintaining good blood flow through to the feet. Suffice to say, I've never felt chill, even after several hours and brisk northerly breezes.
Sensible padding around the heel and toe help, while also providing some additional cushioning on longer day-ride-typical distances too. The subtle reinforcement around the toe, mid and heel sections also minimise premature wear.
When the mercury has crept to double figures, or I've been doing sessions on the indoor trainer, there's been some very slight traces of dampness. These don't linger more than a few minutes before the hollow fibres start drying.
The socks come in gender-specific versions, but I wasn't surprised to discover they're not a biometric left/right design. Great when you're a bit bleary eyed and in auto-pilot mode first thing in the morning.
That's not to say the fit is anything less than exacting, hugging the contours of my size 9 feet perfectly. A 16cm cuff also provides some additional warmth – and protection from prickly foliage, small stones and grit.
They also come in dark grey/grey and navy/blue if our navy/red pattern isn't to your liking, though I thought it was classic enough to go with everything without feeling bland.
To keep them clean, just pop them in the machine at 30 degrees and they will emerge looking and smelling fresh, drying in around 45 minutes at room temperature.
It's early days, but they're standing up well to wear, with no signs of wear/deterioration in a month of testing with plenty of washing.
They might not be the most exciting of kit but they do what they promise and with minimal compromise.
High-performing cool weather sock at a keen price
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road.cc test report
Make and model: dhb Classic Thermal Sock - Breton
Size tested: 9.5-12
Tell us what the product is for
dhb says: "Combat cold feet on your winter rides with the dhb Classic Thermolite® socks in this timeless and stylish Breton stripe. The hollow-core fibres of the THERMOLITE® fabric trap in air to provide warmth and comfort without weight."
Tell us some more about the technical aspects of the product?
o 50% Polyester
o 25% Polypropylene
o 20% Elastane(Spandex)
o 5% Polyamide(Nylon)
Very well made, especially for the money.
Washing and wearing very nicely thus far.
Bang on for me, for winter/early season socks.
Have kept my feet temperate, whether it's been -2 or +12°C, which should cover most bases.
How easy is the product to care for? How did it respond to being washed?
Couldn't be easier – pop in with the household wash.
Tell us how the product performed overall when used for its designed purpose
They've kept my feet temperate in all weathers and retained warmth, even on those rides when it's unexpectedly bucketed it down and I've been riding without overshoes. Cushioning and support are very good too, without spoiling a racier shoe's snug fit.
Tell us what you particularly liked about the product
Good value for money, and a great performance.
Tell us what you particularly disliked about the product
Did you enjoy using the product? Yes
Would you consider buying the product? Yes
Would you recommend the product to a friend? Yes
Use this box to explain your overall score
They work very well, and are good value for money.
About the tester
I usually ride: Rough stuff tourer based around 4130 Univega mountain bike frameset My best bike is: 1955 Holdsworth Road Path and several others including cross & traditional road
I've been riding for: Over 20 years I ride: Most days I would class myself as: Experienced
I regularly do the following types of riding: cyclo-cross, commuting, touring, fixed/singlespeed, mountain biking
Shaun Audane is a freelance writer/product tester with over twenty-eight years riding experience, the last twelve (120,000 miles) spent putting bikes and kit through their paces for a variety of publications. Previous generations of his family worked at manufacturing's sharp end, thus Shaun can weld, has a sound understanding of frame building practice and a preference for steel or titanium framesets.
Citing Richard Ballantine and an Au pair as his earliest cycling influences, he is presently writing a cycling book with particular focus upon women, families and disabled audiences (Having been a registered care manager and coached children at Herne Hill Velodrome in earlier careers)