A good pair of socks can make a surprising amount of difference to ride comfort. These high quality Iris Merino Socks are aimed firmly at cold weather use and look good and feel amazing on, but watch out for the generous fit.
They're not 100% wool – it's a mix of 70% merino, 27% polyamide and 3% elastane, working towards an optimal blend of merino's anti-odour properties and temperature stability together with the faster-drying elements of synthetics.
I tested the size 35-39 and had to check that I had received the correct size as they felt quite spacious. They weren't too large, just roomier than I expected, and I'd be a little concerned for those with smaller feet than my 39s. They'll be perfect for those with broad feet, though, with plenty of stretch in the forefoot area.
The socks have a broad stretch cuff at the top, which is effective in keeping the socks up (if that's your thing) but not tight, and they're 18cm long, coming up to mid-shin on me.
On the bike, the merino content means they deliver a high level of comfort, both in terms of the feel against the skin (like a little hug for your feet) and the warmth for their thickness. These aren't chunky socks and should fit under normal cycling shoes, but they do offer extra warmth over 'normal' socks. I found they were perfect under winter booties or normal shoes with overshoes on top, with minimal sweating.
One of the nicest features, other than the snuggly fabric, is the level of cushioning under the forefoot. It's an area that I often find neglected in cycling socks, when that's the part that receives most pressure from the pedal. These are well cushioned for pedalling comfort.
Price-wise, these are far from being cheap socks, but they are from a small boutique brand in the Netherlands, so inevitably there's a premium to be paid. That said, the Giro HRC + Merino socks are nearly four quid more at £21.99, and they're the same price as Ashmei's Classic Chequered Merino Socks and only a quid more than the Castelli Sfida 13 Women's Socks.
The Iris socks are so lovely to wear that I'd be inclined to not save them for cycling, but use them for everyday wear too. If the sizing and shape suit you, it's hard to go wrong with these high quality and superbly comfortable socks.
Like little hugs for your feet – soft, warm, cushioned and well made
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road.cc test report
Make and model: Iris Merino Socks
Size tested: 35-39
Tell us what the product is for
Iris says, 'A winter collection can't be complete without a pair of warm socks. These merino winter socks include all the features our regular socks offer, plus the natural performance properties of merino.'
Tell us some more about the technical aspects of the product?
70% merino/27% polyamide/3% elastane
Available in sizes 35-39 and 40-45
Machine washable at 30
Superbly made from soft high quality merino mix.
Kept my feet a good stable temperature with minimal sweating.
Early days, but the excellent quality and that they wash well suggest longevity.
Well shaped but a little on the generous side.
Come up large for the stated size bracket. I tried the 35-39 and they were roomy on my size 39 feet.
A good light weight for a merino sock. Not bulky.
Extremely comfortable. Great soft fabric, nice level of warmth and superb cushioning under the forefoot.
Not the cheapest but you can pay the same (or more) for other high-end designs; Iris is a boutique brand from Europe, so you'd expect a premium, and they are very well made.
How easy is the product to care for? How did it respond to being washed?
Easy to wash at 30 or with merino wool wash.
Tell us how the product performed overall when used for its designed purpose
Performed very well – warm and comfortable.
Tell us what you particularly liked about the product
Softness, quality, comfort in a variety of cooler temperatures, underfoot cushioning.
Tell us what you particularly disliked about the product
Sizing is on the large side.
How does the price compare to that of similar products in the market, including ones recently tested on road.cc?
The Giro HRC + Merino socks are nearly £4 more at £21.99, and they're the same price as similarly high-end Classic Chequered Merino Socks from Ashmei and only £1 more than Castelli's Sfida 13 Women's Socks.
Did you enjoy using the product? Very much.
Would you consider buying the product? Definitely
Would you recommend the product to a friend? Yes, but only ones with feet the same size or larger than mine.
Use this box to explain your overall score
Excellent quality socks, well made from a soft and cosy merino mix. They deliver good warmth for their weight and bulk, and the cushioning underfoot is far better than average. They're not cheap but they are worth the investment. Check the sizing though.
About the tester
I usually ride: Liv Invite My best bike is: Specialized Ruby Elite
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: commuting, touring, sportives, general fitness riding, mtb,
Lara has been riding bikes for longer than she'd care to admit, and writing about them nearly as long. Since 2009 she has been working as part of the road.cc review team whilst championing women's cycling on the side, most notably via two years as editor of the, sadly now defunct, UK's first and only women's cycling mag, erm, Women's Cycling.
Believing fervently that cycling will save the world, she wishes that more people would just ride a bike and be pleasant to each other.
She will ride anything with two wheels, occasionally likes to go fast, definitely likes to go far and is always up for a bit of exploring somewhere new and exciting.