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MAAP's Alt_Road Merino Socks are luxurious, warm and stylish. They don't hold odours, so won't be hitting the laundry pile as often as some synthetic alternatives. They don't look out of place off the bike either, so you could get plenty of use out of them – which you might appreciate after parting with £25 for them.
MAAP's Alt_Road range has been designed with gravellers in mind, but the socks are definitely versatile enough to be used for any kind of cycling. They don't scream 'cyclist' either – I've been happily wearing them off the bike to maximise durability testing.
There are three sizes available: XS, S/M and L/XL, which cover UK sizes 4-11. I'm a size 42 (8), which places me at the top end for the S/Ms I've been testing, but they aren't a particularly snug fit. The fabric at the heel and toes isn't being over-stretched; if anything, I feel like I could do with them being a little smaller. I'd say stay true to size or, if you are just into a size bracket, consider sizing down.
The mid-foot gets a band of slightly tighter fabric which hugs the arch nicely, while the toes have a bit more cushioning with a thicker fabric than the main body. The cuff reaches well up the leg, offering extra protection in cold weather.
The entire sock feels soft and snug, more so than the thin fabric might suggest. The 20 per cent polyamide content gives the sock a bit of elasticity to hug the foot more than a 100 per cent merino one might.
They don't have the slipper-like cushioning or bulk of my go-to winter socks, Defeet's Woolie Boolies, or Castelli's Sfida 13s, but there's definitely no compromise on warmth. If you have a tight-fitting shoe, these would be a good shout for winter rides.
I've been enjoying them without overshoes in 6-8°C. If you add an overshoe in lower temperatures, the socks continue to perform. They keep the feet toasty warm without any sweatiness. Their protection and breathability make them perfect for long days in the saddle when you're facing a wide range of temperatures.
The styling is understated and practical – dark colours that don't show up the dirt. This, combined with the odour-resisting merino, means the socks can be on your feet for several rides before making it to the laundry pile. Bikepackers will love this.
I've been wearing the socks as much as possible to try to induce wear. I've failed to make one single snag or bobble on them, despite combining them with a whole host of shoes as well as wandering around the house in them. Then again, if you've forked out £25, it's what you'd expect.
If you can handle a merino-based sock all year round, and like a long cuff, these could prove their worth. At £25, they are certainly something you'll want to get plenty of wear out of. You can certainly get cheaper merino-mix options from the likes of Ashmei and DeFeet, at £18 and £22.99 respectively.
Overall, these MAAP socks offer plenty of warmth without the bulk often associated with a plush, winter sock. They are breathable and comfortable, making them ideal for very long days on the bike. Their understated design mean they could get just as much use off the bike as they do on it, helping to justify the hefty investment.
Quality and performance intended for gravel riders and adventurers, but versatile enough for any kind of wear
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road.cc test report
Make and model: MAAP Alt_Road Merino Sock
Size tested: Small/Medium
Tell us what the product is for
From MAAP: 'Put your foot down in the Alt_Road Merino Sock. Engineered for the long haul, these crew length socks provide arch support and a lightly padded toe for comfort during long days on the bike. The thermoregulating, anti-odour and anti-microbial merino wool blend provides all day protection, even when the riding shoes come off.'
Tell us some more about the technical aspects of the product?
-Premium Merino wool blend
-Anti-microbial and anti-odour function
-High pilling resistance
-Engineered jacquard knit
-Compression arch support
-Lightly padded toe
Not a huge range of sizes, so I can't say how the fit would be if you have exceptionally small or exceptionally large feet.
Premium pricing, but 80% merino and durability is looking very good.
How easy is the product to care for? How did it respond to being washed?
No problems washing, them; and plenty of use between washes is a bonus.
Tell us how the product performed overall when used for its designed purpose
Based on testing in temperatures under 12°C they perform well, keeping the feet warm with good levels of breathability.
Tell us what you particularly liked about the product
Understated styling and warmth with minimal bulk.
Tell us what you particularly disliked about the product
If I were to use them in spring, I wouldn't want such a high cuff, but this is just personal preference.
How does the price compare to that of similar products in the market, including ones recently tested on road.cc?
Defeet comes close at £22.99, and Ashmei's Signature socks are £18, but you can get merino socks for less – La Passione's are £14.
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
Stylish, comfortable, warm and breathable... They're very good – if you can swallow the price.
About the tester
I usually ride: Road My best bike is: Carbon road.
I've been riding for: Over 20 years I ride: Most days I would class myself as: Expert
I regularly do the following types of riding: commuting, touring, club rides, general fitness riding, Getting to grips with off roading too!
Emma’s first encounters with a road bike were in between swimming and running. Soon after competing for GB in the World Age Group Triathlon Championships in Edmonton in 2001 she saw the light and decided to focus on cycling.
After a couple of half decent UK road seasons racing for Leisure Lakes, she went out to Belgium to sample the racing there and spent two years with Lotto-Belisol Ladies team, racing alongside the likes of Sara Carrigan, Grace Verbeke, Rochelle Gilmore and Lizzie Deignan. Emma moved from Lotto-Belisol to Dutch team Redsun, then a new Belgian team of primarily developing riders, where there was less pressure, an opportunity to share her experience and help build a whole new team; a nice way to spend her final years of professional racing.
Since retiring Emma has returned to teaching. When not coercing kids to do maths, she is invariably out on two wheels. In addition to the daily commute, Emma still enjoys getting out on her road bike and having her legs ripped off on the local club rides and chain gangs. She has also developed an addiction to touring, with destinations including Iceland, Georgia and Albania, to mention just a few. There have also been rare sightings of Emma off-road on a mountain bike…