Sportful's Wool Woman 16 Socks offer decent winter comfort and warmth, providing a level of insulation for colder days that is surprising given their low bulk. They are rather pricey though.
Pulling the socks on, they have the usual softness you'd expect from merino, but are far from the cosiest I've worn. Comparing them with something like Castelli's Sfidas, their lack of luxuriousness is really noticeable.
The socks don't have the bulk of some full-on winter ones – perhaps a bonus if you have a very close-fitting shoe. On me they're snug, close to a compression fit, though I have wide, size 8.5 feet, and opted for the L/XL (size 39-41), so I'm at the upper end.
I've made use of the socks without overshoes in cool, dry weather, and in temperatures of 8-12°C they perform brilliantly. The footbed is lightly padded for extra warmth and the terry-knit at the front of the ankle insulates well. The decent length offers extra protection for the lower leg/ankle on colder days too.
You'll probably want to add an overshoe if you use them in temperatures under about 7°C, but even with an overshoe, as temperatures neared zero the socks didn't cut it for me – my feet simply weren't kept warm.
The high merino content certainly helps to keep odours at bay. I got several wears out of these before they made it into the machine. Even when they did, it wasn't because they were smelling.
The 30% synthetic fibres are intended to provide good breathability; you want your feet to be kept warm, but you want to avoid overheating. Sweaty feet certainly weren't an issue for me when I did add overshoes.
They are still in great condition after daily wear for the full test period. They've held their shape well – no evidence of shrinking or loss of elasticity.
Price-wise, they're at the top end of what I'd want to pay for a winter sock that doesn't cater for the coldest of winter days (for me), but there are a lot out there at a similar price.
For comparison, Rapha's Merino Socks (similarly not 100% merino) are £15, and the M2O Crew Compression socks are the same price as the Sportfuls – as are the Castelli Sfidas I mentioned earlier.
You can certainly get cheaper though: dhb's Lightweight Merino Socks are £10, and if you are keen to stick to a female-specific sock, maybe consider dhb's Aeron Merinos, currently £10.50 down from £15.
Overall, these aren't the cosiest or cheapest socks you can buy, but they do seem durable. Their performance in terms of insulation and breathability in a wide range of temperatures means you should get plenty of use out of them, too.
Good low-bulk winter socks that will cater for most cold weather, but the high price works against them
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road.cc test report
Make and model: Sportful Wool Woman 16 socks
Size tested: L/XL
Tell us what the product is for
Sportful provides tech info for the socks (below) but no other description.
Tell us some more about the technical aspects of the product?
Merino wool and nylon reinforced terry-knit padded footbed.
Terry-knit merino front of ankle for extra warmth.
Woolnylon reinforced heel and toe.
Merino rib-knit back of ankle.
Cuff length: 16cm
Really well made.
Thin fabric is surprisingly effective in keeping you warm but they didn't cut it in very cold temperatures for me. Breathability is good.
No signs of bobbling, thinning or threads coming loose.
Snug, without any bagginess to note.
Only two sizes available. I followed the size guide and the L/XL fits my 8.5 foot very well.
Not uncomfortable, but not the cosiest of winter socks.
How easy is the product to care for? How did it respond to being washed?
Fine... with all the other 30 degree, no-softener cycling gear.
Tell us how the product performed overall when used for its designed purpose
They're not the cosiest of winter socks, but they do a great job of insulating the feet on all but the coldest of winter rides and boast good breathability to prevent sweatiness in milder temperatures or with an overshoe.
Tell us what you particularly liked about the product
Warmth from a comparatively thin sock.
Tell us what you particularly disliked about the product
How does the price compare to that of similar products in the market, including ones recently tested on road.cc?
Identically priced to Castelli's Sfida and M2O's Merino Compression socks, and £1 more than Endura's BaaBaa Merino Winter Socks (£15.99). Findra offers plenty of merino socks for £16, and you can easily find cheaper options from the likes of dhb and Madison.
Did you enjoy using the product? Yes
Would you consider buying the product? At a discounted price, yes.
Would you recommend the product to a friend? Maybe
Use this box to explain your overall score
Overall, I'd say these are good. They offer decent protection for a good range of temperatures, despite being thinner than many, but are a bit overpriced.
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…