UNIVERSAL GORE® WINDSTOPPER® SOCKS
Review: UNIVERSAL GORE® WINDSTOPPER® SOCKSBy Scot Jarchow | Published May 3, 2017
This winter we received a pair of Universal Gore Windstopper Socks to review. Honestly this has been a very difficult product to review. Part of the reason I have had a difficult time reviewing these socks, is Gore’s marketing literature has listed the Gore Windstopper Socks as “Windproof cycling socks to be worn like normal socks, ensuring easy and practical wear.” Personally for me, these socks fail to perform like normal socks, as I will explain later, in fact these socks actually performed best in more extreme conditions when they were combined with lightweight or medium-weight wool socks and spacious cycling shoes. Through trial and error, I found that Universal Gore Windstopper Socks were good for riding in light drizzle, mid 30’s, or cold, windy, with dry falling snow.
Over the past two months, Portland has been soggy! It has literally rained on 85% of days since February 1st, luckily on some of those days the heaviest rain was overnight, leaving the daylight hours very chilly (mid-30s), cloudy, drizzly, and with an occasional heavy shower. On few of those days I have experimented with Gore Windstopper Sock, I have found them to work fairly well. On days were it has rained overnight, but daylight is not strong enough to dry roads or trails, road grime and road spray is a contributor to cold feet. With that in mind, I removed my normal insoles and went with minimal shoe insole, while wearing a medium thickness wool sock under the Gore socks. I have found in those instances my feet stayed warm and dry, opposed to overshoes that can leave my feet hot and sweaty. I discovered another instance where I really liked the Gore Windstopper, earlier this year I rode a few times in snow storms on my trusty cyclocross bike to have a little fun in the snow, and the socks did a good job of blocking biting east winds and offered enough water protection that melting snow did not penetrate the socks. I used the Windstopper Sock with medium thickness wool in temperatures down to 24 degrees for over an hour, so they do offer some value. Though I didn’t see any of the elite riders at Cyclocross National in Hartford, using Windstopper Socks, and too bad for them, because I could see where using Windstopper Socks would make remounting in snow that fell over that weekend easier than using overshoes.
We Didn't Like
Honestly there are many reasons that I am not a fan of the Gore Windstopper Socks. My first dislike is that it was very difficult to put the socks on the first couple of times I wore them. Heck the first time I put them on I swear I could hear the seams stretching. The next observation was, even though the Gore Windstopper Socks were hard to put on, they weren’t very form fitting, there was a lot of extra material. For me there was so much extra material that I could not wear the socks with any of my road shoes, my shoes were simply too tight.
The first time I used the Gore socks, I headed out on the trails for a 2 hour ride. About 1.5 hours into the ride, I noticed that where the flat-lock seam stitching connecting the material panels together on the medial side of my heel, was rubbing and irritating the side of my heel. Unfortunately it was too cold out to stop and take off the socks, so I just dealt with it until I got home. By the time I did get home, I had dime sized blisters on the medial sides of both heels. The next time I headed out with Gore socks, it was a dry, cloudy, 44 degree day, with about a 10 mph wind, and my feet were quite cool, slightly chilled at the end of 30 mile ride. I still was being irritated by flat-lock seams, but this time I brought some Morgan Blue Solid Chamois cream, and it applied to my irritated heels, which prevented new blisters. Personally this was coldest temperatures I would wear the socks, without overshoes, or without using a wool sock underneath the Gore socks. Ironically, using the wool socks with Windstopper prevented further irritation from the flat-locks seams.
Over the past week the Portland area finally had a couple of days where temperature creeped above 50 degrees and it wasn’t raining. I once again broke out the Gore Windstoppers socks to how they felt in sunny conditions. Once again I headed out for 2 hour ride, this time I used Body Glide on my heels, so during my mid-afternoon ride the temperature stayed really close to 54 degrees with about a 10 mph wind. Overall, I would say my feet were warm during the entire ride, they certainly were not roasting like overshoes at that temperature, but they were warmer than if I were wearing plain socks. I can’t see myself riding in these socks when it is above 55 degrees…
The Final Say
In truth and reality, I cannot recommend the Gore Windstopper Socks, to me they have too many limitations versus how expensive they are price wise. I will admit I really liked riding in the snow with them as an outer sock layer with medium weight sports wool socks. My feet certainly weren’t toasty, but I was out in the snow almost 2 hours before my feet really started getting cold. However, while good in wind, I ultimately found the socks to have a very limited temperature range and 44 to 45 degrees was just about as cold I would use these socks by themselves and much warmer than 54 degrees was too warm to use at all. I found the flat-locks seems to be abrasive enough that the first couple times I wore the socks without other socks, for over 1.5 hours, I ended up with dime sized blisters. For me they were too bulky to use with any of my road shoes. Personally I think Gore customers would be better served if they chose Gore Road Windstopper Soft Shell Overshoe or Gore Road Thermo Socks over the Gore Windstopper Socks.
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