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There are two camps of open-water swimmers – the purists who wear nothing but a Speedo and those who swaddle themselves in neoprene. If you’re one of the masochists who prefer to swim au naturel, or are an aspiring English Channel swimmer (wetsuits not allowed) read no further. But if you’re like me and intend to keep all of your appendages intact, this review is for you.

Last weekend, I jumped into 58-degree San Francisco Bay to swim across from Alcatraz and was immediately thankful that I chose not only a 5mm wetsuit but a pair of Blueseventy swim socks. Blueseventy (the earth is 70% water, get it?) is in the niche business of making gear for triathletes and open-water swimmers. We reviewed their Nero backpack a while ago here on GP and were impressed with the attention to detail and high quality. The swim socks also don’t disappoint.

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Neoprene socks and booties are nothing new. But until now, there’s never been a pair in which you could comfortably or effectively swim. The Blueseventy socks are made from thin neoprene that fits tight from toes up to ankles without being restrictive. The soles of the socks have a grippy rubber surfaces for traction on slippery rocks. Though there are only two sizes, I had no problem fitting my size 13 dogs into the large size while my wife’s size 8s worked equally well in the smalls.

The Achilles heel (sorry) of most neoprene socks is water entry. The Blueseventy socks work best when tucked under the ankle cuffs of a wetsuit but I tried them out without a wetsuit and they didn’t fill up much and stayed snug. But odds are, you’re going to be wearing a wetsuit if the water’s cold enough for swim socks. The socks would wear equally well with sport sandals for kayaking or rafting or as an added layer of insulation under cycling shoes on rainy, cold rides.

So how did they work? An hour in San Francisco Bay is about as good a test as you could dream up for swim socks. The Blueseventy socks stayed put for the whole swim and I exited the water with my feet as warm as they were when I jumped in. During the crossing, I didn’t even notice they were on my feet – no flapping or sloshing. The last thing you want to think about when you’re fighting current, waves and rogue sea lions are your frozen feet or ill-fitting socks.

Cost: $30