$20 Socks

 
 
 

We just made it through a very cold winter, but I'm proud to say: I was ready for it. I started snowboarding over 20 years ago, and in my younger years the adrenaline kept me going. I never thought about my cold fingers and toes as winter days wore on. As my skills improved, I stopped falling, which was great, but it meant I was using less energy getting off the ground, and that’s when I started to feeling the cold. Being too hot or too cold is no fun, and short runs with long lift lines in Ohio only made it worse.

A search for warm socks led to a variety of results, predominantly sponsored adds for socks that looked promising but not long enough to wear in my boots. The search continued with knit socks that don't wick away moisture and would bunch up without constant adjustment. Finally I saw a pair that looked perfect—an engineered snowboarding sock: thin, lightweight, with technical fibers constructed with a forward leaning profile to match my boots. I was all set to order when I noticed the $19.99 price, and thought are you kidding? A single pair of socks? I could get two 10-packs of socks for less, I mean c’mon!

My buddy J called to ask if I would join him riding the following weekend, and of course I was in. Then I told him about the socks I found and was considering buying. He thought I was crazy to think about spending $20 on a single pair of socks. I was still on the fence about it, but after a lot of thought I decided that if this company had invested substantially in R&D, design effort, and then actually wound up in commercial production, that maybe—just maybe—they had something worth the premium cost. Temperatures plunged that week, and I went to Sunsports (RIP) to buy the $20 socks in spite of taunting from my friend.

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Those socks were a game changer. My feet stayed warm and I had a great weekend of hard riding in comfort. When I took off my boots outside, steam bellowed out of the boots (along with a little funk) and I was confident I had made the right choice for myself.

Those Burton Phase II socks lasted for several seasons, and J even bought a pair too. I loved those things so much that every three or four years I ask for a pair for Christmas. The models have changed but the value is there. Oh, and I also learned that mittens are better than gloves to let your fingers share the warmth.

Now, whenever I hear someone complain about being cold, I know they are just wearing the wrong socks. It’s like the Boy Scouts motto ‘be prepared’. Sometimes we pay more for a better seat to a show, for a better warranty, faster service, or even just out of personal preference. Those socks worked perfectly for me for hours on end. So my takeaway here is about value: a decision made solely on costs won’t get you what you need.