This past fall I purchased two pairs of Balega socks at the Marine Corps Marathon Expo. I was first attracted to this booth because of the very large crowd of people surrounding it. As I browsed the racks of socks trying to figure out what makes these socks so special, several people commented to me on their favorite socks, as they could tell I was a Balega newbie. I’ve found runners to be pretty friendly people but was really surprised at this strong outspoken brand loyalty. I had to experience these socks for myself.
I’m a picky running socks person. Before Balega, I didn’t have a brand I’d excitedly tell people about. My socks were okay but not perfect; they were too thin or too padded, too high or too short. Sometimes my non-Balega socks would slip when I ran, leading to rubbing and cuts on the back of my foot if I didn’t stop frequently to adjust the sock. Annoying.
Then Balega entered my life. No, Balega did not pay me to write this post. I just really like their socks!
I bought a pair of pink Hidden Contour socks and a pair of purple blister resistant socks at the MCM expo last fall just in time for our long marathon training runs. They soon became my two favorite running socks. I’d do laundry just to have a clean pair (I should probably buy a few more pairs).
First of all, a bit about Balega, the company – the “leader in run”. All their socks are developed, tested and manufactured at their facility in South Africa. Balega is very focused on community and has successfully implemented many projects to give back. A couple of characteristics of all their socks are a hand-linked toe closure to prevent rubbing and a deep heel pocket so the socks don’t slip. Balega incorporates high quality yarns and fibers to produce comfortable, performance running socks.
One of my favorite things about their website is that Balega calls out their people who hand inspect the socks. Stickers are found on the socks with the inspectors’ photos but their stories are all online.
Hidden Contour Socks (pink ones) – These socks look very high-tech with all the different stitching and yarns. They are a bit thinner than the blister resistant socks but have the right amount of padding in all the right spots. Here are some features as listed on their website:
– elastane throughout for a more structured hold providing a second skin fit
– reinforced heel and toe
– mesh construction for ventilation
– medium volume construction (volume is such a funny way to describe a sock…)
– plush under sole cushioning for added protection
– heel tab prevents the sock from slipping into your running shoe (and from your heel rubbing on your sneaker)
These socks are light, comfortable and keep my feet cool!
Blister Resist (purple) – These are new, just released last year and are unique because the Drynamix patented fiber is blended with natural South African mohair. Sweat is wicked by the Drynamix and the mohair prevents friction helping to prevent blisters. This is a higher volume sock so is more cushioned than the hidden contours. Because of the thicker material, they feel warmer but the ventilation is excellent so they can be worn year round. I wore them for the Richmond Marathon. The weather forecast did not predict rain but it started pouring as we crossed the start line. I ran 26.2 miles with wet feet but finished with ZERO blisters! Thanks, Balega! Check out this interesting video by Balega’s brand manager about these new socks and all the thought that went into them.
Lastly, I want to mention Balega’s outstanding customer service. A hole was developing in the toe box of a pink sock and a purple sock last month. I emailed Balega’s customer service and they said they’d put two new pairs in the mail and apologized for the holes. The holes were not necessarily where my big toe would be either (see photos below).
Hopefully they were just defective pairs and the holes won’t happen again in the new socks. So which sock is better? As you can tell, I love them both, but would probably choose the Blister Resistant socks. I love the fabric – keeps my feet warm in winter and cool in summer – and the extra “volume” is nice. But you can’t go wrong with either style!