Should I wear wool socks in the summer?

The short answer is yes.

One of the most important things to remember about socks is that they help keep your feet dry.    When you exercise your body produces heat.  Your body reacts to the heat and begins to sweat (sweating is the body’s cooling process).  Here’s the problem: Wet feet + Friction =  Blisters.  To avoid blisters it’s important to regulate the temperature of your feet, and wick (or move) any moisture from the inside of your sock, to the outside of your sock.  Wool will do this naturally.  Wool also regulates temperature.  Yes, your feet will be warmer in wool socks as compared to cotton socks, but they will also be drier.  If your feet are dry they will remain blister free.

In our store we tout the benefits of wool, but customers often believe that wool is itchy and uncomfortable.  This is not always true.  Most of the wool socks that we carry are made of soft merino wool.  Actually, they feel nothing like wool and they’re very comfortable.  This is why we say YES to wool socks in the summer.

Wear me in the summer

Is This Jacket Worth 129 Bucks?

Is this Patagonia Torrentshell jacket worth 129 bucks?  Let’s find out.

Patagonia Torrentshell Rain Jacket

As you probably know, we carry lots rainwear from brands like Patagonia, The North Face, Marmot, Columbia, Red Ledge, etc…  With all the rain we’ve been having we decided to take a close look at one of our best selling rain coats from Patagonia.

The Patagonia Torrentshell jacket is a basic, no-frills rain jacket.  It’s waterproof, breathable and super lightweight.  It’s packable too making it an obvious choice for trekking,  hiking or plain old traveling.  When packed up, the jacket takes up little space inside your backpack or luggage.  It’s made of durable yet lightweight 2.5 layer ripstop nylon.  Other cool features include an interior mesh pocket for bug spray or a cell phone, an adjustable hood that stows away in the collar and pit-zips for ventilation.  It’s available for men & women and we carry about 10 colors.  All in all this is a great jacket with just the right amount of options.  It’s a 3 season product too.

So YES, this jacket is definitely worth 129 bucks!

Natural Running

Have you heard of the term natural running?  Natural running is very similar to running barefoot. Your center of gravity is forward, and you land in your sweet spot – not on your heel, not on your toes.  Heel striking is very different than natural running.  The jarring impact of a heel strike kills forward momentum.  Plus, your body must adjust from the impact of up to 3x your body weight on your heel.

When natural running, you don’t land on your heels but instead on your midfoot/forefoot.  This allows your heel to settle towards the ground.  Research suggests that natural running is the fastest and most efficient way to run.

Unfortunately, most of us do not have a natural running style.   To make matters worse, most running shoes are not designed for natural running.  The type of footwear that you run in influences the style of running that you adopt.  Therefore the easiest way to change your running style is to change your running shoes.  Minimalist running shoes have less cushioning, no support and are always neutral allowing your feet to function as though they were barefoot.  However, if you suddenly change your footwear to minimalist footwear your are likely to injure yourself as a result of the new stress on your body.

We’ve found a great company that makes shoes specifically designed to transition you to a natural running style.  Inov-8 recommends a gradual transition to minimalist shoes.  They offer shoes with gradual levels of heel to toe drop, cushioning and support to help runners with the transition.  Some of our customers are buying these shoes to transition their style before purchasing barefoot shoes from Merrell or Vibram FiveFingers.  Yes, we carry those too.

Inov-8 has done lots of research, and you can read it here.

Editors Picks – Our Top Socks

The Socks: Injinji Lightweight No-show Socks
Why we like em: They prevent blisters

Injinji pronounced (in-gin-gee), has taken a different approach to athletic socks.  They believe that toe socks not only keep your feet cool dry & blister free but also promote better posture and balance.  We tried them out and found them to be very comfortable.  They feel different at first, but after a while they feel really good.

Injinji Toe Socks






The Socks: Stance Socks – All of them
Why we like em: They’re way cooler than solid color socks.

If you’re looking for great-looking, well-made & comfortable socks, we suggest that you try STANCE socks.  They feature an elastic arch support to keep the socks snug and comfortable on your feet plus a deep heel pocket to keep the socks in place and prevent twisting.  Some styles come in a 3-pack allowing you to mix and match depending on your mood.

Mix-n-match socks by STANCE







The Socks: Smartwool Running PhD Light Socks
Why we like em: They’re padded in all the right places

Let’s face it, your running socks are just as important as your running sneakers.  Our favorite running sock is the Smartwool PhD Running Light Micro socks.  The socks feature cushioning on the bottom half of the sock to absorb shock while running and a padded achilies tab that keeps your foot snug inside the sneaker.  The top of the sock is ventilated with mesh to keep you cool, and most importantly dry.  These socks are constructed of merino wool, nylon and elastic.  Remember, merino wool will wick moisture and keep your foot dry and blister free and hopefully fast.

Smartwool PhD Running Socks







The Socks: Wigwam Ironman Thunder Pro
Why we like em: They’re constructed of odor-fighting material and they’re made int he USA.

Let’s face it, some of us prefer a white sock.  If you fall into this boat we recommend the Wigwam Ironman Thunder Pro.  It’s constructed of Dri-release to keep your feet dry, stretch nylon for fit and X20 acrylic to fight off odor.  This sock has a cushioned sole and the instep is made of breathable mesh.  It’s the opposite of the a plain white sock.

Wigwam Ironman Thunder Pro


Most Comfortable Flip Flop for Women

With summer approaching we decided to put our flip-flops to the test.  With 1 week till the official start of summer, we’re naming the Sanuk Yoga Mat flip-flop as the most comfortable women’s flip-flop of 2012.  You’ll want to take a deep breath then exhale as soon as you try them on.  The foot bed is made from a real yoga mat so every step is soft and squishy.  The sandal is lightweight and a pleasure to wear.

The Sanuk Yoga Mat Sandal

The Fix? It just may be.

I recently tried out a new in-ear bud from SkullCandy called THE FIX.  Our salesrep gave me a pair to try and promised that they would stay in my ears.  I didn’t believe him.  I’m pretty active and there’s nothing worse than earbuds that don’t stay in your ears.  I’ve tried lots of different models and the best one for me (until now) was the apple earbud that comes with the iPhone.  I was totally impressed with The Fix.  It actually stayed in my ear and sounded great.  The package has a sketch of a cinder-block attached to The Fix dangling from someones ear.  I didn’t try this, but I bet it would work.  We now carry The Fix at The Berkshire General Store.

Here’s an article on The Fix.  it was published in Competitor Magazine:

Publication: Competitor Magazine

We’ve all been there—you’re out for a run when you’re suddenly distracted with your earbuds.

There’s nothing worse than fumbling with earbuds that won’t stay put.

Sport fitness earbuds are one of the more difficult types to find on the market. Not all earbuds are designed the same and finding the time to shop for the right pair that sound great and stay in place can be just as challenging as knowing where to start.

So, we did the shopping for you. We spoke with Pete Kelly, director of industrial design for SkullCandy, on how to shop for earbuds, and tested a few pairs from various companies to see how they measured up.

Finding the best shape and design:

Look for a form that allows the earbud to sit down inside the natural curves of the ear, which keeps it from falling out. This also positions the speaker directly in-line with the ear canal to deliver the purest sound. Lightweight injected plastics assure long-term comfort.  Avoid heavy materials like metal, as it doesn’t respond well to sweat. If you wear buds under a helmet, choose a low profile bud so your ears don’t hurt.

Caring for your earbuds:

Store them in a carrying case. Avoid tightly wrapping them around your device—this will cause kinks in the cables. Also, keep an eye on the “speaker grill.” If you see wax build-up, use a q-tip and some alcohol to gently wipe it away. Clean the exterior with water.

Biggest mistakes in using earbuds:

It’s effective to route the buds under your shirt if you plan to be very active. Find a bud style, or in-ear style that fits you correctly—this will reduce the tendency for them to fall out.