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My feet. I’ll admit…they’re not my favorite piece of camera equipment. Heck, they’re not even camera equipment…but I find more and more they’re so vital to ensuring I get good images.
When I decided to head to Iceland this past June for 67 days of hiking and photography I knew without question my feet were going to be in for an ordeal…which is where my Wigwams’ come into play. I use primarily the Hiking/Outdoor Pro model and the Outlast Weather Shield. I pick these socks for 3 primary functions.
1. Comfort. When people think of photography they don’t usually associate it with much hiking. For landscape and wildlife photographers, it’s all we do. Getting the perfect shot requires walking, and lots of it all over uneven and punishing terrain; during my Iceland trek I walked nearly 450 miles…averaging 10-15miles on a typical day…and longer days of 20-25 miles thrown in for fun. It was hard on my feet. If I wore any other sock, I’m convinced my feet would’ve just fallen off in protest. The socks I used kept them padded and comfortable…ALL the time.
A great example: One day I had pushed hard through inclement weather and near the end of the day there was a river I needed to cross….in the interest of time I opted to leave my boots and socks on. OK, it was more because I was lazy, and didn’t want to stop…but long story short. If you get wet feet and wet footgear, you’re going to get a blister…no matter what shoes or socks you have on. I got a nice blister from walking the last 3 miles of a 24 mile days with wet and tired feet. The next morning was another 20+ mile day…and the weather was going to get bad near the end of the day…so I had to move. I put on dry socks in the morning and made the entire hike the next day with no pain from the blister…due primarily to the padding and comfort provided by the sock. When socks help compensate for my laziness…they get bonus points.
2. Warmth. Iceland gets cold. Most days the temperatures moved between 40-60 degrees. I’m out in it every day photographing, hiking and working. If my feet were to get even slightly cold…it would ruin my mood…make me cranky, and the last thing I’d be focusing on is my photography. I can’t afford to waste a day of shooting because my feet bug me. Often times I’m taking off my shoes and socks to go stand in a glacial creek or river in order to get a shot I like. This is COLD beyond words…the first thing I do when I get out is rush to get socks back on. The Wigwam socks do SUCH a good job of keeping my feet warm…they just don’t lose heat. Many days I was walking through wet ground, and my boots would be pretty wet…but my feet never felt the cold. (With the exception of the time I just wore my boots in the river.)
The best example of the socks keeping my feet warm on this trip was during a hike I did in Skaftafell National Park. I had gone out hiking one evening for a scouting trip…because the weather wasn’t great…I hadn’t planned on shooting much, if at all…and opted to wear sandals with my socks instead of my hiking boots. One thing led to the other, and I ended up hiking nearly 17 miles that evening in Sandals…over rough ground, through small streams, wet vegetations, and in cold mountain temperatures. My feet never got cold. It was great. I honestly kept waiting for them to start to freeze…and they didn’t. It made what was a bad choice on my part into quite a nice evening of hiking.
3. Dry. I need dry feet. Wet feet will cause all kinds of issues…as was evident by my decision to wade through a river with my boots and socks still on. I remember my grandfather telling me that during WWII the one thing he always did was make sure he had extra socks, and that one pair was dry…because of all the bad things that can happen to feet when they get wet. Blisters, infections on cuts, funky smell, and just general foot decline. I’ve always paid attention to that lesson. The Wigwam socks are great at keeping the moisture from a typical hike away from your foot. Whether it’s sweat or water from a brief shallow stream crossing….my feet stayed dry. I recall getting to my location, setting up camp, and taking off my day socks so I could put on a clean pair to sleep in…and being amazed at how nice my feet felt.
I put these socks through a workout. I have no doubts, and it scares me to think of what my feet would’ve been like had I not used them. I’ve been there. Having blisters so bad that you had to take a day or two away from walking until the pain was bearable. I made a mistake and had one of those blisters…and walked 20 miles the next day because of these socks….and continued to walk day after day with no discomfort. Warm, Dry, and Comfortable feet are nothing I will ever sacrifice…and thanks to the Wigwam socks….I won’t have to.
Brian Rueb is a Professional Landscape and Wildlife Photographer living in California. You can see more of his work at http://brianruebphotography.com or find him on Facebook http://www.facebook.com/pages/Redding-CA/Brian-Rueb-Photography/121928334886 He teaches over 45 outdoor workshops a year with the Aperture Academy www.apertureacademy.comand is on his feet, wearing his Wigwam socks every single day.