Gear: Ashmei Trail Socks

This past weekend I was lucky enough to be invited down to Hertfordshire by Ashmei as a part of their ‘Ambassador’ programme; a congregation of runners, cyclists and triathletes interested in the brand and the potential to play a small part in it’s ongoing development . More on that shortly.

Whilst at Ashmei HQ, we were all given a pair of trail socks to test. Like any proactive company seeking to refine and improve, the guys were very keen to receive our feedback on how the socks performed.

The Trail Running Sock is an extension of the company’s philosophy (‘Performance, Quality, Style’) and thereby utilises high end materials in its construction. We’re talking 49% Merino wool blended with 29% ‘Activated’ carbon; carbon processed in such a way as to give it small, low volume pores and exponentially increase it’s available surface area for absorption. Or in this case, available surface area for wicking.

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I’ve had these socks out for a couple of runs now, and so far I’ve been very impressed. From a comfort point of view they feel extremely cushioned, a fact that belies their thin and lightweight construction. That floating feeling usually reserved for the the first run out in a new pair of socks has remained. The toe seam is notably (and thankfully) absent, a huge benefit, especially on longer runs. I am yet to wear them further than six miles but I don’t have any concerns about taking them out for twenty or so in the hills on my next long effort.

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Enjoying that floating feeling on tonight’s run

An absent toe seam is especially of benefit when your feet get wet, reducing the bunching and rubbing that can occur in the front part of the shoe. Not that the wet is a particular concern anyway. So far these have been equally as good as my usual Drymax socks at keeping my feet in reasonably dry order (anybody who tells you they have socks that keep your feet completely dry is just not telling the truth) thanks to their exceptional wicking properties. And even the residual moisture that gets retained isn’t uncomfortable – the Merino Wool ensures that the feet remain fairly warm and comfy. This is a huge bonus, particularly if you are liable to be out on the hoof for hours at a time. Cold wet feet are not fun.

Perhaps my favourite aspect of the socks however is the actual ‘build’. I don’t use socks that sit below the ankle bone. Sure, they look much better, but on long, mountainous, dirty, wet runs I’ve found that they slip easily. The heel of the sock can drop too low and start to slide under the foot. Ashmei have countered this with a nice ‘gripped’ heel that counters that motion. Throw in a decent tab around the Achilles to get hold of in a worst case scenario and I now have a go-to anklet that appeals practically and aesthetically. And yes, that is important. We all want to feel good and confident in what we are wearing. These are nice and discrete. In fact, you’d hardly know they were there.

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Barely there. Performance, Quality, Style.

My one and only minor gripe is the colourway. As a fell and trail runner, there is too much white! These socks are predominantly Merino wool, and as such they need to be washed at a low temperature. And mud and low washing temperatures are not a great mix. Thankfully all is not lost, the good news is that are another two colourways available that will appeal to mud lovers and bog trotters alike, both predominantly black and red versions. Practically that would seem to be a better option for somebody like me, who has a hard time keeping pale coloured kit in pristine condition.

So far, so good. Another high quality product from Ashmei that I’m very pleased to have in my gear cupboard.

Ashmei Ambassador’s Day

I was fortunate enough to be invited to Ashmei HQ, a beautiful converted barn in the Hertfordshire countryside, to take part in their Ambassador’s day. Travel troubles meant that at one point I was stranded thirty miles west of Oxford as I made my way across the country but the top brass were kind and generous enough to allow me to get there under my own steam once I was sorted out and join them for the group run. I was delighted to canter through a lovely five miles with a group of very friendly runners and triathletes, some of whom I was already familiar with through previous connections on various types of social media, some of whom I was meeting for the first time. I was also fortunate enough to meet and run with the creators of the spectacular ‘Like the Wind‘ magazine, Simon and Julie Freeman (if you haven’t come across this yet, click on the link NOW).

Picture courtesy of Ashmei
Having fun on the far right. Picture courtesy of Ashmei

There was conversation, there was laughter, there was a nice feeling to proceedings. In theory we were all there for the same thing, to be considered for a role as an Ashmei Ambassador. But the people behind the company fostered a great atmosphere of calm and togetherness. It didn’t feel competitive at all, just time well spent in good company. Whoever they pick from the thirty five or so athletes that were there, they’ll probably be on to a good thing.

Many thanks to Ashmei and Freestak for the invitation and hospitality on Saturday. I really appreciated it.

IMG_0868Moving forward, there are lots of things to be on with. The race calendar picks up soon and starts to look a bit busy come April onwards, I have a training week in Chamonix to get organised and I need to start reccies and preparation for an attempt on the 15 Trigs late spring/early summer. It’s going to be a cracking year!!

Photo courtesy of Ashmei
Photo courtesy of Ashmei