Friday, January 23, 2009

Product Review : Drymax Maximum Protection Running v3 Socks

Jamie's post yesterday announcing her acceptance of a 2009 sponsorship with Drymax Socks (congrats Jamie) reminded me that a review of the Drymax Maximum Protection Running v3 socks, which are designed with comfort and technical features geared toward triathlons, marathons, and ultra long distance events, is long overdue.  But, before we get into a more detailed discussion of the Maximum Protection Running socks, a quick personal case study report is in order.

I have run the Walt Disney World Marathon in each of the past 5 years (including the Goofy's Race and a Half Challenge in each of the past 2 years - consisting of the 1/2 marathon on Saturday, followed by the full marathon on Sunday). In the 4 years prior to the 2009 event I used a variety of socks, including Injinji and Smartwool socks.  In fact, until recently, I was basically married to Injinji socks and used them exclusively for training and racing at all distances.  I do still like the split-toe design and believe that is a big plus that Injinji socks have over other brands.  However, blister issues always seemed to find their way to my feet, and until 2009, I never finished a Walt Disney World Marathon or Goofy's Race and a Half Challenge (or any other ultra event) without developing some blisters.  In 2006 my feet blistered such that I had to go on antibiotics to combat infection.  So, in 2009, after training up to distances of 22 miles with Drymax Socks, I figured it was time to give them a test under race conditions, and they did not disappoint.  The Drymax Running socks would tackle the 1/2 marathon on Saturday, and the Maximum Protection Running socks would do battle with the marathon on Sunday.  The result - blister free !  The next step will be to test Drymax Socks at the 100-mile distance at the Rocky Raccoon 100 Mile Trail Run in two weeks.

With that out of the way, let's talk a bit about the Drymax Maximum Protection Running socks.   One of the most common issues faced by runners, especially those running ultra marathons, is blisters.  Blisters can reduce a runner to a crawl and many times lead to a dreaded DNF.  A Journal of Sports Medicine study revealed that up to 39% of marathon runners experience blisters while running marathons, and I wouldn't be surprised if that number increases as runners get into ultra distances.  We, as runners, try everything and anything to prevent blisters, including powders, lubrication (such as Vaseline, Sportslick, Hydropel, and Bodyglide), and taping.  When we run long distances our feet get hot and wet, and so do our socks.  The moisture significantly increases friction between the socks and skin, and this increase in friction results in a corresponding increase in the odds of developing blisters.  Drymax Maximum Protection Running socks "were designed to prevent blisters during triathlons, marathons and ultra-long distance runs...and will help people who are just prone to getting blisters."  They are "made using the patented blister Guard system" which "incorporates Friction Free Profilen fibers throughout the entire foot area of the sock."  Runners who wear Maximum Protection Running socks will "have cooler, drier, more comfortable feet, while significantly lowering the chance of getting blisters."

The first thing I notice when I put on the Maximum Protection Running socks is the feeling of extra padding when compared to the standard Drymax Running socks.  They are snug and cushy, yet not bulky.  The heel fit is perfect. They come with the same breathable mesh top air panels that help release heat and sweat vapor, and while running I do not notice any heat build-up at all, nor do I feel friction points (or hot-spots) that I tend to notice when using other brands of socks.  Of course, we are all different, and what works for one of us won't necessarily work for us all.  Even Drymax points out on its web-site that "socks are not the only cause of blisters; therefore no sock can prevent all blisters."  For me, and several other athletes like Jamie Donaldson and Dan Rose, Drymax Socks have worked like a charm - Jamie boasts being blister free in 2008 using Drymax Socks (including blister free over 135 miles at Badwater) and Dan ran 192 blister free miles to raise money for the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute.  I continue to have great success using Drymax Socks in training, and in two short weeks we will see how they hold up for me over the course of 100 miles.

Something to note : Drymax has a new v3 (version 3) sock line, offering the same features as its Version 2 line, plus a ton of improvements.  Take a look at the comparison chart below.


  1. Anthony P,

    Looking forward to seeing you in Huntsville in a couple of weeks, amigo!

    -Ryan V.

  2. I like how it actually says "ultra-long distance". Bob at Drymax sent me pairs of their newest low-cut trail socks. They are pretty sweet. They look like their regular running mini-crews but in black and dark gray. Reminds me, I've got to do my review on that one. I've been running around in them. I'll bring a pair to Rocky to further test there but I think I've found my go to race socks. The whites were great, they just look like they've never been washed. You know how that goes. These socks feel cushier too so I guess they are Version 3.

  3. Very thorough review! Thanks.

  4. anthony ---have you ever used smartwool?
    what is the difference between smartwool and drymax?
    What about wool injinjis for cold weather?? have been meaning to trey those but as you said you ave had such good luck with Drymax...

  5. After years with Smartwool and Injinjis, my feet have never been happier than with Drymax. I finally have toenails again! Great review Anthony! See you at Rocky!

  6. Wow! might sell me on these socks too!
    I'm thinking 2nd or 3rd weekend in April for Bear Mt. run through. Hopefully we will find out about the course soon and the big news of if you will be doing the Death Valley Dance! Talk soon...Yassine

  7. Drymax=life saver. I am sooo bad at finding the right rock in stream crossings, and we crossed like 10 different times. My feet were wet the entire time, and the only blisters I had were the ones I started with (it's a high heel debacle...can we say drymax for heels). I'll have to try out these ones too!!

  8. Haha, thanks Anthony!
    I would loooove to come hang out at Rocky and kinda see what goes on during a 100.....but if I'm not racing it's hard for me to justify spending the money to travel down, seeing as I'd be flying from Maryland, renting a car....haha. I just redid my race plan for the year, I'm going to run my first 100 in October, Arkansas Traveller 100!! That will give me time and confidence that I'll be ready :)

    I'll look forward to reading your RR race report though!! I get a comp. entry next year so I will definitely be running the 2010 race!

    ~* Amy A :)

    PS I just got my first pair of Drymax - they're going to be worn on my first run back next week!

  9. Since I am signed up for at least one "ultra" event this year, I wonder how the Maximum Protection socks compare with Thorlos? I have worn Thorlos successfully for 2 years now and have only tried one other sock one time since with bad results. Since I have never had blisters with Thorlos, the main reason I use them is the cushioning. That is the most important consideration for me. I'd be interested whether you've ever worn Thorlos and if so, what comparison you had.

  10. Vickie - I have used Thorlos before. I thought that the cushioning was good, but a little bulky for my taste (although, I haven't used them in quite some time, so I don't know if they changed the sock to offer the same cusion without the bulkiness).

  11. Ooohhhh very nice review my friend. Very nice ;-)

  12. Most of the people think that socks are not that much tough thing to make and not that much important but it is actually very important.