P1140272

Reverence: DeFeet Wooleators

Reverence: DeFeet Wooleators

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Cyclists love socks. I know I do. I’d make a point of collecting as many pairs as I could from every race, event, shop or rep that I ever happened upon. Some were so good that I still have them, others, well, let’s just say they were “re-homed” long before they got the chance to retire gracefully after years of loyal service.

Rule #28 says it right there: DeFeet Wooleators rule! When that was written, I’d only ever worn standard issue polyester or whatever socks. I hadn’t considered wool as I thought it might be too hot for Australian conditions. Moving to New Zealand maybe broadened my sock horizons, and I gave the black woolies a try. It was love at first ride. Everything about them was perfect. Yes, even the colour.

I started wearing black socks in about ’93 or ’94, when I read an article on Travis Brown in Mountain Bike magazine. The article focussed on his style, which included a goatee, pointy sideburns, big earrings and the seemingly abominable black socks. I was a bit of a societal outcast at the time, kinda, playing in a punk band at night, yet taking care of my partner’s kids before and after school, while riding all day in between. I liked the rebelliousness of black socks, I already had the earrings, and grew the facial accoutrements accordingly. With no cycling specific black socks around, business socks were the go-to.

When the Pro road peloton started experimenting with black, the main protagonists were Hincapie and Gunderson. Neither of whom I was a fan of, but not because of their footwear. I had to find fault with the only thing I thought they had any credibility for: and at the time, the excessive length of their socks was it. Cyclists didn’t wear anything over a 3 or 4 inch cuff, dammit. And the DeFeets were the perfect length.

Now, however, having tried the longer Wooleators a couple of years back, my lower legs feel naked with anything less than 5″ covering them. The mountain biking world had long embraced the long black, and with more and more road Pros rocking the longs, it seemed, well, it seemed right. Even our DeFeet V-socks are most popular in the longer version, even among we Keepers who desperately cling to tradition.

White, yes… long, yes. Black, we’re still split. But I’m hoping for a long black wool V-sock in the not-too-distant future. Then all will be right, if not white.

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*The use of animal products sits a little uncomfortably with me for ethical reasons, so I looked into the wool sourcing by DeFeet, and am assured that the wool they use is environmentally sustainable and humanely sourced. It’s not perfect, (nor am I) but it’s a start.

// Accessories and Gear // Kit // Product Review // Reverence // Tradition

  1. Having read The Rules within my first two months of Proper Cycling (roughly a year ago), I bought a pair of Wooleators on Rule #28’s recommendation. I have not looked back. They are, admittedly, not the “regular”, but the “Retro Racer” style, which I think are slightly shorter, and have a white-ish cuff. But they are amazing; warm in the winter, breathable in the summer, and so dang stylish.

    I’m getting married next weekend, and I am wearing them (as they are really the only cycling apparel one can wear at a wedding without getting odd looks…especially if you’re the groom)

  2. >>> the wool they use is environmentally sustainable…  < << that cracks me up... Is that kinda like saying this guy has wooden balls ?? Whatev... cheers

  3. Black? Hrmmm, I dunno…. In the rain, sure but otherwise…

    How do you go with the leather in the Giro’s?

  4. @Puffy

    How do you go with the leather in the Giro’s?

    What leather?

  5. @Lazarus Thrift I disagree, I’ve worn different combinations of these to a the last couple of weddings I’ve been at.

  6. Best socks ever! For me it’s Wooleators half the year, Woolie Boolies the other, on and off the bike. I don’t think I own any others.

    I will openly disagree about length; I’m short, so the 7.5cm cuff is more proportional.

    DeFeet offer the Woolie Boolie in white, but it’s more of an unbleached “natural” beige for hippies.

  7. @Mikael Liddy Oh wow those are quite something. I’m a black socks person in general anyway, so I’m sticking with the Wooleators (at least for the wedding).

  8. Wool?  I’ll wait for winter to try these….

  9. @VeloSix

    Wool? I’ll wait for winter to try these….

    Velo, if you have never worn a light wool sock in the summer it is worth a try. Wool is sheeps gift to us naked animals. The new fine soft merino type wool for under garments and socks is fantastic and with proper washing and drying last years.

  10. I’ve been pretty impressed with just about all DeFeet’s offerings and its a bonus in my book that they’re still made in the USA.  In addition to the Wooleators I also dig the Levitators.  Actually I was about to place an order with them for a few pairs yesterday, but couldn’t get the Velominati discount code to work for some reason.

  11. @Rob

    @VeloSix

    Wool? I’ll wait for winter to try these….

    Velo, if you have never worn a light wool sock in the summer it is worth a try. Wool is sheeps gift to us naked animals. The new fine soft merino type wool for under garments and socks is fantastic and with proper washing and drying last years.

    This. In addition to the Wooleators, I have the very thin Smartwool socks, which are perfect for really warm weather. I’m going to wear them for a schweddy-balled summer gravel ride today, in fact.

    The correct wool is perfect any time of year.

  12. @PeakInTwoYears

    @Rob

    @VeloSix

    Wool? I’ll wait for winter to try these….

    Velo, if you have never worn a light wool sock in the summer it is worth a try. Wool is sheeps gift to us naked animals. The new fine soft merino type wool for under garments and socks is fantastic and with proper washing and drying last years.

    This. In addition to the Wooleators, I have the very thin Smartwool socks, which are perfect for really warm weather. I’m going to wear them for a schweddy-balled summer gravel ride today, in fact.

    The correct wool is perfect any time of year.

    P.I.T.Y.s, too bad we don’t still wear wool shorts… With a water bottle dumped over them in hot weather it solved the schweddy- ball problem! Only they then tended to sag unless the suspenders were tight and the leather chamois got slimy, so I guess not so much, eh?

  13. @Rob

    @VeloSix

    Wool? I’ll wait for winter to try these….

    Velo, if you have never worn a light wool sock in the summer it is worth a try. Wool is sheeps gift to us naked animals. The new fine soft merino type wool for under garments and socks is fantastic and with proper washing and drying last years.

    Well, I live in the perfect area to find out for myself then…..

  14. FFS! We are very apart on this.

    I love wool socks, even in hot weather if they are lightweight.

    But this is not cool, unless playing rugby.

  15. @Rob

    @PeakInTwoYears

    @Rob

    @VeloSix

    Wool? I’ll wait for winter to try these….

    Velo, if you have never worn a light wool sock in the summer it is worth a try. Wool is sheeps gift to us naked animals. The new fine soft merino type wool for under garments and socks is fantastic and with proper washing and drying last years.

    This. In addition to the Wooleators, I have the very thin Smartwool socks, which are perfect for really warm weather. I’m going to wear them for a schweddy-balled summer gravel ride today, in fact.

    The correct wool is perfect any time of year.

    P.I.T.Y.s, too bad we don’t still wear wool shorts… With a water bottle dumped over them in hot weather it solved the schweddy- ball problem! Only they then tended to sag unless the suspenders were tight and the leather chamois got slimy, so I guess not so much, eh?

    Schweddy Balls.  Hehe.

  16. ^ So with you on this Big G!

  17. Love these. Not a compulsive sock hoarder, like others, but I enjoy my pair a great deal… In all weather.

  18. @Gianni

    FFS! We are very apart on this.

    I love wool socks, even in hot weather if they are lightweight.

    But this is not cool, unless playing rugby.

    LOVE the shoes! Sock length is a tad disturbing however . . . . . I need to get some wool socks for winter rides here in WI. Merckx knows I have multiple pairs of overshoes, but maybe a wool sock would be a better place to start?

    Just found some nice white socks at Walgreens of all places. All white with just the right length cuff and not too ribbed in that department. I do ride black socks about 10% of the time, but otherwise, it old school white.

    By the way Rob, have you ever worn wool shorts? My first pair were wool back in the dark ages. Nightmare in every department. We just don’t know how good we have it these days.

  19. Yeah, I had wool shorts with leather chamois once upon a time. Of course at the time I thought they were the shit. But the new wool socks and base layers are amazing.

  20. @PeakInTwoYears

    Yeah, I had wool shorts with leather chamois once upon a time. Of course at the time I thought they were the shit. But the new wool socks and base layers are amazing.

    With hindsight, they WERE shit! But we didn’t know any better did we?

  21. @wiscot We knew they were better than cut-off jeans.

  22. @PeakInTwoYears

    Yeah, I had wool shorts with leather chamois once upon a time. Of course at the time I thought they were the shit. But the new wool socks and base layers are amazing.

    Been interested in wool shorts, like the ones from ibex, but not leather chamois…

  23. My De Feets with a bit of extra bling.    Excellent woolyness !

  24. @Gianni

    FFS! We are very apart on this.

    I love wool socks, even in hot weather if they are lightweight.

    But this is not cool, unless playing rugby.

    Agreed. And while it’s good to see a Keeper other than you @Gianni playing fast and loose with the Rules I cannot abide these long black socks on a road bike. Next thing you know we’ll be in “compression sock” territory along tri-harders and cross-fitters.

    I suggest that the Goldilocks Zone exists somewhere in the relationship between the dimensions of the shoe and height of the sock exposed above it, where that height may not exceed the length of the shoe nor be less than the shoe’s height. This kind of measuring should give @frank something to agonize over the next time he needs a new pair of socks.

    But I do love those Empires.

  25. @DeKerr

    Next thing you know we’ll be in “compression sock” territory along tri-harders and cross-fitters.

    No we fucking won’t!

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