Wednesday, August 31, 2016

ArmaSkin Dermal Protection Layer Socks - a review by The Disabled Hiker, Terry Craig

Trail Log entry date: 6/28/1991 - "... More Damn blisters?!?#?*!#!
My feet feel like they are each but one BIG BLISTER crammed into a tiny pair of shoes. The pain is UNBEARABLE! After 27 miles I now have only one real desire... To set fire to these shoes until there is nothing left but ashes blowing away in the wind.
These are without a doubt the most evil and torturous hiking shoes on the planet."

 For some reason, I always seem to be between sizes when it comes to footwear. So typically, when buying a new pair shoes, one of the first things I used to do was to also buy a whole bunch of new moleskin to go with them. They just seem to go hand-in-hand.

Ah, moleskin. That most wonderful of blister saving inventions, conceived of by moles and praised by hikers and backpackers everywhere.

So okay, moleskin may not have been invented by moles. But it has saved many a hiker from the tortures of breaking in a new pair of hiking shoes. Blisters seemed to be an inevitability. Or are they?  What if somebody were to design a pair of socks that provided the same blister protection as moleskin? What would they be like?

First, they would have to be form-fitting so the foot would not move around inside of it.

Second, they would have to wick moisture.

Third, they would have to allow your foot to move freely inside your shoe.

And finally: fourth, they would have to be comfortable enough to wear all day, especially on hot summer days when hikers can usually be found
scurrying across the mountain tops. Sadly, in the 1990s no such technology existed. At least none that actually worked.

 So, when the folks at ArmaSkin asked me to review their Dermal Protection Layer Anti-blister socks I felt like I was suddenly and finally going to be propelled into the space age. Sadly however, my health issues may have stalled my rocket out on the launchpad.

Initially, I was not all that pleased with the ArmaSkin socks. The compression of the material when I first put them on seemed almost unbearable. Which in turn seem to drive up my pain level and the next thing I knew I was sweating buckets.

 During the first 30 days of testing I did my utmost to test the socks as often as possible despite the oppressive heat wave we were experiencing. Each day I tested them out, within a few hours I found myself looking for a place to sit down so I could peel off the ArmaSkin socks.

I thought I was done. “How can I continue testing?” I thought to myself. Unable to wear them for an entire afternoon I could not begin to conceive wearing them for a multiple day backpacking trip. But now I had to find a way to go back to the folks at ArmaSkin and tell them what went wrong.

This is never a fun task. Over my years as a product reviewer I have tried my best to never ask for a piece of equipment to review unless I actually thought it was going to work for the adaptive hikers and backpackers who follow my site. And I must admit, it's rare when I'm wrong.

I do my best to warn all manufacturers who send equipment to review, that not all hiking gear qualifies as adaptive hiker friendly. And just because it's not right for us, it is not my intention to put out negative reviews based on our ... more specific needs.

But when the folks at ArmaSkin heard that the socks weren't working out for me, accompanied by my offer to opt out of the review should they wish, the folks at ArmaSkin urged me to continue testing and proceed with the review. Even if the review wasn't as positive as initially hoped. I truly admire ArmaSkin for this willingness to proceed with the review. And I'm glad that I was able to proceed. Who knows, this may actually lead to a change in my review policies.

After the decision was made to proceed, I continued testing but not much changed. That is, not until a piece of old-school wisdom popped up to put the ArmaSkin socks through repeated washings and then stretch them over something of relative size for a few days. The thought was that this would stretch them out a bit and perhaps loosen the strength and stiffness behind the elastic in the socks.

With any hope this would lessen the compression and lengthen the amount of time I could spend wearing them.

Here is what I found:

Manufacturer - ArmaSkin
Product - Anti-blister socks  (dermal protection layer)



* Breaking in new boots/footwear while hiking or backpacking.
* Long-distance day-hiking.
* Possible Protection against injury from footwear due to poor circulation or nerve damage in the feet.

* Pack weight – 1.5 oz. total.  (40 GM.)
* Pack size –  variable depending on size ordered
* Max. weight capacity – N/A

* Nice eye-catching package.
* The right left foot design is intriguing.
* I'm a bit concerned about the density of the material and its ability to wick moisture.


* Surprisingly, by turning the sock completely inside out except for the toe area, and then placing the toe area over my toes, I was able to use the slippery silk-like material on the outside of the sock to my advantage while stretching them onto my foot. I had relatively little problem putting them on in this way.

* After stretching them out with both repeated washings and stretching them over a water bottle for a minimum of two weeks, I was able to more than quadruple the amount of time I was able to wear the ArmaSkin socks per day. Bringing me well
within that 8 to 10 hour time period required for the task of breaking in new hiking shoes on the trail.

* ArmaSkin Socks seem to replace the need for moleskin. Once applied to the feet, the socks do exactly as advertised. Adhering to your feet while allowing your sock-covered foot to move within the shoe, while protecting the foot from pressure points that develop inside the shoe. Especially on long hikes.

* The craftsmanship and attention to detail was extremely thought out, placing all seams and stitching on the outside of the sock
instead of the inside.

* The types of materials used lead me to believe that they are extremely durable and well suited for long-term use.

* Many long-distance hikers go through multiple sets of boots or hiking shoes on each expedition. Therefore they are constantly faced with breaking in new footwear on the trail and on the move. The ArmaSkin socks seem like they would be a great way to lessen the torture of those first few days of breaking in the new shoes or boots.

5. PRODUCT CONS Initially, I was not very pleased with the fit even though I was on the lower side of the largest size sock ArmaSkin made. In fact, the compression was almost unbearable for any length of time. As a result and due to my plantar fasciitis, sciatica, and other chronic pain issues, I was soon sweating buckets that the ArmaSkin socks could never keep up with.  Therefore, stretching the ArmaSkin socks out before use may be required.

6. POSSIBLE MEDICAL CONCERNS - Certain medical conditions and medications can have an adverse effect on the body's core temperature. I would therefore recommend checking with your doctor before purchasing the ArmaSkin socks while being treated for these conditions or when taking medications that would have an adverse effect on your core body temperature or your ability to perspire.

* As a person already dealing with physical pain on a 24/7 basis, I think I can attest to the fact that anything that can save one from more pain on the trail is a huge medical benefit to the adaptive hiking community.* Fitted properly, I cannot help but wonder about the further medical applications for those who have nerve damage in the feet and ankles. As a protective layer the ArmaSkin Socks may have an everyday use for people with diabetes and other peripheral neuropathic pain and numbness issues that can cause injury to the feet. Without the warning signs of the pain associated with blistering, these injuries can often go unnoticed until they lead to a dire need of medical attention, and in some cases even amputation.  
Note: Always consult your physician before making changes to your current treatment plan. 

First and foremost, I would like to point out that I have health problems that may have directly impacted this review, and beyond that of your average consumer. So this should be taken into account when comparing this review to the opinions and thoughts of a completely healthy individual.

Second, although I do realize that it is both the compression and the nonslip silicone inside of the sock that makes them work, I really do believe the materials are too tightly fit considering the strength behind both the silicon and spandex to make them comfortable without


Although I had originally thought that reducing the amount of coverage of the inner silicone might help with this, since stretching them I can't help thinking that a few more choices in sizes might be a great help when fitting a wider range of consumers. 

As it was, had I not taken a page out of my grandfather's 1930s Depression-era survival and "make it work anyway" guide, I might not have considered stretching them in order to fit them to my feet.

I'm quite confident that had my body not been in its present state I would have had no problem with using the ArmaSkin socks. Unfortunately however, the pain from my sciatica often reaches all the way down my leg and into my foot. And the added constriction made the pain quite unbearable. I would assume the same would go for those dealing with gout, bone spurs, and arthritic pain in the feet as well.  But let's not forget, we are an adaptive hiker/backpacker site and it is my job to look at the product through the eye of The Disabled Hiker.

After my own modifications proved I could indeed stretch the ArmaSkin socks so that I could continue testing, I was able to bestow 1 Star on the

ArmaSkin socks in my physical tests for doing as advertised and protecting
my feet. But the fact that I had to take the chance of destroying them by modifying them prevented me from giving any more stars in the physical testing.

But when considering that the ArmaSkin socks have the potential to help those dealing with conditions such as diabetic nerve pain and numbness in the feet and other such conditions, I am pushing the rating to a 2 out of 5 star rating on the disabled hiker scale. However, I must strongly recommend checking with your doctor to make sure there are no foreseeable complications with the use of the ArmaSkin socks for this purpose.Remember, your health comes first above everything else. 

So be safe out there.
And happy hiking.

 ArmaSkin Socks can be purchased by clicking on the following link.


Reviewed & written by: Terry Craig, 
The Disabled Hiker

Assistant editor: Dave Deubler

Photos by: Larry Deitch,
& Terry Craig,

Disclaimer: This blog, written articles, video presentations, and all content within are not intended to take the place of professional medical advice. Please consult your Doctor before making any changes to your treatment plan and/or changes to your exercise routine.

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