For us, it started with data we receive through our warranty process. There are enough thru-hikers out there giving us solid intel.
What Changed (in a Nutshell)
Increased breathability with mesh panels on top of the foot, a new low profile, smooth upper that stays put forever, and extended cushion over the Achilles – just a few heavy additions to one of the lightest hike socks out there. And well worth the effort.
The magic number was 31. Thirty one different prototypes were knit to update the Light Hiker. The Light Hiker that no one was really asking for us to update. Hence the whole, "not taken lightly" business.
True, a number of those prototypes were color alterations and some yarn sampling. However, it all matters.
Data Driven Features
In an effort to bring more than just a new design, we looked into our warranty data to find the most common issues and patterns and went from there. The cushion running over the Achilles adds comfort in all kinds of boots and trail shoes, but it also increased the durability.
The mesh panels on the forefoot lightened things up and improved breathability. All wrapped in Merino Wool that is the only choice for ... well ... socks.
The new smooth, low profile 1x1 (knitting lingo) ribbing never drops and slips perfectly into the less-is-more thru-hike mentality.
We didn't stop there either. After nailing down the updates we wanted to make to our Light Hiker, a micro crew sock, we decided to expand the one hiking sock into a whole line by applying the Light Hiker formula to a no show and quarter sock heights.
At the end of the day, this is a sock our testing family hits us back with "this is the only sock I want to wear" lyric. Truth is, it might just be the only one you have to.