Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Sox in the Box

Yesterday as part of my pre-vacation planning I went shopping for socks. I used to fly a lot of international trips on company business and oh how those were nice! Such luxuries are severely reduced even in the upper classes these days and bare minimum if that in coach. Rather than lament the fact I simply decided to create my own amenity kit, starting with socks that will fit my Size 14s.

Let’s eliminate any old pair of socks just lying around, the key word being “old.” Comfy favorites for padding around the house is one thing but wearing dingy looking things that might even, gasp, have holes in them on an airplane? No, and ditto with dress socks, gym socks, etc., which are too thinly padded except for the toe and heel. Boot socks are thick enough but just as much to protect the foot from the inside of the boot as anything else.

Getting picky, am I?

That’s why I’m shopping! There is more to this than just circulation and swelling – the floor of an airplane itself is a strange thing. It’s a series of joined metal plates covered with carpet sections that are typically held in place by double-sided industrial tape and best described as thin but durable pile. Read: hard.

Regulated by the FAA for fire resistance, airplane carpeting also has to stand up to foot traffic, service cart traffic and small children with animal crackers over long stretches of time while still being relatively easy to vacuum or at least “Hoky” in between flights and overnight shampoo treatments which don’t always happen on schedule. It’s basically there to prevent people from walking on bare metal and to protect that metal from corrosion caused by any number of spilled beverages and food while not torching the entire length of the cabin in an emergency. Being truly comfortable or attractive to the eye, well….

The socks I’ve seen advertised by companies like Magellan seem to be intended primarily for circulation while seated, which is certainly a good thing. I appreciate healthy circulation and not having swollen feet but their products seem to have stopped short of being comfortable enough to pad around a plane in without having to put my shoes back on.

This upcoming South Pacific vacation totals roughly 36 hours of pure flying and brother, that’s a whole lot o’ cotton! These socks must be thickly padded from toe to heel including the instep for comfort while walking up and down the hard aisle carpet, insulated sufficiently against cold air and also protect against dirt and mild bumps. The weave has to be loose enough to let the foot breathe but tight enough to prevent rapid absorption of spills straight through to the skin. Finally, of course, they have to machine wash easily without developing piles or breaking down too quickly.

Is that asking too much?

Gotta go!

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