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Hanz Chillblocker Waterproof Socks Review

Hanz ChillBlocker Waterproof Socks (right) are insulated with Polartec Fleece for warmth, but still fit in regularly sized shoes for hiking in wet weather
Hanz ChillBlocker Waterproof Socks (right) are insulated with Polartec Fleece for warmth, but still fit in regularly sized shoes for hiking in wet weather.

Hanz Chillblocker Waterproof Socks are great for walking in freezing snowmelt or standing in cold streams if you don’t have waterproof boots because they are insulated with warm Polartec fleece. In addition to being waterproof, they’re thin enough to fit into a pair of trail runners or low hiking shoes, so you don’t have to buy a larger pair of shoes to use them. I’ve been using them for the past few weeks for spring hiking and fly fishing and I’m quite pleased with the results.

But they do have limitations that you need to be aware of before you come away thinking that they’re the holy grail of wet weather hiking. Like all waterproof footware, they fill up with water if it comes in over the top cuff of the sock. Being waterproof, moisture that comes in this route will stay inside the sock since it can’t get out. While your body heat will warm it up eventually, the only way to get rid of it is to take the socks off and drip dry or tumble dry them. More on care instructions below.

Despite Hanz’s breathability claims, I haven’t found the Chillblocker socks to be that breathable. But in all fairness, I’ve been wearing them in wet conditions (that did seem to be the point) and being submersed almost continuously isn’t very conducive to drying out wet socks while you wear them. Instead, I’ve found that the Chillblocker Waterproof Socks act as vapor barriers around your feet (the equivalent of wearing plastic bags) and trap the sweat that your feet release when you walk. That amounts to a half cup of sweat per day for most people, so your feet will be damp and clammy when you take the socks off.

This can lead to maceration, the softening and breaking down of skin if you wear these socks every day in the wet, so something to be aware of for long distance hiking. Drying your feet out thoroughly at night can help mitigate this as can rubbing moisture retention creams into your skin like vaseline or Eucerin, my favorite. You can also reduce or eliminate foot sweat by applying antiperspirant to your feet, a mountaineers’ trick for keeping the interior of vapor barrier socks dry for winter hiking.

The drying time for the Chillblocker socks varies depending on how wet you get them. Dampness from foot sweat tends to dry overnight, but is dependent on humidity level. Saturated socks can take days to dry if not assisted by an external heat source. If you plan to hike in snowmelt for days, which does happen, I’d consider bringing multiple pairs if you decide you can’t live without them. People with Raynaud’s syndrome would benefit from this, so this isn’t so far fetched.

Care Instructions

Hanz, the manufacturer, does not recommend ringing Chillblocker socks out, favoring drip drying them instead. This takes a fairly long time if they’re saturated. If you do machine wash them, “do so on low temperature and tumble dry on low, reversing the socks halfway through the dry cycle.”  In other words, bring a lot of quarters along if you’re going to sit in a laundromat.

Fit

The crew-height Chillblocker socks are not as fitted as regular socks (see photo) although they have a sock-like shape. They also weigh a lot more: a size large US weighs 5.6 oz per pair. More when wet.

They have a seam that runs on the innermost layer of insulation in contact with your skin, behind your calf and down the centerline of the underfoot. You’d think this would rub when worn in a shoe but it doesn’t and quickly disappears from conscious notice. I’ve not had any chafing or blistering from it either. Despite their ungainly look, they feel pretty good when worn inside a trail runner, without any bunching, and don’t require a larger shoe size.

Recommendation

As someone who’s tried waterproof socks in the past, and all kinds of insulated booties so I can still wear trail runners for hiking in spring snow, I’m really quite impressed by these Hanz Chillblocker Waterproof socks. They’re comfortable to wear and fit inside my regular hiking trail runners worn directly over my feet. They do a great job keeping my feet warm and don’t let cold water enter the sock, as long as I don’t submerge the top cuff. They do trap some foot sweat when hiking in perpetually wet conditions over wet trails – unavoidable really – but just make the internal fleece layer damp, not gross. Drying time is problematic however, so they’re best used for day hikes or other wet weather activities like cycling, unless you’re willing to carry multiple pairs on longer trips.

Disclosure: Hanz provided the author with a sample pair of Chillblocker socks for this review.

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12 comments

  1. I bought some 3mm neoprene wetsuit socks a couple years ago for a backcountry kayak expedition and have also worn them in my trail runners. They have been more comfortable than expected and fit so snugly that there’s no over the top issues. At night, I turn them inside out to dry. I’ve used them on several backpacking trips and I’m surprised at how well they held up so, I guess for me, it’s an “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” situation.

    From your “all kinds of insulated booties” statement, I’m sure you’ve tried those as well. In your opinion, how does the Hanz product compare with wetsuit socks?

  2. Nice review. I have been experimenting with some Dexshell Thermlite’s with similar results. I like the concept for spring/fall snow but also for hiking on trails with wet vegetation. You do end up with sweaty feet but they are certainly no worse than they would be without the waterproof barrier. I have been meaning to try them with a lite merino sock underneath

  3. I am trying to come up with a system as I transition from hiking boots to trail runners. My plan is to pack a pair of gore-tex socks for camp so that I can keep my feet dry and warm even when my shoes are wet from hiking. I don’t plan on wearing waterproof socks while hiking, instead going with thick wool socks. Anyway, I’ll find out how they work this weekend as I have a trip planned and it’s calling for rain.

  4. What size feet do you have and what size socks have you been using

  5. Are these too thick to wear over another pair of socks, like the darn tough sock shown in the photo?

    • Yes, and there’s really no need to. They are already insulated socks.
      If all you want is a waterproof vapor barrier, wrap your foot in a turkey basting bag and put a darn tough sock over it.

  6. How would you compare these, aside from the insulation layer, to Sealskinz?

  7. I bought these per your review and just tried them yesterday. Backpacking in WV with the Boy Scouts and it was incredibly wet and muddy. My sneakers were soaked. I had Darn Tough socks on during the day and by evening, my feet were cold and soaking wet. At camp, I put these on, and then put my soaking shoes back on (I don’t bring a pair of camp shoes, rather just pull out my insoles for a looser shoe). My feet were able to dry and warm up. The next morning, I put them back on and hiked out using these for about 5 miles.

    Overall, they are definitely waterproof. As it was around 50F, I didn’t sweat much so can’t comment on that. They did fit, but were slightly tighter than my normal socks. Might need to loosen your shoes a bit.

    For my next hike, I’ll leave these more available, so I can change into them earlier and keep my other socks dry!

    Thanks for the recommendation.

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