Every sock company claims they’re “The best”. And to their most loyal customers, they are. But the reality is that there isn’t one single sock or sock company that is perfect for everyone. Even loyalists may not find everything they need across one brand. I’ve got my own “go-to” choices from different brands, depending on whether I want thin and low, padded, wool, compression, tall, or warm. But when it comes to the thinnest, most minimalist available, the Balega Ultra Light has become a new favorite among our contributors.
Balega is interesting in that they have their headquarters in Hickory, North Carolina, but their socks are produced in South Africa. Although we would prefer domestic manufacturing, South African production is supported by our African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA), which helps to bolster both their local economies, and our international trade relations. In exchange for meeting certain requirements (such as treating factory workers fairly), some finished goods from Africa can be imported duty-free. This gives Balega access to manufacturing facilities that are probably better for both the workers and the environment, compared to China’s spotty track record.
Enough of the global economy lesson, and on to the socks. Balega’s proprietary Drynamix® fiber is credited with providing the kind of moisture management necessary in a performance sock. By creating a sock with 78% Drynamix®, 20% nylon and 2% elastene, they’ve found the right mix of softness, durability, and excellent fit. One of the few brands we’ve seen with left and right foot specific socks, they have very distinct zones which stretch to conform to the shape of your foot. This also ensures that the cushioned heel and toe, as well as arch support, are in the proper place. So keep in mind that in order to take full advantage of fit and ventilation, make sure they’re on the correct foot. A seamless toe is pretty much standard on any quality sock today, and Balega is no different. Their heel tab isn’t merely a tab at the back, but a thicker, built up cuff which extends around the back half of the ankle. This adds comfort where some socks might get abrasive, while preventing the sock from sliding down into your shoe at the heel, which causes bunching and misery. A note on the packaging indicates that they were developed by athletes, which is backed up by our tester’s experience.
Whatever magic they used to come up with Drynamix®, it works. The Ultra Light is impossibly soft, but even after several outings and washes, they show no signs of wear. Male and female testers, size 7.5 women’s to 12 men’s, found them to offer an exceptional amount of comfort for such a thin sock, while remaining cool and dry all day. No bunching, no hot spots, no dampness. The consensus seems to be that whether you run or not, these would be a great choice for daily wear as a no-show sock. balega.com
We’d like to thank Balega for the opportunity to test their Ultra Light socks. They provided a variety of sizes, which allowed us to have several testers contribute their opinions to this article. It’s rare that we can agree on anything as a group, but Balega, which was unknown to us prior to the review, turned out to be a winner.