I prefer to walk as often as I can when I tee it up, getting in my steps and miles while I chase the little white ball around the golf course. But like a lot of golfers, I’ll start to feel it in my feet, particularly while playing through a number of nagging little injuries and a touch of arthritis.
So, when I heard about Kentwool’s newest socks, my curiosity was piqued. I’ve played in the company’s soft and breathable wool socks before, but a product also infused with therapeutic ingredients intended to ease foot pain? How exactly would that work?
Kentwool has just introduced its new SensationWool sock that features its usual superfine Merino wool combined with Nufabrx nylon that’s infused with capsaicin as well as a synthetic cooling agent. Essentially, it’s a combination of warming and cooling ingredients similar to those found in topical pain treatments that provide temporary relief for aches and pains. Only there’s no mess or discomfort from slathering one of those over-the-counter creams on your feet.
“We’ve always been committed to comfort, that is the foundation of our company,” Kentwool President Lauren Hubbard tells me after rehashing the story of former company CEO Mark Kent, who founded the business in 2008 after being exceedingly uncomfortable on the golf course. “So, it made a lot of sense for us when we were positioned with this new and innovative fiber that had been treated and was able to take comfort to the next level.”
The infused ingredients in the socks are lab-tested to last 30 wash cycles, which Hubbard says is typically six months with average wear. In other words, a couple pairs ($24.99 each) will get most golfers through a season. The socks themselves will last far longer, of course.
During multiple rounds of research and development, Hubbard said there were long conversations and extensive testing to determine how long the infused ingredients would and should last.
“That was a space we felt was comfortable,” she said of the 30-wash time frame. “We also wanted the ingredients to still feel good to people. You could really ramp up the amount of infused ingredient in the product, but that has the potential to produce a much stronger sensation. We wanted it to be a nice balance of reasonable life with a great-feeling sock.”
Does it work? I tested the socks around the house and the office before taking them out on the golf course for a few rounds. I will say that once I started walking a lot – on the course – I really noticed the warming and cooling effect usually associated with muscle and joint pain creams. I tend to like that soothing feeling (I’ve applied topical creams to my back and shoulders pre- and post-round plenty of times, but never to my feet), so I was a big fan of the results.
The interesting thing was that I felt the sensation more acutely in the top of my feet; I surmised this was because my skin isn’t as tough there. And even after I took off the socks, the therapeutic “tingling” lasted for a good hour after I finished my most recent round and was sitting at the 19th hole with my playing partners. Another friend I had test the socks said he felt the effects a bit more in the underside of his feet, which makes sense since I’d been told that the intensity and location of the sensation will vary on each individual’s body chemistry.
For now, Kentwool just offers the socks in natural color (off-white), but is looking into making additional colors and adding a crew height depending on how popular the line is. The initial run sold out quickly.
Hubbard says Kentwool is “really investing” into the infusion of different active ingredients into fiber. The company behind the Nufabrx platform (Textile-Based Delivery Inc.) has a patented method of embedding vitamins, supplements and medicines into fabric that can be programmed for controlled release into the skin. “There is a lot of buzz about that being the next wave of development in apparel and a very big development in the textile industry,” Hubbard adds.
So, is this infused technology the next big thing in golf apparel? I’m not sure yet, but this was a good way to dip my foot in it and I’m intrigued by the results.