About a month ago, while researching the absolute warmest socks on earth, I came across the exceptional properties of Alpaca wool. It also so happens that Warrior Alpaca Socks is an industry leader in utilizing the impressive properties of Alpaca wool for socks.
I reached out to Warrior Alpaca and asked them if I could test “their warmest sock.” They kindly obliged and sent an assortment of samples of some of their best selling socks as well which I also included in this review of Warrior Alpaca socks.
These Alpaca socks are the warmest, softest and most luxurious socks I’ve ever worn.
As many of you know, I’ve been a longtime proponent of Merino wool apparel. While I still am, I must concede that Alpaca wool is both softer and warmer than Merino sheep wool. Albeit, I still believe Merino has the edge in terms of durability.
Warrior Alpaca socks start around $15 and go up to around $30. You can check out their lineup at their Amazon Store.
Generally speaking, the larger and warmer socks are more expensive and the lighter, shorter socks are on the lower end of the price spectrum.
If you are familiar with the costs of premium sock brands, you’ll know Warrior Alpaca socks are priced about the same as brands like Darn Tough and Feetures socks.
Warrior Alpaca Pros & Cons
- Super Soft
- Excellent warmth
- Excellent fit
- Good Moisture control
- Premium Price
- Lighter socks felt more
- Not as Durable as some Merino socks
- Can shink: Air dry/ cold air tumble dry
What’s So Different About Alpaca Wool?
As I mentioned in my previous article on the warmest socks, Alpaca wool is unique from typical sheep’s wool in a number of ways:
- It is softer to the touch- very similar to cashmere
- a finer fiber than standard sheep’s wool (except Merino)
- wool fibers have higher insulation properties than sheep’s wool
- hypo-allergenic (no lanolin)
- Alpacas have less environmental impact on soils and vegetation than sheep
Environmental Impact: Alpacas vs. Sheep
Alpacas are much more earth-friendly than sheep. Their feet are easier on landscapes, and they graze more lightly on pasturelands. Also, alpaca wool requires fewer industrial processes.
According to a 2007 FAO report, in 2004 alone, “more than 1000 million sheep grazed arid to humid and arctic to tropical landscapes!”
Sheep are the second most numerous livestock after cattle, and if they are not closely managed, they will overgraze and rip grass up from the roots while tearing up the landscape with their hooves.
In fact, overgrazing by sheep has led to massive amounts of desertification in places such as Argentina which was once the 3rd largest sheep producer on earth.
Alpaca’s have soft padded feet (like camels) so they don’t rip up turf like sheep do. Also, unlike sheep, they do not tend to rip grass up from the root. Instead, Alpacas mow the grass by cutting it with their bottom teeth and upper pallet.
Brand Profile: Warrior Alpaca Socks
Warrior Alpaca socks is a brand under the wider umbrella of Inca Brands which is proudly lady-owned and based out of Fresno, CA.
I was able to chat with Kim, the owner of Warrior Alpaca, and got to hear a bit of their story. All of their socks are design in the USA and then manufactured through fair-trade partnerships with local craftsmen and women Peru.
As a non-profit worker, myself, who’s spent many years in Africa, I really do appreciate brands that actively seek to empower the underprivileged through developed new industries in places such as Peru.
Their wool is, of course, sustainably sourced from native Alpaca herds in the Andes.
It’s quite clear to me that Warrior Alpaca’s greatest strength is their next-level of comfort. Also, their cold-weather socks are exceptionally warm.
The overall build-quality is quite good and the socks are very soft to the touch. I found very few loose threads and the toe seams were nice and smooth.
Side Note: Avoid wearing the lighter athletic socks with Crocs or sandals that have little rubber grip nubs in the footbed. They tend to pull at the fine alpaca fibers and cause the sock to felt(become fuzzy). My wife who doesn’t use Crocs had no issue like this.
The clear plastic packaging they come in could use an upgrade to reflect the quality of the product itself.
If you follow Warrior Alpaca’s sizing guides on Amazon you’ll find them true to size. The socks have plenty of stretch to slide on and hold snuggly to contours of my feet as expected.
The Secret Ingredient
Warrior Alpaca’s terry-looped socks are truly impressive. Imagine stepping bare-foot onto a thick Egyptian cotton spa towel. It’s like that except that Alpaca terry-loops are smoother than cotton.
What are terry loops? If you look at a typical bath towel, you’re looking at terry loops. The fabric is knitted with slack in each stitch resulting 100’s of thousands of tiny loop backs. Terry loops create an ultra-soft fabric with phenomenal moister wicking properties.
If you want a pair of socks with terry loops, then The Ultimate Toasty Toes on Amazon are your ticket. Warrior Alpaca only offers this feature on select cold weather socks.
Warrior Alpaca Sock Styles
Over the past month, I’ve had time to test out various styles of Warrior Alpaca socks. I also enlisted my wife’s help and perspective for several ladies’ styles.
Ultimate Toasty Toes
The Ultimate Toasty Toes are the warmest and most luxurious socks I’ve ever worn. The thick terry-loops provide an extremely soft cocoon of warmth for your feet for hours on end.
This makes them ideal for cold-weather applications like deer hunting in which spend a lot of time sitting or standing still in frigid temps. This requires more insulation than when you are moving and generating body heat.
Keep in mind that these are thicker socks so make sure the footwear you select isn’t too tight.
Long John Alpaca
The Long John Alpaca socks, as the name implies, are over the calf winter socks designed for hard-working woodsmen and serious outdoor adventurers wearing large winter boots.
They hug the calves well and don’t slide down or bunch up. The Long John Alpaca’s are very warm and soft, but not so thick as to make your boot too snug. These socks are designed those who are constantly moving and working, not sitting still in tree stand- (See Ultimate Toasty Toes)
Lightweight Mini Crew
Alpaca wool is very fine which means it’s not just for cold weather. The lightweight crew socks are a blend of alpaca and premium long-staple pima cotton making an extremely breathable, light-as-air sock.
These socks are definitely lighter and softer than cotton athletic socks while retaining excellent odor-resistance.
While I doubt they would outlast Darn Tough or Feetures socks in the same category. Neither of those brand’s offer socks as light and airy as the Lightweight Crew Socks
All Terrain Sports Sock
The All Terrain sports ankle socks feature a cushioned terry-looped footbed, bold branding and additional venting mesh on the topside to keep you cool in warmer weather.
The snug fit doesn’t bunch up so you won’t get blisters on those long trail runs or day hikes.
Everybody needs a pair of socks for bumming around the house, but that doesn’t mean they have to be boring!
High Frequency Alpaca Dress Socks
The Alpaca High Frequencies socks will bring some pzazz and a conversation starter at your next house party:
“What you’ve never heard of Alpaca socks?! Well, let me tell you…”
Then you can proceed to educate their poor souls on all the nerdy details of alpaca wool’s many superior properties…at least that’s what I would do.
Either way, these are the definition of “happy socks!” Wear them to make your or someone else’s day a little bit brighter.
Can Alpaca Wool Socks go in the Washer and Dryer?
Yes, you can use a washer. Just turn the socks inside out and use a delicate mode.
No, you should not use the dryer. Both Merino Wool and Alpaca wool socks can shrink if you put them in the dryer. You should either air dry or use a cold air tumble dry setting.
Are These socks 100% Alpaca wool?
No. Warrior Alpaca uses blends in their designs. This is normal practice in the premium sock industry because their goal is to create the best-performing socks for very specific purposes.
Depending on the design, materials like cotton, lycra, and spandex are used to add durability, flexibility and stretch depending on the purpose of the sock.
Typically you can expect a Alpaca wool blend of 40% or more.
Warrior Alpaca is leading the charge in introducing North America to the benefits of Alpaca wool socks. I’m also impressed with the sustainable nature of the Alpaca wool industry compared to sheep wool.
While I think there are more durable socks out there, I think Warrior Alpaca has an edge over most other premium socks in the areas of warmth and comfort while being more hypo-allergenic(lanolin-free) compared to other wools.
If you’d like to try out a pair of Alpaca wool socks from them you can head over to the Amazon Store