Gadling Gear Review: Heat Holders Socks

I suffer terribly from cold feet; it’s why I don’t cheap out on socks. It’s also why I have one of those electric heater mats on the floor under my desk (a gift from my mate who sometimes just nails the gift giving with weird yet supremely likeable prezzies). Socks are way low on the scale of glam gear down with quick-dry underwear and refillable three ounce bottles, but they’re essential, and having warm feet can really make the difference between a lousy day or a good one.

Because of my terminally chilly paws, I was keen to see if Heat Holders are any better than the merino brands that stuff my sock drawer (SmartWool, IceBreaker, Dahlgren, and Darn Tough Vermont) at keeping my feet warm. (I am a fan of good socks, you may have guessed.) The short answer? Well, sort of.

I have a strong preference for natural fibers, it’s a “less plastic stuff” thing. I’m not totally naive; I do know that sometimes, the synthetics are the way to go. I’m just not that keen to spend a couple of hours waxing a canvas raincoat because I want to go with heavy cotton over far superior modern materials like GoreTex or PolarTech. Heat Holders are an acrylic poly blend; there’s nothing particularly natural about them.

They feel fine, though. They have a deep pile fleecy inside, they’re kind of cuddly, furry, even, a little bit like the inside or your lambswool slippers. (No, I don’t have those. The husband does and they’re sweet.) Outside, they’re, uh, a little plastic-y. I’ve been spoiled by merino, which I tend to prefer. But it’s the outside of the sock, who cares?

Here’s my issue with these socks. They’re really bulky. All that fluffy really does work to keep your feet warmer, and they’re great for sleeping in. But I couldn’t get them in most of my shoes. I’m not totally sold on the idea that adding bulk is the best way to stay warm. I get it — loft is how you hold heat and the loft that these socks somehow manage to provide, even after a full day’s wear, works. They worked great in my wellies, which are a little big, but I couldn’t wear them with many of my other winter boots. I’m wearing mine around the house and with my rain boots out in the wet, but for travel? Nope, too bulky.

The marketing text on the elaborate packaging says that these socks are “seven times warmer than your basic cotton sock.” That’s probably true. But I’m not sure they’re seven times warmer than some of the wool or alpaca fiber socks I’ve got, and that’s a more useful comparison.
Heat Holders socks come in a few styles: stripey, long, and in a slipper sock. Their original sock goes for just just under $20.00.

Gadling’s 10 days of gadget giveaways – day 2 – The NotebookBuffer

Welcome to day two of Gadling’s 10 days of gadget giveaways.

Today’s prize is for the NotebookBuffer. This lightweight notebook cooling pad is perfect for using your computer on your lap, without getting too uncomfortable from the heat. The pad rolls up, and weighs next to nothing, which makes it perfect for taking along with you on your next trip.

The NotebookBuffer was reviewed here on Gadling last month, and was recently featured as one of our best travel products of 2008.

Don’t forget to enter our other giveaways!

  • To enter, simply leave a comment below telling us about one gadget you never leave home without.
  • The comment must be left before Tuesday November 25th 2008 at 5:00 PM Eastern Time.
  • You may enter only once.
  • Three prize winners will be randomly selected to receive one free NotebookBuffer each.
  • Open to legal residents of the 50 United States, and the District of Columbia who are 18 and older.
  • The total value of each prize is $18.99.
  • Click here for the complete official rules of this giveaway.

Gadling Gear: Etymotic Research Headphones

I’m a gadget junkie by any definition. When I planned my year long trip around the world, I literally spent more time considering the gear I brought with me than I did planning which countries I’d go to.

But hey… if you’re well prepared, you’re ready for anything, right?

For the first ever episode of Gadling Gear, I thought it only appropriate that I cover one of the most useful and perfect gadgets in my travel bag: Etymotic Research ER-4P headphones.

Let’s get the obvious out of the way – these things have incredible sound quality. They reproduce sound nearly perfectly, a feat that would literally cost tens or hundreds of thousands of dollars with a home stereo system.

So, if you like hearing your music at higher quality than you’ve ever heard before, these are your headphones.

But beyond that, these just happen to be totally perfect for us traveling folk. Why? Because they block sound way better than the competition.

To do this they use a triple flanged silicone bud that sticks into your ear – way into your ear. Unlike most earbuds, these extend all the way into your ear canal. The design is the same design used by high end earplugs.

This may sound like a strange design, but most people, including myself, find it very comfortable for long periods of time. I personally prefer it to the constant pressure on the ears delivered by traditional headphones.

Have you ever seen those smug travelers with their Bose noise-canceling headphones? Besides the huge annoyance of always having to track down batteries, these overpriced gadgets can’t hold a candle to the Etymotics.

I’ve used both firsthand, but for good old scientific proof, check out this article on Engadget which covers a lower end version of these earbuds beating the competition.

In practice, the earbuds are pure magic. You can walk through the airport and feel like you’re in a movie, hearing only the soundtrack you’re playing through your MP3 player.

When you get on the airplane they knock out almost all of the engine noise. I even use mine unplugged as earplugs to take naps.

Best of all, they weigh almost nothing and pack into a tiny included soft pouch.

These earphones are the first thing I pack on every trip I take and are well worth the $300 I paid seven years ago. Today you can get a pair from Amazon for just $169.

Stay tuned for next week when I talk about the best MP3 player for traveling (hint – it’s NOT an iPod).