Ever go on a trip and at some point yell, "KEVIN!!!" You know, that moment when you realize you left something significant behind? Well, on our way to Waterville Valley, I had one of those moments. I forgot my ski socks (along with my jacket and a couple of shirts). For most, forgetting your socks might not be that big of a deal, but for me, who has 20+ pairs at home, having to buy more (along with having to admit that I screwed up and now have to sulk into a shop and actually buy not one but two pairs at, yes, retail) is a total faux pas. (I know, I know, first-ski-world problems.)

Once we landed and I drowned my embarrassment in some whiskey, we made a short detour on our drive up to the Waterville Valley on-snow demo. We went to Cannon Mountain to visit the New England Ski Museum, which is a must-see for any skier who likes any and all types of skiing history. While at the museum, my phone rang with an 802 number (Vermont exchange), not my typical spam number, so I figured it was safe to answer. On the other end was “Big Head” Todd Carroll from Wintersteiger and Hotronics. He was touching base because he had read I was in his neck of the woods and wanted to know if I would be willing to try their new heated ski socks. First, I rarely say no to reviewing a product from a reputable brand, and second, perfect timing, because I needed socks!

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I have had heated socks sent to me in the past and in more than one case, I either sent them back or passed them to someone else because while they were warm and kept my toes from feeling like they would fall off, no way in hell would they work in a ski boot with a performance fit. Todd assured me that while these were not sheer-stockings thin, they do work well in snug boots -- even Travis Ganong uses them when training. I agreed to try them because, again, I needed socks.

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Todd put me in touch with the Hotronics rep who would be attending the Waterville Valley show; we played tele-tag for a few hours and finally agreed to meet at the tent first thing to get sized up. Hotronics along with its partner BootDoc had a little pseudo try-on area at their tent, and we all know how much fun it is to put on cold boots out in the cold -- but again, say it with me now, “I needed socks.”

Hotronics offers multiple designs for its socks, two of which are thin. The Classic has the usual heating pad under the foot, and the Surround has an element that wraps around the toe area. @Tricia and I both chose the Surround. Sizing-wise, I have a 9.5 shoe and ski in a 25.5 shell and went with the medium; Tricia has a 7.5 and skis in a 23.5 and with her very-low-volume foot, they suggested the extra small.

From the manufacturer's site:
  • High-performance, low-weight Li-ion batteries in a compact design
  • Output: 4400 mAh
  • Intelligent charging technology (additional USB charging option)
  • Constant heating power
  • Controllable via Bluetooth and heat app
  • Ideal fit
  • Ideal moisture transfer
  • Additional shin protector
  • Compression: soft – PFI 50, 10–15 mmHg
  • Material: 74% nylon, 20% Lycra/spandex, 6% merino
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When in doubt between sizes, size down because they stretch almost like a compression sock. I did notice a slightly tighter fit once in the boot initially around the metatarsals, but that went away after a few minutes and a full turn of a buckle or two. Tricia had a slightly different experience on her right foot. Even over the past few weeks, she had been feeling like it might need a bunion punch, so if she was to wear these, she would definitely need to punch the boot. Without a punch, it was unskiable. Since the left sock was okay and the right one was too tight, it gave her a chance to try the heated sock on one foot and her traditional heated footbed with a regular sock in the right boot.

Previously with heated socks, I had issues with the cables running under the foot up the back, creating discomfort for the full length, combined with the sock being too thick. The Hotronics actually runs up the medial side of the foot and next to the ankle, eliminating that issue. This design works very well and could be the simple aspect that separates Hotronics from the competitors.

The Bluetooth pairing is easy with the downloadable app. There is a 1-4 setting level with half increments, so in reality, eight settings, which is not too different from what Thermic has with its 10 levels. I am told an updated app in the fall will accept more than two batteries. There are two battery size offerings; one is about 4 hr, the other 8 hr, depending of course on which settings you use.

I used the pair with the larger batteries, set at 3, and when we quit skiing around 2 pm, there was just over 50% left. Tricia’s smaller battery, with about half the capacity, was about done at that point. She did note that since she is the one who gets colder, she will be commandeering my larger batteries from these (along with all the other larger batteries in the household).

For a comparison, Tricia was running her Hotronics sock on the left foot at 3 and her Thermic footbed element on the right foot at 7, so both were running about three-quarters power. Her feet were about equally “not cold.” My own feet were also not cold, and considering that they were not accustomed to being in the damper Northeast, which can be bone-chilling, I was pretty impressed. It was a great couple of days to not worry whether your feet were cold or not. Now my hands, they were another story. They were frigid, so if some manufacturer wants to send me heated gloves, please reach out.
  • Who are they for? You want heaters and you might have a couple of pairs of boots, or you might want to take up a titch of room and stay warm.
  • Who are they not for? You have little to no room in your boot. You are the person who must wash or have a fresh pair of socks every day; too many washings will shorten their life, and these are not inexpensive.
  • Insider tip: Step up to the larger double batteries; you won’t be disappointed. When you are investing this much, you might as well have the confidence they will last throughout the coldest of days.
Photos: @AaronFM