The Basics

What the outdoor retailer offers is personal expertise which is something the web cannot deliver. In a world awash with product and competing claims, the informed sales person comes into his or her own. On these pages and in concert with individual sponsors we offer a series of bullet point guides to the basics of the key outdoor product categories. Our aim is to provide inexperienced sales staff a guide to what to remember and for more experienced ones a reminder of things they might have forgotten. The Basics has been produced so as to make it simple to download – in most cases each takes up no more than single sheet of paper.

The Basics of Selling Socks

Sponsored by Horizon Socks


Socks are almost without exception made from a combination of materials, often wool and synthetics. It is these materials, and the proportions in which they are combined, that dictate the feel and
comfort the wearer experiences. For example, synthetic fibres are arguably the best when it comes to moving sweat away from the skin and they tend to dry quicker and be harder wearing too. Natural
fibres, mostly wool, keep the feet warmer in cold weather and because wool is natural and therefore anti microbial, socks made from wool tend not to smell as much in hot conditions. Wool or synthetic modern walking socks deploy the best in combination of materials according to the activities in mind.


Tell your customer about material density by getting him or her to squeeze the sock material between their fingers. Socks made of durable fibres which are densely knitted, will offer greater resistance to compression (the flattening out of the sole part) over a longer period of time. One of the key disadvantages of wool is that being less durable it will compress more quickly than synthetic. High density socks with lots of volume are best for keeping warm. Low density, low volume are best for summer use.


A customer should always be encouraged to try on a sock along with any boot or shoe they are planning to buy or wear. Correctly fitted a sock fine tunes the fit with the footwear. A thick sock will pad out a loose fitting boot and conversely thin socks allow for a tighter fit. When wearing field or walking boots the sock should protrude above the cuff

Leg Fit

When pulling up a sock it should fit snugly around the lower leg and not work its way down. It is advisable to test this by getting the customer to take a few paces around the shop, so as to best check that it is remaining in place


That’s the top bit of the sock. This is important when wearing lace ups; a goodly amount of padding across the top of the sock offers greater protection.

Heel Fit

Often ignored, the heel pocket should provide a snug fit, with no bagginess or creasing. In this regard tube socks are to be avoided in favour of the Y shape design 

Sole Fit

A good activity sock will provide padding at the heel and toes with the tight loop knit padding offering the best cushioning and blister protection properties

Toe Fit

Socks should fit closely around the toe. There should be no bagging under the toes and no seams either. The seam should always be at the top and set back from the toe knuckle. The rule is that socks which should be close fitting but not restrictive.

A few facts to tickle your customers

1. The skin is thinner on top of the foot and thicker on the sole than on any other part of the body.
2. The average human will walk 115,000 miles in lifetime.
3. Ten per cent of the body’s bones are located in each foot and each requires the use of 20 muscles
4. Foot pain is the commonest reported human condition after tooth decay. (A woman is up to four times more likely to complain of it than a man)
5. The cumulative tonnage of pressure absorbed by the human foot every day is 420.

For more information visit:


Download PDF