Trail Runner Product Review: Swiftwick Pursuit Ultralights

Swiftwick Pursuit Ultralights sock review by American Trail Running Association (ATRA) advisory board member and Wisconsin trail runner Susan Kendrick. Susan is the Director of Sponsorship for the American Birkebeiner® Ski Foundation and was featured in our View from the Pack series of articles. Socks provided free of charge by ATRA corporate member Swiftwick.

The “Minimalist” Wool Sock

Peak performance in trail running gear now means durable, ready to handle the miles, and also blissfully lightweight and streamlined. Shoes, hydration packs, jackets, and more are all on board, using the best technologies available to lighten your load and keep you moving down the trail in comfort. Now, your socks are on board, too. Introducing the minimalist sock, the launch of Swiftwick Pursuit Ultralights.


Natural fiber with a technical touch

Swiftwick socks are already well known in the cycling space. Their socks are also so great for running trail, and now the Pursuit Ultralight dials this in even more. The Merino Wool absorbs moisture without feeling soggy or losing the ability to regulate temperature. Swiftwick has carried a line of trail running socks for a while, the Vibe. But, many people prefer natural fibers (wool) and the new Pursuit line is an ultralight option for that. The Pursuit Ultralight also comes in four cuff heights, from no-show (0) to one, four, and seven inches.

Same sock, different shoes

One sock for all your running shoes? The Pursuit Ultralight is extremely lightweight, ensuring a great fit in any performance shoe. The addition of the Olefin makes the sock even more lightweight while is wicks moisture and dries quickly, too.

Susan Swiftwick

Base layer for your feet

This sock is essential gear. Socks are a first-layer, something you wear next to your body and, in the case of running, the part that performs. So, think of the Pursuit Ultralight like a base layer for your feet. The light, finely detailed design of the Pursuit Ultralight fits your foot top to bottom with breathability that feels dry and fresh as you run.

Or, the driest hiking sock in its class

Still not convinced that an ultralight sock is for you? Swiftwick is also relaunching its Pursuit Hike with a refreshed design. The addition of Swiftwick’s signature Olefin fiber—for maximum moisture control and dryness—to the proven outdoor performance of Merino Wool makes this the driest hiking sock in its class. It also has a lightweight top with extra cushion underfoot for hiking shoes and boots. The six-inch cuff crew sock is the perfect height to keep out trail debris. It’s available in either Light or Medium cushion. Sound good for trail running, too? It is.


Never judge this sock by its color

In other words, if the thought of a “new sock” on the scene conjures images of rainbow colors and patterns, marching up and down your legs, Swiftwick takes a different approach. Let’s just say these socks are easy on the eyes. The Pursuit Ultralight and Pursuit Hike quietly step onto the scene ready to take care of you. That’s right, it’s all about your feet and getting the fit and feel right. You get durability, distance, and comfort. And, hey, some people also love dark-colored socks for the trail because they don’t get (or seem) as dirty!

Technical Merits

Here’s what you’re getting into:

  • Lightest weight, fine-gauge Merino Wool
  • Thin, breathable design
  • Maximum moisture and sweat management
  • Moisture wicking
  • Quick drying. Reinforced heel and toe to maximize durability

Test Run

A silky ride – This thin little wool sock is luxurious. With three different pairs of trail running shoes they felt absolutely silky. There was just enough cushion and absolutely none of the bulk I have come to expect from heftier wool socks. I actually worried that this minimalist sock would not hold up, but it actually felt more connected to my foot and stayed in place for each run, no heel slippage, just a cool, comfortable ride. The sock wraps your foot, stays in place, and breathes.

Getting underfoot – The generous-looking toe box may make you wonder if this sock will actually fit or be a bit baggy inside your shoe. But, apparently this socks know more about our feet then we do. Pull the sock on and the proportions make sense. Your toes finally have the natural room they need and the “bagginess” has transformed to a comfortable fit. Consider this “room without waste.”

Sock sizes are unisex, and the medium, for example, fit my normal width foot. But there feels like there would be the right amount of “wiggle room” for runners who want or need more room than you normally get in some wool socks.

One more test – Finally, what wears out your socks as much as running in them? Washing them. Testing these Pursuit Ultralights naturally included putting them through the washing machine. Wash on cold, set out to dry, and they look and feel fresh-out-of-the-package again, ready for wherever the trail takes you.

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