New Swiss military socks get an airing

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The Swiss defence ministry on Friday unveiled new high-tech sweat-absorbing socks that were tested by dozens of soldiers roaming the countryside with a different sock on each foot.

Sixty recruits equipped with a pair of boots and 10 socks each of three different types were sent off on a "merciless" five-day test mission, with orders to wear odd socks, the defence ministry said in a statement.

"The recruits were not informed beforehand about the socks they would wear, in order to obtain results that were as objective as possible," it added.

Feet were tested every day after a six kilometre (3.73 mile) march to check for humidity, irritation and blisters, while the soldiers themselves were quizzed about the experience.

The novel wool and synthetic socks -- developed by a sock maker and the Swiss federal laboratory for materials science and technology -- should pamper recruits by warding off blisters, the military procurement agency concluded.

"The prototype socks made with different fibres reduce rubbing on the heel and toes, absorb sweat and are particularly pleasant to wear," it noted.

The Swiss army's "Sweat Management" project has already come up with a four-layer army clothing system. Boots are also being tested to match the socks.

Earlier this year the Israeli newspaper Maariv revealed that Israeli soldiers had been testing socks that could be used for two weeks in a row without a stink.

© 2010 AFP

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