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I thought paying $20 for socks was crazy until I tried Smartwool socks




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Wool? In the summer? Are you crazy?!

This was my internal dialogue as I stood in REI and a salesperson directed me to a rack of wool socks, suggesting I purchase them for a summer trip in Southeast Asia, where summer is monsoon season with forecasts that are undeniably hot, sticky, and humid. The thought of bundling my toes in the same thick knit used to make cozy winter sweaters and mittens seemed kind of crazy. And that wasn’t the only crazy thing about these socks — they cost about $20 a pair. That’s more than I’d usually pay for a pack of six socks or more.

But, like any good salesperson does, they sold me on the socks. All it took was a little explaining about the power of versatile, sweat-wicking, and temperature-regulating merino wool.

Talking about specs when it comes to socks may sound a little funny. After all, these are just socks, not a high-tech gadget. But, the technical design of Smartwool socks is what make them unique, and if you ask me, worth the price.

Smartwool makes plenty of merino wool socks of different heights and thicknesses. I have the Smartwool PhD Outdoor Light Micro Socks, a lighter, shorter pair that’s made for hiking and beyond.

Smartwool’s PhD line is a collection of high-performance socks and clothing made from merino wool. There are a few things that set these socks apart from the value-pack options, but one that I find makes Smartwool special (as the name suggests) is the use of ZQ-certified Merino wool.

Whether you’re hiking, running, or just traveling, merino wool is a great choice. The fabric helps regulate body temperature, so your feet won’t freeze when it’s cold or overheat when it’s hot. It wicks away moisture at a vapor level, so even when your feet sweat you won’t feel damp. Merino wool also resists odors, a particularly great feature if you’re looking for socks that are great for traveling. Since they resist odor, they can go longer without being washed and won’t stink up your bag as much as regular cotton socks. The ZQ-certification means that this wool is high-quality and adheres to high standards for animal welfare, environmental care, and sustainability.

Women’s PhD Outdoor Light Micro Socks, $18.95.

Beyond the fabric, Smartwool has seriously thought out every detail of these socks.

The socks have a narrower profile to accommodate women’s feet. There’s a light cushion on the sole that is ideal for running over terrain that may not be perfectly smooth, like hiking trails and cobblestone streets. There are mesh ventilation zones across the sock to maximize breathability and wick away the most moisture. The seams are virtually seamless, so you don’t get that annoying seam feeling on your toes while you move. And with extra flexibility around the ankle, these stay put and won’t bunch up no matter how much you move.

All of these features work together to make one of the most comfortable, in both feel and fit, pairs of socks you’ve ever worn.

The bottom line

I got a few pairs of these socks for hiking and traveling, but now I wear them just about every day. They’re now my go-to pairs; since trying them, the rest of my old socks really do feel inferior. They’re soft, durable, and keep my feet feeling comfortable whether I’m hiking on a dusty trail or running around a well-paved city.

While socks usually wear out pretty fast, the fact that these haven’t changed at all since I got them makes me feel they’re worth the price. Whether you want a pair of no-shows, running socks, or high socks, Smartwool has a huge range an options for you.

I really never thought I’d care much about socks, but as a Smartwool convert, I can’t recommend its products enough.

Grab a pair of Smartwool’s PhD Outdoor Light Micro Socks for $18.95 a pair at Smartwool. They’re available for women and men.

Shop all Smartwool women’s socks at REI and Smartwool.

Shop all Smartwool men’s socks at REI and Smartwool.

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