Winter Socks
SmartWool Socks

SmartWool Socks

Smartwool socks are, by far, my favorite winter sock. And the reason for this is simple - they are incredibly warm, soft and just feel great on the feet. To put it bluntly, if you are searching for a warm, winter sock - that can also be used during the summer too! - look no further than Smartwool socks.

Smartwool socks are expensive - make no mistake about it. As they are made from premium shearling, the price of the socks will always be more than other standard wool, IsoWool or synthetic lab creations. However, in my opinion, they are worth every penny you spend.

This article provides the following information:

Recommended Smartwool Socks

Smartwool has a dizzying variety of socks available. All their socks share a common characteristic in that they are made out of premium shearling. That said, for winter use as well as for hiking, three particular styles of Smartwool socks are recommended:

Smartwool Light Hiker : I find the light hiking sock is ideal for when it isn't too terribly cold out. It fits perfectly in normal day to day shoes (like sneakers) as it isn't that thick. Yet it is still quite warm.

Smartwool Medium Weight Hiking Sock : This is the ideal hiking sock and, in my opinion, the best "all around" winter sock. The sock is relatively thick. Thus, expect a little bit of "tightness" inside normal day to day shoes (such as sneakers). But they aren't so tight to be uncomfortable. And for boots, these socks ARE the perfect fit.

Smartwool Heavy Weight Hiking Sock : This is the warmest sock SmartWool has. It is extremely warm, thick and incredibly comfortable. But forget about fitting this inside a normal shoe. It is designed for boots, and even then, the thickness of the sock might make things tight if your boots fit tight to begin with. But if you have boots with the room, and want the warmest sock around, then this is the sock for you.

But I Don't Like The Style!

What?'re in luck. Smartwool has plenty of other styles of socks available beyond the "hiker style," including some pretty funky-colored ones. So...if you want to, browse all styles of Smartwool Socks.

Smartwool Socks - All Styles : Browse all the styles of socks that Smartwool well as view larger images and get prices, too.

OK...I'll Get the "Hiker Style". But Which One?

So...which style to get? I personally prefer the medium weight for all-around winter use. Unless your standard day to day shoes fit tightly, I find the medium weight socks fit nicely even in my sneakers. And for when I wear my boots, I positively love the fit and the feel that the medium weight sock gives. And lastly, these socks are my favorite for simple "around home" use.

What about the lightweight hiking sock? This is my preference for "warmer" weather. And by warmer, I say above freezing...actually, in the 40's and 50's. These socks are still thicker and warmer than most other socks you'll find, and as such work nicely in keeping your feet warm. But, as they are thinner, they just aren't quite "as soft" and luxurious feeling as the medium weight socks are. Still, if your day to day shoes already have a "tight feel" to them, then these socks are what you want.

And then there is the heavy weight version. This is for BOOTS only, although they "might" fit some day to day, shoes. Remember, these heavyweight hiking socks were designed for hiking, and not just day hiking either. As such, they are thick and have tons of padding on them. These socks probably will not fit in your day to day shoe, and may even prove to be a "bit tight" in some boots, too. Still, they are the warmest sock you'll find for winter weather. And for around home use, you can't beat their thick and soft feeling either. For what it's worth, I wear these things constantly around home during the winter.

For these recommended socks, you can expect to pay around $18 - $20 per pair, give or take depending on where you get them and what time of year you purchase them. Occasionally, you can find them on sale, however, its been my sad experience that Smartwool socks rarely go on sale.

Sock Construction

Smartwool socks are made out of a special wool called, not surprisingly, Smartwool. This is real wool, not some synthetic creation in a lab. However, unlike traditional wool, Smartwool does not have the itchy, scratchy feel to it. The reason is because the wool comes from New Zealand Merino Sheep - which provides the wool used in high-end shearling products as well as in Ugg Boots. As a result, Smartwool socks are incredibly soft - almost luxurious to the skin.

Rather surprisingly, Smartwood socks can be used in all weather conditions without roasting or freezing your feet. The reason is because the special type of shearling used in the sock actually regulates the temperature - keeping your foot relatively cool in hot weather and comfortably warm in winter temperatures. This happens because each fiber of the sock (and there are thousands of fibers that go into each sock), contains thousands of air bubbles. These air bubbles, besides helping regulate the temperature of your foot, also provide two other benefits - wicking water off your foot as well as allowing your foot to breathe, all at the same time.

Smartwool socks, however, do have one weakness in relation to their lab created counterparts. And that is their durability. However, the life of a smartwool sock can be extended through proper care.

How to Care for Smartwool Socks

Smartwool socks, due to their heavy wool content, aren't quite as durable as other socks like Thorlo's or Sorel's. However, I believe the extra warmth and comfort of the Smartwool more than makes up for this. Moreover, by doing some common sense things, you can substantilly enhance the durability and life of Smartwool Socks.

First, never, ever walk in the socks on concrete, rocks, etc...While such walking wears down any sock, it will especially wear down wool socks. If you need to go outside and have your socks on, save your socks and put some slippers or something on.

Second, be careful on how you wash and dry these socks. While some people advocate hand washing them, I've found that that is going overboard. Instead, wash the socks in cold water (never hot, and probably not warm either) and tumble dry on low heat. Also do not bleach or wash with bright colors.

By following these simple steps, you should be able to substantially enhance the life of these socks - making your investment in Smartwool a "smart one."

Other Places to Find SmartWool Socks

There are several other places online that carry a wide selection of SmartWool socks beyond Zappos. So I've listed them here.

  • Shoebuy - Shoebuy also has an extensive selection of SmartWools too. They are a good place to check out if you can't find the right size for you at either Zappos or Shoes.Com (which happens from time to time for popular sizes and styles)

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