Gear We Are’s Ed can often be found decked out in Smartwool, that is when he’s not modelling the latest fashion of small checked shirts! When asked by the folk over at Smartwool if we would like to test their new lightweight socks from their Smartwool PHD collection he was a more than willing guinea pig.
However I must confess to not being much of a brand officianado, and really couldn’t understand his love for this brand. However having been sent a set of his n’ hers Ultralight Crew socks and having now worn my own pair 6/7 times I do rather get it.
Firstly they wick so much better than my basic high street cotton socks. We’ve had a bit of a hot spell here in the UK recently and these have been worn on rather warm days.
Worn whilst mooching round town and mowing the lawn they didn’t so much as break a sweat and I’m pretty sure my feet did, but upon peeling off my boots of my feet appeared to be dry, and felt dry to the touch – even cool which was a bit unexpected.
After a 10 mile hike on a particularly hot day, despite being rather damp at the end they didn’t smell, there wasn’t even a slight aroma of pongy feet. Really remarkable. Also on hot days you don’t get that slightly clammy sensation that you get with cotton socks as your feet warm up.
I understand that this is because they are made of Merino wool, and along with the non-pong abilities of this fabric, it also means that moisture doesn’t build up in its fibres meaning that the socks can start to rub and irritate. Very useful on the aforementioned 3 hour hike. Hurty feet make me a rather sulky and moany walker and thus not much fun to be around!
As you slip your foot into the socks, the first thing you notice is that your foot feels a bit like it’s being wrapped up in a support bandage, not tightly but it is noticeable at first. This ‘wrapping’ is mimicked by the X pattern design on the top of sock. This I believe is what Smartwool call their ‘4 degree Elite fit system” Sounds very grand, and perhaps a bit OTT for describing a pair of socks, but heck it certainly adds to the comfort.
The other thing I have noticed from washing several pairs of GWA Ed’s pairs of socks is that they are really well made and long lasting. The heel and the toe areas don’t seem to rub away as they do with cotton socks. A quick check at Smartwool’s site, tells me that they benefit from ‘Reliawool technology’ in the construction…again I feel these are flamboyant descriptions for something you stick on your feet, but seeing as it works, well I guess they can call it what they like!
My socks pull up to mid calf so will work well with pretty much all hiking boots and shoes, but a peak at the Smartwool site, shows me that they have quite a boggling array of styles and lengths, so there really is a pair to suit everyone.
Style wise, they aren’t the prettiest, but this sock is not about fashion and is all about the function, and they function superbly well. You may gulp at the price, indeed prior to having worn these I probably would have scoffed too, but you really do get what you pay for.