Gear Review: Smartwool PhD Outdoor Hiking Sock
Posted on May 27, 2013 by
Hiking socks.... they're all the same, right? Wrong! I think people tend to focus more attention on the sexier parts of their outdoor wardrobe and other gear selections, but a poor choice in socks could easily make for a miserable outdoors experience. Socks are the underappreciated accessory that never get the credit they deserve; they are like linemen in football - you never know they are there unless they mess up. A good sock has a lot of responsibilities. It must prevent blisters, remove moisture, dry quickly, keep you cool when it's hot, keep you warm when it's cold, and it must be durable. The Smartwool PhD Outdoor series easily checks off all of those boxes.
The Smartwool ReliawoolTM Technology adds durability to the higher wear areas - the toe box and the heel. And their 4 Degree Elite Fit System adds elastic in key locations for greater stretch and recovery and to keep the socks in place. Mesh venting is placed in several locations to manage moisture and temperature. The great thing about all of these features is that they don't add bulk to the socks like many other brands. They are only noticeable visually as if they are part of the graphic design.
Speaking of design, the socks are pretty darn nice looking. They come in a variety of colors, integrating muted grays and blacks with some vibrant yellows, oranges, blues or reds. Unlike many other hiking socks, you might find yourself wearing these even when not out in the wild.
They are available in ultra light, light, medium, and heavy cushion thicknesses. Height-wise, they are available in micro, mini, 3/4 crew , crew, and over the calf.
In the main PhD series, Smartwool also makes a running sock, which has more elastic to keep the socks in place during the running motion, as well as skiing, snowboarding, mountaineering, nordic and cycling varieties. There are even graduated compression versions.
When it comes to socks, I personally don't have to decide which brand to consider anymore. That's part's easy - Smartwool. But all the choices in thickness, height, and colors don't make the decision process any quicker.
Knit in USA of 69% Merino Wool, 29% Nylon, 2% Elastane