10 Best Smartwool Socks Compared & Reviewed
Each pair of these socks features a uniquely high Merino wool content that offers superior breathability, moisture-wicking properties, advanced temperature regulation, odor resistance, and natural protection from the sun — so that you can stay warm, comfortable, and dry when braving the great outdoors.
Smartwool has tons of high quality and excellent options, so to give you a place to start, we’ve put together a list of their best socks and you can find it below.
In a Hurry? The test winner after 15 hrs of research
Warm without being bulky
Best 3 Alternatives to Smartwool Socks
- Hiking Medium Crew
- Trekking Heavy Crew
- Hike Liner Crew
- Hiking Light Crew
- Cable II
- PhD Outdoor Light Crew
- PhD Outdoor Mountaineer
- Ultra Light Mini
- PhD Run Light Elite Micro
- Criteria Used for Evaluation
- Other Factors to Consider
- Frequently Asked Questions
10 Best Smartwool Socks
1. Hiking Medium Crew
Warm without being bulky
The Hiking Medium Crew wins big for being an all-terrain, three-season hiking sock. This exquisite hiking Smartwool socks will leave your feet feeling relaxed at the end of the day, as opposed to unpleasantly worn out. If you want to stay warm and comfortable without too much bulk, these Smartwool socks are perfect.Read more
Medium cushion buffers impact on the trail while keeping your feet warm. These will hold up well for moderate backpacking activity and decently rugged trail hiking.
Elastic arch support and flat knit toe seem to increase comfort and support. Crew height comes just over the calf. Sock wearers claim this one is mighty comfortable!
The Hike Medium Crew Smartwool socks are perfect for medium impact hikes. These three-season, all-terrain socks will carry you solidly through the year barring the coldest of winter days and the most blistering summer days.
These are a fairly average price for Smartwool socks. While you won’t get the newer Ph.D. technology features, these socks are valuable due to their three-season use and warmth without extreme bulk.
2. Trekking Heavy Crew
- High wool content (70%)
- Super supportive for weight-bearing activity and intensive hiking
- All-season wear
- Maintains cushion & density over time
- Not quite as warm as the Mountaineering socks, may not be best for extreme cold
- May not work as well on athletic calves as performance fits do
The Trekking Heavy Crew Smartwool socks aren’t for the faint of hiker. As the name suggests, these are heavy duty trekking socks. These fully, thickly cushioned socks are known for preventing hotspots and blisters, offering sustained protection on long hikes. The Trekking Heavy Crew Smartwool socks are burly, well-constructed, long-lasting trekking companions.Read more
The Trekking Heavy Crew offers heavy cushioning to handle significant impact and lengthy excursions. These Smartwool socks are uniformly cushioned to give you shock absorption, provide insulation when facing the elements, and gives you maximum support for carrying a heavy load. The quality of the Trekking Heavy Crew shines through as these Smartwool socks maintain its density and cushion over time.
The socks are thick and toasty. An arch brace holds the Trekking Heavy Crew in place while providing extra support. Crew height means the sock reaches just over your calf.
Wear them while snorkeling in a dry suit. Count on them to support you on extended backpacking trips. The Trekking Heavy Crew can also be used to help you break inexpensive boots without soreness. Ultimate impact absorption allows you to carry a heavy load and still feel strong on your feet - and comfortable.
These are an average price for Smartwool socks. Again, you won’t be disappointed with your investment as these socks have a lot of life in them.
3. Hike Liner Crew
- Gives the benefits of a wool sock without the bulk
- Keeps feet from chafing
- Designed for layering, this sock is too thin to be worn alone for most activities
The Hike Liner Crew is an excellent base layer for keeping your feet dry and free from blisters. Experience the superior comfort and added the warmth of a merino wool sock without excess bulk. Layer with other hiking crew socks to maximize warmth and boost protection for extended activity.Read more
The Hike Liner Crew offers essentially no cushioning, but rather serves as an important base layer in your hiking getup. These lightweight Smartwool socks are meant to be your second skin and help to minimize friction and blisters.
You’ll benefit from the ultra comfortable flat-knit toe seam. Crew height comes just over the calf, allowing you to match this sock well with other crew Smartwool socks. This is a lightweight, cozy sock with superior fit.
Experience the moisture wicking properties of merino wool while experiencing added comfort and protection when you choose the Hike Liner as your base sock layer. These can be enough to wear as a lightweight hiking sock on warmer days. During a non-sport activity, these Smartwool socks can keep you warm and dry without the bulk of a typical wool sock.
These liners cost the least out of all the Smartwool socks in this guide. The value is exquisite as you can purchase these affordable crew liners and experience the benefits of wool without bulk and with the ability to easily layer with other hiking socks of your choice. Win-win!
4. Hiking Light Crew
- Great light trail socks
- Good breathability
- Keep their shape over time
- Comfortable choice for daily life off the trail, too
- Fit is a bit looser than the more modern PhD versions
- Not the most durable choice
The Hiking Light Crew earns its place on our list for its versatility and its ability to keep shape over time. This is a superb lightweight hiking crew sock with light cushioning to keep you protected through low to moderate impact activity. This is also a choice sock for ordinary wearing.Read more
Light half-cushion supports low-impact to moderate activity. Padding is uniform throughout the sock, maximizing impact absorption. Thinner construction and knitting also means increased breathability.
The elastic arch brace offers support and comfort. Flat knit toe seam keeps your toes comfy and protected. These Smartwool socks stay put. Crew height comes just over the calf. Best of all the fit is long-lasting.
These Smartwool socks work best for light to moderate-impact activity. Some opt to wear them as light trail socks, though you’ll probably want another layer in the winter or for intense activity. You can count on these socks to keep you dry and smelling good. These Smartwool socks are a good choice if you’re looking for a daily wool sock that will keep you warm but won’t roast you in hotter climates.
While the Hiking Light Crew has an average price for a Smartwool sock, we think the value is a little bit less than that of the other socks on this list due to two main factors: the durability isn’t quite as great and the fit loosens over time.
5. Cable II
Great for casual use
Helps to regulate body temperature naturally
Some felt they were too thin
These Smartwool Socks are a great option for those looking for a thin pair of socks for casual use. They are made of a blend of merino wool, nylon, and elastane. User's loved the comfort and simplicity and they come highly reviewed and recommended.Read more
Users rated these as having a great in-sock feel to them. This is due to the high percentage of merino wool used in their materials. Merino wool is naturally soft, moisture wicking, and odor resistant.
This pair of Smartwool socks can be used for road running however they're best suited for casual use.
They contain 1% elastane in the material blend. This makes them fit snugly to your feet without being overly tight or restrictive.
The large percentage of merino wool in these responds naturally to increases and decreases in your body heat, helping you to regulate your temperature.
These are about the average price for a pair of Smartwool socks.
Perfect for casual use or as thin running socks
Help to naturally regulate body temperature
Very soft and comfortable
Available in a wide variety of color options
Some users had durability issues
These Smartwool Socks are another thin option that has a female-specific fit. They're great for casual use or for running if you like a close to the skin feel, and they get high marks from reviewers for their warmth despite not being very thick. They come in a wide variety of fun colors but users are advised that they do run a bit small and you should read the sizing chart carefully and think about ordering a size larger than normal.Read more
In our research, we found dozens of reviews that praised the in-sock feel of this option.
Runners who enjoy training in a thin pair of Smartwool socks will enjoy these for road running. For the most part, they are designed for and are best at providing a high level of comfort during casual use.
The material blend contains 2% elastane which helps them conform snugly to your feet without being overly tight or restrictive.
The elastane in these, as well as their comfort zone construction gives your feet a good amount of in-sock feel.
As with all Smartwool products, these Smartwool socks are a bit expensive but most people were quite happy with them and understood the value they provided.
7. PhD Outdoor Light Crew
- Excellent breathability
- Stay put
- Good for year-round use
- Lightweight fits well in various shoe types
- Indestructawool technology
- Fits tight around the ankle
- May be a little warm for hotter climates
Decrease hotspots and foot fatigue with these lightweight performance socks. The Ph.D. Outdoor Light Crew is a durable sock that provides great air circulation. These Smartwool socks are great for all-day hikes and multi-terrain adventures. The thinner fit means you can fit these Smartwool socks into a variety of shoe types, but still keep warm and dry with wool.Read more
Light cushioning offers the comfort and protection of a wool sock without the bulk of heavier models. The heel and forefoot have a little extra cushioning for added protection while trail running or hiking, while the rest of the sock is thin.
Like other socks in the Ph.D. line, the Outdoor Light Crew has a performance fit. The crossed elastic system keeps the sock in place while maximizing flexibility. Smooth toe fit keeps your toes happy. 56% of merino wool construction offers the benefits of wool while allowing room for the flexibility that comes from synthetic fibers.
Mesh ventilation optimizes breathability and keeps moisture at bay. This sock is ideal for year-round use in a variety of weather conditions, from summer warmth to extreme winter cold. These Smartwool socks will stay put and prevent toe blisters no matter how active you get, whether you're trekking varied trail or road terrain.
These socks boast an average price for Smartwool. These socks are designed to last, and we think their high quality justifies the investment.
8. PhD Outdoor Mountaineer
- Graduated compression optimizes recovery
- Super supportive for long adventures and scaling rough terrain
- Excellent warmth for cold conditions
- Two-elastic system provides a tailored fit
- Stays in places
- Indestructawool technology
- Can be challenging to get on and off (they are compression socks)
- Too warm for summer months
Want your feet to feel good after summiting Mt. Rainer or hiking the Appalachian Trail? The Ph.D. Outdoor Mountaineer a great go-to sock for long hikes. This is a high-performance compression sock designed to offer maximum support and warmth in extreme conditions. They’ll handle rough terrain while keeping your feet dry and blister-free. Go ahead and put the miles on these Smartwool socks - they can handle it!Read more
The Ph.D. Outdoor Mountaineer is a heavier weight sock, offering variations in cushioning to provide the best comfort and performance. You’ll find high-density cushioning where socks take the biggest hits: in the heel and toe. The leg portion of the sock offers a flat knit on the leg, making this sock just right for functioning ideally in low-volume mountaineering boots.
The Ph.D. Outdoor Mountaineer is 14 inches tall, resting just over the calf. 20-30 mmHg graduated compression optimizes recovery once your adventure is done. The socks feature Smartwool’s 4 Degree elite fit system for a perfectly tuned fit. This unique system utilizes two elastics for increased stretch and to keep the sock put. Smartwool’s Virtually Seamless toe offers additional comfort and reinforcement in this sensitive area.
A flex zone at the ankle provides ultimate flexibility. Built-in mesh areas create breathability. You can count on the Ph.D. Outdoor Mountaineer’s 50% Merino wool construction to keep you dry and cozy. These Smartwool socks are great for long hikes and bike rides, mountaineering, and for any activity in super cold temps. They can also help prevent swelling while traveling on long flights!
Why these Smartwool socks are a bit pricey, it is an excellent choice for extreme activity and conditions. This is a serious sock for the hardcore adventurer. The support you get from the sock makes it totally worth the price tag.
9. Ultra Light Mini
- Seamless toe
- anckle-cut fit
- Moisture wicking
- Not as durable
These Smartwool Socks are an ankle cut sock that many users rave about. They are warm, breathable, and minimalistic--and come in lots of color options to choose from.Read more
These Smartwool socks offer minimal cushioning, but enough to provide a little more support and padding. These aren't super thick but will still keep you warm but still well-ventilated.
These socks are true to size and have an ankle-cut fit. If you like this fit you will also find these Smartwool socks come in several color options to choose from.
They are made of 69% Merino Wool, 29% Nylon, 1% Elastane, 1% which makes them comfortable and flexible. They also flat seam to prevent chafing and blisters from forming.
These Smartwool socks are really affordable, one of the brand's most affordable options.
10. PhD Run Light Elite Micro
- Perfect fit without being too tight
- Great for summer running
- Hold up excellently over time
- Soft feel
- Indestructawool technology
- Some users report that elastic around the ankle wears out after several washings so the socks slip down more easily
If you’re looking for a durable, super lightweight running micro running sock, the Ph.D. Run Light Elite Micro will not disappoint. This is a superb option for summer running, offering a sleek feel and an optimal fit without overly squeezing your foot. These Smartwool socks are very comfortable and keep your sweaty feet feeling dry, even during longer runs.Read more
Ultra-light cushioning gives you the absolute least amount of bulk while still offering a suitable buffer between you and your foot. The thinness of these Smartwool socks provides a barely-there feel while you’ll still get protection on the pressure points of your foot. You won’t have to adjust the size of your running shoe if you want to sport Run Light Elite Micro socks.
While the Run Light Elite Micro is available for both genders, the women’s version offers a distinguishing fit with a narrower sock body profile. These Smartwool socks are made with 200 needle construction to supply the highest possible knit density while remaining incredibly lightweight. Micro socks are 1.5 inches in overall height, resting just below the ankle. Consumers report that this sock fits perfectly without being too tight, a boon for a micro running sock.
Mesh venting increases breathability while preventing moisture buildup. Keeping moisture at bay means this sock won’t slide around in your shoe when your foot sweats. As with the other Ph.D. socks, the 4 Degree Elite Fit System keeps this sock in place throughout your activity. While most runners opt to use these Smartwool socks in warmer weather, some reviewers have had extended success in single digit temps as well.
These socks are slightly less expensive than Smartwool’s hiking and mountaineering choices. It is a thinner, smaller sock, however, so you may simply be paying less for less material. The new Ph.D. line boasts even better quality than older Smartwool models, so you’re getting even more bang for your buck with increased product longevity.
Criteria Used for Evaluation
All Smartwool socks include merino wool in their blend. This natural fiber is known for feeling soft and cozy against your skin.
When picking out your socks, it’s essential to know what level of cushioning you’re looking for and where you want it. How thick or thin is your sock, and what does this level of support mean?
Some of these Smartwool socks have extra cushioning in certain harder hit places like under your toe pad and heels, while other socks have uniform cushioning. Socks with variable cushioning might work best for running and other dynamic activity while an all-encompassing thick cushioning could be ideal for an intense, long, or rugged hike or backpacking trip. Super thick cushioning is also going to give you the best support for the weight-bearing activity.
When picking out your socks, it’s essential to know what level of cushioning you’re looking for and where you want it. All of these Smartwool socks have an effective cushioning design and serve their intended purpose well.
We also wanted to note that the use of natural merino wool in all Smartwool socks means that the products on this list all offer the user an excellent in-sock feel, natural odor-fighting properties, and moisture-wicking capabilities.
Before shopping you should know if you're looking for a pair of socks for casual use, road running, or trail running. This will help you to narrow down your choices and make a good buying decision.
Smartwool makes socks for running, hiking, and casual use so it's important to know what you're looking for before you start to shop.
If you're looking for running socks, which is highly likely since this is a running website, after all, be sure to know if you want a pair for road or trail running.
The difference in the different types is usually the thickness of the socks, with trail running and hiking socks being the thickest and ones designed for casual use being the thinnest. That's not to say that you can't mix and match based on your personal preferences, but most people will end up using the socks for their intended use.
The support of your socks will affect the kind of terrain you are able to comfortably walk and run on. Cushioning also determines the amount of impact you can expect to handle while wearing the sock and what kind of terrain you can comfortably navigate.
If you’re looking for heavy impact absorption that you’d want for trekking seriously rugged trails for long miles while carrying a heavy load, go for thick cushioning. If you just want a minimal layer of protection between–like you would for a light run or for everyday wear–you may want to go for lighter cushioning.
Some designs seem to run smaller or larger than normal so we made sure note this in our reviews. Also, products that have a higher percentage of elastane in them will fit differently than those with less which is a good thing to keep in mind while you're finding your perfect pair.
The fit metric for socks refers to how the sock feels, the sock height, and how well the sock stays put. We’ve detailed specific support features and discussed what type of shoe or boot works best with each sock height.
Some of these Smartwool socks offer a fit based on typical “women’s sizes” which means the body of the sock and the heel are more narrow than the fit based on men’s or unisex sizing. We’ve also made sure to mention how well the crew-height socks work for athletic calves.
It's also important to note that the blend of materials the socks use will affect how they feel. For example, a large amount of elastane will give you a tighter feel than a pair with a lower percentage.
Some people prefer a tighter fit in their running socks.
We’ve also highlighted any areas where users notice a progressively looser or tighter fit over time. Sometimes the elastic in the top of the sock wears out over time, leading to a sock that might fall down. And sometimes a running sock feels tighter as your feet sweat and swell during a run. Some users report certain socks to feel tight in specific areas–such as the ankle.
If this is typically a problem area for you, that certain sock might not be the best choice.
The right socks will be there when you need them, providing the right fit and temperature regulating properties for whatever situation you're in.
A good pair of socks will deliver good performance and be responsive to your wants and needs and the environment you are in at any given time.
When looking for the best socks for you, it’s essential to consider what type of climate you’ll wear them in and through what type of activity.
Some of these Smartwool socks are meant for warmer climates, some for cold, and others are multi-season. Some of these socks can support you to carry a lot of weight or help you handle an extreme run.
We’ve made sure to describe what kind of activity, weather, and terrain these Smartwool socks can handle. All of the Smartwool socks on this list measure up well for wicking moisture and breathability, important qualities to prevent sweat buildup, hot spots, and blisters, and to maintain comfort.
Smartwool socks are more expensive than many competitors but you know the old saying, you get what you pay for.
Wool socks are more pricey than normal socks so it is important to know how that investment pays off. Smartwool socks are more expensive than average socks, and this is because they are not average socks! Smartwool socks offer exceptional quality, performance, and endurance.
We’ve discussed how each sock measures up in the Smartwool sock price range, and what you’re getting for your investment. Each sock on this list offers something unique and highly valuable for its price. Every sock here is a win.
Expert Interviews & Opinions
While it's normal to encounter some itchiness when wearing wool-based clothing, some individuals have a much more severe reaction as a result of a wool allergy. It's even possible that you have one of these allergies without being aware of it! So keep that in mind if you find yourself suffering from persistent itching or skin blemishes after wearing Smartwool socks.
There's no getting around the fact that Smartwool socks are far from cheap. They cost significantly more than traditional cotton socks, but this price is justified due to the substantially higher quality they provide. However, you will need to follow their washing instructions much more strictly than you would with cheaper pairs or else you run the risk of destroying that higher quality.
Other Factors to Consider
Each Smartwool socks contains a unique Merino wool content typically ranging from just under 50% to over 70%. You’ll tend to find the warmer socks and hiking socks to have more wool content, while thinner and performance fit socks from the Ph.D. line have less wool.
Smartwool blends Merino wool with varying quantities of synthetic fibers to produce certain ranges of flexibility and support. You can easily find the wool content listed in the product description. Extra heavy socks tend to have the most wool while ultra light socks contain the least.
Smartwool socks vary in size, so it helps to research customer reviews ahead of time, either on online selling sites or on the Smartwool website. If you don’t find the perfect fit the first time, you can always exchange your socks under Smartwool’s two-year warranty. Remember to properly care for your socks to keep them the right size (see our FAQ for care guidelines).
To further tickle your fancy, Smartwool offers a two-year 100% satisfaction guarantee on their products. They are confident that their best Smartwool socks will provide you with everything you need, and more—but in the case that they don’t you have this guarantee to fall back on.
Frequently Asked Questions
q: How do I care for my Smartwool socks?
This is a great question. Though some people value the option to always toss their socks in the dryer, we strongly recommend exclusively air drying your Smartwool socks for optimal product longevity. The manufacturer recommends machine washing on the gentle cycle in warm or cool water, socks inside out. Use mild soap, no bleach or fabric softener. You can tumble dry on a low setting, but never on medium or high as heat can shrink wool. Do NOT iron or dry clean your Smartwool socks.
q: How often do I need to wash my Smartwool socks?
One of the best parts about opting for wool clothing over other clothing made from other fibers is that it doesn’t need to get laundered as often. Why? Wool does not hold on to stinky aromas. So sometimes you might just need to air out your Smartwool socks or gently spot clean them. You can wear them several times before tossing them in the washer!
Keep in mind that some Smartwool socks have lower amounts of wool than others. These ones might need to be washed more often than high wool content socks.
q: Is air drying a good option for Smartwool socks?
It is, and it may be a way to increase product longevity as drying your clothes the conventional route does pull fibers away over time. Just look in your lint trap to verify this tidbit! The manufacturer recommends laying your wool clothes flat as opposed to hanging them to dry.
This is because wet wool changes shape while hanging. If your Smartwool socks change shape in a way you’re displeased with, gently re-shape them while they are damp.
q: What’s the best way to store my woolly socks during the off-season?
Smartwool has provided a few easy steps to ensure secure storage of wool socks and clothing:
*Thoroughly clean your wool items. Moths dig the lingering odors from our bodies and food that remain in Smartwool socks after wearing them.
*Keep your socks laying flat. Do not roll them up. Contorting their shape in storage can alter the sock’s shape.
*Plastic bags and boxes are a great storage option for eliminating breathability, allowing your clothes to stay mold-free. If you find you keep your wool packed for a year or longer, make sure you air it out for some time before packing it up again.
*Stash cedar in your storage to ward off moths and other critters who might nibble at your clothes.
q: What if I get a hole in my Smartwool sock?
It happens to the best of us, and to the best of socks, especially the more we love them and wear them out. If you get a hole in your Smartwool socks within its first two years and you’re feeling unsatisfied about it, exchange it under the warranty.
If you want to repair the sock yourself, you can try darning the sock. Darning is a simple process of weaving wool yarn over any thin areas or holes in the sock. You can use a light bulb or a darning egg to place your sock over while making the repairs. Just make sure you try to match the weight of the yarn to the weight of the wool in your sock, if possible.
There are plenty of great articles and videos on the web offering guidance on darning wool.
q: Why choose wool?
If you’re not already convinced, think about this: wool is more breathable and keeps moisture at bay better than other fiber out there, especially the synthetic ones. When you aren’t trapping moisture in your Smartwool socks, smelly bacteria don’t stand a chance at surviving. So you won’t stink and you won’t be plagued by sweat or blisters while you’re working out or just trying to make it through your day. Also, wool is sheep hair, and hair is made mostly from interlocking protein molecules. These keratin molecules give each wool fiber flexibility and incredible stretch in all directions, without causing breakage. These are seriously tough fibers! Tough yet flexible is just another magic mark of Merino wool.