SmartWool PhD summer socks


SmartWool, a leading name in merino wool outdoors clothing products, have created a new ‘summer cool’ collection of socks.

Reading the many features of the SmartWool PhD outdoors socks I can’t help but feel that there is too much in the way of technical verbiage.

However, SmartWool are no different from many clothing brands these days, which tend to boast about products with long lists of impressive – but seemingly over-egged –  technical features.

I am intrigued by all the technology that goes into a pair of socks. There are no less than five different socks in the SmartWool PhD summer cool collection – and each comes in male and female fit. There are dozens and dozens more PhD socks across the wider range of SmartWool sports.

This ‘summer cool’ collection is suited to a range of activities, including running, mountaineering and cycling and include Ultra Light Micro, Ultra Light Mini, Ultra Light Crew, Light Mini and Light Crew.

The SmartWool PhD socks feature:

  • 4 Degree Elite Fit System, offering “even more extraordinary comfort but also the patent-pending ultra-durability construction”.
  • ReliaWool Technology in the toe and heel area. Apparently this means the socks have “durability to go more miles than shoes, guaranteed”.

Because they are made of Merino Wool the socks are said to:

  • Work faster and release moisture vapour quickly so the wearer stays drier and more focused.
  • Boast antimicrobial performance because the natural fibres resist the bacteria that make the ‘bad’ smells.

In conclusion, it’s claimed, the SmartWool PhD collection for summer 2014 “redefines the legendary fit, performance and durability that is synonymous with SmartWool performance socks”.

photo 3 (23)

I have also read:

The PhD collection is “named after the doctoral process where a PhD or Doctorate is the highest level of educational degree conferred upon an individual. SmartWool thought this was the perfect name for the most technical and smartest sock they have ever made”.

Wowser! And all this in a pair of socks!

In the end, however, the proof is in the fit, feel and performance of the product.

On test: Light cushion and Ultra Light Cushion Smartwool PhD socks

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SmartWool PhD Ultra Light socks

I confess I was prepared to be only fairly impressed by the socks. I know and like SmartWool products but how different can a pair of socks be?

However, I was taken aback the second my feet wriggled into the socks because they made them feel super-cool, especially the Ultra Light version. Something in the fabric caused my summer hot feet to feel suddenly chilled and comfortable.

The merino wool also feels very silky, which is unexpected because I normally do not like plain merino against my skin.

The fit is also very, very good. My foot felt supported in areas such as the instep and ankle, yet still flexible. The toe area also felt soft and non-irritating.

The ‘cushion’ socks have a little more cushioning in the forefoot and heel area as well as around the ankle. I prefer to wear the cushioned variety when walking long distances in trail shoes and the less cushioned pair when running.

I also like the height of the ankle. SmartWool calls this a ‘no tan line’ height, which I do appreciate in the sunnier months. They are what I would normally call trainer liners.

I have worn the socks for trail running, cycling and hill walking and suffered no rubs or discomfort at all.

In fact, I like my socks to feel ‘not there’; doing a job but not making a fuss about it. The SmartWool PhD socks get on with doing this very well indeed.

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SmartWool PhD Light Cushion socks

I also wore the socks on some hot days and I was surprise by how dry and cool my feet continued to feel. Socks that include a mix of manmade and natural fibres can end up making your feet sweat. I have not yet been able to test the durability and longevity of the socks because the claim that they will out-live my trainers will take some months (or even years) to prove. Yet they do seem to be very well made and constructed.

The socks have been worn and washed several times and they come out of the washing machine looking and feeling as good as new. This is unlike many other socks that can quickly wrinkle and look badly constructed after just a single wash.

I can’t say that the socks have helped to “lower my heart rate” but perhaps they did this without me noticing.

There is a lot of technical verbiage that goes with many SmartWool products and for this reason I have not scored them a five stars but once you have cut through this and give the products a try I imagine you will be as happy as I am with the summer cool collection of socks.

See SmartWool, an American website, for all the very many details and technological explanations. Buy from a number of stores including Ellis Brigham, an official UK SmartWool retailer.

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