SMARTWOOL PHD OUTDOOR HEAVY CREW SOCKS
TEST SERIES BY NANCY GRIFFITH
April 13, 2014
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Northern California, USA
5' 6" (1.68 m)
130 lb (59.00 kg)
My outdoor experience began in high school with a canoeing/camping group which made a 10-day voyage through the Quebec wilds. I've been backpacking since my college days in Pennsylvania. I have hiked all of the Appalachian Trail in Georgia, Tennessee and North Carolina. My typical trip now is in the Sierra Nevada in California and is from a few days to a few weeks long. Over the past few years I have lowered my pack weight to a light-weight base weight of 15 lb (6.8 kg) and use a tent, stove and quilt.
PRODUCT INFORMATION & SPECIFICATIONS
|Photo courtesy of SmartWool|
Year of Manufacture: 2013
Manufacturer's Website: http://www.smartwool.com
MSRP: $25 US
Listed Weight: Not listed
Measured Weight: 3 oz (85 g) per pair
Size Tested: M (fits Women's shoe sizes US 7 - 9.5)
Other Sizes Available: S, L, XL
Color Tested: Black
Other Colors: Brown
Made in the USA of imported yarn
My Shoe Size: Women's US 8.5 M
The SmartWool PhD Outdoor Heavy Crew socks are a unisex pair of crew-height hiking socks. The packaging lists the knit as 78% wool, 20% nylon and 2% elastane. However, the website lists them instead as 86% wool, 12% nylon and 2% elastane. The socks feature a fit system that stretches and recovers for holding the sock in place using bands of elastic in four key places: ankle, upper instep, lower instep and arch.
The ball and heel of the sock are thick and use a technology to provide a more durable construction for these high-wear areas. Lastly there are three mesh-venting zones on the top and sides of the foot for ventilation and moisture management. These are seen in the lighter colored dots. Above the ankle the sock is thick and feels warm like a ski sock with a wide elastic band at the top.
INITIAL IMPRESSIONS & TRYING THEM OUT
My initial impression of the sock was pretty much as I expected after looking at them on the website. I was happy to see a nice winter sock but also one that looks reasonable for outdoor activity, i.e. not too warm or unwieldy. The thick cushion seems to be in just the right places for warmth and wear with other places like the top of the foot being thinner and more like an athletic sock.
I tried them on and was happy with the fit. They feel really comfortable and warm. The crew height seems just right to extend above the tops of my snow boots. I can't wait to get out in the snow with them.
READING THE INSTRUCTIONS
Care instructions include washing in warm water and tumbling dry on low. It is recommended to turn the socks inside out for washing.
LONG-TERM TEST LOCATIONS AND CONDITIONS
I wore the SmartWool PhD Outdoor Heavy Crew socks on 26 days including two overnight backpacking trips, three snowshoe hikes and twelve day hikes. I used them in temperatures from 19 to 57 F (-7 to 14 C). I also wore them for disc golf, yard work, as slippers in the house and a couple of times for running. They were used with a variety of footwear including snow boots, backpacking boots, hiking shoes and running shoes.
Rubicon Trail, Sierra Nevada, California: 2 days; 10 mi (16 km); 6,327 to 6,500 (1,928 to 1,981 m); 21 to 57 F (-6 to 15 C) with clear conditions; light breezes.
Lake Pleasant, Sierra Nevada, California: 2 days; 13 mi (16 km); 6,300 to 6,600 (1,920 to 2,012 m); 19 to 52 F (-7 to 11 C) with clear conditions; wind gusts to 20 mph (32 km/h).
Blodgett Experimental Forest, Sierra Nevada, California: 3.5 mi (5.6 km); 4,275 to 4,815 ft (1,303 to 1,468 m); 25 F (-4 C) with calm clear conditions and fresh powder.
Loon Lake, Sierra Nevada, California: 4 mi (6.4 km); 6,327 to 6,478 (1,928 to 1,974 m); 38 F (3 C) with clear conditions; breezy.
Sierra Pacific forest lands, Sierra Nevada, California: 2 mi (3.2 km); 5,720 to 5,800 ft (1,743 to 1,768 m); 37 to 57 F (3 to 14 C) with rapidly changing conditions from full sun to sleet to snow.
Multiple hikes in the Auburn Recreation Area, California: 2.0 to 6.0 mi (3.2 to 10 km); 500 to 1,500 ft (150 to 450 m) elevation; 43 to 58 F (6 to 14 C); clear to rainy conditions.
Three hikes at the Mendocino Coast, Northern California: 2.5 to 6 mi (4 to 10 km); 45 to 55 F (7 to 13 C); nearly sea level; clear to cloudy to rainy conditions with and without blustery winds.
Pre-dawn runs were from 2.3 to 3.6 mi (3.7 to 5.8 km); 39 to 54 F (4 to 12 C); dry conditions.
PERFORMANCE IN THE FIELD
My favorite use of these socks was for snowshoeing. Unfortunately we had a nearly record dry year this winter and not much snowfall at all. However, I was able to get out three times in these socks. The thick cushion above the ankles provided good comfort with my boots. They were warm and comfortable and my feet didn't get hot or sweaty.
I wore the socks for two overnight backpacking trips while wearing snow boots because we expected to be snowshoeing. However, we ended up carrying our snowshoes due to poor snow conditions. There were several snow fields but not enough to bother putting on snowshoes. The socks got a little warm at times but on one of the backpacking trips I still wore them to sleep in despite wearing them all day. They were slightly damp from sweat but were perfectly warm even in a 19 degree F (-7 C) overnight low temperature.
The socks saw many uses for short day hikes and performed great with both hiking boots and shoes. At about 55 degrees F (13 C) they were getting too warm for my comfort.
I tried wearing the socks for running a few times. The first time was fine with temperatures closer to freezing but as it warmed up they were just too hot and I went back to my lightweight socks.
I loved wearing the socks around the house this winter as slippers. They were thick and cozy and completely protected me from any cold drafts.
The durability of the socks has been great. The cushion is still nice and thick and there is no sign of thinning or pilling. There are a few loose threads on the inside but the socks are in superb shape. They have been washed nine times usually inside-out (as recommended) but I sometimes forget to do that. I tried to wear the socks multiple times between washings to get an idea of how they stand up to odors. I never noticed any foul odor.
The SmartWool PhD Outdoor Heavy crew socks are a nice combination of a heavy ski sock combined with an athletic design.
This report was created with the BackpackGearTest.org Report Writer Version 1.
Copyright 2014. All rights reserved.
This concludes my Long-Term Report and this test series. Thanks to SmartWool and BackpackGearTest.org for allowing me to participate in this test.
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Read more gear reviews by Nancy Griffith