SmartWool Adrenaline Light Mini Crew Socks
By Raymond Estrella
December 08, 2007
Huntington Beach California USA
6' 3" (1.91 m)
200 lb (90.70 kg)
I have been backpacking for over 30 years, all over California, and in many of the western states and Minnesota. I hike year-round, and average 500+ miles (800+ km) per year. I have made a move to lightweight gear, and smaller volume packs. I start early and hike hard so as to enjoy the afternoons exploring. I usually take a freestanding tent and enjoy hot meals at night. If not hiking solo I am usually with my brother-in-law Dave or fiancée Jenn.
Web site: www.smartwool.com
Product: Adrenaline Light Mini Crew
Year manufactured: 2006 -07
MSRP: US $14.95
Size reviewed: Large (Men's 9 - 12.5 Women's 10.5 - 12.5 US)
Other sizes available: Medium and Extra Large
Color reviewed: Stone and Charcoal (Also available in Silver/Heather Everglade/Silver and Oatmeal/Olive)
Weight per pair (measured): 1.8 oz (51 g)
The SmartWool Adrenaline Light Mini Crew (hereafter called the Adrenaline or sock) is a short crew sock that the manufacturer says is "perfect for the new breed of athlete who can be found mountain biking, bagging peaks, trail-running and bouldering." I fit a lot of that…
These 72% wool, 26% nylon and 2% Spandex socks have quite the assortment of construction features. They have a 2.25 in (5.7 cm) high cuff around the ankle. It is very stretchy. At the back of it is the SmartWool man logo.
The heel, ball and toe area is made with a thicker denser weave to add durability and longevity to the socks. A somewhat thick area wraps the bottom of my foot at the sides and arch. This section has vents running lengthwise to allow some ventilation to the sole of my feet. These same vents run vertically around the ankle just below the cuff. Both can be seen in the picture below.
The top of the Adrenalines are covered by a thin material to help with ventilation. An oblong area of thinner mesh at the top of my foot assist this further. Right where my ankle joins (and flexes at) the top of my foot is the lightest and most open material on the sock. This helps with ventilation and keeps the sock from bunching at the flex point. These features may be seen below.
I have used the Adrenaline socks on the following backpacking trips.
While testing the GoLite Sun Dragon shoes I wore them on a 26-mile (42 km) climb of San Gorgonio that gained over 5000' (1524 m) of elevation. The temperatures ranged from 45 F to 72 F (7 to 22 C) and I was on surfaces ranging from packed dirt to sand, loose rock and scree.
A 24-mile (39 km) hike along the Pacific Crest Trail from Hwy 138 to Fish Creek Trail to San Gorgonio and down to the South Fork trailhead. It was the same conditions as the last hike.
A 22-mile (35 km) trip in San Jacinto State Park and Wilderness. This trip saw temperatures from 55 F to 87 F (13 to 31 C), on trails that ranged from packed dirt to decomposed granite and loose rock. I climbed 4000 vertical feet (1219 m) on this one.
On one day of a 42-mile (68 km) overnight backpacking trip in the eastern Sierra Nevada including summits of Mounts Muir and Whitney. The temps ranged from 36 to 75 F (2 to 24 C) and rain in the afternoon. I started with a 20.5 lb (9.3 kg) pack (with 3 l/qt of water). The trails consisted of sand, packed dirt, loose rock, boulders and solid granite. I climbed 9952' (3033 m) over the two days.
I used them for the second day of a two-day hike along the Pacific Crest Trail (PCT) from Snow Creek road north to the Whitewater River, in the desert near Palm Springs California. The temps were low of 44 and up to 79 F (7 to 26 C).
They were used with a pair of GoLite Trail Fly shoes for a 30-mile (48 km) fastpack on the Pacific Coast Trail (PCT) from Big Bear California (CA) south. Temps were from 35 to 70 F (2 to 21 C) Elevations were from 6700' to 8700' (2042 to 2652 m) with a total gain of 4750' (1448 m) for the day. The trail consisted of rock, decomposed granite, and sand.
I also used them in Hawaii where the temps were between 76 F and 85 F (24 to 29 C). The terrain varied from blacktop covered trails, trails made of scraped lava rock, crushed lava rock and dirt, or rather mud, in the jungle areas. It rained there everyday I used them. This was all dayhiking use on short trails to waterfalls or hidden beaches and a lava tube, and some walks to town.
I bought my first three pairs of Adrenaline Mini Crews in the summer of 2006. (These are the Stone color seen at the top of the review.) I liked them so much that when I saw the Charcoal color on sale in Salt Lake City December of 2006, I bought three more pairs. I have used them more than any sock I have ever owned.
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While the field data I listed above accounts for some decent distance it does not scratch the surface for the use these socks have seen. This is because I have never backpacked in trail runners before testing the GoLite Sun Dragons and reviewing their more rugged sibling the Trail Fly. But I walk in excess of 700 miles (1130 km) each year on streets, walking paths and dirt roads in addition to the 500+ miles (800 km) of backpacking. And the Adrenalines have seen about 70% of that distance since I bought my first pairs.
I wear trail runners from New Balance, Nike and Avia every day to work and wear the SmartWool socks about 70% of the time there too.
They are very comfortable socks. The breathability of them is second only to some socks I am testing right now. With the oblong patch of mesh under the mesh top of the GoLite shoes it was a winning set-up for hot weather hiking. But it does make for very dirty feet at the end of the day as fine dirt goes straight through.
The only time I have ever experienced a blister with these socks on was with the Trail Flys and I found that it was a defective heel cup that was the culprit. Otherwise the reinforced areas at the toes and heel work great to alleviate rubbing or chafing.
The durability is unbelievable. The sock in the pictures is one of the first ones that I bought. It has been washed at least 70 times. While it has some pilling there are no holes or tears.
The socks have never sagged, even when pounding down steep trails in the mountains. Nor have they shrunk one bit that I can tell, and I just wash them with my other clothes on warm, and then dry them with everything else most the time. Once in a while I hang them to dry.
The only complaint I have about them is the cost. They are about triple the price of the socks I used to use for most of my walking. But in the Adrenaline's defense they have held up three times worth too. I plan to buy more in the future to add a couple of other colors. They are my favorite sock at this point.
Read more reviews of Smartwool gear
Read more gear reviews by Ray Estrella