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Reviews > Clothing > Socks > Smartwool PhD Outdoor Light Crew > Test Report by Andrew Buskov

Smartwool FrontMen's PhD Outdoor Light Crew
Smartwool's vented outdoor crew with Indestructawool.
Andrew Buskov
Initial Report: September 9, 2016
Long Term Report: February 9, 2017

Tester Biographical Information:

Name: Andrew Buskov
Age: 41
Gender: Male
Height: 5 ft 9 in (1.75 m)
Weight: 217 lbs (98 kg) 
Email: Rescue(at)Corridor9(dot)net
City, State Zip Madisonville, Kentucky USA

Backpacking Background:

I’ve been backpacking for nearly 30 years, and have slowly developed my ideal style. I’ve gotten my pack weight down to roughly 20 - 25 lbs (9.1 - 11.3 kg) before water, and am whittling it down every hike. Day hiking is nice, but getting out over multiple nights is really what I enjoy. I like to take my time and view the scenery as opposed to hiking hard. I also like being comfortable and insist on an air mattress. I usually tent or hammock, but stay in shelters when needed. 

Product Information: 

Item: Men's PhD Outdoor Light Crew
Manufacturer: Smartwool
Year of Manufacture: 2016
MSRP: $21.95 US
Listed Weight: N/A
Actual Weight: 2.12 oz (60 g)
Color: Oatmeal
Additional Colors: Black, Taupe, Medium Gray

Smartwool FullProduct Description:
Per information from website & enclosed materials

The Smartwool Men's PhD Outdoor Light Crew sock is designed with comfort and durability in mind. Built with Indestructawool, a patent-pending way of constructing the wool fibers that provides better comfort as well as durability, these socks should last longer and feel better even after months and years of use. With a mesh venting top and a dual-elastic four-degree elite fit system, the PhD line of Smartwool Socks should stand up to any activity the wearer engages in.

Product Impressions:

I simply love a good sock test, and I hope that testing the Smartwool PhD Outdoor Light Crew (PhD) is going to give me quite a bit of joy, comfort and fun. As soon as I opened the package to make sure they were the right size I could feel how soft and cushy these socks were. As someone who has developed Plantar Fasciitis over the last year,  I've learned how miserable just walking can be. Having something that gives me even just a bit of relief is definitely welcome these days.

Smartwool InsideThe socks were packaged in a multi-fold cardboard hanger. Quite ingenious actually as it secures the socks without using any plastic ties or tape. Once I opened the cardboard box, the socks slid off of their cardboard hanger rather easily. The box provides a lot of information on various sides including sizing information, wash instructions, fabric content, as well as a QR code that can be scanned for additional information. The box is printed using recycled paper with soy inks. However, the print that always strikes me as the most important is the Made in U.S.A. stamp. It is very important to me to buy products made in America if at all possible.

Upon removing the socks from their cardboard container, I could feel the thickness around the heel and toes. They are very full and have a lot of cushion to them. The toe area is designed in such a way so that there is no seam near the end to chaff the tips of the toes. Instead, the seam is sewn to the elastic area near the distal metatarsal joint. This means that my toes are free to move about the toebox without restrictions. The heel area is also designed in such a way that the seam areas where the elastic fabric and cushioning meet don't fall near any of the usual friction points.

On the top of the Smartwool PhD Outdoor Light Crew is a breathable mesh area sewn into the elastic area. This section is designed to allow the socks to breathe and wick away moisture so that the feet aren't dripping wet, thus limiting additional chafing. Moving upward along the ankle, the elastic area looks to provide a snug fit all the way to the cuff. I can only assume this is so the socks don't slip down and bunch up.

In all, I'm very pleased with the way the construction looks. While I have slipped these on to try out, I have not worn them for any extended period of time. As such, I will reserve any comments about fit, function, and comfort for the Long Term Report phase of this test. Don't forget to revisit this page in about four months to view my report then.

Long Term Report: February 9, 2017

Smartwool Normal UseTesting Locations:

During the testing period I was able to get three overnight trips in. Two of these trips were in the area of the Pennyrile National Forrest. This forest is in western Kentucky and is an open, backcountry area for camping, backpacking, and hiking. Elevation for this area is roughly 450 - 650 ft (135 - 200 m) with rolling terrain that has a lot of valleys, cliffs, and ridges. Temperatures in the area for both trips were around 60 F (16 C) during the day and down to 35 F (2 C) at night. The third trip was an overnight in the White City Wildlife Reserve, also located in western Kentucky. This area is mainly comprised of natural gas pipeline connections. The area is open to hunting, camping, fishing, and backpacking. Elevation that we stayed at was roughly 530 ft (160 m). There was lots of precipitation as it was raining steadily on two of my trips. I also wore these socks as often as I could when they were clean.


As I mentioned above, I love a good sock test. I can remember growing up when I used to take trips with my Boy Scout troop where my feet were cold, achy, sore, and had various blisters on them. Usually they were cramped due to the thick socks I was wearing. More often than not I was  ready to go home long before I was ready to stop exploring simply because my feet were sore. Socks have changed so much in the past 30+ years that I have a new found comfort and desire to explore again.

Over the testing period, I've worn the Smartwool Men's PhD Outdoor Light Crew socks quite a bit; I'd estimate a total of 85 times. I often found myself grabbing for these whenever they were clean no matter what my activity of the day was. This included times when I was working at the fire department, instructing hands-on fire techniques in full gear, teaching classes where I was on my feet for eight or more hours, going to the store, taking day hikes, etc. This even included multiple days between washings; more on that below.

Smartwool ThreadsThe comfort that these socks provided was wonderful. The thick cushioning in the heel and toe area coupled with the relatively thin layer around the arch of my foot gave the perfect amount of material in various places. Older wool socks that I've been accustomed to were designed in more of a tube style. This meant that the sock's thickness was the same from toe to calf. However, the technique that Smartwool used to sew different areas in specific ways mean that my feet aren't cramped in any of the shoes I wear.

To date, these socks have been very durable. With all the use that the Smartwool Men's PhD Outdoor Light Crew socks have seen, I'm very surprised that they have held up so well. There is very little pilling, though this to me isn't usually an issue unless I get one that lands in the middle of a scar on my foot. There is also only a single pulled thread as seen in the picture to the left. I attribute this to being washed with jeans, jackets, and other items with zippers. It has not caused any issues, and I have chosen to leave it in place as opposed to removing it. Normal wear     and use has given the socks a bit more "fuzz", but it's something I expected and it's nominal for the amount of use they've seen.

These socks don't smell! The only thing that I can attribute this to is the wicking ability that these socks have and how well they keep my feet dry. The longer sweat is left lingering on the skin, the more that it tends to develop an odor. However, these socks wick the sweat away from my feet and allow it to dry more easily. Even after a sweaty hike, I could take my boots off and my feet would feel dry. It was very relaxing. I have even wore these socks for up to five days in a row with little smell lingering after the last day.

Washing was a breeze. I simply threw the socks in with like colors and used regular detergent. I tumble most of my clothes on a lower heat / permanent press setting so as not to shrink anything, There were a few times that these socks were washed with towels though in a high heat wash as well as dry. These socks fit the same after each of these washes with no noticeable shrinking.

I'd like to thank Smartwool and for allowing me the opportunity to test the PhD Outdoor Light Crew socks.

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Reviews > Clothing > Socks > Smartwool PhD Outdoor Light Crew > Test Report by Andrew Buskov

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