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Reviews > Clothing > Socks > Smartwool PhD Outdoor Light Crew > Test Report by Kara Stanley

February 20, 2017



NAME: Kara Stanley
EMAIL: karguo at yahoo dot com
AGE: 34
LOCATION: Phoenix, Arizona
HEIGHT: 5' 10" (1.80 m)
WEIGHT: 165 lb (74.80 kg)

I have been hiking most of my life and backpacking since 2006. I have hiked mostly on the east coast, doing weekend trips in the Appalachian Mountains. Since moving to Arizona, my hikes have ranged from short desert hikes to overnight backpacking trips in the mountains. Recently I have taken up canyoneering and off-trail hiking/backpacking to spice things up. I currently use a solo non-free standing tent, canister stove, purification tabs, and lightweight trail runners, conditions permitting, to cut down on weight. My hikes are solo and range from an overnight trip to 4-5 nights on the trail.



Manufacturer: Smartwool IMAGE 2
Year of Manufacture: 2016
Manufacturer's Website:
MSRP: US$21.99
Listed Weight: Not Listed
Measured Weight: 2.4 oz (68 g)
Other details:
Made in the USA from imported yarn
Yarn made from 64% Merino Wool, 34% Nylon, 2% Elastane
Easy Care - machine washable (on gentle with warm water), machine dryable on low.
Light cushion
Made with two types of elastic to provide 4-way stretch
Color Tested: Charcoal
Size tested: L
Smartwool sizing chart (from
Size Chart


IMAGE 4The packaging is minimal and the socks are easily removed from their cardboard holder.

The socks have noticeable padding at the ball and heel of the foot with some extra elastic circling the arch for a touch of support. The socks are a dark charcoal grey with teal green accents. The socks have Smartwool written over the toe and the Smartwool logo (known as Little Guy according to the packaging) at the top of the back of the sock.

Overall the socks seem well constructed and I have no concern regarding their durability at this point.


I tried on the socks and they fit well, a touch loose over the toes, but well fitted everywhere else and I like having room to wiggle my toes. From the bottom of my heel to the top of the sock cuff is 10.25 inches (26 cm). While these socks are 64% wool, I did not find them to be itchy in any way. When walking around the house I did notice the light cushion on the bottom of the sock. The socks stayed up easily and did not slouch during testing.


These are a lightweight pair of hiking socks with lightweight cushioning. These socks are touted as having strategically located ventilation zones to provide ventilation for temperature and moisture management. This is something that I'll be testing as I expect to have these socks in temperatures from 90 F (32 C) to around freezing over the testing period. I'll be looking to see if I get any blisters while using these socks as I normally use double layer socks for hiking.

Thank you Smartwool and for allowing me to pad my step with these socks.



Chiricahua Mountains, Arizona, USA
When: September 2016
Length: 2 nights wilderness car camping
Mileage: Day 1: 4 miles (6.5 km), Day 2: 10 miles (16 km)
Weather: Sunny Skies during the day
Trail Conditions: well-maintained trail

Sitgreaves National Forest, Arizona, USA
When: October 2016
Length: 3 day/2 night backpack
Mileage: ~ 8 miles/13 km with packs and about 6 miles (9.5 km) without packs
Elevation: around 7,000 ft/2,134 m
Weather: Sunny and cool, high around 70 F (21 C) low around 40 F (4 C)
Trail Conditions: well-maintained trail

Location: Grand Canyon, Arizona, USA
When: December 2016
Length: 3 day/2 night backpack
Mileage: 30 miles/48 km
Elevation: 2,500 ft/800 m to 7,000 ft/2,000 m
Weather: Sunny, high around 65 F (18 C) low around 45 F (4 C)
Trail Conditions: well-maintained trail

Location: Superstition Wilderness, Arizona, USA
When: January 2017
Length: 2 days/1 night
Mileage: about 18 miles/29 km
Elevation: around 2,500 ft/800 m
Weather: Sunny, high around 60 F (15 C), Low about 35 F (1 C)
Trail Conditions: well-maintained trail, dry and dusty with some cobblestone areas.

Chaco Canyon, New Mexico, USA
When: January 2017
Length: Day hikes around the park
Elevation: 6,200 ft/1,890 m
Weather: Partly cloudy with periods of full sun
Trail Conditions: Good trails covered in sand

Location: Superstition Wilderness, Arizona, USA
When: January 2017
Length: Day Hike
Mileage: about 12 miles/19 km
Elevation: around 2,500 ft/800 m
Weather: Sunny, high around 60 F (15 C)
Trail Conditions: A mixed bag of good trail, a route, and finally rock-hopping up a creek bed.

Location: Mazatzal Wilderness, Arizona, USA
When: February 2017
Length: Day hike
Mileage: about 12 miles/19 km
Elevation: around 2,000 ft/610 m
Weather: Sunny, high around 60 F (15 C)
Trail Conditions: well-maintained trail with some wet patches from melting snow


The socks inside and out after 7 washes and hiking trips
Overall, these socks have performed well. They seems to wick away sweat a bit better than my synthetic socks. I notice that my breathable waterproof boots have a smaller sweat stain around the seams when I wear the SmartWool socks than when I wear synthetic socks. I do not wear socks more than one day at a time, my trail luxury is clean socks daily, so I cannot say how they do with multiple days of use. I find that these socks smell just as much as any other sock I have owned.

These socks are nice and warm without overheating my feet while hiking. Normally I wear a pair of wool socks at night to keep my feet warm while I sleep and these have done a good job of that. In the morning my feet are nice and warm and I just pop them right into my shoes and hit the trail (okay, more like beat a path to the stove to make coffee, then hit the trail).

I have washed each pair of socks at least 7 times each in a machine washer on the normal setting with cool water. I have then hung them up to dry since that's how I care for all my wool socks since everything dries really fast here in Arizona. I did miss a pair once and put them through the dryer and they did not seem the worse for wear as a result. One thing that I would recommend is to try and shake out all the dirt and sand you can from these socks. The tight knit can keep the sand inside the socks during washing and when I put them on they still feel sandy. I have actually turned the socks inside out after washing and washed them again to get all the sand out of them. I do a lot of desert hiking so my socks are always full of sand. After being washed and dried, the socks do not have any noticeable odor.

The socks have no noticeable wear and tear from the test period aside from a few small loose threads. The elastic is still in good shape and the socks have not shrunk, even with a few trips through the dryer.

I have noticed that on longer hikes (10+ miles/16 km), I have been getting blisters on my pinky toes and the inside of my heels. About 70% of the time I hike, I wear double layer socks, the other 30% I wear wool-blend or synthetic single layer socks without a liner. In general, I don't have issues with blisters and I haven't had issues with blisters in years before my December 2016 Grand Canyon Hike. I wear mostly trail runners year round unless I am going to be hiking in snow or very cold (sub-freezing) weather, then I wear leather water-proof hiking boots. During my December Grand Canyon Hike, I developed blisters on day one that grew larger and more painful on day two (I didn't take care of them on day two until the end of the day). For day three I switched from the SmartWool socks to a pair of double-layered socks as well at bandaging the blisters and this prevented them from growing on day three. If I could have a do over, I'd add sock liners to the SmartWool socks for high mileage backpacking trips (10 + miles/16 km a day).

On one of my trips, I got my feet wet in a creek. The wool socks kept my feet warm and after about 30 minutes, my feet didn't feel wet anymore.


Overall, I like these socks and hope to keep wearing them for many more years.

Things I like:
* TheY breathe and wick sweat well
* They keep my feet warm without overheating them
* They are durable
* They feel dry even when they are soaked

Things I don't like:
* I did have more blister issues with these socks on longer hikes (10+miles/ 16+ km) when compared to other socks I use.

Thank you so much to and SmartWool for allowing me to hiking around in these lovely wool socks!

This report was created with the Report Writer Version 1. Copyright 2017. All rights reserved.

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