My standard, go-to hiking sock the past several years.
Materials: merino wool/synthetic blend
Use: heavy hiking
Break-in Period: none
Price Paid: $16
My standard, go-to hiking sock the past several years. I use these with ankle-high, all-leather boots, sometimes on their own, sometimes with a thin wicking liner. i also occasionally wear this sock under a mountaineering sock when I'm wearing plastic mountaineering boots in sub-zero weather.
these socks are very warm, but I have found they are fine for the summer too because they do such a good job wicking. they provide a lot of cushioning and are very soft. They have a higher wool content than most merino socks. it is a very comfortable, durable sock - i haven't ripped a toe or observed any meaningful wear in the heel or toe areas in any pairs of these. It is also a fairly thick sock, so it's worth trying them out with your boots/shoes to make sure they fit.
because this sock has a relatively high wool content, it can lose its shape a little between washing. i haven't had a "bunching" problem with them, but they can get stretched out somewhat over the course of longer trips. also, this sock doesn't do particularly well in the clothes dryer. though smartwool says this sock can be machine-dried, i have found the sock gets somewhat tighter and slightly less elastic over time if you use the dryer. i nearly always line-dry them now.