SmartWool PhD Outdoor Light Crew Sock

3 reviews
5-star:   2
4-star:   0
3-star:   0
2-star:   0
1-star:   1



Bought these socks on sale for around 12 bucks a pair…

Rating: rated 0.5 of 5 stars
Source: bought it new
Price Paid: 12 bucks


Bought these socks on sale for around 12 bucks a pair through Wore one pair for about 10 miles with Saucony ProGrid Trail Runners. The socks started pilling after the one use. I will have to use Smartwool's warranty policy in order to return these. I hope I just got a bad pair because for 20 dollars retail, I would expect much better construction and quality.


  • Well cushioned
  • Quick drying
  • Moisture wicking


  • Socks started pilling in the toe box after wearing once for about 10 miles
  • Expensive
  • Poor quality (however, I hope that I was just unlucky and got a defective pair.)

First of all, I'll start off this review by noting my severe foot problems. I had a Lisfranc Injury back in 2008.  I have three pins going through my midfoot, with a deformation characterized by a "hump" above my arch on the top of my foot due to the build up of scar tissue.

For those of you who do not know what that is, Lisfranc Injuries were first discovered by Lisfranc of Napoleon's Army, in which he chronicled the injury of officers who would snap their ligaments and fracture their foot when they fell off their horse and had their foot stuck in the stirrups.

Recently, this injury has been well documented in football, with guys like Maurice Jones Drew, Dwight Freeney, and Santana Moss suffering the injury. A Lisfranc injury usually is always coupled with severe arthritis and a severely fallen arch, so quality foot support is key if an active lifestyle is still to be continued. Because of my severe foot problems/arthritis, I was looking for a quality pair of lightweight socks that provided good cushioning on the trail.

I bought these from a recommendation from a friend who swore by Smartwool products.  I knew him back in Seattle and he had extensive experience in the Cascades and the Olympics. A true outdoorsman. He noted that Smartwool socks were the ONLY socks he wore.

I saw these on sale through for almost half off, so I had to pull the trigger. Initial impressions were that they were very well cushioned and hugged my poor foot quite nicely.  They felt very comfortable.

I wore these on a recent hike, in which the distance of the hike was only about 10 miles. I wore them with a pair of Saucony Progrid trail runners. Like most socks of merino wool, moisture wicking and temp control were great. However, upon using these socks once, pilling of the socks around the toebox developed:




Since I'm new to Smartwool socks, maybe this is a common occurrence and does not necessarily effect performance or durability?

However, at 20 dollars retail a pair, or even on sale for 12 dollars a pair, I expected much better quality after only one use and 10 miles of hiking on very mellow, non-technical-type trails. I was very disappointed with the pilling.  

I've owned no-name pairs of wool socks bought at discount sporting goods stores (e.g. Big 5 Sporting Goods) that did not have this problem.  I have not had this problem with cheap cotton socks from Target after one use.  

I will have to contact Smartwool to utilize their warranty policy.  I'll update this review once the warranty return is completed.


Smartwool means quality. Smartwool is the premiere…

Rating: rated 5 of 5 stars
Source: bought it new


Smartwool means quality.


  • Light
  • Quality construction
  • Good fit

Smartwool is the premiere outdoor sock in my humble estimation (and considering how much they charge per pair, that is about right). The fit is smooth, not overly bulky in the toes and this particular sock gives you the benefits of wool (quick drying, not that smelly) and yet is very light so hiking in SoCal where I am means that your feet aren't overly hot.

The socks perform well and last a long time. A definite recommend.


these socks are awesome, i am going to switch all…

Rating: rated 5 of 5 stars
Price Paid: $20

these socks are awesome, i am going to switch all my socks over to these. very very comfy. they do feel like wool but don't itch a bit. they are 20$ bucks a pair, but they are worth it.

Manufacturer's Description

SW044-Our PhD® Outdoor Light Crew features Reliawool Technology for improved durability in the heel and toe and the 4-Degree Elite Fit System, to keep the sock in place and giving you all-sport versatility.

  • 68% Merino Wool, 29% Nylon, 3% Elastane
  • 4 Degree Elite Fit System uses two elastics for greater stretch and recovery to keep the sock in place
  • Patented ReliaWool Technology in high impact areas provide longer lasting protection to keep feet comfortable
  • Strategically placed mesh ventilation zones provide ventilation for temperature and moisture management
  • 8.5" overall height

Visit SmartWool's PhD Outdoor Light Crew Sock page.

Retailers' Descriptions

Here's what other sites are saying:

New, improved PhD socks are more advanced than ever! SmartWool Outdoor Light Crew men's socks feature innovative new fabric, a more comfortable fit and smart design details that enhance performance.


The SmartWool PhD Light Crew is one of the most versatile socks in the market. The light cushion makes it ideal for 3-season use and 4-Degree fit make this fit perfectly every time while providing gentle, bunch-free support for all day comfort. New 4 Degree Elite Fit System uses two elastics for greater strength and recovery to keep the sock in place Strategically placed mesh ventilation zones provide ventilation for temperature and moisture management Flat knit durable toe seam for high burst strength 2x1 ribbed welt, 1x1 ribbed leg 8.5 in overall height

- OMCgear

Whether you make long treks with a backpack or log shorter hikes more frequently, the unique blend of wool, nylon, and elastane in the lightweight SmartWool PhD Outdoor Light Crew Sock helps the sock dry quickly, breathe sufficiently, and stay in place.


SmartWool PhD Outdoor Light Crew Socks are the highest performer in the mens SmartWool socks line, great for trail running, hiking, mountain biking and more. Crew sock height is the second highest in the SmartWool line, coming up to traditional crew height below the calf, keeping dust and dirt off your skin. Made of the all natural, odor free, moisture-controlling Merino wool fibers for which SmartWool socks are famous. Wool-on-Wool (WOW) technology puts more SmartWool in high-impact and high-wear areas to help reduce shock and abrasion, making these performance socks a lasting pair. SmartWool's 4-Degree Fit System means special attention to ankle, arch and insteps to keep sock in place - no bunching or slipping with this pair!. Strategically placed mesh zones provide maximum foot ventilation. 100 percent SmartWool fibers against your skin absorb sweat in its vapor state, which means sweat never condenses to make your feet wet and clammy, and odor-causing bacteria won't build up. Duroyarn reinforcement for added comfort and durability. High-micron sock fibers are itch free, and won't shrink. SmartWool and its New Zealand Merino wool partners have developed Zque, the world's first traceable Merino fiber value chain to ensure environmental, social and economic sustainability, so you can buy SmartWools with a good conscience. Our favorite SmartWool mens socks, these SmartWool PhD Outdoor Light Crew Socks are guaranteed to make your feet happy. Height: Crew. Cushioning: Light Half-Cushioned. Materials: 68 percent wool, 29 percent nylon, 3 percent elastic. 4 Degree Elite Fit System uses two elastics for greater stretch and recovery to keep the sock in place. Patented ReliaWool Technology in high impact areas provide longer lasting protection to keep feet comfortable. Strategically placed mesh ventilation zones provide ventilation for temperature and moisture management. 8.5" overall height. Available Color(s): Medium Gray, Forest/SmartWool Green, Cadet, Black/Red

- Tahoe Mountain Sports