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Smartwool Hiking Ultra Light Mini

rated 3 of 5 stars
photo: Smartwool Hiking Ultra Light Mini hiking/backpacking sock

After dismissing this sock as sub-par, I have a new found appreciation of them. They are not a great hiking sock, but they are pretty decent for running and cycling.


  • Mesh top for breathability
  • Bottom cushioning
  • Natural odor control (Merino wool)
  • Decent price—see it on sale frequently
  • Lightweight


  • Does not work well with hikers or boots
  • Should be labled as a runner, not a hiker

I have own this sock for more than a year. On my first backpacking trip with it, I wrote it off as a bad purchase. The reason for this was the low cut did not work well with a light hiker (like my Merrell Moab Ventilator pictured here). Shortly into a hike, especially in wet conditions, the top of the sock is below the back of the shoe, allowing for blister-causing rubbing.

So after minimal usage, this sock was relegated to backup status. I carried it in my pack to wear around camp or sleep in at night because it is lighter than any other pair I own (1.8oz per pair).

Up until a month ago, I would have given this sock 2 stars and cited it as an example of SmartWool being an overpriced, declining-quality company.

But that was a month ago....

A month ago, I began running. Specifically, my wife and I are doing the Couch to 5K program, and I didn't own any low cut socks for running. So in a hurry-up-and-grab-something moment, I pulled out these socks. Suddenly, I love them.

Uppers: The uppers are an open mesh fabric that keeps feet cool and significantly lightens the weight of the sock.

Bottoms: Extra cushioning on the heel and ball of the foot increases wear/life span. It is placed just where a person needs it. Smart Wool doesn't bother putting unnecessary cushioning in the arch.

Odor Control: For the past month I've been running 3 times per week (30 minutes) and cycling 2-3 times per week (30-60 minutes). I can use these socks all week without noticeable odor. By comparison, when I finally bought a package of "odor resistant" synthetic running socks, they still needed to be washed after each use.

Fit/Comfort: They work well with low-cut tennis shoes. They are very comfortable and hold their shape well.

In closing: I'm giving these socks 4-stars, because they really surprised me over the last month. They do not do a great job as hikers (what they are sold and marketed as), but they are superior to the running and cycling socks I have recently tried. Perhaps a more experienced runner would knock these as inferior to other running socks, but I have been pleased.

Look for these on sale. I see them discounted quite frequently.

Source: bought it new
Price Paid: $6

Not worth the money.


  • Nice color


  • Hot
  • Not durable

I picked up two pairs of these for cheap, and if it didn't cost more than they are worth to send them back, I probably would.

First, I'll have to admit I didn't plan on using them for hiking. I want taller socks for hiking anyways. These were just to be casual wool socks.

I LOVE SmartWool PhD running and outdoor socks (light mini and light micro are amazing), but these are thick, hot, and not tightly woven like the PhD. Much much hotter, cause my feet to sweat, even in the cold, and feel like they will pill and snag.

The only benefit I see in them is that they are thick and cushioned.

Source: bought it new
Price Paid: $7

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Price MSRP: $12.95
Historic Range: $5.99-$14.95
Reviewers Paid: $6.00-$7.00
Price MSRP: $12.95
Historic Range: $6.36-$14.95
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