Open main menu

Smartwool PhD Outdoor Light Crew Sock

rated 3.5 of 5 stars
photo: Smartwool PhD Outdoor Light Crew Sock hiking/backpacking sock

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.

Source: bought it new
Price Paid: 12 bucks

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.

Source: bought it new

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.

Price Paid: $20

Your Review

Where to Buy

Help support this site by making your next gear purchase through one of the links above. Click a link, buy what you need, and the seller will contribute a portion of the purchase price to support Trailspace's independent gear reviews.

You May Like


Price MSRP: $21.00
Current Retail: $14.73-$20.00
Historic Range: $3.98-$29.99
Reviewers Paid: $12.00-$20.00
Price MSRP: $21.00
Current Retail: $15.99-$26.95
Historic Range: $4.73-$29.00
Product Details from Smartwool »

Recently on Trailspace

REI Active Pursuits Sun Gloves Review