Smartwool Hiking Socks Reviewed

9.0 score
[Editors rating (9.0)] = (WalkJogRun) score (9.0)/10

Editor rating: 9.0 / 10
User's rating: based on 0 user ratings
1 star
2 star
3 star
4 star
5 star
Add your Rating

What’s the first thing that comes to mind when you hear the word “wool”? Already, you might be cringing at the flashbacks of itchy wool sweaters or socks you’ve worn in the past. Or you might be thinking of freezing cold winters, which is the only time you deign to put on those scratchy garments for the sake of not freezing your toes off.

But the Smartwool Hiking Socks aren’t like that. Made with a blend of ultrafine, high-quality Merino wool and lightweight synthetics, it’s soft against the skin. The thermoregulatory of the material keeps you comfortable during winter and summer. What’s more, they provide arch support, are affordable, and come in a variety of colors.

Their main downside is their inaccurate sizing. In addition, its support and insulation is not sufficient for intense outdoor activity or heavy winters. But as camping or hiking socks, the Smartwool Hiking Socks are a great choice.

Editor's Pros & Cons
  • Merino wool
  • Affordable
  • Arch support
  • Thermoregulating
  • Heel/foot cushioning
  • Size runs large
  • Not anatomical
  • 34% synthetics


First, let’s back up a bit and take a look at the brand behind the Smartwool Hiking Socks. Smartwool first began making socks a quarter-century ago, in 1994. Their founders just wanted a way to ski without getting their toes frozen off, but they ended up discovering the benefits of Merino wool instead: how comfortable, thermoregulating, and sustainable it is. (More on the benefits of Merino wool later).

Since then, they’ve incorporated the material in almost every single one of their products, including T-shirts, hoodies, and bottoms like the Merino 250. Today you can find many different companies selling socks made of Merino wool but Smartwool was the first outdoor company that started it.


Smartwool’s first Merino socks were made for skiing. But the Smartwool Hiking Socks, as you can tell by their name, is made for hiking. They come up to about mid-calf, so they protect the ankles and feet pretty well without covering too much of your calf and restricting movement. They are also pretty warm, but with synthetic materials blended into their fabric, they also don’t offer heavy-duty insulation.

Wear them for trekking, camping, or light backpacking in spring, summer, fall, and light winters. For heavy-duty insulation, look instead to socks designed for harsh winters. For lighter ones, look for those labeled ‘light’ on Smartwool’s online site.


We’ve mentioned Merino wool quite a few times already. You might be wondering, what exactly is it, anyway?

Merino wool is the wool grown naturally by Merino sheep. It has much more beneficial properties than typical wool. Some of the key benefits are that it is soft and thermoregulating. We’ll explain both of these in more detail in the next few sections.

Keep in mind that the Smartwool Hiking Socks are made of a blend of materials. Only 66% is Merino wool, with 33% nylon and 1% spandex incorporated as well. The synthetics make it lighter, stretchier, and cheaper, though it also brings some detriments (see ‘Size’).


Smartwool Hiking Socks are very comfortable thanks to their material and construction. With a flat knit toe seam, you won’t feel anything irritating your toes when walking. They also aren’t bulky, so you can wear them with your shoes without worrying about it stopping your blood circulation.

The material renders them super soft. The diameter of Merino wool ranges from 11.5-24 microns - in other words, it’s microscopic. This ultra-fine wool is high quality and feels super soft against the skin, unlike old-fashioned wool that itches like crazy. The synthetic blend makes it not as soft as it could be, but overall they still provide great comfort.


Besides being soft, the Smartwool Hiking Socks are also moisture-wicking, breathable, and thermoregulating. The coolness they offer is different from that in athletic mesh ones designed for heavy sweating. Instead, it regulates your body temperature so that you stay cool in the summer and warm in the winter. It wicks away moisture from your skin when you’re sweating, but also keeps you warm on chilly days.

As we said, these have a blend of wool and synthetics. Both wick away moisture, but only the wool can do it to moisture in its vapor state. This way, you get much better cooling than you do with purely synthetic materials. One reviewer notes that when sweating, the material doesn’t mat like cotton does.


Socks for daily life are different from those for outdoor activities. The former is made of cotton for everyday comfort and have nothing much going on with them. The latter, however, should provide the support you need in order to perform well and stay comfortable.

The Smartwool Hiking Socks provide arch support via its elasticized arch brace. It keeps the sock in place while also reinforcing your arches. In addition, there is medium cushioning at the heel and foot, which cushion the shock impact of your every step and prevent foot fatigue. A downside is that it’s not fully anatomical, so the support is limited.


You don’t have to get as nit-picky with sock size as with shoe sizes. However, it’s still important to find a pair that fits pretty well, and we all know that “one size fits all” never fits all. Smartwool offers three different sizes - small, medium, and large - so that you can get closer to your ideal fit.

With that said, the downside is that this model runs large in size. Some reviewers say they’re only slightly large while others say it’s by a lot. One reviewer suggested that it’s the synthetics that render it too stretchy. Either way, the Smartwool Hiking Socks might bunch up at the toes and ankles, or twist around your foot and cause discomfort. If you plan to purchase it, keep this in mind to size down from your usual size to get around this problem.


If you’re wearing Smartwool Hiking Socks for outdoor activities or just to chill out at home, it won’t really matter how pretty they look so long as they keep you comfortable. However, it’s still nice to have some color options.

Both dark and light colors are available with this model. Dark colors include navy and taupe, while lighter ones include red, purple, and orange. The light colors are all in soft shades so that they don’t look tacky. (If tacky’s what you’re looking for, though, you’ll want to check these out.)


Durability is super important, especially for outdoor socks. When you’re wading in streams, trekking up hills, and hiking on all types of terrain, your shoes and socks wear out quickly. Before you know it, your wonderful (and expensive) pair is worn threadbare already.

Smartwool takes that into consideration. To make the Smartwool Hiking Socks more durable, it uses an extra layer of wool in the high impact areas of the foot to strengthen the material. The cushioning will naturally wear down through time. It’s inevitable, but you can use cushioning insoles in your shoes to replace what used to be there. The feedback on durability from previous customers is largely positive.


Despite being made with high-quality wool, the Smartwool Hiking Socks are surprisingly affordable. It’s probably due to the fact that the material is a wool and synthetic blend; the synthetics are much cheaper than wool, so it lowers the pair’s price.

For the support, comfort, and versatility it offers, it really is a bang for your buck. What’s more, with its durability, one pair can last you for years. Investing in a pair of these will probably save you money in the long term. And who doesn’t like saving money, after all?

Bottom Line

In conclusion, Smartwool Hiking Socks are great for outdoor activities like hiking, backpacking, and camping. Though they don't provide extreme support or heavy-duty insulation, they have just enough to keep you comfortable both in the heat and in chilly weather, whether you’re out on the trails or chilling at home. Their Merino wool is comfortable and thermoregulating, while the synthetics in the Merino blend keep it lightweight, stretchy, and affordable. The synthetics may be to blame for their large size, but just make sure you order a size smaller than you usually would in order to get around the sizing problem. We recommend the Smartwool Hiking Socks to all those who enjoy light outdoor activities.