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Accessories, Clothing

Smartwool PhD Ultra Light Socks Review

February 3, 2016 | by Josh

To celebrate a new job, I decided to overhaul my sock drawer with Smartwool PhD Ultra Light Socks (and undies from Uniqlo). I feel like I’m treating my feet like royalty every day!

Why Smartwool?

I’ve had a few pair of Smartwool socks for the past decade. I’ve loved their thinner socks because it avoids the “mushy” feel that Smartwool’s cushioned socks have. Even though their ultra thin socks are really thin, they’re still a Merino wool blend. That means that they’re warm, as well as doing a great job keeping your feet dry. That coupled with how comfortable they are makes for happy feet!

The two different types of Smartwool socks I picked up were as follows: Smartwool PhD Ultra Light socks are just a little bit thinner than what I’d consider to be normal* sock thickness. The Smartwool PhD Light (no Ultra) socks are closest to normal* sock thickness.

*Normal sock thickness is hereby defined as the thickness of the ubiquitous Hanes crew socks sold at department stores everywhere.

Let’s get a little dorky about what makes these socks great

These socks also have what Smartwool calls the “4 degree elite fit system” which “uses two elastics for greater stretch and recovery.” That’s the crisscross pattern across the top of the foot, and it no-joke keeps the sock material taught around your foot on even your longest, most high-impact days and even if your foot ends up drenched by accidentally stepping in a puddle. Even on my soggiest commute days my feet are much happier wearing my Smartwool socks than any of the cotton socks that I own. Plus (or maybe, more importantly) the criss-cross pattern looks sweet!

Smartwool PhD Ultra Light Detail

Additionally the socks have “ReliaWool” technology which makes the sock material very durable in the high-impact areas. That includes the ball & heel of your foot, as well as around your ankle where your shoe/boot will rub.

I know, I’m sounding like an advertisement. The thing is that Smartwool isn’t fucking around with their fabric mixes or the technology they’re putting in their socks, and I’m 100% on board!

The Verdict

Great reliable fit.

Thin, but still warm.

Wick moisture better than any sock I’ve ever worn.

The Smartwool PhD Ultra Light socks are wonderful. I see no point in buying any other socks.

Keep an eye on Sierra Trading Post for deals and act fast when you favorite size/fit is available.

Buying advice:

  • Their crew socks are great for wearing with pants
  • Their micro socks are no-see-ums with my NB 501s.
  • Their mid crew are a very awkward height. You’ll see my pale-ass leg if I’m wearing pants and I cross my legs wearing them. That’s a no go for me.

The Caveat

The Internet, as you may know, is much hotter on Darn Tough socks than Smartwool. Anecdotally, I prefer Smartwool, but I get it if you want to go with the consensus on this one. I think we can all agree though that loading up on Smartwool OR Darn Tough socks is a much better use of your money than spending any more money on crappy cotton socks!


Disclaimer: Smartwool didn’t pay me or give me free stuff for my review. I wish they did, but they didn’t. If they had offered I would have accepted it and told you about that too. You’d be jealous AF.

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