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$20 For A Pair Of Socks?! Here’s What You Pay For

Smartwool Socks
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Why should I spend $20 on Smartwool socks? Valid question.

smartwool ice climbing socks

Picture this: You are training for mountain domination. You’ve done your research and picked out a training regimen, gear, and the on-the-go nutrition that will see you to success…

But after just one run, training comes to a screeching halt due to an injury the size of a quarter. And all because you skimped on good socks.

Why $20 Socks Are Important

Outdoor athletes have long sung the praises of merino wool socks. GearJunkie editors concur, having used them for everything from ultra-marathons and adventure races to mountaineering, hunting, and skiing. Time and again, quality socks have proven comfortable, climate controlled, and remarkably durable. 

Smartwool PhD socks step to the front of the class.

What the heck are Smartwool PhD socks?

Smartwool PhD socks represent the brand’s highest degree of performance. Now in its third generation, the PhD socks are tailor-made for specific activities such as hiking, running, or skiing.

Engineers add mesh and weaves that breathe, reduce friction, and eliminate hot spots specifically for each activity. The result is a highly functional piece of equipment intended for the great outdoors.

Back in 2015, Smartwool continued innovating by introducing a new women’s-specific sock. And why is that important? Think about it, you would never fit a woman in a men’s hiking boot, running shoe, or ski boot. So why would you fit a woman in a sock designed for a man?

Ladies too can go further and feel better with socks that don’t bunch up and feet that don’t overheat.

A $20 Investment In Comfort

Smartwool is a company of feet geeks. They know comfort and fit. The “4-degree Elite Fit System” achieves both.

The “4-degree Elite Fit System” is a bi-elastic, or super stretchy, fit designed to cling to the foot and move with the athlete. It will not slip, bunch, or bind. Additionally, the Virtually Seamless Toe delivers ultimate in-shoe comfort. There’s no need to worry about frustrating, uncomfortable rolled-toe seams. All this combines for cushion and support without bulk, bunch, or blister-inducing heat zones and hot spots.

The four-way elastic stretch and a virtually seamless toe build a fully supported, ultra-wrapped feeling. These socks actually make your shoe or boot fit better.

Made In USA

Since the company’s founding in Steamboat Springs, Colo., in 1994, Smartwool has made all its performance socks in the U.S. with merino sourced from the New Zealand Merino Company.

Smartwool manufactures the PhD line in the U.S.—in Cleveland, Tenn., and High Point, N.C. The man at the helm of these operations, Smartwool’s Director of Development John Ramsey, is a fourth-generation sock maker.


Indestructawool is a new, patent-pending sock construction. Smartwool uses mega mountain athletes for product testing. And they have put these socks through the paces—literally thousands and thousands of sweaty, tough paces.

PhD socks stand up to miles of adventuring through Indestructawool’s improved durability in high-wear zones, like the heel, toe box, and balls of the feet by 33 percent over the brand’s previous construction.

Intensely tough but still soft to the touch, like Patrick Swayze’s hair in Point Break, Indestructawool is a blend of elastic, nylon, and merino wool yarn.

From mountaineering to ultra running to hiking to dance fighting, every men’s and women’s PhD sock is made using Indestructawool.

ZQ-Certified Wool

A vast majority of Smartwool’s materials are ZQ-Certified.

ZQ certification, which is more than a decade old, requires farms to adhere to strict guidelines in fiber quality, animal husbandry, worker rights, environmental land practices, and overall farm management practices.

Now more than ever, consumers hyper-focus on where their products come from. ZQ wool guarantees the breathability, moisture control, and odor resistance of merino.

But it’s all sourced from happy and healthy sheep. Because nobody wants to use wool from a pissed off sheep with a cough.

Army Of Hands

Smartwool’s manufacturing process is as in-depth as it gets. From design and development, to product creation, to testing and product finishing, an army of hands touches each Smartwool sock.

Knitters and fixers size socks to the brand’s specifications in each mill. Thanks to them, users can count on the best possible fit from every sock ever, every time, forever and ever.

Examiners pull statistical samples and look for specific knitting and sizing defects. Statistical quality audits are performed during the final production to ensure standards. Pairers handle each sock and identify potential quality concerns as they prepare socks for packaging.

Plus, seamers, washers, driers, boarders, and packagers all handle and evaluate each sock along the way. See? It’s an army.

Smartwool ensures standard control. Thus, it guarantees PhD socks to perform and satisfy right out of the box. But if satisfaction dwindles months later, return the socks. Smartwool guarantees satisfaction for the life of the sock.

Best of all, Smartwool is tested in the field. Its sponsored athletes and you, the consumer, ultimately drive research and development. Each year, new and better socks are born to keep feet happy on the trail, singletrack, and mountain peak. Smartwool’s got the smarts.

All this for $20 is a steal-of-a-deal.

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