In this review, we will take a closer look at the Smartwool Hike Full Cushion Crew Socks. For those who may not be familiar, Smartwool is a well-known brand that produces a variety of merino wool products, including socks, apparel, and accessories for outdoor enthusiasts.
If you’re an avid hiker, you know that the right gear can make all the difference in your outdoor experience. That’s why we put the Smartwool Hike Full Cushion Crew socks to the test. These socks claim to provide warmth, comfort, and protection during cold weather with their full cushioning, merino wool blend, and various useful features. The question is, do these socks actually deliver on their promises?
In this detailed review, we’ll take a close look at the materials and construction, functionality, thickness, warmth, and comfort, as well as the wicking abilities, moisture management, and drying speed of the socks. We’ll also compare them to similar products on the market and assess their value for the price. By the end of this review, you’ll have all the information you need to decide if these socks are the right fit for your cold-weather hikes.
Table of Contents
Quick specs: Smartwool Hike Full Cushion Crew Socks
Weight: 95 g (3.35 oz) for size XL (men’s)
Material: 56% Merino wool, 31% recycled nylon, 11% nylon, 2% elastane
- Full cushioning on the entire sock protects the foot and gives extra warmth for a more comfortable experience.
- Indestructawool technology for enhanced durability.
- A blend of responsibly sourced ZQ-certified merino wool and (partly) recycled nylon.
- Improved body-mapped mesh zones for added breathability.
- Flat knit toe seam helps prevent any irritation or discomfort for additional comfort.
- Soft and cushioned, making them a comfortable choice for long hikes. Breathable enough for most conditions, keeping the feet feeling cool and dry so that the user is able to avoid developing blisters while still enjoying a cozy feel on their feet.
- Functional and versatile, these socks are designed to perform equally well on mountainous and flat terrain, providing the needed support and cushioning for comfort throughout any hike.
- Great craftsmanship and sturdy construction built for enduring hard conditions.
- Thick without added bulk. These socks are also great at insulating, even when wet, thanks to the merino wool, which means your feet will stay warm in any conditions.
- The attractive style and cool color options make them more appealing.
- The construction is fairly slow to dry (because it’s heavy and over half of its content is wool).
- A bit longer or actually more elastic than typical crew socks for hiking, reaching up to mid-calf instead of the lower calf. This can cause sliding down an inch or two, particularly for those with larger calf sizes. It’s worth noting that once they reach the lower calf, they provide a secure and comfortable fit so no slippage or bunching.
- Some pilling around the ankle area after a couple of washes. Seems unusual but does not affect the overall quality and performance of the socks so far.
- Not many color combinations (two dark and two gray color combinations). Those who like more vibrant colors may be disappointed.
We got the Smartwool Hike Full Cushion Crew socks in late 2022 and tested them in the winter and beginning of the spring of this year. After wearing them regularly for hiking, we can say that these socks are incredibly soft and comfortable. They fit well and excel at providing excellent padding and support for long hikes, keeping feet comfortable and blister-free even on the toughest terrain. While they are perfect for rugged hikes providing protection to the feet from rough terrain, they are not bulky and feel and function like lighter alternatives.
Want to know what else we have found out? Explore further details regarding their pros and cons by referring to the comprehensive analysis in the detailed review below.
Material and construction
The Smartwool Hike Full Cushion Crew are crafted from a blend of 56% merino wool (ZQ-certified merino wool from New Zealand), 31% recycled nylon, 11% nylon, and 2% elastane. Despite the high merino wool content, the fabric feels incredibly soft and comfortable against the skin, with no-itch or scratchy feeling.
The construction of these socks is impressive, with the Indestructawool technology providing enhanced durability and making them sturdy enough to withstand hard conditions. Seems that these socks are designed to withstand the toughest of trails and provide unparalleled comfort and support, thanks to their high-quality materials and innovative construction.
Although we have not experienced any issues with durability so far, it’s too early to determine their long-term durability. The good news is that the socks come with a Go Far. Feel Good. Guarantee. Basically, if you’re not happy with your purchase, you can receive a replacement pair within two years from the purchase date.
Design and fit
The design and fit of the socks are impressive.
These socks by Smartwool have been thoughtfully designed and are among the best models in the market today. The construction boasts several impressive features, including body-mapped venting zones, seamless toe closure, and full cushioning, all while remaining functional and streamlined. The breathability zones are situated on the top of the foot (one of them is located where the foot meets the leg, while the other is in the mid-foot) – exactly where your feet are supposed to sweat the most during high-intensity activities. If you don’t have sweaty feet, you may not notice what a fantastic job these do, but if you do have perspiration-prone feet, then you’d be pleasantly surprised.
The sock has full cushioning throughout (further information on our impressions of the padding can be found in the sections below). The seamless toe closure helps to reduce wear, tear, and bulk and provides a blister-free experience even after long hours of hiking. The snug fit of the sock offers a performance-oriented fit, while the cuff isn’t too tight and feels comfortable. The socks that are reviewed (size XL for someone typically wearing size 13 US or EUR 47 boots) fit perfectly. There are two more size options – M and L. The women’s version also offers three sizes – S, M, and L.
The socks are available in four colors for the men’s version (‘Light Gray’, ‘Taupe’, ‘Black’, and ‘Chestnut’) and three colors for the women’s (‘Deep Navy’, ‘Natural’, and ‘Medium Gray’). Although some of the color combinations may seem odd, in reality, they look good. For example, the Taupe color (the image to the right) of the reviewed socks is a combination of grey and brown, with additional orange and bright blue accents, making for an interesting four-color combination. Those who prefer more colorful socks may be slightly disappointed, as the color options for these socks are somewhat limited, with darker and more muted colors being the primary choices available.
When it comes to weight, the Smartwool Hike Full Cushion Crew Socks are on the heavier side of the hiking sock market, weighing in at just 95 grams (3.35 ounces) for men’s XL. While some hikers may prefer a lighter sock for increased agility and less bulk, the added weight of these socks is due to the high-density cushioning, which provides exceptional comfort and support on long hikes.
For comparison, other similar socks like the Darn Tough Hiker Boot Full Cushion (99 g or 3.5 oz for size L) and Icebreaker Merino Hike+ Heavy Crew (155 g or 5.47 oz for size L) are denser and weigh even more as the former is slightly heavier while the latter is significantly heavier. The Smartwool Hike Classic Edition Extra Cushion Crew is even heavier than the design by Icebreaker. But we consider this one for really cold days. Ultimately, the weight of the sock may be a factor to consider based on personal preference and the demands of your hiking activity.
Thickness, warmth, and comfort
The Smartwool Hike Full Cushion Crew Socks are designed to provide extra warmth and comfort in cold weather without the added bulk typical of cold-weather socks. These socks offer medium cushioning and additional insulation, providing warmth and comfort in temperatures as low as -5°C to -10°C (23°F to 14°F), as long as you remain active. However, for extreme cold weather, it may be necessary to layer the socks by adding another, thinner layer underneath.
In terms of comfort, these socks are a great choice for long hikes. They provide a comfortable and snug fit that eliminates pressure areas, which can lead to hot spots and blisters. Additionally, the seamless toe closure reduces wear, tear, and bulk, resulting in a blister-free experience.
While these socks offer great comfort, it’s important to note that they may slide down an inch or two to the lower calf, especially for those with larger calf sizes. This is due to their slightly more elastic construction designed to provide a better fit. Due to their construction, these socks can actually reach up to mid-calf instead of stopping at the lower calf. However, this is easily remedied by adjusting them to the lower calf area, ensuring a comfortable fit without any slippage or bunching.
When it comes to functionality, they excel in a variety of weather conditions, ranging from cool to cold. These socks are perfect for cold weather (at -5°C or 23°F, the feet feel warm and comfortable), but they also perform admirably in cool or mild cold weather conditions (no excessive sweating while hiking at temps around 5°C-6°C or around 42°F).
One of the standout features of these socks is their dense cushioning. The cushioning is placed in critical areas throughout the sock, providing the right amount of padding exactly where it’s needed. This makes these socks ideal for long hikes, as the padding feels as if you’re walking on clouds allowing you to focus on the beauty of the outdoors and the joy of the hike. Even when you’re walking on rough terrain, these socks make it feel much more bearable.
It’s important to care for these socks properly to ensure their longevity. The manufacturer recommends machine washing them on a warm, gentle cycle, but we prefer hand washing them with mild soap to prolong their useful life. This is also a good practice to follow for any woolen garment, such as base layers, shirts, and other clothing items. However, for larger items, machine washing is often necessary.
Moisture management and drying speed
Thanks to the merino wool blend, the socks have great sweat-wicking abilities. This means that the feet stay dry and happy as no slips or slides occur during hiking. Furthermore, the socks have specialized breathability zones on the top of the foot that promote ventilation and facilitate breathability, even during strenuous hikes. As a result, your feet will stay cool and dry throughout the day, providing comfort whether you’re on the trail or not.
The socks tend to dry relatively slowly probably due to the cushioning and high wool content. It’s essential to avoid drying them under direct sunlight as it can alter the original shade. It’s important to mention that these socks may develop some pilling after a few washes. While this is a common occurrence with many wool products, we were a bit surprised as it’s not typical for hiking socks to pill so soon after washing.
When shopping for cold-weather hiking socks, prices can vary based on several factors, including the brand, model, cushioning, features, and materials used in their construction. Most winter hiking socks contain a blend of materials such as merino wool, nylon, polyester, polypropylene, acrylic, and a small amount of elastane/Lycra/spandex. While merino wool is an excellent fiber for hiking products, it is typically not used on its own as it may not be the most durable option. As a result, you’ll often find socks that are made from a combination of materials to ensure that they are both durable and comfortable for extended wear on hiking trips.
When it comes to pricing, the Smartwool Hike Full Cushion Crew Socks are on the expensive side, with a usual price of $26. However, when compared to other direct competitors with similar features and characteristics, such as Smartwool’s own Hike Classic Edition Extra Cushion Crew ($24), Darn Tough Hiker Boot Full Cushion ($28), and Icebreaker Merino Hike+ Heavy Crew ($26), they fall within the same price range. It’s worth noting that other winter and cold-weather models with medium or heavy cushioning, such as the Helly Hansen Warm Crew Hiking ($30) or Danish Endurance Premium Hiking Socks (28 for 2 pairs), have less merino and the former is bulkier whereas the latter work best for mild cold weather.
Designed for long days on the trail, the Hike Full Cushion Crew socks by Smartwool are an excellent choice for anyone seeking warmth, comfort, and durability in cold weather conditions. Their full cushioning, merino wool blend, and thoughtful design make them a top-performing sock in their category. While they may not be the best choice for warmer weather or very wet conditions, they excel in keeping feet dry and cozy in cold temperatures. The socks come at a higher price point compared to some of their direct competitors, but the added features and the high-quality materials justify the investment.
In short, we believe that these socks are a great value for their overall performance and comfort, and we highly recommend them to anyone in need of a reliable and comfortable sock for winter hikes and other outdoor activities.
For more popular Camotrek content, you can check out one or more of the following links: