Gear Review: Smartwool PHD Outdoor Light Mini Socks

For about 6 months prior to October, 2007 I was collecting gear for a large trip.  I was to be on a private whitewater trip down the Grand Canyon from Lee’s Ferry to Lake Mead – 24 days on the river.  With limited space and a unique set of demands I had to find apparel and gear that could handle the trip.  Socks were going to be key.

I had heard that wool socks would keep their shape and prevented the growth of bacteria that causes odor (important!).  I settled on 3 pair of Smartwool Outdoor Light Minis.  These 3 pair would have to last me 24+ days on the river.

The first thing I noticed was that they are significantly lighter weight than I had expected wool socks to be.  The high quality Merino Wool and Nylon mix makes them very light and flexible.  The socks have nylon bands in key fit areas to insure comfort and durability and it makes a huge difference in the fit of the sock.  I wore each pair for 6 to 9 days continuously without noticing any change in fit or comfort.  They also have additional wool added to the soles at the heal and ball of the foot for extra padding and it makes for an all around comfortable sock.

The wool also lived up to it’s reputation for staying fresh.  Not once on the whole trip, even when packed wet, did the socks ever produce any odor or funk.  As soon as they could dry, they were like new socks again.

I’ve now had these socks for almost 4 years and have used them on the majority of my hikes, especially the longer ones.  They are still in great shape, fit perfectly, and -though faded and stained a little- show very little sign of wear.  The new Smartwool socks on the market look even better with their 4 degree fit system and mesh zones for ventilation…I would buy some but my old ones won’t die!  I highly recommend them.

You can find them at REI among other retailers in town. Or you can order from the Smartwool website and get free shipping when you buy 3 pair or more.  Average price is around $15-$20 per pair.

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Dave Creech is a successful business owner and entrepreneur based in Phoenix, Arizona. He shares his personal story and lifelong passion for travel and rugged outdoor adventure through his blog at David’s focus has been on trip stories, gear reviews, Wilderness Medicine and a series of articles aimed at introducing Yoga to hikers and backpackers as a path to staying fit, healthy and injury free.



  1. […] sock.  I have a few brands that I really love including Point6, Ausangate and Smartwool.  The first gear review I ever wrote was for the Smartwool PhD hiking socks that I wore for a month on the Colorado river in 2007.  I […]

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