Holiday Gift Guide 2011: Smartwool Mountaineering Extra Heavy Crew Socks

The perfect Merino sock for mountaineering or winter expeditions

These are the most comfortable socks I have ever worn. Period. I’ve sported them on multi-day cross-country ski tours, winter mountaineering escapades, and while sitting by the fire on the Christmas morning. They are the tactile equivalent of strapping a pair of pillows to your feet, and I would not go on a winter trip without them. On top of the general comfort underfoot, the additional padding around the ankle and shin makes my relatively chunky 4-season boots positively pleasurable to wear. Why are they so heavenly? According to Smartwool, it’s all in the sheep, and theirs produce a coat that is finer and smoother than most of their peers from other locales around the globe.

Sock performance is top shelf. The warmth and moisture management – both of which are critical in sub-freezing temps – leave nothing to be desired. The Merino wool comes from specially selected sheep native to the southern half of our planet, which endure both toasty summers and frigid winters. Ergo these sheep have developed wool that is suited to managing both ends of the weather spectrum, and they can still stay warm while wet; a Merino fiber can retain 35% of its weight and water and still feel dry to the touch.

I have been wearing these socks for years, and I typically only take two pairs on trips. One is for wearing during the day, and I change into the other as soon as I get to camp. As long as I don’t forget to drop the first pair in my bag before going to sleep, I know I’ll have two dry pairs of socks by morning. Even after several seasons of wear, I have not seen pilling, tearing, or any degradation in quality. Bottom line: pricey for socks, but worth every penny.

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