The Smartwool Experiment

Charting the wear and tear on four pairs of Smartwool socks.

Smartwool says that socks should last about a year.

with 77 comments

This is the email I wrote to Smartwool.

This is the email I wrote to Smartwool.

I wrote the following email (seen above) to Smartwool last night:

Smartwool, hi.

I am a long time customer and fan.  I have, however, been disillusioned with how long my Smartwools last before wearing in the heel/ball-of-foot region.  In the case that my expectations are set too high, I am asking you to help me understand how long I should expect these socks to last.

On your website you list the following four factors in wear and tear:

– How the product is worn
– How often it is worn
– Proper shoe fit
– Ensuring proper care instructions are followed

Could please elaborate on those factors in the following ways?

1) How should a Smartwool sock be worn?
2) How often do you recommend wearing Smartwool socks?
3) What are the indicators that proper shoe fit is the culprit of my socks’ wear and tear?
4) According to the packaging, I should machine wash warm, tumble dry low, no bleach.  Is this all I should consider in proper care?

I am asking these questions for my own edification and plan to share this email and whatever clarifications you provide with readers of my blog –

Thank you,
Beck Tench

And received the following response this morning from a customer service representative:

Hi Beck,

Thank you for your email.  The ideal wearing of a sock is with a shoe.  Walk on carpet with no shoe will wear the sock out faster than normal.  The shoe should fit to size.  You will start to see weird wearing (examples: on top of the sock, on the side of the foot area) if the shoe doesn’t fit properly.   I would recommend wearing the socks in a rotation with other socks.  If you rotate your socks weekly they should last about a year.  The washing directions you have are correct.  I would also recommend not washing your socks with a liquid fabric softer.

Thank you,

(Name of Customer Service Rep)

The big takeaways for me in this exchange are:

  • Don’t wear socks on carpet (not a problem, we have no carpet in the house).
  • Weird wearing (top of sock and side of foot) are indicators of poor shoe fit (this is not where my socks are wearing).
  • Smartwools should only last a year if worn weekly (see my question to you below).
  • Don’t use fabric softener (also not a problem).

So my question to readers is now this: How long do you expect your socks to last? Please indicate in the poll below.


Written by Beck Tench

November 17, 2008 at 5:56 pm

77 Responses

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  1. I guess I’m just cheap? thrifty-frugal and, my favorite, environmentally conscious? ‘Cause I certainly have socks in my regular rotation that are way older than 1 year, and I hardly ever throw socks away (unless they’re beyond repair). Though my own smartwools, being thick fuzzy knee socks, get worn way less than once a week.

    all is on

    November 17, 2008 at 6:35 pm

  2. I think socks should definitely last more than a year! I have some socks in my regular rotation that I’ve had for almost ten years. But maybe I just have A LOT of socks in because I don’t like to do laundry very often…


    November 18, 2008 at 9:56 am

  3. I too have had some smart wool socks wear very thin on me. I personally expect a $20 pair of socks to last over a year, but not forever. What really bummed me out is that the socks I have that get wrecked the most and the fastest are the super fat mountaineering socks, I guess I beat them up a lot on a long day hike, but i think they ought to stand up to that kind of wear and tear and last a few seasons of abuse, those socks become a critical piece of my equipment when i take them in the back country and critical sock failure can mean a lot of foot anguish.


    November 21, 2008 at 12:48 am

    • I’ve had exactly the same complaint with these socks. The only “good” (ie not Target or cheap socks) that I’ve had trouble with are Smartwool. These just don’t last at all. If they don’t get holes, the fabric just wears thin in the heel/ankle area. I’m buying nothing but Darn Tough now. They last forever (they really do) and the company guarantees them for life.

      Diane Burton

      February 13, 2017 at 12:26 am

  4. James – I’m curious, where do your super fat mountaineering socks wear? Was it the same place or different from the wear and tear in this video?

    Beck Tench

    November 21, 2008 at 7:26 am

  5. I thought I had weird feet – giving off acid or something . After paying £14 each (more than $20) in England for three pairs of Smartwool hiking socks. I have been dismayed that they begin to wear through around the toes and on the heels after only a few wearings
    To get them to last a year you really have to nurse them but I believe that if you pay that much for a pair of hiking socks you should easily get more than a year out of them. Not happy with Smartwool and will return to cheaper brands which are just as comfortable and last way longer.


    Michael Spurrier

    December 5, 2008 at 4:45 am

  6. Michael thanks for sharing your experience! I too wondered if my feet/shoes were weird. The more folks chime in with similar experiences, the more I am convinced otherwise.

    Beck Tench

    December 5, 2008 at 12:18 pm

  7. I have about 10-12 pairs of black, mid and heavyweight smartwool socks purchase about 14 months ago that I have just noticed that nearly all are threadbare in the heel.
    I came across this as I was hoping to find a wool sock heel patch online. Last year, I tossed out a bunch of the same, but times are much different now and the condition of all my current socks are quite good, except for the heel wear. I had thought it might be my insoles, but they’re fairly smooth.
    Anyone have a patch solution? Or, taken up smartwool (or REI) on their ‘satisfaction guarantee’?


    December 9, 2008 at 11:38 pm

  8. Mike – Thanks for sharing your experience.

    I can personally attest to REI’s satisfaction guarantee. They’re great about it. Smartwool’s policy, which I think has become more conservative over the years, is that they’ll replace your socks if they haven’t met your expectations, but they do say “We cannot extend our offer to replace or refund product damaged due to normal wear from use.” I’m under the impression that REI would honor the return anyway, but I don’t know for sure.

    Here is the Smartwool Guarantee page.

    Some folks at Smartwool also read this blog, so if they see this comment maybe they’ll chime in with a verdict.

    Beck Tench

    December 10, 2008 at 6:55 am

  9. I’m thinking I will see if I can find some sort of heel patch that I can apply from the inside. Since the heels are just threadbare this might work okay. Anyone have any thoughts? I’m no tailor, so I’m hoping for some sort of oval iron-on wool patch. Do they exist? Could Smartwool sell them to us for a couple bucks each pair?


    December 20, 2008 at 1:43 am

  10. My husband just finished treatment for stage four cancer and Smartwool socks were an answer to my prayers because he is skinny and gets really cold especially in Michigan winters. They are warm and comfy, but I am APPALLED at how quickly the heel and soles of these socks have worn out. We have six pair between us and one pair that I wore once a week developed a quarter-sized hole in the heel with in a month! I do not use fabric softener, wear them with Dansco clogs, and not on carpet. What gives? I am just sick that I spent so much on socks that lasted a month! I feel completely duped. Smartwool should not just “sell us patches for a couple bucks,” they should stop selling a defective product.


    January 19, 2009 at 5:10 pm

  11. Off all my socks….Smartwool wear out the fastest!


    February 6, 2009 at 10:47 am

  12. I’ve owned many pairs of Smartwool socks and loved the comfort and warmth. I wear them with shoes and slippers and in a few short months the heels are threadbare. Won’t be buying them any more.


    February 24, 2009 at 5:57 pm

  13. I’m looking for an alternative to Smartwool … has anyone tried any of the other wool socks and do they wear as quickly in the heel as well? Clarks stores has a no-ask return policy on all their socks, including Smartwool. I can’t remember which ones I purchased there but I guess they can look that up and they will exchange any of their socks so that is a great place to buy them as well.


    September 30, 2009 at 8:20 am

    • We are an alpaca sock company – making all of our products in the U.S. out of our own alpaca fiber. Nothing is as strong as plastic, but alpaca fiber has twice the tencile strength as wool – so they will last longer than a year. I wear my alpaca socks almost every day and they are still going strong. Check us out at


      October 11, 2012 at 9:35 pm

  14. After trying Life Is Good wool socks and having them wear out in the heels and soles prematurely, I asked at an outdoor socks if another brand would last longer. They said SmartWool. I bought some and they’re great at first but the heels still get bare in a hurry. Not worth the cost. Where can I recycle the still toasty and thick cuffs of the socks? Can an animal hospital use them? Any thoughts?

    T Dinse

    December 23, 2009 at 1:10 pm

  15. I buy Wigwam. They last and last. And they are thicker and warmer than Smartwool, but about the same price. I buy them at Mountain Equipment Co-op (Canada).

    Sarah V.

    December 24, 2009 at 8:54 pm

  16. Between my two roommates and I we had about fifteen pairs of Smartwool socks with holes at one time, which Smartwool kindly replaced. Of the fifteen new pairs (not exactly the same as the old) we are beginning to see wear patterns. That means we have tested more than 30 pairs of socks between the three of us. When I first discovered Smartwool I bought about 8 pairs and gave gifts, so that is how we have such a high volume of socks.

    What I noticed is that not all Smartwool socks wear the same. While it is unscientific, my observations are that between the three roommates, the lightweight hiking or middle weight socks wear most, followed by the heavyweight and the ones that wear the least are the cable knit dress socks. At this point, I am not planning to buy more Smartwool socks. However, their shirts seem to be holding up well. I also have 3-4 pairs of socks that I wear every week that have lasted two or more years without signs of wear (and a few that I have had a year that are wearing out).

    A Smartwool representative mentioned to me that they use less synthetic fabric in their socks than other brands which increases the moisture wicking performance but decreases durability. Hmmm. I have not gone so far as to check on what she said.


    March 3, 2010 at 6:09 pm

  17. my socks last two or three days, I have tried switching to all different kinds of socks and a $15 pair will last around a week. I have carpet and hardwood floors in our new house, can’t figure out what is going on!


    April 18, 2010 at 5:51 pm

  18. My smartwool socks are also wearing out and it has only be 8 months. I am going to try washing them inside out next time. I have had a pair of darn tough socks made in vermont for three years now and they dont even show signs of fuzz balls clumping up after washing.


    January 21, 2011 at 5:46 pm

  19. My smartwool socks are the warmest socks I’ve ever had. I got a pair for Christmas. Unfortunately, they lasted less than a month before wearing thin then bare.
    I just want a warm sock to wear without shoes in my chilly house (mostly hardwood/some carpet) in the evening. I would pay $30 for these socks if there was a guarantee that they would last an entire year.


    February 1, 2011 at 11:25 am

  20. I’ve purchased many pairs of smart wool socks and loved the feel. After thinking that maybe I got a “lemon” pair or two, I realized they just wear out quickly in the heel.

    Sadly, no more Smartwool socks for me!


    March 10, 2011 at 1:31 am

  21. I am a firefighter, runner/hiker and cyclist and have different Smartwool socks for each activity. I have about 7 pairs that I rotate through at work. My work ones are the Adrenaline crews. I have been using Smartwool socks for about 6 years now, and have only worn through one pair. I wash them in cold with my regular laundry and dry them on medium heat. I love these socks and cant say enough about them. They are expensive, but I’ll pick them up on Ebay, SteepandCheap, and Moab Sports. I find it hard to believe that people have this many issues with the socks, but I guess anything is possible.


    March 25, 2011 at 10:35 pm

  22. I was on timberland’s website looking for socks and smartwool came up as an option, as well as timberland’s. I compared the wool, cotton, synthetics content, timberland has less wool and more synthetics which might help with the durability.

    I remember buying a pair of smartwools for myself that wore out quickly (faster than all my cheap pairs), and some I bought for my wife for gifts which also went quickly.

    Anyway a google search brought me to this page to confirm that I will be avoiding smartwools this time around – hate to watch my money go down the drain…


    May 2, 2011 at 8:15 pm

  23. I discovered smartwool socks about 2 years ago, and slowly replaced all my other socks with smartwool since. I rotate through about a dozen pair, machine wash and dry, and no issues for me. I wear them for all occassions and with several different shoe types. No other sock compares.


    September 9, 2011 at 8:19 pm

  24. I have had smartwool socks since 1998. I currently have a rotation of 15 pairs all different types. The ones with the life is good emblem have been wearing out very quickly, maybe 6 mos. I have an old pair of Smart wools, maybe 6-7 years old that is just becoming threadbare. I think the quality has gone way downhill. Averaging $20 for a pair of socks and getting maybe 20-30 wears is not ok. I think that I will take a half dozen into REI and return them, even though I have been throwing them out. Just can’t afford socks with holes anymore.


    September 22, 2011 at 9:53 am

    • This is the review that I agree with. My first pair of SmartWool socks lasted a couple years, maybe 3, so I bought more. I began to notice a decrease in quality after that first pair. Not sure if I want to get anymore.


      September 5, 2015 at 7:50 am

    • I agree. Although Smartwool socks are very comfortable, they just don’t hold up anymore. I won’t pay the price.


      September 5, 2015 at 9:31 am

  25. I have been wearing only Smartwool for about 4-5 years now for they fit great but they always seem to get holes in the toes and threadbare in the heels. When I discoverd that the Clarks store had the return policy on Smartwool, I was so happy. I must have exchanged over 10 pairs of socks there until one day they told me they have discontinued that and now that guarantee is only good on their brand socks. So I’m back to wondering what I should do and if I should switch. I’m glad to know others are having the same problems. I will try another brand.

    carolyn reynolds

    November 11, 2011 at 5:08 pm

  26. I just tossed a pair of smartwool socks in the trash bin….after 2 years of “normal wear, winters only” in NC – as no one wears socks in the summer here – so would this be calculated as “1 year, normal wear and tear”? it was the bottom of the heal – not the back that was completely thread bare tonight when I put them on – and still wore them. I was ready (a month ago) to go out and by more smartwool…but after reading all these posts, maybe I should consider another brand…


    December 2, 2011 at 11:25 pm

  27. I was thinking about buying smartwool socks for folks for Christmas, but I too am APPALLED at how quickly they wear out on the heel and ball of foot. They wear out in less than a year. How sad. I have about 6 pairs but won’t be buying any more.

    Peggy Knight

    December 4, 2011 at 7:09 pm

  28. I bought my first pair of Smartwools in the mid 90’s after Backpacker magazine gave them the coveted “Editor’s Choice” award, in fact, I bought several pairs. Those early socks lasted FOREVER!!! Years… However, once they finally started wearing out (in the heels) I ‘re-upped’ with a 1/2 dozen more prs. What a disappointment! Obviously they realized their product (construction/materials) were TOO good and they lowered their standards a ton…to sell more replacements. My new pairs have been a dismal failure. One pair lasted less than 30 days (!) and to add insult to injury, when I sent them in to request a replacement, they never even wrote back. That’s all it takes for me to never buy these inferior socks from a company that obviously knows they are selling an inferior product. Way to let down your longtime customer base. Fail!


    January 8, 2012 at 4:27 pm

  29. I too have worn Smartwool socks for years. They use to last for several years. All styles and sizs of Smartwools that I have purchased in the last 3 years have had a very short life span, wearing thin in the heals and toes after a few months of wearing them once a week. I have been very disappointed in Smartwool and feel that like many other companies, they are decreasing their quality so you have to replace way to often. I have switched to other brands that last much longer than Smartwool.


    January 29, 2012 at 10:27 pm

  30. Is this blog dead? What is a better brand to try?


    February 19, 2012 at 10:19 pm

  31. I, too, have been so disappointed by smartwool’s performance. My daughter is very seam sensitive and so we buy her the Phd ski socks. She wears through them in a matter of months, and they are $15!!! I love the knee socks and have the same problem. I DO wear them frequently, but would expect them to last a lot longer than a few months for 20 bucks. The icing on the cake is that we gave my husband a very expensive ($150?) sweater for xmas this past December and it is completely balled up. It is May and he does NOT wear it every day, maybe once a week. I have contacted smartwool in the past and not received any assurance that they cared what I thought. Like a crack addict, I kept buying more of their product, because I loved the feel. I am done. Smartwool, you have horrible customer service in my opinion.


    May 9, 2012 at 9:56 pm

  32. What a great subject to stumble upon!! I was looking for a way to repair worn socks. I had been picking up Smartwool socks whenever they went on sale, that is a couple of dollars off a pair. I would say my very first pairs wore fairly well. But the later pairs wore poorly. Smartwool agreed to take back and replace any socks I returned to them. I was sure the new pairs would be better, but no. I will no longer spend that kind of money on a pair of socks to get such poor performance. I am still looking for a way to repair the socks I have.


    November 19, 2012 at 10:31 am

  33. I thought it was just me who had problems with Smartwool socks wearing thin in the heels. Yes, I do wear them in a carpeted house but the socks should last more than a year. I have wool socks from the Gap (which they’ve stopped producing and selling more than 5 yrs ago) that are still going strong. Very disappointed with Smartwool. Was considering purchasing more Smartwool socks but after reading comments here, the quality isn’t there with their socks.


    December 9, 2012 at 4:26 am

  34. I spent a couple hundred dollars on Smartwool socks and loved them except for the fact that they wore poorly. Don’t get me wrong I loved the feel and styling. These were the socks that I reached for first, however the dress socks were threadbare in six months and the hiking socks had holes in the soles by 10 mos. Now I am a big guy, 6’5″ and 230#, and being active could have attributed to the poor performance, however I just cannot afford the wear and am now buying less expensive foot coverings.


    December 11, 2012 at 11:34 am

  35. After following this thread for a couple of years, I was compelled to finally reply.

    I have been wearing Smartwool socks for about 7 years. I started with the cycling light socks, then moved to the thicker Adrenalins. I also purchased a few pairs for running. Noticing the quality, I purchased some for my full time job and part time job. I work as a firefighter and teach part time. I can safely say that I own roughly 40 pairs of Smartwool socks. I have a lot of the Adrenalines, the Diamopnd Jims, the PHd’s, the snowboarding socks and some really thick ones. I also have two beanies, a gator, two dress polos, thermal underwear of various thicknesses and a couple of casual shirts. I don’t have any boxer briefs yet, those are on the wish list. I only have Smartwool socks. Yes they are expensive, but I usually purchase them on eBay or on REI if they’re on sale. Steepandcheap also blows them out a couple times a year.

    I use the socks for cycling, running, firefighting, teaching all day, hiking and lounging around the house. In the last seven years I haven’t retired single pair of socks yet. The first pair I purchased shows some mild wear in the foot pad area, but in no way needs to be thrown out. Keep in mind, this pair is 7 years old and has been used for century rides, running in Death Valley and in firefighting boots.

    I don’t know if I’m lucky but I have had no issues with the socks, beanies, shirts etc. My only complaint is that Smartwool doesn’t make a regular, plain, white wool sock. The closest I’ve found is an ‘off white’ that doesn’t look good with shorts. Oh well, the search continues.

    Happy holidays to all, Hope this helps out!


    December 11, 2012 at 12:32 pm

    • I love Smartwool socks, but, sadly, will not be purchasing any more because of the extreme wear on the soles in such a short period of time. I have bought many dozens of pairs for myself and as gifts to others over the last few years but we have all become disillusioned with Smartwool. Now, what to do with the perfectly good tops?


      January 17, 2013 at 3:38 pm

  36. My Smartwool socks seem to wear prematurely, too. Two years ago I discovered Darn Tough Vermont – they’re amazing and they come with a lifetime unconditional guarantee. They cost about the same as a pair of Smartwool. Darn Tough socks are way better! Here’s a link:


    January 22, 2013 at 9:06 pm

  37. So glad to have stumbled on this blog. I thought it was just the way I distributed my weight on my heels that caused my smart wools to wear so quickly. I too found the darn tough socks from Vermont and they are wearing much better. Also, I’ve recently had the threads on the inside of the smart wool socks getting very rough and actually causing scratches on the skin right by my inside ankle bone. I will be trying to get a refund. Fox River socks are also a good choice and some are made in the USA.


    February 8, 2013 at 5:56 pm

  38. I’ve been massively dissapointed with smartwool socks. bought 3 pairs. each developped holes within 2 months (not on the heal but underneath foot near to toes). In comparison, cheap socks that are literally just 10% of the price of a single pair of smartwool ones, typically last me a couple of years.


    April 2, 2013 at 7:02 pm

  39. Hi All! I have owned about 20 pairs of Smartwool socks, almost all have been the Barn Sock in black w/red stripes and all of them have failed with a half dollar sized hole in the heel. Over the years I have been looking all over for nice, black, durable wool socks. DeFeet makes them. So does Specialized.
    I still have a few Smartwool socks that I have thought about sewing or patching. An online search for wool patches brought me to this blog.

    What, if anything is Smartwool going to do about this ongoing trend with their socks?


    April 5, 2013 at 7:46 pm

  40. I too would love a simple heel patch solution and maybe a big toe patch too.


    April 13, 2013 at 11:57 am

  41. I’ve worn Smartwool socks for years like many others have commented (hiking, biking, general warmth, etc.) and do believe their quality, especially fit/sizing, changed a few years back. However, normal wear regardless of the length of time worn still leaves with an expensive sock that is only 35% worn since the upper sock is still like new. I have been an avid supporter of recycling (for more than 30 years) and so I have a pile of beautiful wool ‘sock tops’ waiting on a solution for their thread bare bottoms. Why don’t we – or pressure Smartwool – to start a recycling program for their socks.

    Does anyone know how to reclaim or reblend woven wool?


    May 4, 2013 at 9:18 am

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    and it is time to be happy. I have read this post and if I could I want to suggest
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    May 15, 2013 at 8:23 pm

    • You guys should try icebreaker’s socks ( They are THE merino wool experts and they have a lifetime guarantee on their socks. I’ve been wearing their socks for 5 years and never had a pair wear out.


      May 31, 2013 at 11:22 am

    • AFAIK
      Icebreaker doesnt have a life time guarantee: from their website:


      We will replace your Icebreaker garment within a year of purchase if it has been damaged by faulty fabric, stitching, or manufacturing. Damage that occurs after a year or more of use is usually caused by wear and tear.”

      Mike Lupe

      November 25, 2013 at 6:16 pm

  43. I have rotated between 4 pairs of smartwool socks for the past 2 years. 1 of the pairs was the PhD model. They only lasted a year. The others were just a medium cusion crew hiking sock. I wear them in danner quarry boots that are well broke in and fit very well. I am in the boots 5 or 6 days a week for 10+ hours a day. The socks have held up nicely and keep my feet warm when needed and always dry. I always hand wash sock with no detergent and hang them up to dry. Socks get worn for 2 days beofore they are taken out of rotation to be washed. I couldnt be happier with my socks.


    June 18, 2013 at 8:51 am

  44. Again, glad to know it’s not me. I have about 7-8 pairs that all have holes in the bottom of the feet…tops are perfectly good. I did just buy 5 pairs on “sale” for about $15.00 each for the winter(upper midwest). While i wear them, I’ll look for other no scratch wool socks that don’t wear out. Too bad, i liked that they were made in the USA. But there are others(wigwam) that are also made in the USA and if they don’t wear out so quickly, then it’s worth it. I do wish smartwool would have a recycling program for their socks.I guess i’ll use them for insulating water bottles, or cushioning items when packing for trips.


    July 20, 2013 at 8:26 pm

  45. My wife bought me 6 pairs of Timberland 34% Merino wool (with other fibers) in a crew sock 5 years ago. These are the most amazing socks I have ever worn! I’m 53 years old and have worn lots of socks doing lots of jobs and these are by far the longest lasting i have ever worn. 6 pairs, 5 years wearing no other socks everyday. They are just now starting to wear thin, that’s how I found this blog -,can’t find them at Sam’s, where she bought them before.

    Jeff Cunningham

    August 3, 2013 at 6:21 pm

  46. I bought Smartwool socks because I wanted socks that didn’t itch. They don’t itch and they don’t last. Maybe 10 uses and they’re done either at the heel or the ball of the foot. I wont’ buy more Smartwool socks ever again unless they improve the socks and give a l-o-n-n-n-g warranty (lifetime for Darn Tough) That said, I cannot throw away any of those Smartwool socks for the lack of a patch in the worn areas. Using a good sock yarn (online or local yarn shop) I knit patches the size of the holes plus 3/4″ margins on all sides–then handsew them onto the bottom of my socks using an overhand stitch. If you don’t knit, you need to find someone who does and barter tea/coffee and a croissant for the favor.


    November 10, 2013 at 3:10 am

  47. my 2c . All my smartwool socks wear at the heel too. Most last <1 yr. At $20 a pair I cannot justify the extravagance of $280 on socks each year (14 pairs, each worn 1x per 2 weeks) .. haha thats almost as much money as my cell phone!

    But seriously, there has been a major decline in quality. My first pair came from a trade show in 2009, they gave me a free pair and it lasted about 2-3 years! I got newer ones in 2012 and they're done already. The rest of the sock looks new and the heel has a hole.

    I bet they got a new manufacturer in china and they're crap.

    I wont be buying these socks again, will try a new brand, TEVA or something else?

    Mike Lupe

    November 25, 2013 at 6:01 pm

    • I highly recommend Darn Tough socks – made in the USA & they have a lifetime guarantee. They’re super comfy & warm!


      November 26, 2013 at 6:04 pm

    • About the darntough socks:
      about $20 a pair, some have wool. here’s the guarantee:

      “Our Lifetime Guarantee

      Unconditional lifetime guarantee—simply and without strings or conditions:

      If our socks are not the most comfortable, durable and best fitting socks you have ever owned, return them for another pair, or your money back.

      No strings. No conditions. For life.

      When you are really serious about something you make it yourself.
      Returning socks:

      If you were able to wear out a pair of Darn Tough socks, we’ll replace them. At any time. Just package the socks up, fill out the form, and send to the appropriate address—we will send you a brand new pair!”

      I know where I’ll get my next socks!

      Mike Lupe

      November 27, 2013 at 1:22 pm

  48. I had the impression that SmartWool was a high quality brand, given the retailers that sell them and the look and feel of the socks. I was very surprised to find that my socks were wearing out after a couple of winters of wear (and rotated with many other pair of socks, some cotton, some synthetic; none of which have worn out). I found this blog doing a search on smartwool quality issues to see if this was a common problem. Glad I found this site to reinforce that I should not buy any more of their socks and I’m glad to see the alternative recommendation of Darn Tough socks which I just ordered. I hope they perform better and glad to purchase
    socks made in the USA!


    December 26, 2013 at 8:14 pm

  49. I am regular reader, how are you everybody? This
    post posted at this site is in fact pleasant.


    September 13, 2014 at 3:03 am

  50. For over 13 years I have worked at a store that at one time or another has sold all the major brands of wool socks. I have therefore own wall socks from just about all the major manufacturers. The socks I have found to be most durable are hands down the Darn Tough brand socks.


    November 30, 2014 at 10:50 am

    • This blog lives! Has Smartwool forgotten about it or never monitored it? I have worn my Darn Tough socks for at least six months almost every day and have yet to see much wear. Sock knitters know that some yarns wear forever. Happily, Darn Tough socks use similar quality yarns.

      jeff w

      November 30, 2014 at 11:17 am

    • I agree! Darn Tough is the only way to go, and they have a great variety of women’s socks too. I tell everyone about Vermont Darn Tough and tell them to stay away from Smart Wool. Love that they are made in the USA and have a great guarantee, though I’ve never had to use it.


      December 10, 2014 at 8:36 pm

  51. I have been using Smartwool socks for well over ten years, and I largely agree with the observations posted here.

    I’ve learned to prefer a denser weave in a sock, something Smartwool doesn’t offer much in the way of.

    The one sock I did enjoy with a lighter, terry-like weave (Light Hiker) is one of the variants that seems to now suffer from the “early death” syndrome (at the ball and heel).

    I am now happily using Defeet and Darn Tough models, although Wigwam has a couple models that look promising, too. I still have about 5 pair of Smartwool PhD Cycle socks that have plenty of life left, but after they die, I don’t know if I am going back.

    Personally, I think Smartwool’s well-earned success in the market lead them to dilute their line-up with too many variants. When I go back each year to get my 2-3 pair of socks, they styles and packaging have changed. Do they really need 3 aisles of socks at the local REI? Concentrate on perfecting a few models, and your customers will keep coming back.

    Basically, Smartwool is no longer a high-end, specialty sock anymore; they have moved to a mass-market model, and we just have to accept this. However, when I advise friends on the wonders of merino wool-blend socks, I won’t be suggesting they go with Smartwool, it will be something else. Tis a sad day.


    December 21, 2014 at 4:52 am

  52. Has anyone tried to darn the holes in their smartwool socks? I’d like to try it and wonder if anyone has had success doing it. Thanks


    February 4, 2015 at 9:27 pm

    • Syragurl, I have darned a number of socks of Smartwool and other makes with holes. I dislike darning holes because they look so sloppy the way I do them with the light bulb and running strands of yarn this way then that.

      I have knitted patches using good quality sock yarn from Knitpicks for the forefoot and the heel areas, then hand-sewn them to the sole of the sock using an overhand stitch. I often feel the step off between the patch and the intact sock. I may knit a complete sole for the next ailing sock to avoid the step off.

      jeff w

      February 5, 2015 at 12:33 am

  53. I was unaware of this blog until today. I have been frustrated with my SmartWool socks- almost everytime I wear them, I get lots of small wool tufts or balls on my feet and the floor when I take them off. It is no wonder that they wear out so quickly if the yarn is so loosely twisted that I lose visible amounts with each wearing. And this has nothing to do with carpets, ill-fitting shoes or anything else. Maybe the looseness of the yarn makes the socks more comfy (I don’t know) but it is at the cost of reasonable durability. I have a photo of the yarn that came off on my feet after a single wearing- and the socks were not brand-new. I think SmartWool got successful and found a cheaper manufacturer or process. Pity.


    February 22, 2015 at 7:22 pm

  54. I loved the color and design of my Smartwool socks, but after 4 months of on and off wear, they got holes in the heel. I have darned them twice, but that didn’t last long. They are comfortable socks, but definitely don’t have a long life.


    April 7, 2015 at 9:52 pm

  55. Smartwool used to be of very high quality. I still have some that are ten years old, with only slight wear on the heel and bottom of foot. The last pair that I got (as a gift for Xmas, so no return) already have many large, worn out patches, having absolutely nothing to do with where my shoes rub them. I love Smartwool, and have bought them for many years, but the quality has been steadily deteriorating, and this last pair is the last straw. I can’t see spending this kind of money for socks that are basically unwearable after four months.


    April 11, 2015 at 4:35 pm

  56. I have a pair of SmartWool socks that is at least 5 years old and now showing wear at the ball of the foot and heel, but no holes yet. I wear them around the house without shoes, usually with slippers over, so they’re getting a lot of use beyond manufacturer recommendations. I see from the trend in the comments that I may be getting this kind of performance because these are older socks.

    I swear by their base layer tops, which have held up for years. I bike commute year round and take base layers seriously and merino is almost the only wool I can wear comfortably.

    In winter I usually wear a pair of SmartWool long stockings with another pair of socks over those. I’ve never had the stockings wear through in the foot. I rotate 3-4 pairs in daily use so they’re getting a real workout. I have had some problems with ripping along the seams at the crotch over time; that’s a higher stress point as they’re pulled on that regular socks don’t have.

    For those who are throwing away wool socks and want to reuse all you have to do is hit Google and you’ll find dozens of projects and good creative reuse ideas.

    Darning how-to:

  57. So great to see that I am not alone with my Smartwool sock problem. I thought maybe I was hard on socks.

    I bought a beautiful pair, of what I would call dress socks for $23, in Dec 2014. I only wore them for 5 months and on average once every 8 to 10 days. I wore them in the same 2 or 3 pairs of shoes that I wore my other wool socks (made of similar thickness) in. When I hauled them out of the drawer to wear this past December I discovered several small holes and several places worn through to the bare threads. As for the other wool socks I have worn in these shoes – they are all still hole free, not threadbare and more than 2 or 3 years old.

    I will never buy another pair of their socks again. The quality is really poor and the price too high.


    January 10, 2016 at 4:41 am

    • Tamara, I wear Darn Tough socks now, made in Vermont and guaranteed not to wear out FOR LIFE, YOUR life, not that of the socks. I recently received a replacement pair direct from Darn Tough for a pair that I wore on the Pacific Crest Trail for 750 miles (plus a few months before I hit the trail). Good fitting socks, easy care, don’t itch and durable. $18 a pair and worth every penny. Cheers!

      Jeffrey Wong

      January 11, 2016 at 12:50 am

  58. I have LOTS of socks in my drawer that are over 20 years old. They’re not stylish, but they have no holes. My and my husband’s Smartwools, however are as hol(e)y has the Pope!
    So, I’m going to give darning a try. Just because I want to experiment. I was wondering if it would be best to sacrifice one of the worst SW’s and use the yarn for the darning experiment. Has anyone tried that? We’re going to try a new brand, I think. Thank you Jeffrey Wong.


    January 28, 2016 at 5:20 pm

  59. Generally speaking, my smartwool collection of socks and shirts, have a poor build quality. Socks don’t last and tops can have an extremely low life expectancy…stitching, holes, ect. With manufacturers such as DarnTuff (superb quality and warranty) and other brand names making merino wool products, I shall never purchase a Smartwool product again.

    Chuck Jamison

    August 23, 2016 at 8:53 pm

  60. If they’re only expected to last 1 year… They should only guarantee them for a year. I expect them to last for the rest of my lifetime.


    October 28, 2016 at 8:12 pm

  61. Thanx for this blog.
    I was just sock shopping, and almost blew over $100 on Smartwool socks.
    Even though I’ve been a member of REI for over 30 years; and they’re great: I won’t buy Smartwool from them either.
    I understand “double speak” when I see it.


    October 28, 2016 at 8:30 pm

  62. I have been wearing Smartwool ski socks for years; have many pairs of “casual” socks and Hiking Socks.
    I was getting ready to buy more “casual” socks on sale.
    Many people talked about how QUICKLY they got holes: in their REVIEWS.

    So I did a google search and found this blog.

    I have bought Point 6 socks which are great (just a little thicker than I sometimes need).
    I like their “Ultra Light” and “Extra Light”.
    I wish more stores would carry Point 6 near me.

    I am considering Darn Tough, but usually like to see them “in person” before ordering on line.

    In the Non-Wool category: in Fall & Spring: I wear Wright Socks. They are Double Layer and wick moisture away. THANK YOU for setting up this site. No clue IF it is still considered “active”.

    After reading most of he posts here, I will give Darn Tough a try!!

    P.S. There is some interesting history.
    Original owners/developers of Smartwool sold the company.
    After an appropriate number of years: they started a new company – Point 6.


    October 18, 2017 at 1:39 am

  63. I have owned both smart wool socks and Darn Tough. I have had the same experience with the Smart Wool socks, but the I have really been impressed by the Darn Toughs. Comfortable and last a long time. Plus they come with a lifetime guarantee. I did manage to wear out a pair after couple years of biweekly wear. (They were my favorite socks). I didn’t take Darn Tough up on their guarantee. I felt like I got my $23 worth.



    November 29, 2018 at 9:06 pm

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