Saturday, 11 December 2010

Smartwool Hiking Medium Crew - or ARE they...?

My all time personal favourite sock for all year hillwalking is the Smartwool Hiking Medium Crew. A blend of 74% merino wool, 25% nylon and 1% elastane, they are the one-time winner of the Backpacker Editor's Choice award. TGO regulars, Chris Townsend and Cameron McNeish have applauded them and I adore them. They breathe well, feel extremely comfortable and keep my feet warm in even the coldest conditions. In winter, I add a Bridgedale Coolmax liner to the mix. Sad thing is, they cost between £12 and £13 each.


However this morning, in Costco, I saw these - Kirkland Signature Outdoor Trail Sock, Merino Wool Blend. 71% merino wool, 21% nylon, 7% polyester and 1% elastane, they are almost identical in manufacture, fit, shape and colour to the Smartwool Hiking Medium Crew. Put the two socks together and the only difference is the Smartwool moniker on the instep. They are identical in terms of cushion and thickness and have the same elastane arch brace the Smartwool sock does. Turn them inside out and the weave is identical as is the colour of the wool. Apart from the addition of polyester, which is unlikely to make them less breathable or dry any slower (my only qualm with the Smartwool sock), the only difference is the price: £8.79 for four. I've yet to wear them in anger, but they are certainly worth testing.


Scratching your chin? I didn't for long...




Update as of 18th December 2010 - I have been wearing the same pair of the Kirkland merino socks now for 5 days solid - walking to and from work (3km each way), during work, in and out of snow (in Innov-8 Terroc 330's) and in the house. Two things to report - they are still supremely comfortable and they do not smell at all. These are a true bargain.

12 comments:

  1. That looks like a good find Maz. Do you wear crew length socks year round? I normally wear knee or thereabouts length socks in winter. You mention wearing a coolmax liner in winter, again I don't wear a liner but I'm interested in hearing about the advantages of a liner in your experience.

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  2. Mac: I cannot guarantee they'll be the same quality merino wool as Smartwool use, but having been for a walk in them today (in Innov-8 Terroc 330's, they feel pretty damned similar. I do wear crew all year round, except when I am wearing short/trail shoes in the summer when I might even use ankle length. I like the Bridgedale liner as it adds another layer in really cold conditions but still wicks well enough to assist the Smartwool and boots in breathing. It's the additional layer that I like. I have to say though, I have not used them in the Scarpa Manta yet, which is my new winter boot, and I may find the conditions in which I need a liner diminish with the consequential increase in warmth of the boot itself.

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  3. I am googling "Costco" as soon as i finish writing this comment. Thanks Maz!

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  4. Anyone interested can email me on 34winchester at googlemail dot com.

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  5. I will stick with my smart wool and x socks on hot days. If it aint broke don't fix it is my view. I do think a liner is a good thing in winter. I feel the cold in my toes. Outside of the cold I would never use a liner sock.

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  6. Thanks for the tip. I will check the local costco (Hawaii) for those Kirtland sigs.

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  7. And there I was just about to post to you those smartwool socks that you had requested............

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  8. Thanks for the tip. I will check the local costco (Hawaii) for those Kirtland sigs.

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  9. I am googling "Costco" as soon as i finish writing this comment. Thanks Maz!

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  10. Hello, I want to get this kirkland socks, i live at spain and dont have a costco here but i saw them on sale online, if it is possible i would like to have your advice about the size, large 7-12 uk or medium 3-7 uk, i dont know if the large could be very big, or if it shrinks maybe the medium would be very small after the first washes, what do you recomend me? well thanks.

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  11. I am a size 11-12. The LARGE fit me perfectly and do not shrink in the wash much at all and if they do, they stretch to normal once on but really I notice no shrinking. They really are very similar to the Smartwool socks but the latter breathe better in my view.

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