Wool isn’t just for cold weather anymore. All of this season’s sock recommendations incorporate the natural fiber to leverage its inherent performance qualities. Innovative construction techniques ensure that the resulting products are thin and light enough to be comfortable even in hot temperatures, making wool a dependable material for long-distance comfort this spring and summer.
Zensah Grit 2.0 Mini-Crew ($22)
Fabric Composition: 52% polypropylene, 20% merino wool,
20% nylon, 8% spandex
The original Grit sock has been one of our favorites, and has held up extremely well during high mileage and repeat washings. This year’s 2.0 update adjusts the fabric composition slightly with increased polypropylene and wool, and less nylon and spandex. These updates make the 2.0 slightly softer while improving breathability and wicking, and shaving off a bit of overall weight. Grit 2.0 socks are made with anatomical left/right lasts and have increased arch support for a very secure fit, even when saturated after river crossings. Seamless toes eliminate friction points in the forefoot, and reinforced hexo-weave zones add abrasion resistance for a long lifespan. Grit 2.0 socks come in four height options: no-show, quarter, mini-crew and knee-high. Available at www.zensah.com.
Darn Tough Bolt Micro Crew Ultra-Lightweight ($20)
Fabric composition: 50% nylon, 46% merino wool, 4% spandex Lycra
Darn Tough loves to incorporate some flair into their designs, and the Bolt takes its inspiration from vintage van stripes and summer road trips. This new model in the company’s running line combines a high percentage of ultra-lightweight merino wool with fast-wicking nylon into a thin layer that is well-suited for warm temperatures, plus a slightly thicker layer of terry loop cushioning under the foot for comfort. Fine gauge knitting gives the merino wool content a soft feel, with seamless construction to eliminate potential chafing areas, while a performance fit and anatomic arch support help the socks stay securely in place.
XOSKIN 5.0 Wool Crew Toe Sock ($26)
Fabric composition: 46% RAPIDriCOPPER, 11% nylon,
40% XOWOOL, 3% elastane
This new model takes the exceptional XOSKIN RapiDriCopper dynamic fabric and incorporates a large percentage of US-sourced wool for added comfort, moisture-wicking and odor resistant properties. PTFE (polytetrafluoroethylene) particles in the RapiDriCopper material give XOSKIN socks fast moisture transfer, low friction and high durability, while the copper elements provide antibacterial qualities. Small interdigital holes in each toe pocket improve air flow and precise fit in the front, while an arch support band and reinforced heel add stability and comfort in the rear. For fans of toe socks, these would be one of our top choices for ultra distances, particularly in wet conditions. This sock is available in three height options: crew, mid-crew and quarter-crew. Available at www.xoskin.us.
Smartwool Run Targeted Cushion Crew ($23)
Fabric composition: 57% merino wool, 41% nylon, 2% elastane
The highest wool content in our test group once again comes from Smartwool, whose fabric utilizes Indestructawool technology that fortifies the yarn with nylon filaments for increased strength and durability. Targeted cushioned zones in the forefoot and heel are just enough to add a bit of comfort on impact without adding bulk, and Shred Shield technology in the forefoot helps reduce wear in the toe area. X-patterned elastic fibers across the top of the sock provide a slightly compressed fit with natural flex channels, and combine with a performance fit contour to keep the sock securely in place even when wet. Despite the high merino content, the mesh venting zones along with natural properties of wool provide nice breathability, and we didn’t have any issues with this sock overheating in temps into the low 80s. Available at www.smartwool.com.
Feetures Merino 10 Cushion Crew ($24)
Fabric Composition: 44% nylon, 27% merino wool, 26% tencel,
This is a cushioned version of a standout sock that debuted last year, and utilizes the incredibly smooth Merino 10 fabric that combines merino wool with wood-sourced tencel fibers for the softest skin feel of any socks in this test group. Tencel also accelerates the natural moisture-wicking and drying speed of wool, and adds to its overall durability. These socks stand up to grit much better than you would guess from their soft feel. Targeted zone-specific compression provides support across the arch and midfoot, while lightweight, high-density cushioning in the heel and forefoot add comfort elements. Merino 10 fabric is spun with 200-needle thread count for a slim profile, and this model is built with anatomical design and separate right/left contours. Available at www.feetures.com.
Swiftwick Flite XT Trail Five ($27)
Fabric composition: 38% nylon, 24% merino wool, 22% olefin,
13% polyester, 3% spandex
An offshoot of Swiftwick’s popular Flite XT road running socks, the Trail version duplicates that material construction while adding stability elements to ensure a secure fit on irregular terrain. Merino wool combined with a full Olefin footbed moves moisture away from your feet very effectively, and moderate compression throughout the socks give them a secure fit across the entire foot. A proprietary GripDry fiber incorporated into the heel and forefoot uses micro treads to provide increased traction and grip inside your shoe, while AnkleLock technology around the collar creates added support and stability on varying terrains. The “Five” in this sock refers to the sock’s height, and the Flite XT Trail also comes in a Two version that sits lower on the calf. Both are available at www.swiftwick.com.