Help me find new socks for the winter.
November 8, 2015 6:30 AM   Subscribe

What is currently the best value in durable, comfortable, heavyweight, wool-blend hiking socks?

I work outside and need to stock up on good warm socks for the New England winter. In the past I've invested heavily in Smartwool, but my stock of socks (especially warm ones) has gotten low and there is no way I am paying $20/pair for socks right now. I know there are other brands out there making good hiking socks for less than Smartwool prices, but I have no idea which ones are actually worth buying.

I need something crew length in wool or a wool blend, no cotton. They need to be thick and warm. They need to be durable and comfortable. Finally, I would like to pay $10/pair or less. (If you know of a promotion or sale going on somewhere, that's cool.) Help me out, AskMe! My toes will be eternally grateful.
posted by Anticipation Of A New Lover's Arrival, The to Clothing, Beauty, & Fashion (20 answers total) 17 users marked this as a favorite
Costco's Trail Socks are a great deal for the money. (They also come in women's and are available on Amazon for a bit more.) I don't like them quite as much as my smartwool, but at the price, I am more than happy with them.
posted by umwhat at 6:43 AM on November 8, 2015 [7 favorites]

Sierra Trading Post almost always has killer deals. My mom always looks for their "winter sports socks" and I live and die by them.
posted by Medieval Maven at 6:46 AM on November 8, 2015 [4 favorites]

I also like the Costco trail socks. They're warm and very soft and the price is right. But I'm not sure they're going to be thick enough for your preference. You may like RedHead. They're not as cozy feeling as smartwool but they're thick and quite warm.
posted by phunniemee at 6:48 AM on November 8, 2015

Response by poster: Point of clarification: I have some Costco trail socks (women's version, although I am a man) and while I do like them and find them good value, I would classify them as medium or medium-light weight. Are they available in heavier weights?
posted by Anticipation Of A New Lover's Arrival, The at 6:49 AM on November 8, 2015

I think Costco has 2 versions - the medium, more elastic ones and the very thick ones.
posted by ReluctantViking at 6:53 AM on November 8, 2015

You want Thorlo hiking socks. They are thick, and they last well. Smartwools suck by comparison, if you ask me.

(I live in Duluth, and warm socks are my life six months of the year.)
posted by RedEmma at 6:54 AM on November 8, 2015 [2 favorites]

Don't know of any for $10 or less but Darn Tough (in Vermont) has lifetime guarantee and you can return them when they wear out. I switched from SmartWool to Darn Tough a few years ago and have never looked back. Men's or Women's.
posted by mmw at 7:17 AM on November 8, 2015 [3 favorites]

I too love the women's wool blend trail socks and am wearing them right now, but yeah, they aren't very thick. They're more like a regular sock that you wear with regular shoes than big thick wool socks.

However, Costco also makes men's wool socks that are quite a bit thicker than those, and they're $12 for four pairs, so if they do work for you, woo-hoo!
posted by ernielundquist at 7:20 AM on November 8, 2015

Wigwam socks are also great and a little cheaper than Smartwool. There are even three-packs for 29.99, though they're only 20% wool.
posted by clavicle at 7:22 AM on November 8, 2015 [1 favorite]

People Socks are 4 for $29 on Amazon. They're significantly thicker than the Costco socks, but I don't have any Smartwool to compare with.
posted by bradf at 7:30 AM on November 8, 2015 [2 favorites]

I am super allergic to wool so I can't speak from firsthand experience but mr. crankylex only wears wool socks. He gets them all from Sierra Trading Post and there are a lot of Lorpens in the bunch.
posted by crankylex at 7:38 AM on November 8, 2015

Mr. gudrun is a big fan of Fox River Socks. A bit above your price point (though some not by much - Wick Dry Explorer for example) but so very warm. It won't help you now but you can find them on end of the season sales sometimes for less.
posted by gudrun at 7:44 AM on November 8, 2015 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: Thanks for the suggestions so far! This is a good selection of brands to look into, but does anybody have any experience with specific models, with an emphasis on cold-weather performance?

Some brands carry a wide range of models, and it's often hard to tell just from websites which ones are actually good for spending long periods outdoors in the snow and ice. Other times, when a brand appears to have just one or a few models, it's hard to tell if they're actually suitable for the kind of serious all-day cold weather use that I need them for, or whether they're just all-purpose hiking socks that are quite a bit warmer than your average cotton sock but not really up to the job for outdoor winter working conditions.

That was sort of the fundamental conundrum that led me to write this question. If anyone can help me untangle that with some really specific recommendations, that would be truly excellent.

And sadly, Sierra Trading Post has no winter socks in my size on clearance right now. I will definitely keep an eye on that page though!
posted by Anticipation Of A New Lover's Arrival, The at 8:47 AM on November 8, 2015

+1 Sierra Trading Post. Big selection of brands at discount prices. Sign up for the email "dealflyer". They frequently offer a 30% offer your order plus free shipping. Sometimes 40%. Their facebook page occasionally has a 45% or 50% off coupon.

My favorite brands are Goodhew, Keen, Fox River, Smartwool.
posted by valannc at 10:29 AM on November 8, 2015 [1 favorite]

Like Sierra Trading, Campmor also has good deals and closeouts.

My feet are ALWAYS cold AND sweaty (yay). So, it's only wool socks for me. I've recently come to the realization that (duh) knee-highs are warmer than crew height, so you might look into that. Although, you'll find more "dress weight" knee-highs than really heavy ones. The best ones I've found are actually for downhill skiing and/or snowboarding. They have thick padding in the feet and across the shin — so toasty.

Nthing Fox River, Darn Tough, and Wigwam as good brands. I've had crap luck with Smartwool. Like the-heels-wear-out-ridiculously-fast bad luck.
posted by mon-ma-tron at 10:42 AM on November 8, 2015

All my Costco wool socks from last year (and I love them so much otherwise) pissed me off when every other one blew out at the ball of my foot before the end of the season. So I no longer recommend them.

I am watching this thread for recommendations. The California cool season is long, and I hate slippers.
posted by Lyn Never at 10:59 AM on November 8, 2015

REI Outlet also has last season's Smartwool socks on sale for $10-15 (no, I have no idea why there are trendy seasons for socks).
posted by gingerbeer at 1:37 PM on November 8, 2015 [1 favorite]

However, Costco also makes men's wool socks that are quite a bit thicker than those, and they're $12 for four pairs, so if they do work for you, woo-hoo!

I would like to officially retract this suggestion. I just went rooting around someone's underwear drawer to investigate those socks, and they are nice, but they're on the thin side, like the women's socks.

Sorry about that.
posted by ernielundquist at 2:57 PM on November 8, 2015

Smartwool are cruel tricksy garbage, you might as well just throw your money right in the sea. Every single pair I own wore a huge hole in the heels within a year.

I am on Darn Tough now and so far so good.
posted by poffin boffin at 5:14 PM on November 8, 2015 [1 favorite]

I have worn the REI branded wool socks for years and have been very happy with their feel, warmth, and durability. Their Expedition socks are too heavy for my tastes but might be what you're looking for. They're more expensive than what you're looking for but this might be a case where you need to spend a little more to get consistent quality.
posted by Tehhund at 6:24 AM on November 9, 2015

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