New version of Smartwool's intelligent lightweight sock features ultra-durable high wear zones.
Smartwool's excellent merino wool-based PhD socks have been around for a while now and they're a firm OM favourite, but they've been totally revamped for this autumn 2012 with a clever high durability pure wool technology in high wear zones and even better fit than before- or that's the claim anyway.
The first generation of the PhD socks - PhD = clever, geddit - used cunning zoning, elasticated areas and something called WOW technology in high impact areas like toes and heels. We found them an excellent balance between fit, comfort and performance generally and great in damp conditions in particular, but they had one
Achilles heel, erm, weakness. With extended use, those high impact zones take a real pounding and simply wore out - see image.
For this autumn though, things have changed. There's a new high impact technology in town called ReliaWool - geddit - which mixes two merino wool yarns to create a cushioned area which is claimed to be massively durable. So much so that in testing, a top US ultra-runner put over 1000 miles on the socks with 'no visible wear'.
That's some claim, but Smartwool says that it makes sense to use wool rather than a mix of fibres since often what happens with a synthetic merino mix is that the wool wears away leaving just the synthetic yarns in the high wear areas, which sort of defeats the point of having merino wool socks in the first place.
In the flesh, the socks - in this case the PhD Outdoor model - are visually very similar to last year's versions and have a similar close, comfortable, contoured fit. That said the fit panels have been updated too with the latest version dubbed the 4 Degree Elite Fit system complete with mesh venting zones, an ankle band, arch band and two instep bands plus a virtually seam-free toe area.
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But the fit was never an issue as far as we're concerned, just the durability. We love the socks, they just wore out a little too fast. So here's the plan. We have the new PhD Outdoor sock and some older, but lightly used ones and we're going to wear one of each consistently over the next few months as much as possible and then compare the wear on the two.
In the mean time, you can find more Smartwool information at www.smartwool.com. The PhD sock range comes in a plethora - great word - of versions aimed at runners, walkers and cyclists, but they're also great for day-to-day use.