The world's most in-depth and scientific reviews of outdoor gear

REI Co-op Lightweight Merino Crew Review

A thicker hiking sock, despite its name, built to take on all trail conditions.
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Price:  $17 List | $16.95 at REI
Pros:  Very comfortable, breathable, medium cushioning, versatile
Cons:  Not quick to dry, loses shape when wet
Manufacturer:   REI Co-op
By Amber King ⋅ Senior Review Editor  ⋅  Aug 26, 2019
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72
OVERALL
SCORE


RANKED
#7 of 10
  • Comfort - 25% 8
  • Wicking and Breathability - 25% 7
  • Warmth - 20% 8
  • Durability - 20% 7
  • Drying Speed - 10% 4

Our Verdict

The REI Co-op Lightweight Merino Wool Hiking Crew is comfortable, durable, and offers a great level of breathability at a lower price point than the best performers out there. It's a perfect choice for slipping on during a cold night of winter camping or while wearing during a summer hike in the mountains. It doesn't dry out very quickly but will keep your feet dry with its wicking power. As a unisex sock, it's better for men or women with a wider foot. It also loses its shape in the toe box when wet. Overall, this sock has a variety of uses. From trail running to backpacking trips to casual camp wear, this medium cushioned product is a great value.


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Price $16.95 at REI$24.95 at Amazon
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Overall Score Sort Icon
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Star Rating
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Pros Very comfortable, breathable, medium cushioning, versatileDurable, comfortable, wide temperature regulation, versatile, fittedGreat thermoregulation, incredibly comfortable, durabilityBreathable, comfortable, well-fitted, thin materials, merino-wool blend, no itchIncredible durability, quick to dry, accommodates a liner, comfortable
Cons Not quick to dry, loses shape when wetNot ideal for hot temperatures, tall cut not best for allSlow to dry, expensiveLacks warmth in cold temperaturesLoose fit, lacks compression paneling, loses wicking capabilities in cold weather
Bottom Line A thicker hiking sock, despite its name, built to take on all trail conditions.An all-time favorite meant for long days on the trail.A hiking sock that performs well through all seasons for any distance.This merino-wool blend hiker is breathable and thin and performs well during high and low intensity activities.This high value sock is a synthetic full-length midweight sock with exemplary durability and drying speed.
Rating Categories Lightweight Merino Crew Darn Tough Hiker Full Cushion Smartwool PhD Pro Light Crew Light Hiker Micro Crew Wigwam Hiking Outdoor Pro
Comfort (25%)
10
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8
10
0
9
10
0
9
10
0
8
10
0
7
Wicking And Breathability (25%)
10
0
7
10
0
7
10
0
8
10
0
9
10
0
8
Warmth (20%)
10
0
8
10
0
8
10
0
8
10
0
7
10
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7
Durability (20%)
10
0
7
10
0
9
10
0
8
10
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8
10
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8
Drying Speed (10%)
10
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4
10
0
8
10
0
6
10
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6
10
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8
Specs Lightweight Merino... Darn Tough Hiker... Smartwool PhD Pro... Light Hiker Micro... Wigwam Hiking...
Material 79% merino wool/20% nylon/1% Lycra spandex 66% merino wool, 32% nylon, 2% lycra spandex 62% Merino Wool, 36% Nylon, 2% Elastane 40% merino wool, 56% nylon, 4% lycra spandex 41% polypropylene, 34% acrylic, 23% stretch nylon, 1% stretch polyester, 1% spandex
Sock Category Lightweight Midweight Lightweight Lightweight Midweight
Length Lower calf High calf Lower calf High ankle Lower calf
Guarantee Policy Limited lifetime warranty Lifetime guarantee 2 year satisfaction guarantee Lifetime guarantee 2 year guarantee

Our Analysis and Test Results

This model is a merino wool and synthetic blend sock that works well with either a hiking boot or shoe. While it's deemed a lightweight sock, it feels like it has a medium amount of cushioning underfoot. It's breathable and comfortable, making it a great option for a wide range of weather and through all seasons. It presents a good value that had us considering it as the Best Buy Award winner.

Performance Comparison


We quickly take a picture after hitting the pass up the Weehawken Trail in the San Juan Mountains. The REI Lightweight Hiker proves to be protective  comfortable  and all we needed for this grand adventure traversing scree fields and sliding down snow slopes.
We quickly take a picture after hitting the pass up the Weehawken Trail in the San Juan Mountains. The REI Lightweight Hiker proves to be protective, comfortable, and all we needed for this grand adventure traversing scree fields and sliding down snow slopes.

Comfort


When pulling on this sock, prepare for coziness and comfort. This sock reaches half-way up the calf with thick padding throughout. The merino-wool feel soft against the skin for all-day comfort on the trails. The sock will stay up over your calf throughout the day, while the feet and toes have a little additional padding. In a hiking boot or shoe, the sock feels good.

A look at the cushioning underfoot and at the shin that provides comfort all day long.
A look at the cushioning underfoot and at the shin that provides comfort all day long.

Our only caveat is based primarily in the fit for women. While it is a unisex product, the toe box is quite boxy. Many women mentioned that the additional material in the top of the sock made it hard to wear with tighter fitting trail hikers. While REI does advertise this as a lightweight sock, it feels like it offers a medium level of cushioning underfoot, adding to its overall comfort for both day hikes and long thru-hiking adventures.

Wicking & Breathability


Like most hiking socks, this merino wool-synthetic offers great thermoregulation. The fibers are plush, with big loops, that can grab moisture. The material of the sock is loosely packed which allows moisture to move away from the foot efficiently.

The upper of the foot provides good ventilation to keep feet dry on hot days.
The upper of the foot provides good ventilation to keep feet dry on hot days.

While trail running and hiking in warm weather our feet were kept surprisingly cool for its thicker design. This is further enabled by the ventilation on the top of the foot. Here the material is thinner, offering more effective breathability and a means for sweat or moisture to escape. As a result of its performance, we'd recommend it for all four-seasons but would probably leave it at home when the temperature gets into the 90's (F) or above.

On the trail  even in the hottest weather  this sock does a good job at breathing and providing good comfort.
On the trail, even in the hottest weather, this sock does a good job at breathing and providing good comfort.

Warmth


Our testing months occur through the summer for this sock, so we were unable to test these socks in super cold conditions. However, on colder summer nights at altitude, they proved to provide sufficient warmth when temps dipped into the 40s. The thicker wool material leads us to believe that they will be awesome in cold weather, but we have yet to test this when the seasons change in the Fall. Overall, from our experience, we deem this a good cold-weather sock, but more testing is needed to fully support this claim.

Durability


This hiking sock was taken through mud, dirt, grime, water, and snow. In total, we logged just over 60 miles while backpacking, day hiking, and trail running. After about 10 miles, we noticed some compaction in the forefoot of the sock. However, no notable tears or wear was seen. The construction of the sock isn't as tight as our top performers, and there are some thread fly-aways that lead us to believe this sock isn't as durable as most. As we continue to log miles, we will continue to update this metric. However, after 60 miles, it is still going strong.

A look at the wear and tear after 60 miles. This sock looks almost new after running  hiking  and backpacking for miles!
A look at the wear and tear after 60 miles. This sock looks almost new after running, hiking, and backpacking for miles!

Drying Speed


During these tests, we look at how quickly a hiking sock dries on both the trail and in a controlled situation. On the trail, we noticed that the sock breathes well but also holds moisture for long periods of time. If it was hot enough, we could simply splay the sock in the sun for about an hour and it would be nice and dry.

A look at the dry weight before the drying tests.
A look at the dry weight before the drying tests.

Though, in a comparative test in the dryer, this sock proved to take the longest time to dry. When soaking, it absorbed about 125% of its regular dry weight and lost water at a relatively consistent rate. In the end, it took about 100 minutes to dry at low heat. In general, this is still a fine drying speed for a hiking sock, but comparatively, one of the slowest tested. We would still recommend it for wet weather, but if you plan on hiking where there won't be sun and lots of rain, you might find yourself with wet socks on the trail.

Hiking  running  backpacking. A great option for any adventure.
Hiking, running, backpacking. A great option for any adventure.

Value


We definitely we considered this for our Best Buy award. Even though the REI Merino Wool Hiking Crew is of higher quality and a decent price when looking at other socks on the market, the price isn't low enough to earn our award. It is a great value, though.

Conclusion


The REI Co-op Lightweight Merino Wool Crew sock offers a plush amount of cushioning and great breathability for all-day trail comfort. While it takes longer to dry than the rest, it presents a great value and all-around versatility that had us smiling for over 60 miles during our testing period.


Amber King