REI Co-op Lightweight Merino Crew Review
Cons: Not quick to dry, loses shape when wet
Manufacturer: REI Co-op
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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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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