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

Smartwool Hike Medium Crew - Women's Review

This is our Editors' Choice for women because of its performance in all four seasons and the super cozy fabric feel.
Editors' Choice Award
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Price:  $19 List | $12.73 at REI
Compare prices at 4 resellers
Pros:  Super comfortable and cushioned, quick to dry, great warmth
Cons:  Not super breathable, expensive, average durability
Manufacturer:   Smartwool
By Amber King ⋅ Senior Review Editor  ⋅  Dec 13, 2017
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80
OVERALL
SCORE


RANKED
#1 of 11
  • Comfort - 25% 9
  • Warmth - 25% 9
  • Wicking and Breathability - 25% 7
  • Durability - 15% 6
  • Drying Speed - 10% 8

Our Verdict

The Smartwool Hike Medium boasts a perfect blend of comfort, warmth, and breathability. This women's specific sock features a Merino-wool blend that is soft to the touch, comfortable, and luxurious. It wins our Editors' Choice award (for women's hiking socks) because of its versatile performance. In our tests, it performs well in everything from zero to seventy-degree temperatures. We hiked it through wet trails and over deserts, and it still impressed us. We are especially stoked to wear it while sleeping in a cold tent in sub-zero temperatures. Among our female testers, it is our favorite and a top recommendation…we just wouldn't wear it in the heat of the summer.

While the Smartwool Hike Medium is wonderful overall, it's only real downfall is its breathability. Constructed as a mid-weight sock intended for colder weather, this is no real surprise. That said, we would recommend a thinner contender like the Darn Tough Hiker Micro Crew Cushion, our Top Pick for warm weather. This also has a women's specific fit and better suited for high-intensity activities and is not compatible with a hiking boot.

If you're not particular about a female-specific fit, the Darn Tough Full Cushion sock is our Editors' Choice award winner for men. It boasts better durability than the Smartwool Hike Medium Sock and has a tighter, less cushioned fit overall. While there are many other options, we still love the Smartwool Hike Medium sock for women. It's a great four-season hiking option that will keep your feet happy and protected mile after mile.


Compare to Similar Products

Our Analysis and Test Results

The Smartwool Hike Medium is a women's hiking sock that provides a well-rounded level of performance. We love to take it day hiking, climbing, and backpacking. This is our Editor's Choice for Women.

Performance Comparison


This hiking sock made by Smartwool is cozy  comfortable  and great for all four seasons. It's our Editors' Choice for women because of its versatility and performance.
This hiking sock made by Smartwool is cozy, comfortable, and great for all four seasons. It's our Editors' Choice for women because of its versatility and performance.

Comfort


This midweight full-boot hiker features a 66% Merino Wool, 33% Nylon, 1% Elastane blend that makes it one heck of a cozy and comfortable sock! The fabric is thick underfoot and concentrated around the forefoot and heel. There is some compression paneling around the arch of the foot and the forefoot that keeps the sock from sliding up or down on the leg. The fabric is just sooooooo cozy. Our testers didn't only love to hike for several comfortable miles, but it is a favorite for lounging and camping. What's more is this the full-boot construct is perfect for either hiking boots or hiking shoes.


While this sock is super soft and cozy, its fit isn't as precise. While the fit is female specific, our testers noted that the sock isn't as tight around the heel and arch. Some of our testers liked this less fitted design, while others did not. So what it comes down to is a matter of preference. If you're looking for a sock with a female-specific design and a less fitted design (with softer materials), then this is an excellent choice. If you prefer a sock that is more fitted, be sure to check out the Darn Tough contenders instead.

While the fit isn't as fit as the Darn Tough contenders  our women sure did like its female-specific design.
While the fit isn't as fit as the Darn Tough contenders, our women sure did like its female-specific design.

If you're in the market for a contender that isn't a full boot sock, the Smartwool PhD Medium Crew is just as comfortable and not as tall. Or if you prefer a model that sits closer to the ankle, we'd recommend the Darn Tough Micro Crew Hiker for women instead. If you want a super affordable unisex ankle sock, the People's Merino Wool Sock is a popular choice.

Warmth


When evaluating warmth, we are not so surprised that it does well in all four seasons. The length of the sock makes it a good option to wear with a pair of winter boot in the winter. During our wet tests, we hiked around in the river in late Fall, completing saturating it. While we hiked, our feet stayed warm and comfortable in forty degree weather. It continued to stay warm as the temperatures dropped, but only if we were moving (note: no wet sock will keep you warm if you're not moving).


In our dry tests, we learned it is one of the warmest in our tests. While hanging out in zero degree weather around a campfire, our feet stayed toasty and warm. This was also a go-to option during cold camping nights to wear to bed. Overall, we are very impressed with the warmth of the Smartwool Hike Medium for women and would recommend it for all seasons - including the cold ones.

In comparison to other contenders, we were also impressed with the Darn Tough Full Hiker that demonstrated a similar level of warmth overall. The Smartwool PhD Crew was a close second, but it didn't keep our feet as warm in colder temperatures because of its thinner design. Overall, if you're looking for one of the warmest hiking socks out there - this is a great option.

The cozy fabric provides warmth when it's cold outside.
The cozy fabric provides warmth when it's cold outside.

Wicking and Breathability


We recommend this as a four-season option, as it does a decent job at wicking and breathing while on the trail. We already learned that it provides excellent warmth for cold days, but it's also an option for cooler summer days as well. The fabric is porous and offers good breathability while hiking and backpacking. That said, we wouldn't recommend it for high-intensity activities like trail running in the summer. In fact, our testers thought it was a great running option during super cold early morning runs.


If you're in the market for a model that is super breathable, be sure to check out the Darn Tough Hiker Micro Crew Cushion, our Top Pick for active wear for women. This contender has thinner materials and provides better breathability on warmer days. It also has a lower ankle cut that keeps legs cooler in summer months. That said, it's not best to wear with a pair of hiking boots.

This fibers are fairly porous allowing decent breathability and great wicking capabilities.
This fibers are fairly porous allowing decent breathability and great wicking capabilities.

If you want a sock that wicks really well and absorbs little to no moisture on the trail, the synthetic Wigwam Hiking Outdoor Pro sock is the best option. In our testing, it wicked away water nicely and also provided great breathability overall because of its loosely woven fabric design. This is a great synthetic alternative to the merino-wool blend.

Durability


We aren't super impressed with the durability of the Smartwool Hike Medium sock - but we also didn't think it's bad either. In our testing, we noted a bit of compaction after just 20 miles and a few thread fly-aways.


Here we note some stitching fly-aways and pilling along the length of the sock. A reason it didn't score high in this category.
Here we note some stitching fly-aways and pilling along the length of the sock. A reason it didn't score high in this category.

Drying Speed


A midweight merino-blend sock that dries quickly? Heck yes! We are happy to report that this woman's hiker sock dries quickly! As a result, we'd recommend this sock for all sorts of weather conditions!


A look at the socks participating in our drying tests.
A look at the socks participating in our drying tests.

Best Application


Given the great performance in pretty much every category we are happy to recommend this sock for a variety of uses. A big reason it won our Editors' Choice award is thanks to its versatility that allows use through all seasons. It's only limit is super hot weather, where you might opt for a thinner sock that is ankle-length instead.

Here we hike up Mt. Sneffels in the San Juans. The Smartwool Hiking socks kept our feet protected while trundling up 12 miles of rocky trail with 5 000 feet of elevation gain.
Here we hike up Mt. Sneffels in the San Juans. The Smartwool Hiking socks kept our feet protected while trundling up 12 miles of rocky trail with 5,000 feet of elevation gain.

Value


For just $19, you get one of the most versatile socks tested in this review. That said because it's not the most durable, there are other better high-value options out there. While the Darn Tough Full Cushion sock is $24, it also comes with a lifetime guarantee. We love the comfort and coziness of this Editors' Choice winner and that we could use it through all four-seasons (something most socks can't do). As a result, we'd still say its worth the price.

If you're looking for a cheaper (and high value) option, perhaps the Danish Unisex Merino Wool, an affordable merino-wool blend unisex boot sock, is a better fit. Or if you're in the market for an ankle-high sock instead (that's affordable), check out the People's Merino Wool Hiking sock that sells for about $9 per sock!.

Conclusion


The Smartwool Hike Medium Crew is perfect for any woman looking to hike, backpack, or just get out in nature. It features some of the coziest materials that are both breathable and quick to dry. It boasts versatility as one of the few socks that we recommend for all four seasons. As a result, it won our Editors' Choice award for women this year.

The Smartwool Hiking sock is comfortable and versatile  making it our Editors' Choice award winner for women.
The Smartwool Hiking sock is comfortable and versatile, making it our Editors' Choice award winner for women.


Amber King