I normally hate socks. Before smartwool I had only 4 pair, which I wore only when exercising. My main criteria when buying shoes (and I have gone through phases where I have bought lots of shoes), is to buy shoes that don't require socks. So if you can tolerate the thought of socks, you're already a step ahead of me.
For some reason, I like textiles more than your average 25 year old. I think that wool is an amazing material and I have read about it extensively. It is an excellent insulator, which means that it keeps you cool in the summer and warm in the winter. The fibers are very strong, so it can't be flattened over time like cotton (that's why wool rugs are so popular). It has natural oils that repel dirt. It wicks away moisture and can hold up to 1/3 of its weight in water before feeling wet. It even absorbs odors.
When I heard about Smartwool socks, I wasn't excited. I had a pair of wool socks before, but they were far too itchy and thick for me. I read that these socks were used on Everest, though, and that they weren't itchy. I had to try them for myself.
On NWO Solutions
Choosing to wear wool has a multitude of benefits. From an environmental standpoint, it is far more sustainable for the earth. Wool is a plentiful resource that is extremely easy to produce. It is also much better for wearing for a number of reasons. It repels odor, dries fast, is warm in the winter, and cool in the summer. In addition, wool naturally has flame retardant properties, which means that it doesn’t have to get sprayed down with carcinogenic flame retardant petrochemicals.
When looking at using wool and other animal products, many people will cite the cruelty to animals that is usually practiced by multinational corporations like Cargill or Tyson. I completely agree that these practices are abhorrent and deserve no place in our society. Yet there are ways of farming that are humane for the animals, like letting them out to pasture, eating grass, and getting to be outside. And even when killing the animals, local farmers tend to make it as quick and painless as possible. Moving on from that, I feel like using wool is one of the easiest ways to produce quality materials. You basically can just shave off the wool of the sheep each spring. We get the wool to use for clothing, and they get to stay cool for the summer, while growing back their coat for the winter.
A number of problems are bypassed. No big machinery is needed for farming like you need with cotton. There is no threat of having to deal with GMO’s fibers that carry their own toxic load. Raising the sheep on pastures is renewable because their waste fertilizes the ground, and nature grows their food with ease. It also bypasses the whole synthetic clothing industry that is derived from petrochemicals. These products don’t usually last as long as natural ones, and are environmentally damaging to create, and have possible hazards of wearing them against your skin all day.
The natural properties of wool are so awesome, I don’t know why anybody would choose to wear anything else. You can wear wool clothing for up to two weeks in between washes and not have to worry about your clothing smelling bad. This reduces the amount the amount of time and money we spend washing our clothes, and increases the lifespan of the clothing item. The next benefit is that wool dries way faster than cotton does and works to repel water, instead of absorb it all in. This makes it really easy to air dry your clothes instead of using a dryer, and also means that if you get caught in the rain, it will take less time for your clothes to dry out. I can’t say I know how it does this, but wool keeps you warm in the winter, and relatively cool in the summer. Synthetic materials as well as cotton clothes don’t really do this.