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.
Lo and behold, they are absolutely incredible. They're packed with features like arch supports, blister preventing bumps in the back, extra padding on the heel and toe, and even ventilated areas on the top. It's as if Ferrari had designed the sock. They aren't itchy at all, but rather soft and comfortable.
You know that feeling when you take off your socks, but then have to put them back on because you don't have any other pairs? The socks feel dirty, thin, and loose, right? Not with smartwools! They feel just like a fresh pair. It's astounding.
Overnight I was transformed from a sock hater into a sock aficionado. Every day I can't wait to put on my socks, and I don't take them off until I have to go to bed. I even offer them to guests at my house so that they can experience the nirvana. If you have feet, you owe it to yourself to buy some of these. I currently have 33 pairs, mostly the Adrenaline LT's pictured above.
The only problem, of course, is that they go for $10-20 per pair. Ouch! Luckily Sierra Trading Post has incredible deals on them. That's where I got mine. Don't pay too much attention to the sizes. I got mediums but people with much larger feet also found them comfortable.
Hey, which model socks are you referring to in this article? I'm thinking running? Couldya email me as I probably will forget about checking back here. acmezero(@)gmail
Would the smallest size of these socks be comfortable for a Penguin?
Katie, I'm glad you like it! You will absolutely love your new socks. I just wore a pair today and they were as lovely as ever. :)
I had a bit of a love affair with the Vibram Five Fingers. Todd got a pair right before we headed to Tokyo on Life Nomadic 2008, and I was jealous the whole time. Near the end of the trip Vibram graciously sent me a pair (intentionally delayed until after the running of the bulls, because they didn't want to be associated with that), and I wore them as my only shoes for a couple years afterwards.
I love how the Five Fingers feel, I love how they look, and I love supporting such an innovative company, BUT.... they smell terrible.
If you wear them as your primary shoes, you have to wash them every five to seven days or they smell really bad. When you live in an RV, this is difficult to do well, and when they're your only set of footwear, it's annoying to wait for them to dry. So I began searching for a replacement.
James Dines had a quote that said never try to cheap out on food, shoes, or financial advice. I completely agree with him on the topic of shoes. We spend most of our waking life in our shoes and they have a tremendous impact on the well being of our existence. I remember working for my Aunt for a summer, and I had terrible shoes, but didn’t really know it. I knew they were old and beat up, but I didn’t know how much pain they were causing my feet. I figured my feet hurt because I wasn’t use to working standing up. Every night I would get home and my feet would be screaming with pain, but I just figured that was normal. It wasn’t until that same Aunt convinced me to step up my shoe purchase to a $160 shoe that I truly got to see the difference that higher quality shoes make. My feet no longer hurt when I walked, and I actually started to enjoy it. As time went on, I ended up stepping my taste up another level to Alden dress shoes. I think shoes are a simple solution for creating personal well being.
A major benefit I realized when I switched over from sub $200 shoes to my expensive leather dress shoes, is that my feet no longer smelled. This was a major deal for me, because my feet could gag a maggot before. They smelled like burnt popcorn and the second I took my feet out of my shoes, the odor would hit. Which sucked cause my feet were super hot in my shoes and it felt nice to let them cool off. With my Alden’s I have yet to have that problem. I have one pair of shoes that I have owned for a year and a half, and have wore damn near everyday for the last 5 months, and absolutely no smell. There are two factors in creating an environment where your shoes don’t stink. The first part is getting new shoes, with a preference for leather lining like Alden, Allen Edmond’s or any other fine shoe maker. This limits the space that bacteria can grow inside of your shoe and makes them faster to dry out, which is also really important. The next factor is adding in new socks, and with a strong preference to Merino wool. Merino wool will keep your feet cooler, help to dissipate the moisture, and naturally repel odors. It is hard to go wrong with this combination. Recently I worked a week straight with the same socks and shoes each day, and it wasn’t until the end of the week where I found any hint of odor. The odor was only in the socks, so I gave them a wash, and they are as good as new.
The next major benefit that comes to mind with my nice dress shoes is the comfort factor. With goodyear welted shoes, your feet are sitting on a bed of cork. As you walk, your feet naturally impress into the sole, making a custom molded shoe. The benefit of this can’t be overstated. After just 2 or 3 weeks the shoes are designed to fit like a glove to your feet, and your feet only. I had a friend tell me that it took over a year for his cheap dress shoes to get comfortable, and it is now getting close to time where they need to be replaced. Whereas with my shoes, I went through a few weeks of pain, have custom molded shoes I love, which will last me for 20+ years if I treat them right.
Goodyear Welted shoes are designed so that the sole of the shoe can be replaced, so that the livelihood of the shoe is extended to 20 years if the shoes are taken care of. On one of the Alden forum’s, a man named McArthur has a pair of loafers from 1974 that he still wears, and they look better today due to the patina than the day he bought them.