Smartsocks! Smartunderwear! Smartwool!

Here at There & Back we’re assuming that you’ve heard of Smartwool; one of the renowned companies pioneering the use of the New Zealand grown, merino wool. In 1995 Smartwool started with Smart-socks and since then have branched out to shirts, sweaters, hats, leggings and more. These items can be purchased in nearly every outdoor retailer in Colorado. In fact, if you’re in an outfitter store and they don’t carry Smartwool products, turn and run away screaming! To find out more about how Smartwool achieves their outstanding quality visit and click the “Why Smartwool” tab and get an education on wool fibers.

Smartwool Socks


Men’s Microweight Boxer Brief–



100% Merino Wool

Elastic Waistband

Wool underwear? Sounds itchy.

I know what you’re thinking, that wool underwear is going to be scratchy and uncomfortable. Well, you are so wrong I don’t even know where to start… I guess I’ll start here. It’s not itchy at all; in fact these jewels nearly disappear while wearing them. The 100% Merino Wool is so soft it doesn’t even feel like wool. They’re extremely thin yet keep you warm and cheerful at the same time. Again, these are machine washable and dryable. One note is the sizing is a bit weird. My waist is a size 34 and I’m comfortable in a size small for the boxer briefs. I do like tighter fitting baselayers, so they don’t move as much. But the medium, and large sizes seem really big. So, my suggestion is grab a few sizes and try them out before purchasing. Speaking of purchasing, I know you’re looking at that price and wondering why you would pay $40.00 for underwear. Honestly, if you “hike” Mount Evans once a year, I wouldn’t tell you to dish out on a pair of underwear you’ll wear only briefly. But if you’re going on a multi-day hike or week excursion buy a few pairs. They dry super fast in the sun, pack down small, and don’t cinch to your thighs when lifting your leg.  Overall, Smartwool’s Boxer Briefs are a great investment for people who spend weekend after weekend in the outdoors.


PhD Ski Light –

Light Cushion, Over-the-Calf



67% Merino Wool

32% Nylon

1% Elastic

Technically speaking, what makes this sock different?

Starting with how this sock is constructed. Smartwool uses their patented, “4 Degree Fit System” giving the sock a tighter fit for all day use. Four reinforced zones located on the ankle, arch, upper and lower instep keep the sock from moving and give better support. Also built with WOW Technology for better durability on the bottom, and Mesh MVT Zones on the top to improve ventilation.

Not technically speaking, what makes this sock different?

First off, this sock can be put in the washer and dryer which is a nice feature for wool items. Smartwool also boasts about odor control saying, “no moisture build up, no bacteria growth, no odor” which is true with ALL their products, not just their socks. But to be realistic, wearing a pair of socks on a 12-hour hiking trip in August produces a funk no matter what. However, a quick wash of these babies and the smell is gone. Furthermore, all of these socks fit to your foot and stay that way all day, no matter the activity. They’re extremely comfortable and truly provide support as indicated.

All that said and done, does this stuff really work?

I have 8 pairs of Smartwool socks, uses ranging from cycling, hiking, skiing and snowboarding. In my opinion, when it comes to socks, Smartwool is king. They have done their homework and when they say they’ve reinforced certain areas and vented others, they did it based on research and experience, not happenstance. I’m a big winter cyclist and have found that when the temperature drops to the single digits, wearing the PhD Ski Light with the Hiking Crew (also featured) keeps my feet warm and happy. I believe that a great piece of outdoor equipment is created with certain activities in mind, but can be useful in other situations and still operate to your benefit. These socks do that. For example, the reinforced shin attribute in the PhD Ski Light is made to ward against abrasion and shock. However, when winter-cycling it also gives a bit more wind resistance. Which is a great added benefit.


Hiking Medium Crew–

Medium Cushion, Crew



70% Merino Wool

29% Nylon

1% Elastic

So what makes this sock so great?

It is an all around a great sock. This three-season, all-purpose piece of equipment is a must have for light hiking, or everyday cold weather use. When compared to the PhD sock this hiking crew may seem average, since it doesn’t have the gizmos of its more intelligent sibling. But there’s no need for such technical attributes here. This sock is made for rugged use, while keeping your foot dry and comfy.

What’s in it for me?

This is one of my favorite pair of socks. Great for snowshoeing, a snowy day hike, or walking from your car to work when the temperature drops. I try to only wear this sock when I go hiking, so it isn’t worn out when I really need it. But I somehow convince myself to wear it whenever the cold weather rolls in, even if I’m only walking around town.


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