We’ve posted about work boots before, but socks? What’ll we talk about next – underwear? Hmm, there’s an idea!
But in all seriousness, I sat down, and my post this evening was going to be about a must-have tool that everyone should buy. A lot of people are still looking for gift ideas, or ideas on how to splurge on an end-of-the-year treat for themselves.
My mind drew a blank. I posted a flashlight deal recently, and a gift guide on folding and work knives, and a quick gift guide on great hand tools. What next? *Blank*
About to give up, I looked down at my feet. I’m wearing a pair of Cloudline wool socks, ankle-height. For the work I did today I probably should have worn crew socks, but that doesn’t matter.
There is only ONE reason I can think of, why you shouldn’t buy these socks. Maybe there are more, in which case please discuss it in comments. Here’s the reason:
They’re pricey, but so comfortable you risk not being happy with any other types of socks ever again.
I wear wool socks 360 days of the year, or maybe 299 out of every 300 days that I leave the house.
This is my cousin’s fault. Back in 2005 or so, or around then, she got me a pair of thick fluffy wool winter socks. I kind of liked them. I somehow ended up with two other pairs of socks. They were great for those times I needed a half inch of insulation around my feet.
And then I bought my first pair of Smartwool socks, before they were trendy. And then another. And more a few months later when I found good deals and sales. And then more.
After a few years, I stopped replacing cotton socks.
Now, I have some dress socks, maybe some synthetic blend athletic socks, and a bunch of wool socks.
I’ve purchased different brands over the years – Smartwool, Darn Tough, and some other brands. I bought a couple of Cloudline socks starting in 2017, and have placed a total of 9 orders for more since then.
Cloudline might not be the best brand out there, but it’s what I like best at the moment. If you want to shop around, look at Darn Tough too.
I like wool socks because they offer great cushioning, comfort, and moisture wicking. Do you know the wet-feet feeling because your socks are wet from sweat, rain, or whatever? I forgot what that’s like.
Here I was, trying to thinking of a good holiday must-have treat-yourself tool idea, and… socks.
If you’ve never worn wool socks before, try just ONE pair. They’re pricey. Next time you need to replace your socks, if you like them buy one more. See how it goes.
It’s probably not the best idea, but I sometimes (often) wear fewer than 7 pairs of socks per week. It’s a bad habit that’s hard to break. How did this start happening? Well, there was a time when I didn’t have enough wool socks to wear every day between laundry cycles, because they are quite pricey. So I’d wear a pair more than one day.
That’s another benefit of wool – it doesn’t smell like other types of socks, at least in my opinion.
I like the “medium cushion” best. Sometimes thinner socks are okay for around the house.
Wool socks do wear out, but surprisingly slowly, at least for me. That’s also why I stopped buying Smartwool, I had a couple of bad experiences and it was time to try a different brand. I still do have some smartwool socks in my drawer, even though the last time I bought them was in… 2011. Wow. I checked my inbox, and that’s what it says – my last smartwool socks were purchased 8 years ago. I have other orders going back to 2007. Many are still in active rotation.
Cloudline socks are made in the USA, as are Darn Tough.
I like ankle-height socks for everyday use (1/4 crew), but full crew/hiking length socks when I’ll be working outside a lot or wearing taller work boots.
“No show” socks are comfortable too. I like Cloudline’s better than others because they don’t fall into my sneakers while wearing them, something I’ve experienced with other brands.
Buy Now: 1/4 Crew Cloudline via Amazon
Buy Now: Crew Cloudline via Amazon
Buy Now: Darn Tough Socks via Amazon
Most brands, Cloudline and Darn Tough included, use a wool blend. The Cloudline crew socks are 63% merino wool, 33% nylon, 4% spandex. The Dark Tough socks are 64% merino wool, 33% nylon, 3% lycra.
These socks are often marketed as athletic socks. I have worn them for entire days (and nights) in the workshop, but I can’t guarantee they’ll hold up to YOUR jobsite demands and wearing habits.
These socks work for me, and I swear by them.
I converted my wife over to wool/wool-blend socks a few years ago, and now it’s all either of us will wear (with some exceptions, such as dress socks, but I do have more formal-looking wool socks too).
C’mon, give ’em a try (mwahahaha).
And if you don’t like them, Amazon usually has a great return policy on clothes, socks included.
Koko The Talking Ape
I’m a fan of Darn Tough. They have a LIFETIME guarantee. Eat that, SmartWool!
+1 for Darn Tough socks!
Another +1 for Darn Tough (and they have XXL – that’s 15-17 – so I finally have a bunch that fit!).
I usually wear Carhartt Force socks most of the year. In the winter though when it’s really cold I only wear my Alpaca socks daily. I’m not sure what brand or name but I know they’re made in Iowa and they’re the real deal. My wife will get me a new pair each winter for Christmas. These look good though! I’ll check them out..
You can never have enough good socks! I might give these a try, I’ve used EMS and smartwool and have been satisfied for the most part. Thanks for this post.
I wear Wrightsock’s merino wool socks 300 days a year, they are excellent. And I have returned 4 year old socks and received a new pair with no questions asked!
Haha, that’s a great topic! I have a pair of smart wool socks that must be over 10 years old. I only use them when I’m out in a nor’easter cleaning the driveway. They are terrific for keeping the feet warm. I like the medium cushion for the outdoors as well. I got some EMS socks along the way but wasn’t as fond of them as I was of the smart wool (forget why). As I’m getting older, my feet seem to be perpetually cold (compared to when I was younger and walking around the house all winter sans socks), so the year before last I found a huge end of season sale on smart wool and grabbed a bunch. You just reminded me they are buried in a box somewhere. Hmmm…somewhere.
Hmmmm Smartwool can be found At Duluth.
30% off sale ends today (12/13) at Duluth! (Free shipping)
I’m a Thorlo guy. Bought a pair when I was 17 for a backpacking trip and was sold. They are expensive…but available ocassionally on Sierra trading Post plus a 25 percent off coupon…that’s when I stock up. Worn them in Afghanistan…Africa…up and down trails…logging… construction.
I love these socks. They are more of a work/outdoor boot sock than an everyday sock but they are the best! I wear them year round to work.
Looks like amazon has 10% off on the crews right now. Thanks!
I’ve been dissatisfied with llbean’s ragg wool socks. I feel like my heel thins them out quickly and they just aren’t warm enough. I can’t wear any petroleum based cloths for my job (so wool, or cotton really are my options) and I’ve got size 15 feet, making it really hard to find socks that work. Does anyone have a suggestion for work or dress style socks that might work?
Darn Tough socks are superb and a lot of them go up to XXL (15-17). The “Hiker Micro Crew Cushion” is 61% Merino Wool, 36% Nylon, 3% Lycra Spandex. Dunno if that solves your work requirements…
Not cheap, but buy once, cry once – lifetime warranty.
Thanks! The 36% Nylon unfortunately is a killer.
Rag wool is a different style sock then Stu’s is posting about + you need to wear a thin sock liner w/ them (rag wool).
Rag Wool = old school hiking socks.
As pointed out below Stu’s style sock is not 100% below and has some other materials to make them durable and more comfy………
Man I love Darn Tough socks. Until a couple of years ago I never gave socks too much attention. I always just assumed the cheap and nasty nylon/cotton blend type were it. I’ve had ‘wool’ socks before but they just wore out quickly. Then I found DT on Drop and now I think I have over 25 pairs.
For a South African these are a luxury but something I’ll never give up. I even wear the same pair two or three times a week (not consecutively of course) and they keep my feet warm in winter and cool in summer. For the price of a pair of DT socks I can purchase a 10l bucket of chlorine for my pool if that gives you any indication of the cost.
Thanks for the heads up for Cloudline, I’ll give them a try.
I’m thinking you meant to say 2005 was the year your cousin bought you socks. The rest of the story makes a little more sense that way. I sort of think the SmartWool brand has been stagnant, probably not a decline, since 2015. Figured you would have had to buy way before then, if it was before they were popular.
I can’t say I’ve ever been thrilled with Smart Wool. Nice, but never my favorite.
Whoops, that’s right, I meant 2005, thanks!
I just wear Wigwams, comparatively cheaper (slightly) and they’re stocked regularly at my local Menards, Fleet Farm, and Farm & Fleet.
And for those keeping score, also lifetime guarantee and made in the USA.
JR3 Home Performance
Same here; wear them all year and I’ll go an average of 3-4 days of use with the exception of hot summer days spent wearing boots all day. They also do a great job of protecting boots from getting stinky. I usually get a brand called people socks on amazon. I need to restock with a few pairs a year as I walk around inside wearing them without any indoor shoe/slipper
Darn tough socks are great. I got mine at GovX for a little less.
Jeff from Tool Box Buzz
I wear wool socks all day every day. I’m almost always in work boots though too. The only time I don’t is when I’m wearing flip flops on summer weekends. I had a couple pairs of the Duluth brand socks but they wear out too fast. The last couple years I’ve been rocking the Omniwools from Sam’s Club. I have 8 pairs in rotation. $17 for 4 pairs.
For those that run guaranteed socks, what does that cover? Just defects or wear and tear?
Those socks are Gods way of telling you you have too much money.
I only recently had to replace regularly-worn socks I bought maybe 8-10 years ago. Better comfort and durability costs more upfront but can save money over time. (Just like tools…)
The best socks are made by Redback.
The best socks for work boots are Redback.
Another option are Injinji nuwool socks. They are toe socks and if your feet feel cramped at the toes, these will help that. Help your feet spread out, better balance, etc. They have light and heavy blends for year round wear. The light are marketed as sock liners. They can help prevent blisters. You can also wear them under regular heavy wool socks if you need warmer feet. They look kind of weird, but functional. Pricey.
Big fan of Fox River socks. Factory is in my state of Iowa. In addition to their brand, they make private label for many others including Duluth and LL Bean. There is a high likelihood that they make the Cloudline socks.
I have several pair of Farm to Feet, great socks! Made in the USA and on the same level as Darn Tough.
Go through the cloudline socks website right now, and they have a buy one, get one 50% off deal (+free koozie). And like darn tough, apparently cloudline has a lifetime warranty.
I started w/ Smartwools summer of 1998, big fan of this style sock; I own a variety of brands in the various styles available……over the calf (ski socks), ankle, crew style or evening dress (SW)
The folks that started Smartwool & sold it to Vanity Fair (think North Face, Vans and a lot of other brands), started another wool style sock (not Darn Tough)!
Great post Stu – post about undies, work pants & outwear should be considered in the future.
Been wearing Timberland pro socks for years now but just with everything great they have been discontinued(over the calf, black with reinforced toe and heel). I am walking on concrete/porcelain tile 10 hours a day, 6 days a week and I am always looking for a better way, so I broke down and bought these CloudLine Merino Wool Retro Hiking Socks – for Men & Women – X-Large White/Blue https://www.amazon.com/dp/B07BS7X3GP/ref=cm_sw_r_other_apa_i_-gH9DbZXSRMM3
Will see how these turn out…
I where nothing but Darntough now. Nothing more comfortable. They wear well, and truthfully I will wear one pair for several days – just like when hiking. I probably have too many pairs of Darntough socks too. When I was on the job as a firefighter I’d wear mine for 24 hours at a time too. So it’s not like they were getting a few hours of use each wear cycle. They don’t get crusty, stay soft, and stay up too. Very little downward creep, and dry fast when wet.
Smartwool socks have a similar feel, and fit, but wear thru way too fast, are nearly as expensive, and just aren’t as good.
Darntough do have a lifetime warranty, but with what I would call “terms”. Only once I was able to return the socks to the store where they were purchased at. Now you have to go online and submit a claim, detailing color, style, and what went wrong and where on the sock the product failed. Then wait to hear back with a claim number/approval…..wash them and then return them for a new pair. Sort of a pain, but everyone has a similar “lifetime warranty” now.
Between my wife and I we have a dozen pairs to send back this year (but they are 1-2 years old and worn everyday). So it’s worth not buying more…..
I was just looking at SmartWool Compression socks today (because I stand so much) but was disappointed that they didn’t have a lot of color choices in my size. Last week I bought a pair of alpaca socks locally and will compare those to the wool soon. I wear wool socks all the time, I hate having cold feet!
I’m going to try the Cloudline’s compression and see how they are, too. Thanks for the suggestion!