A Runner Trying SmartWool & Balega Socks – Road & Trail

For years, I have heard people talk about the benefits of SmartWool socks, and how amazing they were. During those same years, I let my cheapskate tendencies prevent me from giving them a shot.

That tendency was warded off one night, as we went shopping & there was a sock sale!

I picked up three pairs of socks, in a buy two, get the third for half off, or something like that.

Sock #1: SmartWool PhD Run – Ultra Light Cushion
Socks: SmartWool PhD Run - Ultra Light in GreyCould the money spent on SmartWool socks be worth the higher price? That’s what I wanted to find out.

I picked up a pair of the Ultra Light Cushion version of SmartWool’s PhD Run line of Merino wool socks in grey, and another pair on black, just because.

While the socks were still in the packaging, they felt much different from the standard athletic socks produced by Adidas, Puma, etc that I would wear for runs. The SmartWool material has a bit more overall elasticity, with an interesting smooth wool texture.

Putting the socks on, I was greeted by the greater elasticity hugging my feet. The increased elastic grip throughout the entire sock did not squeeze too tightly, rather it held the sock in place, which was a welcome occurrence.

SmartWool sock product review by Chris-R.netGoing out for my first run in them, I was cognizant of the socks’ tightness for the first little bit. After that, I forgot about the socks, merely enjoying the run.

Being the socks were being tested in the Las Vegas heat, I was interested to see how well they handled my foot sweat. I was pleasantly surprised that it did not feel like my shoes were mobile puddles, filled with sweat. The socks did a great job of pulling the sweat away, keeping my toes from feeling too drenched. As I took the socks off post run, the socks had a lot of sweat in them, surprisingly so, as I didn’t feel like that was the case.

Overall Impression: Grippy socks, that wick very well.

Rating: 5 of 5

Recommendation Level: High

Sock #2: Balega Enduro VTech
Balega Sock Review by Chris-R.netThe third pair of socks from my purchase were some Balega Enduro VTech socks.

Inside the packaging, these socks felt much thicker, and more like a new pair of cotton socks, than athletic socks.

Pulling them out of the package, they felt very, very thick. Where the SmartWool socks lived up to their Ultra Light name, these Balegas had a bit of heft to them.

Sliding my foot into each soft, white cocoon, I was again reminded of the first time putting on classic white, cotton socks.  This could be interesting.

Due to the added thickness of these socks, my shoes felt a bit tighter than normal. As with other athletic socks, the Balegas wick away moisture well. However, they seemed too thick for my preference. The aforementioned Puma socks were too thick for me, and these Balegas were even thicker.

The comfort level of these socks was quite high. However, that was just initial feeling. Running in these socks was not for me.

Overall Impression: Very thick, soft socks, that wick pretty well.

Rating: 3 of 5

Recommendation Level: Moderate

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