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For my first official review for The Sustainable Cyclist, I thought I would do some socks.  Actually, I needed more socks, and we had a REI coupon, so I smelled review!  TMBRGSmartWool_iconSmartWool is well known in the hiking and skiing community for its incredible performance.  These guys took wool to a whole new level by ridding it of its itchy, shrinking reputation, and bringing it above and beyond its synthetic competition.  The company makes all kinds of clothing from base layers to outerwear including hats, gloves, scarves, babies clothing, kids clothing, and on and on.  If its a type of clothing, chances are they make it out of their wool.

The Wool: All the wool that SmartWool uses comes from Marino sheep that live in New Zealand.  They are free range, and live in “pristine, earth-friendly environments.”  It doesn’t smell, its soft, its not itchy, and it doesn’t shrink.

The Sustainability: As long as the animal is treated well, then your supply of wool is endless.  If your sheep has children, then you get more wool!  The manufacturing process I’m sure involves energy, but hey, you gotta make the socks!  I wouldn’t be surprised if this company used sustainable power for their production.  They seem really committed to the health of the Earth and humanity.  Check out these links from their website to learn more about what they do to provide a sustainable product and keep Earth healthy.

SmartWool Philosophy, Partners, Sustainability, Social, Employee, and Industry.

The Sock: I needed another pair of performance, lightweight socks for summer that would keep my feet dry, not bunch up on me, and give me just enough cushion to keep my skin from feeling the irregularities inside my shoe.  I went with the PhD Ultra Light Cushion Mini Crew (15.95 at REI).  Take a close peek herepTBL-5578693dtIts a long name, but take a peak at the selection of sizes, cushion, and type of sock.  Its really impressive!  The sock is composed of 67% wool, 30% nylon and 3% elastic.  The packaging boasts the following technology’s used by the PhD socks:

Wool on Wool (WOW) – This is higher density wool in crucial areas like the heal and ball for durability.

4 degree fit system – compression bands at the ankle, arch, upper instep, lower instep, and contour flex zone.

Ultra light cushion – for protection against shock and abrasion.

Mesh MVT zones – A type of knit pattern to maximize ventilation

Flat-knit toe seam – for comfort and durability.

I used the sock today for a ride that was about 20 miles long, and at a medium intensity.  Some rolling hills, and a couple hard climbs.  The weather was in the low 70’s and nothing more than a slight breeze for wind.  I was paying close attention on how the sock performed in regards to ventilation, and to see if bunched up at all.  I was very impressed with how the sock stayed right where I put it and didn’t move the entire ride.  I was very impressed with the fit of the toe area because there was no excess material, and just the right amount of cushion.  My feet did not get hot the entire ride, but when I increased the intensity towards the end of the ride, the sweat really started to pour out.  Any sock in this situation is going to get wet with sweat, but some can handle it better than others.  This particular sock seemed to get a bit soggy and weighted down.  I could sort of feel the wetness squishing in the heel area.  This is a negative, but I only really noticed it after I got off my bike.  Overall, I think the good outweighs the bad.  An incredibly sustainable sock, from a great company that holds to the foot, keeps you cool, has just the right amount of cushion, but is slightly too absorbent.  I like this company and plan on trying some of their other cycling specific products.

Another plus is that the packaging is made from recycled paper and printed using soy based inks

Go get yourself some SmartWool!

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