Wednesday, January 21, 2015

ode to SmartWool.

My entire family is obsessed with SmartWool.

SmartWool socks.

As you know, I love a good sock – I don’t think I’ve owned a plain pair of socks for almost twenty years – but SmartWool socks are not just socks.

They’re magic.

And they’ve ruined me for all other socks.

SmartWool has been around for a long time, but it didn’t cross my family’s radar until 2012. My cousin is a Marine, and he was stationed in Afghanistan at the time. Dad would sent my cousin care packages from time to time, and he would ask for a list of things my cousin wanted or needed. My cousin requested a particular brand of socks: SmartWool. He said they were the best socks you could ever hope to have.

So off Dad went to find these mythical socks. He found them at Fergen’s: a clothing store in Brookings. Dad bought out the stock… only to find out that he’d gotten the wrong kind of SmartWool. SmartWool, as it turns out, comes in a zillion varieties depending on your activity: running, hunting, snowboarding, skiing. Dad had gotten the “lifestyle” variety, and my cousin was looking for the hiking socks.

Dad ordered a bunch of SmartWool hiking socks online, and on a whim, ordered a pair for himself. After all, he wanted to see what was so great about these socks. As soon as he put his SmartWool socks on, Dad was hooked. My brother Mitch got a pair, my mom got a pair, and James was given some of the original lifestyle variety. They all preached the gospel of SmartWool.

As a non-SmartWool owner, I was out of the loop. I was not sure what the big deal was – they seemed like any other sock, only ten times as expensive. What did SmartWool socks do that other socks couldn’t?

In Christmas 2013, I finally found out. I got a pair of SmartWool socks in my Christmas stocking: beautiful colorful stripes, the lifestyle variety. I put these socks on, and I was in heaven. The glory of SmartWool is hard to describe, but once I was wearing these socks, it felt like my feet had been missing out all these years. The socks are wool, but they’re not itchy. They’re sturdy, but comfortable. They’re lean, but warm. In short, they’re magic.

I joined my family in their passion for SmartWool. I made detours in sporting goods stores to explore the sock section. I visited North Face stores just for their SmartWool section: they had the best end-of-season clearance. (And since I am one of the few who wears size small in SmartWool, there are always leftover size smalls for me.) I looked on the internet for past-season deals on SmartWool.

Now, in addition to being categorized by activity, SmartWool socks also come in varying levels of cushion. (The lifestyle socks tend to be light cushion so that they can fit into any shoe.) You can get anywhere between ultra light cushion for running and ultra thick cushion for mountaineering. (I once spent a good five minutes in the sock department at Scheels just squeezing the ultra thick cushioned SmartWool socks. They are truly amazing.)

It was through my clearance SmartWool adventures that I entered the world of medium cushion PhD SmartWool. They advertise their PhD socks as being extra amazing, and I must say, they ARE. I found two pairs of medium cushion PhD running socks (size small) on super-clearance at the North Face store in Minneapolis – one pair in February, one pair in April. And let me tell you: wearing those socks is like walking on pillows. They are incredible. That’s my SmartWool sweet spot.

SmartWool has become a new Christmas tradition. Everyone gets SmartWool in their Christmas stockings, and everyone winds up wearing their new SmartWool the next day. Finding SmartWool in the Christmas stocking results in happy cries of “SmartWool!” No one is ever disappointed.

SmartWool socks run in the neighborhood of $20, and it’s hard to believe that a cheapskate like me would pay that much for a single pair of socks. First of all, I don’t: clearance, my friends. But even clearance SmartWool isn’t what you’d call cheap: I found a pair of SmartWool (medium cushion!) for $13.77 at Scheels the other day, and that is a GREAT deal in SmartWool terms. Secondly, I justify it this way. If I found a lovely sweater for $13.77, that would be an outstanding deal, right? And I’d buy it, right? But how often would I wear that sweater? Once or twice a month? My SmartWool socks are on a steady rotation, and I most definitely get my $13.77 worth. Plus, wearing a pair of SmartWool socks has made me happier than wearing any sweater I’ve ever bought.

Who would’ve thought that socks could bring us so much joy?

1 comment:

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