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I bought a couple of pairs of black smart-wool socks, because we were planning to travel in Germany in cold weather. Illness prevented our trip, so I've worn the socks here in San Francisco. They're comfortable, warm, and thin enough to be worn with non-clodhopper-type shoes. However, when washed on the "delicate" machine cycle they faded all over the other clothes; when washed by hand, they take over two days to dry--even when hung up over the heater-- and they leave little black threads all over the basin. 8-( I'd love to hear from someone who took smart-wool socks on their travels and washed them by hand. Did you fare better than I? Any suggestions?
Meg Rosenfeld
San Francisco

Posted by
19 posts

I'd like to know as well...we are headed over in March and the guy at R.E.I. explained to me that these socks are "essential" for Europe....LOL.

Posted by
4980 posts

I have some smart wool socks. I have taken them to Europe, but they do take at least 2 days to dry. I primarily wear them for hiking and I always wear silk sock liners with them. The silk sock liners do dry very quickly. One good thing about wearing them with sock liners is that you may be able to get by with wearing the smartwool socks a second day with a clean pair of sock liners.

Posted by
658 posts

If you're in the UK look out for woolen socks made by a company called Wolsey. They come in a variety of grades from very fine hosiery which is intended to be worn on very formal occasions to heavy duty which are used by kilted gamekeepers in the highlands of Scotland. They are not cheap but they really do the job. They are much loved by those of us who ride old, slow motorcycles in the winter months.

My tip for getting them dry overnight is this. Hand wash them and gently squeeze them dry over the hotel sink. Next take a large hotel towel and fold it double. Lay the socks on the towel and roll the towell up very, very tightly into a cylinder. Twist that cylinder as hard as you can, for as long as you can. Most of the moisture is transfered into the towel. Take another dry towel and repeat this process. Put the socks on the heated towell rail in the bathroom. Next morning - BINGO ! Warm dry socks.

Posted by
1 posts

Try out of Boulder.

Posted by
36 posts

Well, at least my problem with these socks is not unique! The towel-and-heated-towel-rack method probably is the best solution, unless I can find a "connection" for Wolsey socks. Thank you all!

Posted by
12077 posts

I usually take black crew socks. I'm always looking to find socks that have little or no cotton. I recently found black Nautica socks at Filene's basement that had no cotton but were sturdy enough for walking, three pairs for under $10.

I like wool hiking socks for camping. For travel I want a sock I can wear with anything, dries fast, and can be worn hiking or dressed for dinner.

I wash them in the shower each evening. I like to use a gallon zip-lock. Put in my socks and underarmor underwear, a little detergent and some water. Shake well, drain, rinse, repeat until the soap is gone. Wring inside a car chamois or microfiber camp towel, hang dry, wring the towel/chamois well and hang dry. In the morning socks, underwear, and towel are dry and ready to pack.

When traveling, I change underwear and socks after a day's hiking rather than each morning like at home.

Posted by
486 posts

How to dry socks quickly (the John P method):

Find hair dryer.

Lay flat.

Turn on to low speed, low heat

Place sock over air outlet

If sock tends to come off, use rubber band or any object to keep it from sliding.

Continue packing for a few minutes.

Return to hair dryer, turn off and remove dry sock.

Posted by
36 posts

Great ideas! Thank you all. I think I'm going to have to ramp up my wringing-out techniques (maybe start with some hand-calisthenics)8-).

Posted by
769 posts

I love the Patagonia merino med-hiking socks. they make all kinds. these are the best for me so far - very strudy and comfy. I also have Smart wook, Coolmax and Teko. all great. Dahlgren is Alpaca wool and also nice. All the merino wool socks will take a bit longer to dry - but the roll and squeeze method works great (or if you have heaters and towel warmers!) Icebreaker - one of my fav. travel sport gears - also now makes their famous merino socks. While all these are 15-20$ a pair - just a few is all you need and they work great - on the street or in the mountains! Just wear and air-dry 2-3 times between washings unless really muddy! Old hikers told me long ago wool socks are better worn 2-3 days vs fresh each day (maybe more for the trail!)!!