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Packing and living with Smartwool

Anybody have experience with hand washing Smartwool? Does it dry fast? I have socks (for extended walking/hiking) and t-shirts for layering under travel shirts.

Posted by
92 posts

Hi, Ray, I have experience hand-washing short-sleeved men's and women's Ibex and Icebreaker t-shirts, if that counts. They dry out overnight, or faster (certainly in less than 8 hours).

My husband and I did a 3-week trip to Europe last fall and we both had Ibex short sleeved wool t-shirts to wear as a base layer (or alone, when warm enough). They worked very well either alone, or as a layering piece. Sorry if this is TMI, but I find they get less smelly than a regular t-shirt and thus I don't wash them as often as I would a cotton t-shirt.

I did hand wash the Ibex t-shirts several times, in the sink. I used Woolite in those little flat packets, that I'd bought on Amazon (I think, or maybe at Target) and packed with me.

I have worn Smartwool socks for years and on at least two European trips and these also hold up well. However, I machine wash and dry mine, both at home and while traveling. Perhaps it ages them faster, but I find they still have a very long life. Depending on what kind of socks you have, those would take longer to dry, I expect, since the fabric is much thicker.

Hope this is helpful and that you have a great trip!

Posted by
77 posts

I have problem feet and wear the thick hiking style Smartwool socks for the cushioning. If they dry overnight or within two days I'll be good to go with 5 pairs. I also have Smartwool long sleeve zip turtle necks that I wear for skiing. It just occurred to me that they or something similar without the turtleneck might be a good option for a base layer running around Benelux in October and as a pajama top. We have been using regular laundry detergent in the washing machine with no issues so I was planning on just using the travel soap that RS sells. We're staying in Amsterdam for three nights then Brussels for another 7 with day trips in between, so there's time for things to dry and we're down to just figuring out the minimum number to take.

Posted by
11045 posts

I've got Smartwool socks which I had good luck with handwashing in Europe. They are the lightest, no cushion socks and I found they easily dried overnight even in humid parts of italy. At home I machine wash and dry them, but as with Kyra, find they still hold up well.

My brother has taken a combination of Ibex and Smartwool tee shirts, underwear and socks to both Ireland and Italy. He hand washed them all and had no problem with them drying overnight. At home (and laughing because this is probably TMI too!) he tried wearing the underwear dry a couple of times just to see how it worked. He found that worked fine and within a couple of hours they were dry. They were damp in the seams to start with.

Why is it that merino wool seems to make us want to share too much info, lol?

editing to add: I saw your post after I posted. I am going with just 3 pr of Smartwool micro crews for 5.5 weeks. They are the lighter kind, but I think your thicker ones will dry overnight. It would be hard to run a drying trial as Denver is likely much dryer than AMS/Brussels. I would think 5 would be generous and would consider cutting that to 4. I think taking your base layer in Oct will be a good idea. Now you've got me considering whether to throw mine in as well for a trip ending in mid Oct!

Posted by
2365 posts

My Smartwool socks dried easily overnight. Another brand I like is Wrightsocks, double layer keeps blisters at bay and also dry quickly.

Posted by
77 posts

I was thinking three pairs of the Smartwool socks plus what I'll be wearing on the trip over will be fine. So we are in agreement with the number of pairs. For the base layer t-shirt, my turtleneck is one of the mid-weight ones with long sleeves. I'm thinking of trying to find a light weight short sleeve version that could do double duty as a pajama top. The trouble I'm having is finding something that isn't a tight fit without having to go a size or two too large.

Posted by
13845 posts

My husband and I travel pretty much exclusively with merino wool for shirts and socks----icebreaker, Ibex, patagonia, and Smartwool.

At home we machine wash ( in a front-loader and hand to dry. On the road we wash in the sink using the hotel shampoo ( it is, after all, hair!). I press out as much water as possible by wrapping in a towel and standing on it ( no twisting). Even my thicker Smartwool socks will dry overnight with this treatment--- although in winter ( for skiing) I will put them near a heat source.

Two merino blend shirts you might try for your lightweight shirt/sleep shirt: patagonia's new "daily" tee which is merino from Argentina (Patagonia) blended with Capilene. These are only $55 and very lightweight without being transparent.

http://www.patagonia.com/us/product/mens-merino-daily-t-shirt?p=36305-0

Another is the Icebreaker Sphere shirt which is merino and Tencel (lyocell, similar to rayon). These are expensive but backcountry.com has a few colors on sale for less. The fabric is very soft and comfortable. My husband had to order one size down to get a trim ( not tight) fit.

http://www.backcountry.com/icebreaker-sphere-crew-short-sleeve-mens

Posted by
5818 posts

I have medium weight crew hiking Smartwool socks for hiking boots and Nordic light (not the ultra light) ski socks. The Nordic ski socvks easily dry overnight. The medium hiking usually dry or come close to dry overnight.

I hand squeeze out as much water as I can without wringing. Then I roll the socks in a dry towel and wring the towel. I'll invert the socks a couple of times during the night.

Overnight drying is a sure thing with heated towel racks or a rack over the heating coils.

And since dry feet is important esdp during winter having three pairs of socks is low bulk insurance.

PS. Craft base layers easily dry overnight.
http://shop.craftsports.us/performance-baselayers

Posted by
11045 posts

Correction...my brother is looking over my shoulder (well really he is at work and texting me) and says he took Icebreaker shirts and a combo of Ibex, Smartwool and Icebreaker underwear. All merino though, so same stuff. We will not mention the fact that he refers to his shirts as "Mr Woolie" and we (his wife and I) call him "Wool Boy" when he is fully decked out.

Ray, yes, pack 3 wear 1 will probably do you quite well.

Lola..I laughed out loud at the it's all hair comment.

Posted by
77 posts

By sheer good luck, I found REI had the Icebreaker short sleeve Ts on sale for almost half off. I picked up a couple in different colors along with some Darn Tough hiker socks to try. I've got a dozen of the Smartwool heavy hiking socks but they're all cream colored. I go with the Duluth Trading Buck Naked underwear. They wash easy and dry fast too.

Posted by
92 posts

I think packing three pairs of socks and wearing one is fine. If memory serves, for three weeks last fall I went with three pairs of crew/low cut socks and one pair of calf length socks and that was fine.

Yes, my washer here at home is a front-loader and I do wash my wool stuff in there, sometimes on gentle and sometimes not, but with regular HE detergent and it seems okay. I am sure you could wash your stuff on the road with whatever detergent or cleanser you liked. I just liked how the little Woolite packs were flat and fit in our bag easily, plus I had some in the closet to use up.

Posted by
715 posts

Ray, why not hand wash them and then hang them up to dry and see for yourself? That way you will know for sure.

Posted by
1932 posts

This post caught my eye. I know absolutely nothing about these socks and usually buy a sack of socks at Target or the like, simple and cheap cotton crew socks. However, we walk miles daily when we travel. I now believe about 95% of my sweat glands are located in my feet. It can get pretty uncomfortable. Aren't these warm, or even hot? The few reviews I quickly saw praise them for their warmth in winter, but we are bound for France in August. The prices took my breath away, but then so do my crews. I would truly consider spending the money if they are worth it, but never heard of such a thing before today. I would welcome any information. We won't be hiking but just walking a lot. Thanks.

Posted by
11045 posts

Denny, I have always thought I was allergic to wool and that it would be too hot as well. My brother had been singing it's praises and finally the sales person at REI talked me in to Smartwool socks. I got the short, micro crew ones and wore them last Aug/Sept on a 21 day BOE. Italy was REALLY hot but the merino wool socks worked well and were not hot at all. They also don't hold odor so you can wear them, air them overnight and they are good to go. I did wash them every 3 or 4 days but it was not because they were stinky.

My best advice on the price is bite the bullet and buy a pair, then when you love them, buy more and don't look a the price.

BTW, I walked 10-14 miles on the Amsterdam and Rome days with nary a blister or hot spot.

Posted by
1838 posts

I take two pair of Smartwool socks on every trip, the light weight hiking socks. They wash and dry over night if you do it right. I can wear a pair for three days beford they need a washing. In my estimation they are the gold stadard just like ExOfficio skivies.

Posted by
92 posts

Denny, no, Smartwool socks are not overly hot in the summer. I assume this is because wool is a natural fiber, is breathable, and wicks sweat. I find Smartwool to be warm in winter and cool in the summer; I wear my wool t-shirts year round and wear them on purpose when I know I will be in very hot weather or getting very sweaty, as they don't cling uncomfortably like cotton.

I agree that with Smartwool socks, I never, or rarely, get blisters, and also wear them for walking miles.

You can buy them on many Internet websites, and in person at REI and other retailers. They are expensive but they last a long time and to me, are worth every penny.

Posted by
1932 posts

Thank you all for the information. I am as we speak biting...chewing...gnawing the bullet and heading out to...gasp...Nordstrom. A red letter day for me! Spending what I consider way too much for a dozen sox and shopping at Nordstrom. But you have convinced me and I will get a few pair. BTW, they are on sale and marked down from $18.95 a pair to $11.90 a pair so I feel better already. I understand the sale runs to 2 August. Thanks so much!

Posted by
77 posts

A sale like that is how I wound up with a dozen pairs of the thick Smartwool hiking socks. I originally bought them for hiking/camping/hunting boots but with my feet issues, I'm wearing them almost everyday now.

Posted by
119 posts

My husband and I love the wool socks and can even wear them two days in a pinch. We wear the light weight ones and even though we wring them well and wrap in towels before hanging them they usually do Not dry over night. We each take 5 pair.
We wash on the first evening of a 2 night stay.

Posted by
2526 posts

Wool socks dry fast enough for me and work well in all temperature ranges. In addition, I always travel with a lightweight merino wool zip long sleeve sweater and when draped about my shoulders just so, surely all think I'm a local. A more recent addition to my clothing allowance is lightweight, very soft merino wool underwear. Surprisingly comfortable and like socks, performs perfectly in cold and hot conditions. Bonus: stink factor greatly reduced with merino wool products.

Posted by
1932 posts

Thanks again. Now the proud owner of four pair of sox! We ran into some friends while shopping, and once he stopped gaping, he whipped out his cellphone and took a picture, "Nobdy will EVER believe you were in Nordstrom." I think I might even end up on Facebook. Another first! Wow. The celebrity is dizzying.