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History of SmartWool

The SmartWool story started on rugged Colorado ski slopes with the belief that toes didn't have to be cold. One simple pair of merino wool socks challenged conventional wisdom and forever changed the way outdoor enthusiasts viewed their feet. It's not just about the merino, though. It's what the innovators at SmartWool do with it that makes them different. For over 20 years, SmartWool has been pushing the boundaries of merino to create smarter, more capable products from head to toe.

Nature's Finest Merino

At the heart and soul of every SmartWool product is nature's finest merino wool. Used properly, it's the best fiber available for outdoor apparel—it manages moisture better than cotton, is smarter than synthetics, and is more comfortable in any weather condition. In SmartWool's hands, it becomes extraordinary. Merino wool is the most dependable fiber when the only thing you can count on is a change in the weather. It's comfortable year-round, breathable, and naturally resists odor. Plus, it doesn't itch like traditional wool.

Product Construction

SmartWool makes merino more comfortable through innovative fabric creation and smart construction. It uses thermal body mapping to create products that offer the right amount of wool for maximum comfort and performance: more wool in areas where the body tends to chill, and less where the body tends to run hot. And when the sport and outside elements require it, it adds other high-performance fabrics to make its products even smarter.


SmartWool believe its products are best when they're made through fair, sustainable, and mutually rewarding practices. It also helps that the main raw material—wool—is natural and renewable. SmartWool's partner, the New Zealand Merino Company, has developed ZQ, the world's first merino wool accreditation program. This program ensures environmental, social, and economic sustainability and safeguards animal welfare. SmartWool's sheep range freely through some of the most spectacular natural settings found today, an environment that contributes directly to the high quality of the fiber they produce. SmartWool works with its growers to ensure they're always using best practices―in turn, SmartWool always endeavors to pay them a fair price.

Run Elite Socks

Make every step count with the Smartwool PhD line of Run Elite Socks. Light cushioning provides just enough padding for long runs on the pavement, while the merino wool/nylon blend naturally wicks moisture, regulates your foot's temperature, and resists odor-causing microbial growth.

SmartWool PhD Socks

Whatever your trail, the PhD Outdoor sock collection is made for mileage. Bi-elastic construction for focused fit, flex, and recovery create a sock that stays exactly where you need it to be. And our patented ReliaWool™ technology provides superior durability for socks that’ll go more miles than your shoes.

Made in the USA

SmartWool is proud to say that its socks are made here in the United States.

About SmartWool

Why wool? Merino wool, specifically, is naturally hydrophobic, highly breathable, and antimicrobial. In other words, it truly is the "smart" wool. Merino's characteristics lend themselves perfectly to products like t-shirts, socks, and underwear, because merino fibers wick and breathe better than most engineered synthetic fibers, while also neutralizing odors and providing a softer hand against the skin.

But SmartWool's products are about more than just the raw material. Great care is taken in the production of the wool it uses to ensure products of not only the highest quality, but ones that are ethically and sustainably created.

The lush, jagged mountains of New Zealand play host to the majority of the world's Merino sheep. SmartWool works closely with small, experienced growers in this region to ensure the best yarn. A Merino sheep is only shorn once per year; to put that in perspective, one sheep's wool equates to only 40 pairs of SmartWool socks or seven mid-weight base layers. For this reason, every sheep is considered precious, meaning that SmartWool lives by the ethos that good wool requires a happy sheep. That's why SmartWool pioneered the humane treatment of sheep in New Zealand and refuses to source from any growers who don't abide by its standards. It was also the first to extend long-term contracts to growers, providing a sense of security that enables them to continue extending quality care and supervision.

Continuing this philosophy, you'll find that 90% of SmartWool's products are knit in America. Your favorite slippers, beanie, pants, or mittens are all ethically produced in encouraging work environments. This means that you get a product that's made with love—from start to finish.

Sure, getting to the finished product isn't easy, but SmartWool wouldn't have it any other way. The end result is, after all, a remarkable thing to behold–a natural product, with an ethical footprint, that outperforms nearly every synthetic on the market. It doesn't get much better than that.