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Hands-on Gear Review
People's Merino Wool Review
Cons: Does not excel in any category, average performance overall
Bottom line: This unisex merino-wool ankle high sock is highly affordable and best for warm to cool hiking temperatures.
The People's Merino Wool Hiking Sock is a perfect option for both men and women on a shoestring budget. With a 71% merino wool blend (the highest concentration of wool in this review!) this super cozy ankle-length sock provides average performance with excellent breathability and drying ability. The cut offers superior airflow on hot days, and many of our testers loved to use it during the summer months while hiking and running because of this performance features. The best part? The price works out to roughly just $9 per sock - one of the most affordable options in this review.
While it's not as comfortable and cozy as the Smartwool PhD Outdoor Medium Crew or the Danish Unisex Merino Wool Sock, this is the best affordable option for those in search of a quality ankle-length hiking sock. The Danish Unisex Merino Wool Sock works out to about the same price and scores higher overall, but has a boot-length cut that is more conducive to colder weather. We also noticed that the People's sock is a touch more durable (and comfortable), providing a bit of a better fit than the Danish Wool Sock. So if you're in the market for a super breathable, warm, and affordable hiking sock with a nice fit the People's Merino Wool Sock is a great option for both men and women!
RELATED REVIEW: The Best Hiking Socks of 2017
Our Analysis and Hands-on Test Results
The People's Wool Sock is a 71% merino-wool sock blend with an ankle-length cut and excellent performance. It's a great option for those on a tight budget because it cashes in for the low price of roughly $9 per sock!
The People's Wool Sock provides a decent level of comfort and cashes in with a score of eight out of ten for comfort and fit. The 71% wool blend is mid-weight and provides a decent level of underfoot cushioning that left our testers' feet feeling happy after miles and miles of hiking trails. While this sock doesn't offer the same level of compression paneling as seen with other merino sock blends, the fit is tight, and the sock doesn't bunch in the toe or around the ankle. Stretch materials (like spandex) are concentrated around the arch and heel of the foot that doesn't allow slipping or stretching over time. Its unisex fit made both our female and male testers happy. The cut some just above the ankle, making this a great sock to pair with Hiking Shoes, but not a great option to wear with hiking boots.
The Danish Unisex Merino Wool Sock scored a little lower in the comfort metric the materials were a bit thinner and not nearly as plush. While our testers loved the higher boot cut on colder nights, our testers thought the People's sock was a little more comfortable. Also, many of our testers noticed that the fit wasn't as tight, bunching at the toe - especially when wet.
If you're in the market for an even more comfortable and cozy sock, take a look at the SmartWool PhD Outdoor Medium Crew Sock, a notable mention for comfort and versatility. This sock is super fitted with lots of excellent compression fitting both male and female testers well. Or take a gander at Editor's Choice winner, the Darn Tough Hiker Full Cushion. If you prefer a sock with a lower cut, be sure to look at the Darn Tough Light Hiker (for men) and the Darn Tough Hiker Micro Crew for women.
While this sock is smaller and high value, it sure is warm!!! Featuring a 71% merino wool blend, our testers were surprised to learn how warm this sock is in both wet and cold conditions. While it's not the warmest sock out there, like our Editors' Choice winner Darn Tough Full Cushion (for men) or the Smartwool Hike Medium Crew (for women), it is able to keep toes warm in temperatures just above freezing and earning a score of seven out of ten.
In our wet tests, we found that it insulated pretty well, keeping our feet warm while standing and moving. In comparison, this sock provided a similar level of warmth as the Danish Unisex Merino Wool Sock, but not as warm as the Smartwool PhD Outdoor Medium Crew. Because of its ankle-height design, it doesn't keep as much heat in as boot-length hikers, though it's more breathable for warm weather. As a result, we'd recommend this sock for three seasons of use - Spring, Fall, and Summer, but we'd trade it in for a warmer contender like our Editors' Choice winners on the coldest of days.
Wicking and Breathability
Utilizing 21% nylon in its merino wool blend, this model did an excellent job at wicking away moisture. The sock itself has a looser fabric that also allows moisture to diffuse through the fabric easily. Its ankle-length design also makes it a much better option to wear on warm days because there is more airflow to the legs. Of all the contenders tested, this is one of the most breathable, with mighty wicking power. As a result, it earns an eight out of ten in this category.
The Darn Tough Light Hiker Micro Crew (for men) is another lightweight model that provides better breathability and wicking power than the People's Wool Sock. The Darn Tough Hiker Micro Crew Cushion for women has a similar construct as well. Both are our Top Recommendations for Warm Weather simply because each offers a lighter weight design with less material underfoot that is more conducive to better breathability and wicking power. On many hikes in the desert, we felt each of these socks were ideal for these warm temperatures. The People's is very close in performance - just a touch thicker.
When comparing breathability to the Danish Unisex Merino Wool Sock, on a hot desert hike, we learned the People's is much more breathable. We wore each on a different foot during this hike and the foot (and leg) that hosted the People's sock was happy and dry. On the other hand, the foot (and leg) with the Danish Merino Sock was much warmer with far more moisture caught within the sock (from sweat). As a result of its performance, we can easily recommend it for hiking on warm days.
After wearing this sock for roughly 60 miles of hiking, biking, and running we are happy to report that this socks shows very little wear and tear. The fabric composition (71% Merino Wool, 21% Nylon, 7% Polyamide, 1% Spandex) makes this model quite durable. It also didn't stretch or shrink during our testing period. It earns a seven out of ten in this category because we noticed quite a bit of pilling after the first wash throughout the body of the sock and some of the stitching exhibited fly-aways. As a result, it's not the best-crafted sock in this review and earns an average durability score.
If you're in the market for the most durable model tested, be sure to check out the Wigwam Hiking Outdoor Pro. This synthetic sock showed little to no wear after 60 miles of use and earned a perfect 10 out of 10 in this category. If you're more interested in a sock that comes with a lifetime guarantee that is super well constructed, be sure to look at the ultra-burly Darn Tough sock options. All showcased their durability during our testing periods, and we are happy to say that Darn Tough makes some of the most durable hiking socks out there.
Socks with a lifetime guarantee like Darn Tough can be traded in anytime during your lifetime for a brand new pair.
As the third fastest to dry in our drying tests, we're happy to give the People's Merino Wool Sock an eight out of ten in this category. In our dryer tests, it only took 110 minutes before completely drying out. While it hosts a high concentration of wool, the shorter cut (ankle-length) and the integrated nylon allows it to dry faster than most of the socks tested in this review. It also wicks well and doesn't absorb a lot of water like the Darn Tough Full Cushion sock.
If you're in the market for a super inexpensive merino-wool option that also dries quicker be sure to look at the Danish Unisex Merino Wool Socks that dried in just 100 minutes. Or if you want the fastest drying sock out there (because you plan on hiking in wet environments), the Wigwam Outdoor Pro is the best option. In our dryer tests, this sock dried in just 90 minutes, and it absorbs the least amount of water of any competitor tested. As a result of the performance of the People's Wool Sock in our drying tests we can still recommend it for wet environments. However, some options perform better when it comes to drying out.
Our favorite use for the People's Wool Sock is as a day hiker for warm to cool days. We would recommend it for day hiking, backpacking, running, and other high activities that are both low and high intensity. Given its great performance, we'd also recommend it for any condition that doesn't get below freezing. Enjoy it out on the trail!
As one our best options for those on a tight budget, we are blown away by the great performance of this super affordable hiking sock. Coming in a package of four (with different colors), this unisex sock cashes in around $9 per sock ($37 for the pack). This is one of the cheapest merino wool options out there aside from the Danish Unisex Wool Sock that has a similar price ($10 per sock). That said, if you're looking for a synthetic, be sure to check out the higher performing Wigwam Outdoor Pro for only $14 (Our Best Buy award winner).
The People's Merino Wool Sock is a highly-affordable ankle-high merino wool-blend sock that performs well in warm to cool weather in a plethora of conditions. Take it with you on your next hike or backpacking trip.
— Amber King
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