Best Merino Wool Socks

Updated January 2020
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BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We only make money if you purchase a product through our links, and we never accept free products from manufacturers. Read more  
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We buy all products with our own funds, and we never accept free products from manufacturers.Read more 
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Why trust BestReviews?
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We only make money if you purchase a product through our links, and we never accept free products from manufacturers. Read more  
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We only make money if you purchase a product through our links, and we never accept free products from manufacturers. Read more  
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We buy all products with our own funds, and we never accept free products from manufacturers.Read more 
How we decided

We purchase every product we review with our own funds — we never accept anything from product manufacturers.

58 Models Considered
7 Hours Researched
1 Experts Interviewed
316 Consumers Consulted
Zero products received from manufacturers.

We purchase every product we review with our own funds — we never accept anything from product manufacturers.

Buying guide for best merino wool socks

Last Updated January 2020

If you associate wool with itchy skin and irritation, it’s because you’ve never experienced merino wool. Shorn from merino sheep, this wool is ultra-soft and temperature regulating, which means it works well in cold and warm weather alike. Merino wool is an excellent sock material, keeping your feet warm without making them clammy.

Before you go ahead and add a pair of merino wool socks to your shopping cart, there are a few factors to consider. Are you wearing the socks with rain boots, snow boots, or low sneakers? This will determine the ideal sock height. You’ll also want to think about sock color, padding, sizing, and whether or not they can be washed in a washing machine.

At BestReviews, we’re pleased to offer this in-depth guide to purchasing merino wool socks. To learn more, feel free to continue reading the product guide below. Hopefully, you’ll find that merino socks are an invaluable addition to your wardrobe. When you’re ready to buy, take a look at some of our favorites.

Merino wool naturally absorbs bacteria-causing odors, so you can wear the socks longer than average socks. This means merino wool socks are excellent for long camping or hiking trips.

Key considerations

About merino wool

Merino wool comes from merino sheep, which originated in Spain. Today, Australia is home to the largest merino sheep population and is the world’s leading exporter of wool. South Africa, South America, and the United States also raise merino sheep.

Merino sheep are typically shorn once a year, ideally during the summer. Once the sheep’s back, sides, belly, and upper legs are shorn, the wool is placed on a table with several closely spaced slates. Debris and short pieces of wool fall through the slats. Next, the wool is skirted to remove the last of any impurities. Following the skirting process, the wool undergoes one last quality check before being packed into a bale and shipped off to manufacturers to be made into various garments.

Merino sheep live in temperatures ranging from 5°F to 95°F. They’re able to exist in such a range temperatures because of the wool’s temperature-regulating properties. When the air is cold, the natural bends in the wool’s fiber trap air and keep the animal warm. When the air is hot, the wool wicks sweat and moisture away from the skin, keeping the animal cooler. This moisture-wicking property means merino wool is better for athletes than synthetic fibers, particularly those who enjoy outdoor sports in the summer. And in colder temperatures, merino wool easily lends itself to layering.

Dryer safe

As you likely know, wool is prone to shrinking, especially in the dryer, but that doesn’t apply to all merino wool socks. Preshrunk merino wool socks are safe to toss in the dryer. If the socks aren’t marked as preshrunk, your best bet is to hand-wash them in cold water and mild soap, or wash them on the gentle cycle with cold water in the washer. Dry on low or hang them up to air-dry.

Size

Like with any socks, merino wool socks are available in varying heights and sizes. Since merino wool socks are popular in winter and often worn with boots, it's easy to find them at ankle length or higher. Crew socks will bring some extra warmth, while knee socks are popular with snowboarders, skiers, and other winter athletes.

Padding

To better protect winter athletes from the elements, knee socks are frequently padded, particularly around the shins. There can also be padding around the foot and lower leg of the sock. If you're going hiking, look for boots with padding in the heels, toes and shins.

EXPERT TIP

Merino wool is 100% biodegradable. It’s known to disintegrate after 12 months. This timing may vary by the sock, since merino wool socks typically include a blend of other materials.


Staff  | BestReviews

Features

Fineness

Merino wool comes in varying degrees of fineness, depending on the type of merino sheep that it’s sourced from.

Peppin: Most of the wool is from Peppin merino sheep, which make up 70% of Australia’s merino sheep population. A strand of wool from Peppin sheep measures from 20 to 23 microns in diameter. Compare that to the average human hair, which is 75 microns in diameter.

Saxon: Ultrafine wool comes from Saxon merino sheep. It is typically 16 microns or less in diameter. With its high price tag, ultrafine merino wool is found more often in luxury items than in socks for everyday wear.

Options

Height: You can find low-cut merino wool crew socks to wear with low shoes, as well as crew, mid-calf, knee-high, and even over-the-knee socks. The taller the socks, the higher the price. 

Color: You’ll have no trouble finding merino wool socks in neutral colors (think black, brown, and gray) and some brighter colors like red. These are not the socks for a bold fashion statement, but at least they’ll keep your feet toasty. There are also plenty of merino wool socks in bright patterns and colors.

EXPERT TIP

Merino wool is incredibly flame resistant. It can withstand temperatures of up to 1,112°F (600°C). Even when merino wool does ignite, it won’t necessarily flame. Another great reason to bring merino wool socks on a hiking trip.


Staff  | BestReviews

Merino wool sock prices

Merino wool socks aren’t your average socks, so expect to pay a little more per pair. With its temperature-regulating properties, merino wool socks are well worth it. A typical pair will run you roughly $10 to $25, or more, depending on quantity and wool fineness.

Inexpensive: It’s possible to find merino wool socks for under $10. These socks include a blend of other fibers, such as cotton, acrylic, or nylon. The percentage of merino wool in these socks is probably under 50%. This is fine for some circumstances, but it will diminish the insulation properties of the socks.

Mid-range: A more common price range for these socks is $10 to $20. The price depends on the fineness of the wool, and most of the socks in this range have 50% to 70% merino wool, along with other fibers. Some socks list the merino wool as “ultrafine.” Keep in mind that even coarser merino wool is “fine” compared to other types of wool.

Expensive: Merino wool socks that cost over $20 contain the highest percentage of merino wool, as much as 80%. You’ll also find packs of two, three, or more pairs of lesser-quality socks in this range.

EXPERT TIP

Merino wool is naturally hypoallergenic, so the fabric works well for people with skin conditions such as eczema. Unfortunately, if your skin is irritated after use, you could have a merino wool allergy. Signs include red skin, swelling, and itching.


Staff  | BestReviews

Tips

  • Wear merino wool socks in summer and winter. Remember that merino wool socks aren’t just for winter hikes. You can break them out in the summer, too. You’ll want to look for medium-weight socks with cushioned footbeds.
  • Allow extra drying time. Merino wool socks take longer to dry than other fibers. If air-drying the socks, allow extra time. 
  • Avoid wearing merino wool socks on carpeting. The carpet can affect the longevity of the wool and lessen its effectiveness.

Other products we considered

We have full faith in the quality of the merino wool socks we recommend above, but we have some other options for you.

We also like the Darn Tough Micro Crew Socks. While at 60%, these socks don’t have the highest merino wool content, they’re very easy to care for and both washer and dryer safe. Several buyers say that even after a year or two of use, these socks show little sign of wear. Recommended for long hikes in any climate, they’re thick enough to keep your feet toasty, but not so thick as to be too hot in the summer.

And don’t rule out the unisex CloudLine Retro Hiking Socks. These medium-weight socks include 63% merino wool. The fun throwback design is a refreshing departure from the neutral colors of most merino wool socks. Buyers say these hold up to the rain and the cold and resist odors even after extended wear. Whether you’re hiking in the Pacific Northwest or simply on your feet all day, you’ll be comfy.

With quality merino wool socks, you can go as long as two weeks before washing them because of the wool’s antibacterial properties.

FAQ

Q. Does merino wool pill?
A.
Tightly woven merino wool is less likely to pill than cotton or synthetic fibers. When it does happen, it’s usually from friction in the washer or dryer. You can remedy this by turning the socks inside out to wash them.

Q. Are merino wool socks better than regular wool socks?
A.
Wool, in general, refers to the hair shorn from furry animals such as rabbits, sheep, and goats. What sets merino wool apart is its fineness, durability, and adaptability.

Q. Do merino wool socks include 100% merino wool?
A.
You’d be hard-pressed to find 100% wool socks, merino or not. Today’s socks nearly always include spandex for extra stretch. Other fibers are added for other qualities while lowering the manufacturer’s production costs.

The team that worked on this review
  • Bronwyn
    Bronwyn
    Editor
  • Ciera
    Ciera
    Digital Content Producer
  • Melinda
    Melinda
    Web Producer
  • Ola
    Ola
    Writer

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