Are Merino Wool Socks Worth It?

Are Merio Wool Socks Worth It?

Are merino wool socks worth it? That kind of depends on the application and the boot socks in question. If you mean standard socks for everyday use for the typical person...probably not. If you mean for more hard-working applications...that's another story.

Merino wool has unique properties that make it prized over other types of wool, especially for socks, base layers, and similar uses. It's especially well-regarded among serious outdoor sportspersons, especially backcountry hunters, mountaineers and people who engage in similar pursuits.

So are merino wool socks worth it?

What Is Merino Wool And Why Are Merino Wool Socks So Popular?

Merino wool is the wool produced by a particular breed of sheep, or rather a family of breeds, originating in Spain around the late Medieval period. The sheep themselves are rather small, as they are not very good sheep for meat production, and have evolved over the years to actually suffer from poor health if not sheared.

The wool produced by merino sheep is fine, much finer than other types of wool produced by other breeds of sheep or by other wool-producing animals such as alpacas or llamas.

The reason?

What merino wool, in particular, has become prized for is its fineness, in that it is thinner and softer than many other varieties of sheep's wool such as Shetland, loden and so on.

wearing merino wool socks with boots
Typical sheep's wool, since wool is the hair of the sheep, is roughly 40 microns (1/1000 of a millimeter) thick. Typical merino wool, on the other hand, is 15 to 24 microns thick.

Okay. Great. Why does this matter?

Because of the finer nature of the material - meaning it's thinner - it's softer against the skin than other types of wool. However, for the same reason, it's also less well-suited for use as an outer layer. In other words, merino wool is amazing if you're getting a pair of socks for use with your work boots in winter, or a base layer...but isn't the best choice for a winter coat.

How come?

Properties Of Merino Wool Socks

The properties of wool as a textile have made merino wool socks - as well as wool compared to, say cotton - very popular for a number of reasons.

First, wool tends to be quite warm. Many wools tend to be far warmer-feeling for a garment of their weight than other fabrics, so a rather normal pair of good merino wool socks will be warmer than a thicker pair of cotton socks. Likewise, a merino wool baselayer will provide far more warmth than a cotton baselayer will in cold conditions.

Secondly, wool is moisture- and odor-wicking. Unlike other materials which get wet and stinky in fast order, wool doesn't start to acquire the stench of sweaty feet for a few days. Merino wool is also air-permeable, which allows moisture to evaporate more quickly than from other materials.

In short, it's soft and therefore comfortable to wear. It doesn't completely soak with sweat, but even if it does, it doesn't get rancid with odor or lose it's heat retention properties. As a result, merino wool socks are very comfortable, and are a great choice with a pair of work boots in winter conditions. A thinner pair are also a great choice in warmer weather, as they wick away moisture better than cotton.

marino wool sock black color

So merino wool socks are a great accessory to have with a great pair of work boots, especially if you want to keep your feet comfortable throughout a heavy work day in adverse conditions. This is exactly why merino wool socks and base layers have become so popular in recent years.