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Here’s another Father’s Day post, and today I am going to talk to you about something that every dad can appreciate: A good pair of socks. It’s true. Yes, you are likely to see a flash of disappointment across his face the first time he opens a gift of Smartwool socks. It’s not a new snuffbox. It’s not cognac. It’s not even Tombstone on Blu-ray. But in a few years when all the snuff is snuffed, the cognac is forgotten about, and Tombstone is being released in 3D, Dad will open up that sock drawer, see his beloved Smartwool socks, and think of you.

The lore I’ve heard on wool is that it has this magical property that keeps you warm, wet or dry. I’m fortunate not to have had much experience with this. But in the late 80s, ski instructors Peter and Patty Duke turned to wool when they were trying to find a way to keep their feet warm all day. But what else do we know about wool? It’s itchy and it shrinks when it gets wet and dries.

I wish I could tell you more about how Peter and Patty came up with Smartwool, but the website is pretty cagey. I suppose I would be too, if I held the secret of wool socks that were both soft and shrink free. By all accounts, that’s what they came up with. I wish I knew how they did it. I’d get a suit made out of the stuff.

People love these socks. I’ll be honest with you. These are not the tube socks that you buy by the fistful from the 99ยข store. They seem to average about $15 per pair. But judging from the reviews they get on Amazon, people are lining up to fill their drawers with Smartwool socks. They’ll even write glowing reviews, free of charge. Like this one:

Good heavens! Where are they? Why do I get the impression that they are in danger? Do they really have time to review socks? Let’s get the science from Travis of Outdoor Sport Marketing.

Great review, and Travis seems to be pretty knowledgable about sock design. Also, he appears to be broadcasting from the safety of a bunker of some kind.

Smartwool remains in Steamboat Springs, Colorado. I understand that the socks are made domestically, but much of their other clothing line is made overseas.

When I was in the fourth grade, I had a great teacher who told us (among other things) about the idea of planned obsolescence. Mr. Sondale told us that “they” could make a sock that could last you for the rest of your life. But if they did that, you wouldn’t buy any more socks and they would be out of business. That sound like the kind of story that a teacher might tell when he is trying to make a point to a fourth grader. That may be the case for many companies that make cheap socks, but it’s certainly not the case for Smartwool.


This one is coming to you courtesy of David Lazarus and his poorly researched column in the Los Angeles Times.

Thanks to April.