Monday, January 9, 2012

Good Deal Alert

Socks.  They are the bane of my existence.  It used to be a simple matter, buying new socks.  You went to Penny's, picked out your favorite socks, bought them and they lasted a year, maybe two.  They had footie socks, crew socks, over-the-calf socks, boot socks, athletic socks, tube socks - whatever you wanted.  Little by little, their sock inventory dwindled.  Then, even if you could find what you wanted, they were junk.  Holes developed in the heels, fingers went through the tops when trying to pull them up.  Arrgh!

Sir Knight is rather particular about his socks.  He likes over-the-calf socks that stay in place all day long.  You would think these are simple requirements.  Good grief!  I tell you, it is harder than it looks!  First, trying to find over-the-calf socks is getting more and more difficult.  And, when I do find them, they are either too expensive to afford or they are low quality, falling to Sir Knight's ankles before lunch or developing holes within weeks.

Of course, any time I do find decent socks, I buy as many as I can afford.  A couple of years ago, I found some military socks (OD, Sir Knight's favorite color) that were great.  They wore like iron, were cost effective and had silver running through them (an anti-fungal).  Unfortunately, the supply dried up and after buying about 40 pair, we couldn't get any more.  40 pair may sound like a lot, however, we do have a teen-aged son.  They can wear any socks out in a hurry!

So one day, I was wandering through the latest issue of Sportsman's Guide (HQ Military Surplus).  Surplus is a weakness of mine and I always try to get my hands on the catalogs first.  When I came across some used Swedish wools socks, I knew I had hit the jackpot.  Yes, I did say used.  But, come on, they wash them!

Sir Knight was a little unsure about buying used socks, but we went ahead and ordered some, willing to give them a try.  The price was right, $24.97 for 20 pair, and they were wool, indicating a higher-than-normal quality.  They came in a plastic bag with the traditional military surplus odor.  The first thing we did was pair the socks (there were about two pair that were crew length, rather than over-the-calf, and there were a couple of different manufacturers), pinned them together and tossed them in the washing machine.  After one washing, they still had a faint surplus odor, but after two, the smell was completely gone.

Sir Knight loves these socks (and I must admit, so do I).  They are very long (reaching all the way to the knee and even having to be folded back down).  The elastic is great, holding the socks in place but not binding.  They are remarkably cushy and tremendously warm.  They are not nearly as thick as boot socks, but thicker than athletics socks.  We wore the socks for about a month (just to prove them) and then ordered 60 more pair.  They are great and will be an invaluable stock up and preparedness item.

Living in a cold, northern climate, wool will be very important in the winter months.  Sir Knight has to wear steel-toed boots for work and his feet are always cold in the winter.  With these socks, his feet are comfortable - not hot, but comfortable.  And another added benefit is that wool retains up to 95% of its insulation value when wet - cotton sure can't do that!

If you are looking for great socks at a good price, check out these Swedish surplus wool socks.  You won't be sorry.


  1. I have a similar penchant in colour and wear to Sir Knight (I'm feeling much better now I have at least something in common with so esteemed a gentleman), as well as the attendant problem of wearing them out within a week.

    As such I have found a similar solution. I buy, here in the UK, from

    I normally wear surplus OD British army socks but in winter I use the Arctic (UK Marine issue) or Sea Boot (UK Navy issue) and usually end up being too warm, and both appear to be indestructible.

    As to cold weather, I recently purchased a Royal Navy Sub sweater (a copy of the original wartime issue) and have never made a better purchase (it's so heavy I think it may be bullet proof).

    For those of us in normal financial straights surplus is the way to go (I admit to an inclination to Swedish Army surplus too for cols weather perfection).

    Full disclosure - no link at all to the company, just a very satisfied customer. Just an option for those of your appreciative readers here in old blighty.

    Best wishes for you and yours, and keep up the advice and insight so warmly appreciated.

  2. I had been looking at these and teetering as to how good they'd be. Thanks for the post, I just placed the order.


  3. Thanks for this post!! I have been trying to find wool socks for my hubby...going to check it out...

  4. my husband too is very particular about his socks. He is a hard working man on his feet in work books 11-15 hours a day. He orders his thick soft over the calf socks from sportsmens guide as well. Some great bargains there!

  5. Enola,

    Used is good in clothing if you disinfect the articles you purchase for storage or for wearing.

    I purchase Lysol concentrate and add 1 cap full to the wash for the first wash of used clothing.

    Then, I wash a second time with 1/4 cup of white vinegar to remove the smell and kill any leftover
    protein residues left in the fabric fibers.

    You then can consider your clothing "Sanitized".
    And, better than new off the rack of a high dollar clothier!

    Do the same with used nap sacks, sleeping bags, and canvas shoes.


  6. Exactly what we've been looking for! Thanks!!
    We have a bin full of military socks now, but weren't finding more, and don't have enough yet. Your blog is so helpful!!

  7. It's not just socks that we are getting from overseas mills that are using poor quality fibers to knit the fabrics!

    The last multi-package of underwear I purchased, were so thin, that they disintegrated after 10 washings!

    So, if you find quality underwear garments, stock up on them! These are not easily constructed at home! Yes, doable, but, time consumptive and also equally difficult to find quality bolts of fabric to make them of!

  8. That interesting. Last December I was looking for a wool blanket to keep in the truck for emergencies. I finally found used Swiss Military wool blankets at Sportman's Guide. I bought one. It is awesome; very heavy, quite soft, almost too nice to keep in the truck. I don't see the exact blanket listed now but some similar. Montana Guy

  9. Enola,

    I happen to be wearing my pair of Swedish wool socks right now. Only I got them from my hubby because he, along with his dad and brother, own and run the HQ company (a military surplus store.) If you like used military, maybe you could check us out!

    God Bless,

  10. Being the dyed-in-the-wool (pun intended)
    "Buy American" advocate that I am, I buy socks from Thorlos. Thorlos is a sock company here in the USA, made by Americans, with American fibers, and non-union. Their socks are pricey, but since they last a long time I don't need to buy them often. During the entire month of December each year, they have a Buy 3 pairs, get the 4th for free sale, plus free shipping year round. The quality is excellent. Just my 2 cents.

    Oh, I'm not affiliated with Thorlos in anyway, except as a satisfied multi-year customer.

    NoCal Gal

  11. Good clue, thanks! My Norwegian exchange student taught me long ago, "there is no bad weather; only bad clothing". I imagine the Swedes have a similar, more inland view.

    I love good socks too - and am now sold on composite toes for non-chainsaw work. Lighter, less conductive of cold and heat. Toes and knees much happier!

  12. lol, i am female and i am really picky about my socks...two full drawers full-all neatly paired, rolled and rotated with use. many folks do not realize that if their socks are wearing out, getting thin, or are getting holey too quickly, there are a number of reasons. one reason already mentioned is the quality of fibre used in the product...usually in a cheap import. another reason could be the shoes you wear. if the shoe is too big or too small or too narrow or too wide, your foot will of course know the difference and it will show up as excess wea r on the socks. also, many people just do not buy very many socks...good quality socks last a long time and will last a lot longer if you have a good many pair that get rotated -always putting the freshly laundered socks behind the others in the drawer..this gives your socks a chance to be worn evenly.

  13. I sure wish I could wear wool. Can't even wear it with liner socks.

  14. Best Sportsman Guide buy: 12 wool blend emergency blankets for $60. Great for in the car, too. Love the Sportsmans guide. And Cheaper Than Dirt. And the Paratus Familia blog. ;-)

    ~A Fan Near Philly

  15. Thanks for the heads up. I purchased some Thorlos, as previous commenter mentioned, on sale at a nearby REI store. These things last rediculously long (many years). I can barely read the threaded word on the sock now but they are still thick and comfy. I wouldn't pay full price though (very expensive). Try to find them on sale. I will be checking out the sportsman guide too.


    $19 solar panels while thay last

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  18. Why not make your own?
    Socks are not difficult to knit. If you can knit, purl, cast off stitches and read directions - you can learn to knit your own socks :-)

    Homemade socks are superior in every way when compared to ready-to-wear socks.
    They are a small project and can be completed relatively quickly.
    Socks are for most part simply glorified knitted tubes.
    Even children can be taught to make socks.
    In fact sock making was routinely given as hand work for children in England up until about 75 years ago. Back then children made most of the sock with an adult turning the heel.

    When you make your own socks they can be constructed of any fiber you wish; have the cuff has long as you like and be made to fit an individual foot and heel.
    Not to mention they are made in the USA.
    If you want to take sock independence even further - learn to spin the wool or cotton for your own socks.
    Spinning wool is not hard either - just takes practice and a $10 drop spindle. Again another skill that anyone can master. There was a time every woman knew how to spin. Raw wool, cotton and even man-made fibers are readily available on eBay and elsewhere.

    Don't forget the old proverb
    "Give a man a fish and you feed him for a day. Teach a man to fish and you feed him for a lifetime."
    Ditto socks.

  19. HELP. I purchased these since you were so happy with them. I am on the FOURTH washing and i can NOT get rid of the stink. How did you manage to get them so you can stand to be around them? You must have a secret... come on now ... fess up :>) How did you get rid of the horrible odor? I have tried vinegar, baking soda, borax (all with laundry soap of course) and even a lavender fabric softener. Nothing is working. POLLY

    1. Have you tried spraying them with Febreze and letting them sit for at least 24 hours before washing again? Or let them air outdoors for awhile. Disclaimer: I don't own these particular socks so am merely tossing out ideas.

      NoCal Gal

  20. Dear Polly;

    I don't have a secret, honest! I just washed them twice in warm water with detergent. The only thing we can come up with is perhaps the washing machine. Do you have a front loader or a top loader? We have found that front load washing machines use so little water that they often leave clothes smelling less than fresh. We have a top loader that uses tons of water. Our socks have no oder after two washings. Hope that helps! If anyone else has any suggestions, please let us know.


    1. White vinegar soak and rinse


  21. I have a top loader and i did not fill it TIGHT with the socks. Thanks for the hint about Fabreze but i am amazed that stuff is still on the me it smells worse than the socks :>) I am thinking maybe after a week or so just SITTING OUT they might release their odor. They ARE nice socks.. warm and yummy.. but the cloths pin on my nose is getting quite painful LOL. I also put them in the dryer with Lavender dryer pillows and that is making them where i can at least let them sit for a bit. These actually smelled like some sort of solvent...did yours come smelling like that? Maybe we got different batches. Thanks for your reply ... Polly

  22. My socks went through the Lysol and white vinegar washes today (thanks, Notutopia!) and smelled while they were still wet. They smelled like wet wool. Hmmmmm

    Polly, I'm sorry you have the curse of a fantastic nose (my mother has that, too). But after assisting with hurricane clean-up in New Orleans and with refugee camp support after the tsunami in Thailand, wool socks are not a problem. My hubby and I think they're a great deal. I hope you can get them to work for you.