Icebreaker Ski Lite Over The Calf Sock


Icebreaker claims that the comfort of merino against the skin really can’t be beat, and I don’t disagree. The feel is very similar to my older SmartWool PhD Racer socks, and noticeably softer than my EMS socks, which feature the least amount of merino and contain recycled polyester.

The weight/thickness of the Icebreaker Ski Lite is basically identical to my SmartWool PhD Racer sock, and just slightly thinner than my EMS sock. All three brands fit very comfortably inside my snug Nordica boots.

My Ski Lite is a men’s size large, which I chose by referencing Icebreaker’s sizing chart. I have found the size of the sock on my foot to fit my size 12 feet well, being neither too snug nor too loose, but the Ski Lite is just slightly less snug than both my SmartWool PhD Racer and EMS socks. Still, the foot-hugging shape and touch of compression keeps the sock sitting perfectly in place.

The only strange fit characteristic of the Ski Lite, when comparing to my other ski socks, is how tall the sock is. The Icebreaker sock is five inches taller than those older SmartWool PhD Racers, and three inches taller than my EMS sock. They are so tall, in fact, that I have to be careful not to pull the sock up too tightly and ending up with top of the sock over my knee. Pulling the sock up gently leaves the sock falling just under my kneecap. This fit is fine, albeit a little weird initially, unless I’m wearing long underwear, in which case the overlap is a little annoying.

With this being the case, I would be temped to try the size medium in the future to see if the fit worked for my foot while being a bit shorter up the calf.


Much like the other Icebreaker pieces I have been using, I have been very pleased with the performance of the Ski Lite. I have been doing a number of head-to-head days with the Icebreaker sock on one foot and one of my favorite SmartWool or EMS socks on the other.

Comparing directly to my SmartWool sock, the Ski Lite is very similar. It is not noticeably warmer, nor more breathable (it is, after all, jammed into a foam liner and the plastic shell of a ski boot), but it does seem to dry a little quicker. Both the Icebreaker and SmartWool socks do a great job of staying comfortable (i.e., not crusty feeling) and odor free after repeated uses.

Jason Hutchins, Thirds, Alta Ski Area.
Jason Hutchins, Thirds, Alta Ski Area.

One possible “advantage” SmartWool socks have over the Icebreaker socks has to do with care for the socks—SmartWool can be thrown in the drier, while Icebreaker needs to be hung to dry. This isn’t a concern for me, but people who prefer their laundry to be entirely idiot-proof may find the SmartWool option slightly more appealing.

When comparing the Ski Lite to my favorite EMS sock, the Icebreaker sock was not quite as warm, but outperformed the EMS sock in wicking ability and drying time. What keeps the EMS sock as my absolute favorite, however, is the small amount of additional padding over the shin. I do believe Icebreaker’s Ski+ line would be very comparable, however, and I’d like to try them—in a smaller size.

When you are spending $20 or so for each pair of socks, durability is going to be another important attribute. Although I only have 24 days on hill in the Ski Lite so far, there isn’t even the slightest hint of wear in the normal spots (heel, toes, and under the balls of the feet). I’ll keep using the socks and update if and when I do see any signs of failure.

Bottom Line

Merino wool has its defining functional qualities: warmth, breathability, quick drying, and odor resistant. All of these attributes sound like they would add up to a great sock, and in my experience, they do—and at a comparable price to other ski socks.

Based on the length of the sock, and with how this sock fits over my foot and leg, I would recommend sizing down for a fit more similar to other brands. That small detail aside, the Icebreaker Ski Lite sock is on par with my favorite socks.


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