Just a pair of socks! We think not. The right pair of socks is nearly as integral as your hiking boots. They work together with your boots to keep your feet kickin’ in high gear. Even with the most comfortable boots, if your socks bunch up or make your feet overly wet and sweaty your comfort level is going to fly south for the majority of your journey. Friction and moisture are the two main culprits causing those nasty blisters that are the plague of many a hiker. Selecting a natural, well-fitting pair of liners and hiking socks will reduce rubbing and moisture build up and keep you trekking the good trail.
- 1 Top 9 Best Hiking Socks of 2018
- 2 Hiking Socks Guide Part I: Selecting the Right Pair of Socks
- 3 Hiking Socks Guide Part II: Most Important Criteria to Consider
- 4 Hiking Socks Guide Part III: Most Important Benefits of Hiking Socks
- 5 Hiking Socks Guide Part IV: Why it Makes Sense to Buy Hiking Socks
- 6 Hiking Socks Guide Part V: History and Facts of the Humble Sock
Top 9 Best Hiking Socks of 2018
Here’s our top picks for the best hiking socks currently available.
These socks are crafted by Darn Tough here in the US of A. Darn Tough is the industry gold standard in rugged performance wear, pleasing hardcore hikers and sock addicts alike. The company has been making socks for 36 years in Green Mountains of Northfield in Vermont. When you see a graphic of a blacksmith wielding a hammer and holding a sock with a pair of tongs about to pound the sock into darn tough shape, you know this company takes their business seriously.
Each pair of socks comes with an unconditional lifetime guarantee. Their Coolmax series are made for a tight, performance fit and help keep your feet cool and dry, hence the max following the cool. The sock is a synthetic blend not like their merino wool socks that are for warmer weather. They prevent odor well, and you can have faith they will hold off smell for at least a couple days.
Their Coolmax series are made for a tight, performance fit and help keep your feet cool and dry, hence the max following the cool. The sock is a synthetic blend not like their merino wool socks that are for warmer weather. They prevent odor well, and you can have faith they will hold off smell for at least a couple days.
- Best Women’s & Men’s Lightweight Hiker
- Super Durable
- Odor Fighting
Thorlo also makes some amazing lightweight hikers called the Coolmax Lt Hiker Crew Sock which we recommend checking out and are our runner up to Darn Tough’s sock.
The Bridgedale Ultralight are a very light weight liner sock that is a good addition under normal hiking socks. They are considered a base layer such as other performance underwear, but this time for your feet. They will help prevent getting blisters and increase your comfort level by adding an extra guard against moisture build-up.
It also helps with hygiene if you’re worried about that, as instead of sweating into your high quality hiking socks and/or boots most of the sweat will be absorbed by these guys. Also packing these takes up less space and are less weight, so you can wear the same pair of hiking socks and just swap these out each day. For the hardcore backpacker, every ounce counts on a long trip.
- Best Women’s & Men’s Liners
- Very light weight
- Soaks up moisture and prevents blisters
There are a few brands that come up over and over again in the hiking world. Wigwam is one of those trusted brands. Their Pro Length sock is a synthetic sock composed of olefin, nylon, lycra spandex, and acrylic. This sock is known for its awesome moisture fighting powers. Additionally, they are lauded as one of the most durable socks on the market, they’ll be your foot’s best friend for quite some time.
- Best Women’s & Men’s Mid-weight Hiker
- Heel Cradle
- Dense toe enclosure and padded foot bed
If you’re looking for a merino wool midweight hiker we suggest Darn Tough’s Vermont Merino Wool Sock.
These elastic pair of socks are another offering from Darn Tough that we couldn’t help awarding our best mountaineering men’s sock. It’s made up of 77% merino wool, with the remainder composed of nylon and lycra spandex. The height of the sock is very high, providing additional warmth under your pants during those extreme high altitude missions. The heavy cushion surrounds your entire foot with a reinforced toe and heel to boot. Built to last, this sock won’t let you down.
- Best Women’s & Men’s Mountaineering Sock
- Merino Wool
- Elastic arch support
- Ring toe construction
Our runner-up is SmartWool’s Unisex product: the extra heavy mountaineering crew sock. Hiking through snowstorms? Have no fear, these puppies will keep your feet warm and cozy. If you prefer nylon material, this is a good option. Altogether the sock contains about 16% Nylon and 84% Wool. They’ve got four decent color options, and will go about to just about past your calf depending on your height.
These Thermal 80% Merino Wool Socks by DG Hill are really high quality hiking socks. These socks have several features that make them one of the very best socks for hiking. First and foremost, they have 80% merino wool.
Most hiking socks that are made from this wool are usually made using just 60%, so DG Hill stepped it up a notch. This also means that these thermal socks are warmer than most hiking socks you will find in the market. This is a very important feature because it makes it possible for you to use the socks during cold winter months and not be worried about your toes freezing off! Certainly, these puppies are in the running for the best winter hiking socks of all time.
The other feature that makes these socks great for hiking is the fact that they are very soft. This makes them very comfortable to wear during a hike. Last but not least, the heels of these socks are reinforced in order to extend their use and provide added comfort. Definitely one of the best merino wool socks you can buy.
These Bio Climbing DryCool Cushion Hiking/Performance Crew Socks are high quality hiking socks for men. These socks have a number of great features that make them perfect for hiking. First and foremost, these socks have cushion padding, as well as a ball protection in heels. This is a very important feature because it protects you from getting any blisters while you hike.
The socks are made of yarn that is of a dry-cool quality. This is great because it enables you to wash the socks and and dry them really quickly, which is great in cold months. The socks are also made in such a way that they wick moisture and odour away from the foot, making them one of the best moisture wicking socks around.
On top of this, they have an anti-bacterial feature to keep your feet fresh. Last but not least, these socks have great elasticity, which helps in keeping the socks in place, and stops them from sliding around in your boot.
These Multi Performance Cushion Hiking/Outdoor Crew Socks are arguably the best hiking socks for women. These socks from S7 tick all the most important boxes: excellent quality, style options, and price. These socks have some great features that make them awesome for hiking. First and foremost, the heels of the socks are padded. This is a very important feature because it enables you to have support, and prevents pain as well as blisters that may come about due to too much walking.
The socks also wick moisture away from the skin. This is important because it ensures your feet are dry at all times. The elasticity of the socks is another great feature, ensuring a nice snug fit and making these one of the best boot socks around. Last but not least, these socks have a very unique design, and come in a number of stylish colors.
Thorlo Thick Cushion Hiking Crew Sock is another example of some of the best hiking socks on the market. These socks have a unique design and features that make the socks a great fit for hiking purposes. Firstly, these socks have cushioning at the heel. This is an important feature that distributes pressure evenly, prevents blisters and any pain.
The instep area of the socks also contains an amount of cushioning that helps withstand the pressure from the shoes you are wearing. With these socks, you get to have your feet feel fresh even after you have been hiking for a long time. This is made possible by the ventilation panel that circulates air in your feet as you move.
These are simply high quality socks and are a great fit for anyone who loves hiking, and their thickness makes them one of the best cold weather socks around.
The Danish endurance socks are not only a perfect fit for hikers but are also great for athletes who engage in a lot of physical activity. One of the things that make these socks perfect is the fact that they are able to boost performance as well as speed up recovery once you have been active for a while due to the compression they provide.
The socks have a very tight fit, which can aid in preventing lactic acid build up while you hike. This compression tech makes these socks one of the best summer hiking socks out there. The tight fit also enables the socks to be secured in place the whole time you are hiking. The length of the socks is another thing that makes them great for hiking.
It is almost knee length, which means it offers you adequate warmth, so they really are one of the best winter socks out there. Last but not least, these socks are adequately cushioned to ensure protection from blisters and distribution of pressure.
Hiking Socks Guide Part I: Selecting the Right Pair of Socks
What weather and environment you will be hiking or backpacking is something to consider when purchasing socks designed especially for hiking. Some socks fare much better in warmer or humid conditions because of moisture wicking properties. Then there are socks crafted for mountaineering and winter travel.
When shopping for sizes, a good rule of thumb is that the socks should fit snugly. If it is at all possible, it’s a great idea to slip the socks on prior to buying them. You’ll also find out how much cushion and support they lend to your feet.
The four main categories hiking socks fall into include liners, lightweight hiking socks, mid-weight backpacking socks, and mountaineering socks. Liners are meant to be worn between the skin and sock, to help aid in keeping your feet dry and comfortable. If you are still experiencing painful blisters after purchasing high-quality hiking socks, liners are the next step and give you an added layer of protection. Lightweight hiking socks are best worn for hot weather and less difficult trails. They are pretty thin, but not as thin as liners and provide a bit more cushioning. Mid-weight backpacking socks are the in between ground and provide cushioning as well as insulation in mild to cold conditions. Most of these socks feature extra padding located on the high-impact areas of the foot such as the ball and heel of your foot. It’s a good idea to wear these socks with liners. Mountaineering socks are no joke. These babies are thick and warm, particularly crafted for very long trips in cold weather. Generally these are too bulky for shorter backpacking trips in warmer conditions.
What about toe socks? If you are a fan of toe shoes like Vibram Fivefingers, you may want to consider getting some toe socks. Injinji has a pretty good series of toe socks for hikers. These are designed for minimalist running and hiking shoes. It will help you stay super cool. They can also be used with traditional hiking shoes, as they prevent rubbing between your toes. Nobody likes a toe blister!
If at all possible, take a test drive before making a final purchase. The fact of the matter is every one of us is unique and preferences vary greatly. Furthermore, resting body temperatures and raised heart rate temp are all over the map. What might be the best pair of hiking socks for you may not work out for somebody else. The final step is actually giving your new socks a go and putting some miles on them. We recommend trying out a few different pairs over time to see which make your feet the happiest. That’s the key. Happy feet.
Hiking Socks Guide Part II: Most Important Criteria to Consider
Here are the top things to keep in mind before settling on a pair of socks.
- Comfort. Comfort is king with socks. Fitted designs are all the rage these days and for good reason. These designs have been shown to help prevent blisters and maintain motionlessness on the foot. Additionally, fitted socks eliminate the chance of wrinkles or uneven sock wear such as the “bunching up” effect.
- Insulation. This is important for cold weather socks.
- Wicking Ability. This is important for warm weather socks particularly. Sweaty feet increases the chances of painful blisters. Also, they get stinky. A good pair of socks will help keep your feet dry and wick away this extra moisture from your skin. Pretty nifty.
- Drying Speed. High-quality hiking socks allow you to wash them in the evening and air dry them at night, ready to go for the next day. This cuts down on how many pairs you need to pack which is particularly helpful for long trips.
- Material. Synthetic materials, merino wool, and wool/synthetic hybrids are the main choices for best hiking socks. Merino wool is a wonder material that does it all, provides the right amount of cushion, keeps feet cool in the heat, wicks moisture, provides warmth in the cold, and aren’t itchy. Clearly the top choice and works well under many types of conditions. Nonetheless, synthetic materials tech has advanced far in the past years. Some people prefer them over wool claiming they last longer and prevent odor better. It has been proven that typically they dry much faster. Synthetics run a bit less cost-wise than wool too.
- Cotton: why we rule against it? 100% cotton material will absorb sweat and overheat your feet in no time. They also provide zero insulation when they get wet and it takes them forever to dry. It is comfortable and when joined in a hybrid sock with other wicking or insulating fibers.
- Silk: silk is wonderful at insulating and lightweight. It would be great for hiking, except for the fact that it isn’t very durable material. Socks go through a thorough beating during hiking over rugged terrain. Silk can be used in liners as an added layer to increase moisture wicking.
- Warm weather or cold weather. For quite some time, hiking socks had a bad rap of being too constricting and bulky for warm weather use. Times have changed as a new breed of hiking socks have appeared on the scene. You can now choose a lightweight, odor fighting, sweat-wicking sock for those hot days.
- Sock height. Another important factor is the height of the sock. Obviously, longer socks are better in cold and shorter in warm conditions. But beyond that, it’s a good idea to get a height that is at least slightly hiking than your boot or shoe. Consider the terrain as well, if you’re going to be plowing through some bushes a crew length sock is preferable.
Hiking Socks Guide Part III: Most Important Benefits of Hiking Socks
There are a number of benefits one gets from choosing the best hiking socks in the market.
- Comfort. First and foremost, these socks offer cushioning for your feet. The importance of cushioning means you can enjoy your hike without having to worry about blisters.
- Moisture Wicking. The other benefit you get from hiking socks is that they wick moisture from your legs. This is very important because wet feet during hiking tend to contribute to blistering, which can be quite painful and uncomfortable for you. High quality hiking socks are made from very warm materials. This keeps your feet warm when you are hiking in very cold months of the year such as during the winter season. When buying socks for winter hiking, you should look for the best thermal socks you can find.
- Prevent Friction. Another benefit you get from wearing these socks is the fact that they prevent friction. During hiking there is a lot of movement made by the feet which creates a lot of friction in the soles of your feet. Without the very best hiking socks, you may end up getting blistered. The fact that quality socks prevent friction protects you from such problems. Proper hiking socks also help in improving your boot fit.
- Promote Circulation. Another important feature you get from hiking socks is the fact that they help in promoting circulation which is vital for all hikers, since you need to be in perfect health in order to hike and have an amazing time. The socks also distribute your pressure evenly in order to give you great support.
- Quality. The very best hiking socks are usually made of materials that are very quick to dry, such as pure wool. This is important for when you need to hike in the cold months. The material used is usually of very high quality as well, which is important because it makes the socks very durable so they are able to withstand a lot of friction. You should always look for the best wool socks you can find, as it is an excellent material for making hiking socks.
Hiking Socks Guide Part IV: Why it Makes Sense to Buy Hiking Socks
There are a number of things you need in order to have a great hiking experience. Firstly, you need an awesome location, with good trails and scenery. A lot of emphasis is also placed on your shoes and hiking gear, but most people forget the importance of good quality hiking socks. People who have a lot of hiking experience will tell you that socks play a very important role in comfort when you are on the trails. With the right shoes, you will be able to get through the rough terrain but without the best hiking socks, you will not be comfortable.
With so many people getting into hiking, a lot of manufacturers have started making hiking gear, shoes and clothing. A double edged sword, it can now be very difficult for hikers to find the best hiking socks for them. That’s where we come in! Here is our list of the very best socks for hiking available on the market.
Hiking socks are a hikers best friend when it comes to keeping their feet in good condition on a long trail. Hiking is an activity that involves a lot of walking, and the the type of footwear used should be of good quality. Most people take their hikes in country sides where there are numerous trails and rough terrain. Hiking requires you to be in the right clothing and boots in order for them to have a great time, without having to worry about sore feet.
For a long time, hikers have worn ordinary socks to hiking activities. This however did not end well for most of them, since they often had to nurse blisters and would feel very uncomfortable while taking their hike. This is because ordinary socks do not have the features that hiking socks do.
The solution to this problem is for every hiker to do adequate research before you buy any type of hiking socks. Through research, one is able to identify the top brands that produce hiking socks. You also get a chance to read a number of reviews on the socks by customers who have used them. This basically gives you an idea of what to expect when you buy the socks. When looking for the very best hiking socks, there are several things you need to look for. First and foremost, you need to ensure that the socks are tough enough to be able to withstand any chafing. You should also look for a pair of socks that is able to absorb shock, since this is important due to the many movements one makes when hiking. Last but not least, the socks should be able to support your posture and provide even pressure distribution, while keeping your feet warm.
Hiking Socks Guide Part V: History and Facts of the Humble Sock
Socks date back to the early Stone Age years. The best hiking socks for men and women were a little different in such times. Back then, man would wear socks made of animal skins. They would tie the socks around their ankles in order to secure them. In the 8th century B.C this changed, and people used to wear socks that were made from the fur of animals. In the 2nd century A.D people started wearing socks made from leather and other woven materials. It is in the 3rd century A.D that the first complete knitted socks were discovered in some of the Egyptian Tombs. There were also similar discoveries in the 6th century A.D. From this time up to the 17th century; the socks were made in different styles and from different materials. For example, in 17th century Spain, men’s socks were made of embroidered silk.
It is in the late 17th century that cotton started being used for making socks. Nylon then became popular for use in making stockings in the 20th century. It was chosen because it is quite elastic, ensuring a good fit. As the centuries passed, men gradually increased the length of the pants they wore, which in turn caused the length of the socks to be reduced. As the socks got shorter and shorter, the word ‘sock’ was used in replacement of ‘stockings’, which were longer. From the 20th century, many ideas were incorporated into designing and knitting socks. Bolder colours were chosen, different materials were used, and different design aesthetics were incorporated. It is from this open minded approach that socks such as hiking socks came to be. Sock manufacturers realized that hikers were having a very hard time using ordinary socks for their activities; they therefore decided to come up with socks that were perfect for athletics as well as hiking.
There are several facts you probably did not know about socks. Firstly, there is a city in the world known as Sock City. The city is called Zhuji and it is located in China. The reason why it was given this name is due to the fact that it is the city that manufactures the biggest number of socks in a year. In a year this city manufactures over 8 billion pairs of socks. Another thing you probably did not know about socks is the fact that women’s socks and mens socks are different. One difference you will find is in colour. For a long time, men have had their socks made in either black, white or grey colours. This is believed to be because such colours are easy to match with the colour of clothes they wear. Women on the other hand have numerous colours and design variations since they wear different types of shoes. Today however, this seems to be changing since it is possible to find men wearing all sorts of colours when it comes to socks. Last but not least, baby socks tend to be different from those of adults. This is because babies do not have an arch when they are below 1 year old.