Best Hiking Socks: 3 Ways to Transform Your Hiking Experience
Experience maximum comfort when hiking through rugged terrain with these hiking socks
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Choosing a pair of hiking socks isn’t as simple as picking the first pair you see in your dresser drawer. You need a pair that allows quick movements, stays dry, and offers enough comfort to help you cover many miles. Here are some high-quality hiking socks that will offer extra support to your feet.
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Benefits of Hiking Socks
- Durable. The best hiking socks serve you for a long time in spite of how many miles you hike. They can withstand frequent washing without having loose threads. Since they are designed for outdoor use, they can comfortably handle exposure to grass and dirt.
- Eliminate odors. The longer you hike, the higher the likelihood your socks will smell. One good thing about hiking socks is they have the ability to control odor. They quickly eliminate bacteria, getting rid of bad odors. Some fabrics, such as merino wool, are the best for socks because they are naturally odor-resistant.
- Breathable. High-quality hiking socks control your feet’s temperature and reduce friction between the feet and the hiking boots. They pull moisture out of your feet and release it into the air. This helps keep your feet airy and dry. Increased moisture in your feet can cause blisters.
Types of Hiking Socks
These are the shortest type of hiking socks and don’t have any ankle protection. They are worn with light hiking boots, running shoes, or other types of low-cut footwear. When you wear trail-running or low-riding hiking shoes, these socks offer minimal protection between the shoes and your ankles. Due to their size, no-show socks can easily allow debris such as gravel or dirt to get inside. If they fit poorly, you may experience rubbing on your ankles and heels.
Also called quarter-height socks, they are a little longer and cover the ankle bone, slightly protecting it. To prevent rubbing and to protect your ankle, wear these socks with hiking boots that reach the ankle. Ankle socks are perfect for lightweight hikers, people who love to hike in summer, and mid-level day hikes.
These are the most popular hiking socks because they protect the lower legs from bugs, rocks, mud, and brush. They also protect against boot abrasion because they reach above the ankle bone. They regulate the heat you feel in your feet as you hike. Crew hiking socks are best for hikers who love hiking in shorts or thin hiking pants. Some of these socks are midweight socks and are ideal for longer backpacking trips and higher mileage hikes.
These are also known as over-the-calf socks. Extra-long and thick, they provide warmth and protect against rubbing on shins and calves. Knee-high socks are regularly used for mountaineering because they pair well with high-rising mountaineer boots. You can also use them for off-trail hiking and backpacking through brush or high grass. They also work well when you need extra warmth, like when you’re snowshoeing.
Darn Tough socks are manufactured by Cabot Hosiery Mills, which has its headquarters in Northfield, Vt. Marc Cabot founded the company in 1978. The company offers a lifetime warranty for Darn Tough socks, promising the best fit, durability, and comfort. Some of its best hiking socks are the Darn Tough Men's Merino Wool Light Crew Cushion Socks and Darn Tough Hiker Micro Crew Cushion Socks.
Peter and Patty Duke, ski instructors based in New England, established Smartwool in 1994 in Steamboat Springs, Colo. Smartwool makes all kinds of clothing items for outdoor activities such as hiking, skiing, running, cycling, hunting, and snowboarding. Its products are exclusively made from Merino wool, developed with innovative technology to enhance performance. The Smartwool PhD Outdoor Medium Crew is one of their best hiking socks.
Wigwam has been manufacturing socks since 1905. The company was founded by Herbert Chesebro, Lawerance Bentz, and Robert Ehany in Sheboygan, Wis. It produces socks for hiking, skiing, and everyday use. Its woolen socks are made with wool sourced from American yarn spinners. The Wigwam Hiking Outdoor Pro is one of its best-selling hiking socks.
MirMaru is a leading socks manufacturer located in New York City. Its socks are designed for high performance and used for numerous outdoor activities, including hiking. Its hiking socks come with a 60-day, money-back guarantee. In addition to socks, the company also produces hats, scarves, gloves, and other fashion items. Some of its best-known socks are the MIRMARU Women's Cushion Crew Socks.
Hiking Socks Pricing
- $5 to $20: These socks are comfortable, breathable, and don't slide down easily. They also offer good value and are usually made by blending several fabrics.
- $20 to $45: Socks in this price category have more cushioning, offer great performance, last long, fit very well, and are ideal for longer hikes. Many come with a lifetime warranty and provide good arch support.
Cotton is comfortable and affordable but is not the best fabric for hiking socks. It traps moisture, which can cause blisters. Synthetics such as spandex, nylon, and polyester are more commonly used because they are breathable, quick drying, and durable. Wool is the best material for hiking socks. It is soft, comfortable, excellent at regulating body temperature, and absorbs moisture well.
Comfort is a major factor when selecting the best hiking socks. If money is not a big issue, buy socks made from Merino wool. If you’re on a budget, get socks made from wool blended with synthetics. They are cheaper, comfortable, more durable, and have increased elasticity. They also retain their shape for a long time.
The best hiking socks should be durable enough to withstand the harshness of hiking. Socks that are highly durable are not impacted by how you walk, the number of miles you hike, how often you wash them, or how hard your foot strike is. To enhance your socks’ durability, avoid washing them every time you wear them.
- Cushioning: The cushioning of hiking socks determines their comfort and warmth. Ultralight cushioned socks are the thinnest and are designed for hikes in hot weather. Lightly cushioned socks are good for hiking in both cool and warm weather. They are more durable and offer extra comfort. Medium-cushioned socks are designed to protect your feet from impact. They are great for longer hikes or cold weather. Heavy cushioned socks are commonly used by mountaineers. They are also ideal for winter hiking, hikers with cold feet, or worn pads.
- Fit: Buy socks that fit your feet well. Socks that are too tight restrict your blood flow and constrain your toes’ range of movement. Those that fit snugly make the best hiking socks because they stay wrinkle free, breathe easier, and effectively absorb moisture. Socks with compression bands strategically placed around the foot and ankle area offer extra support, preventing bunching and twisting. Compression also supports ligaments and muscles, preventing conditions such as plantar fasciitis.
- Manufacturer's Warranty: Hiking socks are usually designed to endure the toughest conditions. Even though how long they last is not written in stone, some manufacturers now offer a lifetime warranty (a lifetime guarantee). It is a great relief to know that no matter what your socks go through, they are guaranteed for life.
Best Hiking Socks Reviews & Recommendations 2020
- Get a good pair of hiking boots to go with your new socks. High-quality hiking boots will protect your feet from injury and all-weather conditions as well as provide extra support to the foot.
- Wear breathable and odor-resistant hiking gloves to keep your hands warm and blister-free.
- To avoid losing socks, use a small laundry bag for your dirty socks. At the end of each hiking trip, throw them in the laundry bag.
- Do not ball up socks when you store them. The material may stretch out and lose its shape around the ankle and calves.
- Air-dry merino wool socks after washing them. Merino wool tends to shrink when placed in a high-heat dryer.
Q: Which are the best socks for a hiker with tough feet?
A: If you have tough feet, you need more breathability than cushioning on your feet. Prioritize socks with a mesh fabric that’s breathable. They should be lightly cushioned to give your feet comfortable but not so much that they feel constricted.
Q: How long should hiking socks last?
A: Hiking socks can last for at least a year with proper care and maintenance, but their lifespan mainly depends on your hiking terrain, your weight, and how often you use the socks. You can care for your socks by flipping them inside out when washing them and letting them air dry.
Q: Why do my feet feel cold even when wearing thick socks?
A: That’s a common problem for people with sensitive feet since the capillaries are closer to the skin. Try to eat a heavy meal, exercise often to warm up your feet, and wear clean socks. If those options don’t work, it’s always wise to consult your physician.
Our top pick is the Darn Tough Hiker Socks. It offers the best mix of comfort, warmth, durability, and style. It also comes in versatile sizes suitable for both men and women of any foot size.
If you would like five pairs of hiking socks for the price of one, consider the MIRMARU Cushion Crew Socks.