LAST UPDATED: October 11, 2019
Best Hiking Socks: 3 Ways to Transform Your Hiking Experience
Experience maximum comfort when hiking through rugged terrain with these hiking socks
The Review Team
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PUBLISHED ON October 11, 2019
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
Darn Tough socks are simply the best hiking socks. They are well-stitched and made from the finest Merino wool. They offer warmth and comfort when walking, without the added bulk. Darn Tough socks come with a lifetime warranty and are an excellent purchase. They are perfect for almost any outdoor activity.
The socks come in various sizes and are made of thick, durable fabric. They also have a seamless toe box area for extra comfort when wearing hiking boots. They feature shock-absorbing underfoot padding and a ribbed design to prevent slipping or bunching. The heels are slightly thicker for added comfort.
These moisture-wicking hiking socks fit well, are breathable, and quickly absorb moisture. The downside is that the company may not stand by its warranty. Since the socks have a higher percentage of Merino wool, they may shrink when machine washed. The extra cushioning can also make them very warm on hot days.
The Danish Endurance socks are the best hiking socks for hikers on a budget. Made of Merino wool, they are suitable for hiking and walking and can be used by men, women, and children. They come in a variety of colors and will add a pop of color to your hikes.
The moisture-wicking socks keep your feet fresh in the summer and warm in the winter. They are breathable and quick drying. They are heavily cushioned and padded to prevent foot aches, blisters, and jarring shocks. They fit snugly and do not feel heavy.
The socks’ full-boot length works well with both hiking shoes and boots. However, the toe area may easily get torn by long nails. The socks don’t regulate temperature very well and don’t offer a lot of support. They may start to fray at the seams before one year has passed.
An affordable, five-pair bundle of socks, these offer maximum protection to your entire foot. They are perfect for outdoor hiking, trail running, and trekking. They are made with cotton, polyester, and spandex, and are very strong and durable. The manufacturer designed them to be versatile, so they can be used for all kinds of outdoor activities and sports.
The socks feature a medium compression design, offering Achilles and arch support to reduce foot fatigue. They are comfortable and breathable, and come with shin protectors. You’ll never have to worry when hiking in autumn, as they are warm. The socks are great at wicking moisture to keep your feet dry. They also come in a variety of colors.
The manufacturer offers a 60-day money-back guarantee, meaning you can return the socks if you are unsatisfied. While they are soft, stretchy, and comfortable, they may feel too tight around the calves. They are also not as thick as most hiking socks.
Specialized for winter activities, these are another excellent set by MIRMARU for men. They are custom-made for hiking, camping, mountain biking, backpacking, and other cold weather outdoor adventures. They have moisture-wicking material to keep your feet dry, and breathable fiber sections throughout to keep your feet from becoming overheated or sweaty. The bottoms are made with extra cushions to protect you for long hours on the trails. They are made with an elastic support for a flexible fit.
A perk to buying from MIRMARU is that they offer a full refund within 60 days, regardless of the supplier you purchased from. They also have a sleek, stylish design for the adventurer who likes to look good as well. They are designed for compression and support on your arch and Achilles tendon, protecting you on long walks. They are also fairly affordable compared to others on the market.
However, the socks do tend to shed. They also don’t have full wicking, so they might not keep you as dry as others. They also can run tight, but this does prevent slippage or rolling down while you walk.
Coming in sets of four and made for both men and women, People Socks have made a solid wool pair great for winter outdoor activities. Made from merino wool, nylon, polyester, and spandex, they have reinforced toes and heel support to prevent holes. They sit at about a medium thickness so your shoe doesn’t slip, but you also don’t have trouble pulling them on.
In addition to being good for hiking, they are also suitable for everyday wear. They are extremely affordable, enabling you to get a quality wool sock much cheaper than competitors. However, these must be air dried to maintain quality. You also don’t get as many features for hiking as you do with more expensive pairs.
This thick, padded crew sock is specifically designed for hiking by Thorlos. Made of acrylic, nylon, and elastic, it is good for both day hikes and long backpacking trips. Their padding has been clinically proven to reduce blisters, pain, and pressure in your feet, making you able to hike longer with more comfort. They are machine-washable as long as you wash them inside out with fabric softener. They come in one pair per order and are fairly affordable.
However, these socks tend to run small all the way from your toes to your calves. There have been some reported issues of the socks fraying and not lasting as long as hoped for. They also tend to shed a lot. While these are well-made for hiking, they are not ideal for daily use, as the padding will become uncomfortable.
These performance socks from SmartWool are made of merino wool, nylon, and elastane. With a simple appearance coming in a handful of colors, they are made specifically for hiking. They are designed to be flexible while also supporting and cushioning your feet during long miles. They have body-mapped mesh zones to ensure ultimate breathability and to keep your feet from getting overheated. They have a light cushion to keep pressure off of the bottoms of your feet and enable you to go longer and further.
When comparing the history of SmartWool socks, they have consistently been ranked as excellent products. The price is decent for the single pair you get, and they should be dried without heat. SmartWool also makes similar socks for women as well as unisex pairs.
However, customers have made statements that the quality is not the same as it was years ago, and reported issues of unraveling with minor usage.
These socks from Pro Mountain are made from cotton, spandex, polyurethane, and polyester. They should not be dried with heat to preserve quality. There is a thick cushion on the feet and ankle to guard against blisters, pain, and injuries, making these perfect for hiking, biking, sporting activities, and trail running. Cotton-based socks tend to create less friction and be more comfortable, so Pro Mountain takes advantage of this to create these socks. They come in six pairs for a very affordable price. They easily stay up without rolling down.
However, the design is simple with just the company logo on it. They are made in South Korea and the labels on them are all in Korean, so you will have to go online if you have questions about the make or care. Also, there can be some tearing where the logo is sewed into the sock since it is a high-stress area.
- 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.