Buy Hiking Socks
With built-in arch support and a mesh top for maximum ventilation, the Injinji liners will keep feet comfortable in any weather (for cooler summer days, they also pair well with your favorite hiking sandals).
buy hiking socks
The right amount of cushioning for you depends mostly on the types of trips you go on and the weather you expect. A bit of cushion can protect your feet during high-impact activities like running and backpacking, but keep in mind that thicker socks are warmer and can cause your feet to sweat. You may have to experiment to find the right balance of cushion-to-warmth that works for you. Having a variety of socks to choose from in your sock drawer is helpful.
As you dream of trekking to azure alpine lakes or through the ragged and gnarly terrain of remote deserts, consider the items required to make your trip flawless. Along with other essentials, you should consider a pair (or two) of sturdy hiking socks. Finding the perfect pair may prove to be difficult, especially with such a saturated market. In this article, we will help you identify the best hiking socks to match your needs.
There are many different types of socks on the market, which have different anatomy and differences in construction. Take a look below to see what kind of socks you might encounter on the quest to find the best sock for you. Determine what you are looking for, then read on to learn about the different components for a great hiking sock.
Skiing & Mountaineering: Constructed of wool and synthetic materials with a longer length to accommodate a tall ski or mountaineering boot. These socks typically are much warmer and breath well, ranging from lightweight to heavyweight. Best for alpine activities including ice climbing, mountaineering, and skiing.
Hiking Socks: Constructed of wool and synthetic materials with varying lengths and weights. Most hiking socks accommodate the use of both hiking boots and hiking shoes, though some only are constructed for use with hiking shoes. These vary in lengths and range from lightweight to heavyweight depending on what you are looking for. Best for day hiking, fastpacking, long-distance trail running, and backpacking.
General Use Socks: These are the typically socks you'd see in bulk sold at a grocery or department store. They are typically constructed with a cotton material that is great for everyday use but does not perform well in cold or wet weather. Best for everyday wear to work or school, and their price can't be beat.
Liners: These synthetic socks (constructed of thin polyester material) are used to enhance wicking ability for thicker socks or to avoid the potential for blisters. Liners are a great option to wear with a pair of compatible mountaineering or hiking socks. Buy a pair if you are susceptible to blisters and see if they make the difference!
So you've determined that a hiking sock is in the cards. It's important to know what considerations to make when purchasing a hiking sock. First, determine what you're using your sock for and the type of conditions you are going to put it through. For example, you're going to choose for a heavier weight fabric if you're going to tackle a massive thru-trails like the Pacific Crest Trail as opposed to a lightweight fabric designed for day hiking. In this section, we discuss key sock features that are important for the construction of any great hiking sock. Specifically, we explore the pros and cons of common fabrics and different weights that you might find in the stores and online.
Hiking socks are divided into four different categories based on sock thickness. Each weight provides a different function or niche in the exercise game. Take a look at the different options below. We outline some key properties of each type of sock.
In this section, we take a look at some other key features to consider when purchasing a hiking sock, like how high they come up the leg, strategically-placed panels for compression and breathability, seam placement, and gender-specific fit.
Socks come in all different lengths and sizes, intended for different purposes. Taller socks are more compatible with hiking boots and provide more overall warmth and protection. These are best used if you plan on hiking in cooler conditions or using a hiking boot. If you know you'll be bushwacking or hiking in tall grasses, we recommend a taller sock.
Shorter socks are best if you prefer to use a pair of hiking shoes and prefer enhanced leg breathability. Shorter socks don't offer as much protection and are not compatible with most hiking boots. Due to less coverage, they also keep your legs cooler.
Look for a sock that uses panels to enhance the breathability of the sock. Most socks will advertise this and can be seen around the arch of the foot, where you might sweat the most. If you are in cold conditions, this is important to transport sweat away from the foot, so it doesn't keep your feet cold when you slow down. This is also important in hot weather to keep your feet dry and cool on the move.
Most hiking socks offer a seamless design which is a flat stitch that will not bunch or chafe. In addition, the seam should sit on top of the foot, not at the tips of the toes. While most hiking socks have this feature, but sure to double-check.
Be sure to order socks in the correct size using the associated company's sizing chart. When trying them on, be sure to pay attention to the fit specifically in the heel and toe. The heel should sit in the correct place, with little to no material at the toes. If there is additional material, this could bunch, causing chafing and blister issues. If the sock, on the other hand, is too short, you'll find yourself reaching down to pull it up while on the move.
Is there a difference in a hiking sock specific to gender? The quick answer is yes, but the differences are small at best. We all note the immediate differences, which are color. While these differences are apparent, less noticeable differences comes in the construction of the sock. Women's socks are constructed with a narrow profile throughout the forefoot and heel, while men's socks feature a wider profile. If you are a woman with a wide foot, a men's sock might be best. Or, if you are a man with a narrow heel, you might find a women's sock to provide a better fit. Many socks on the market are unisex and typically work for both sexes.
Even though socks like the Darn Tough socks come with a lifetime guarantee, it's important to check the maintenance instructions for your socks. Fabrics like merino wool and polypropylene require specific care that may be more complicated than just machine wash. So before you throw your socks into the washer or dryer, check the care instructions to ensure the performance and vitality of your hiking sock.
Not everyone is willing to spend $20+ on a pair of hiking socks, which we understand, and REI Co-op offers a budget-friendlier alternative to merino wool with their Coolmax EcoMade Lightweight Hiking Quarter. Made with fabric constructed from recycled plastic bottles, these socks provide a soft next-to-skin experience without the usual environmental burden of polyester (REI has been strong of late on the sustainability front). They wick moisture well too, making them a great choice for hot-weather adventures when you still want decent cushioning and support.
Smartwool recently overhauled their popular PhD collection with a number of notable tweaks to the design. Key changes include the use of sustainable materials (the Hike Light here uses 31% recycled nylon), increased cushioning (especially under the arch), and Smartwool also updated the mesh zones and overall fit. But most of the winning recipe remains largely the same, including sufficient padding under the heel and forefoot for trail running, hiking, and lightweight backpacking, as well as good breathability and a secure, foot-hugging shape. And we love the modernized designs and patterns, including mountainscapes and brighter colorways.
The Feetures Elite Max Cushion No Show Tab Socks join the Darn Tough Full-Cushion above and Smartwool Classic below as a heavyweight option for maximizing cushion and comfort. However, unlike both of those options, the Feetures has a low-cut, no-show design that makes it much more versatile for year-round use. To be clear, most will still find the socks too warm for mid-summer hiking or trail running, but the synthetic construction breathes decently well and should fare well over the long term. Combined with targeted compression zones and a seamless toe box, the Elite Max Cushion is a thoughtfully built pick for those looking to maximize all-day comfort and support while minimizing bulk.
On particularly hot summer days, you just might not want to put wool on your feet, which is understandable. For these occasions, Darn Tough makes a synthetic sock with Coolmax polyester (the same material used in the budget REI option above), a highly porous fabric that is made specifically to keep your feet cool. These socks are a nice option for hot-weather hikers, and like our favorite merino models, they are snug-fitting, well cushioned, and do not stretch with use. All that, and the bump in breathability is noticeable.
PolyesterIn general, we strongly prefer merino wool over polyester. Merino is known for its natural antimicrobial properties, whereas polyester socks hold stink in a serious way (this alone has us firmly in the merino camp). Moreover, merino wool is a naturally sourced material, whereas polyester is made from plastic fibers.
No matter the brand, you will be pleasantly surprised with how long a $20 pair of hiking socks can last. If you have a few pairs in the rotation, you can expect most hiking socks to last at least a couple of seasons if not more. We have multiple pairs in our sock drawer that are used both for outdoor adventures and around town, and we rarely have to replace them.
Our hiking enthusiasts have tested dozens of the best hiking socks over hundreds of miles in the last 11 years. This update features 14 of the market's top options that we compared side-by-side, trekking the globe in search of the most epic outdoor adventures. Our test socks get soaked, compressed, wrung out, smashed with dirt, and washed in rivers. After hundreds of hands-on testing hours and meticulous assessments, we hope to help you find the best hiking socks for your performance needs and ambitions. 041b061a72