WHAT KIND OF SOCKS ARE BEST FOR HIKING?
Nothing can ruin a beautiful day on the trail like sore feet or blisters. Next time you head out for a hike, make sure you pack plenty of water, throw on a good pair of hiking boots, and pick out the perfect pair of hiking socks to go with them.
As you can imagine, the length of socks you should wear will vary depending on weather conditions and where you’re hiking.
Ankle socks are a great option for hot days when you’re hiking a relatively easy trail. A good indicator of whether you can get away with ankle socks is whether or not you’re able to complete the trail in a low-cut shoe rather than hiking boots. Since your ankles won’t be covered by fabric, it can help keep your feet cooler during your hike.
Other features included in your ankle socks can make your feet more comfortable on your hike. For example, a blister tab on the back can keep your shoe from rubbing against your ankle and causing a blister.
When it’s still warm out but you’re hiking on more difficult terrain, we suggest going with a quarter crew length sock. This will provide a nice protective layer between your ankle and hiking boots without trapping too much heat on your legs.
Most standard hiking socks come in crew length. This is long enough to prevent boots from rubbing and low branches or plants from scraping your legs. In most scenarios, you should be fine wearing crew hiking socks.
For cold weather hikes, long knee high socks can provide some extra insulation. It’s important to not overdress though — once you start sweating, you’ll actually get colder than if you hadn’t dressed as warm in the first place.
Once you’ve figured out the right height for your hiking socks, the next step is to choose the right material. You may be able to get away with a casual pair of cotton ankle socks or gym socks for more leisurely hikes, but we suggest wool for more serious trails.
No one likes walking with wet, sweaty feet. To avoid this, moisture-wicking material is essential. There are many different blends of fabrics that can make sure your feet stay dry, but our favorite is merino wool. It draws sweat away from your feet and allows it to evaporate.
“Ultimately, so long as you avoid cotton in your socks (because cotton makes you cold when wet and takes a long time to dry), most of the fabrics used in purpose-built hiking socks are functional enough for the trail. It all depends on your budget and what your priorities are.” - Gaby Pilson, Outdoor Educator and Climbing Instructor at Outdoors Generations
There’s no reason you need to go for a hike in an old pair of tube socks. A good pair of hiking socks will include features that make them feel better on your feet.
The average person takes about 2,000 steps to walk a mile. That’s a lot of work for your feet! A bit of padding on the bottom of your socks can help prevent sore feet after a long hike.
By knitting elastic into the area around your foot arch, your socks will provide slight compression to your foot helping to prevent achy feet.
A good pair of socks should have extra elastic around the top cuff. This keeps them from sliding down while you’re hiking.
If you’re going with a low cut pair of shoes and ankle socks, a blister tab at the back can stop blisters from forming.
No one likes that irritating seam at the toe of your sock. Good hiking socks have this seam placed along the top of your toenails to prevent irritation.
We hope this helps you find the right socks for your next hike. Visit our wool sock collection to find the perfect pair.