Now is the perfect time to start planning your summer adventures! Whether you’re just hitting the trails for the day, thru-hiking in the backcountry, or trekking it to Timbuktu, we’ve got 2018’s best hiking socks to keep your feet dry and comfortable.
One thing can ruin your hike as much as wearing poor, unsupportive shoes (besides getting attacked by a bear), and that, my fellow hikers is your socks! In fact, your socks are just as important as your shoes and other gear when you’re spending time out on the trails. Hiking puts a lot of stress on your feet, and you want a good, comfortable layer of protection between them and your shoes. Choose the wrong pair of socks and your fun day of hiking can quickly take a turn for the worst.
Learn all about what you should look for in a perfect hiking sock, right here!
Hiking Sock Fabrics
When you think of hiking socks you probably think of super thick, warm, boot socks, and those don’t always work best in all temperatures. In fact, it all depends on the materials used. A good pair of hiking socks made of Merino wool and other synthetic, moisture-wicking fibers will help manage moisture and keep unwanted odors at bay no matter how far you're trekking the trail. Merino wool's moisture management system also helps prevent blisters or any sagging and bagging that typically occurs in regular cotton socks. This magic fabric will keep your feet cool and dry in the summer and warm and cozy in the winter, making it perfect for any weather.
Hiking Sock Height
In addition to fabrics, the hiking boots you'll be wearing, the weather, the duration of your hike, the trail conditions, and the terrain, are all factors you should be considering when choosing a pair of hiking socks.
While hiking socks are typically anywhere from crew to boot in length, heights/lengths for hiking socks vary and will ultimately depend on the boots or shoes you will be wearing.
- No-show socks provide little protection against abrasions so they should only be worn with low-cut footwear, like trail-running shoes, tennis shoes, or light hiking shoes.
- Ankle socks are slightly higher than no-show socks but will usually cover your ankle so they can be worn with low to mid-cut hiking boots.
- Crew socks are the most common height for hiking socks. They land above mid-calf and can be worn with most hiking boots.
- Knee high socks are more common for hiking on colder days or mountaineering. They will keep your lower legs warm and protected.
Hiking Sock Cushioning
Cushioning for hiking socks varies from ultra light to extra heavy cushioning, and while it should be based on personal preference.
- Ultralight cushioning provides the absolute minimum feel between you and your shoe.
- Light cushioning is ideal for varied terrain and day trips with warmer weather.
- Medium cushioning has a medium thickness, ideal for shorter trips in cooler weather.
- Heavy cushioning is for warmth during cooler extended excursions.
- Extra heavy cushioning is the ultimate cushioning and warmth for cold and rugged conditions.
If you're used to wearing heavier cushioned socks in your hiking boots and choose to go with lightly cushioned socks for warmer weather, it's important to consider whether or not you'll have extra room in your hiking boots. If you do have extra room, it could cause your feet to slide around, which can lead to discomfort or blisters in the long run. If you prefer to stick with the heavier cushioning, make sure you choose the ones made of Merino wool. Trust us, you can't go wrong with its magic.
The ultimate goal here is to get socks that fit, wick moisture, add protection, and keep your feet comfortable while you're out there. Check out some of our favorites.
2018’s 5 Best Socks for Hiking
Smartwool Women’s PhD Outdoor Approach Light Crew Socks (and Men) - $24.95
The next evolution in Smartwool's partnership with iconic alpinist, Conrad Anker, the PhD Outdoor Approach Socks takes sock technology to new heights. Designed to fit seamlessly in approach or hike footwear, these socks offer Smartwool's 4 Degree fit comfort and Indestructawool technology to handle demanding approaches, day hikes, and everyday wear.
This unique combination of the finest merino wool and polyamide fibers results in a product that is perfectly suited for outdoor sports. Merino wool can respond to changes in body temperature and warm or cool it as needed. The fabric also absorbs, stores and wicks moisture from your body so your skin stays pleasantly dry even on long excursions.
These socks won't stop global warming, but you might not mind quite as much. Coolmax® Polyester yarns are engineered to move moisture away from your skin, to be fast drying and to enhance comfort. Legendary Darn Tough construction and performance fit assure that socks stay put and in place all day. No slipping. No bunching. No blisters. No hot spots. Cushioning on the foot base provides comfort and fit with the perfect bounce that hikers and trail runners love. Stay cool, keep hiking. Still made in Vermont. Guaranteed for life.
Full Cushioning throughout this entire sock provides support and comfort without unwanted weight and bulk. Coveted for its dependability and comfort this sock has a smooth performance fit that you won't find in the other guy's full cushioned socks. No slipping, no bunching, no blisters. Fine gauge Merino Wool makes this a fast drying and breathable "all-weather" sock that stays cool in the summer and warm in the winter. And since Merino Wool is naturally antimicrobial this sock repels bacteria and odor—a great feature when you need to get an extra day (or two) out of your socks. Still made in Vermont. Guaranteed for life.
Wrightsock Merino Trail Crew Socks - $16.00 / $11.20
The Wrightsock Double Layer Merino Stride 543 Crew Socks provide the ideal crossbreed - a functional wool sock with lighter weight and reinforced footbed for added durability and resiliency, and perfect for trail running or hiking. Wrightsock's Double Layer Anti-blister system reduces friction between your feet and shoes, eliminating blisters. The Dri-WRIGHT II system wicks moisture away from your feet, keeping them dry and comfortable. The Stabilizer Zone helps lock the sock in place, further reducing blisters. Because the inner layer of fabric is still a Polyester and Nylon blend, you'll get the benefits of Merino Wool without the feel against your skin. Perfect for lightweight hiking, trail running or even casual wear.