Best Hiking Socks

Best Hiking SocksSelecting the best hiking socks for your needs is just as important as selecting the right hiking boots. Even if you have the right boot, having the wrong sock can hurt your feet. When purchasing socks, make sure that they fit snugly on your feet with no bunching or creases. There are a variety of styles and materials to choose from. Make sure that you choose the sock that matches your type of hike.

When choosing the best hiking socks, keep these things in mind:

  • Sock Material:
    • Cotton: Never recommended for any hikes, especially with a backpack. Cotton does not wick (being able to “pull” moisture away from the skin) very well and provides no warmth when wet. It also dries very slowly.
    • Wool: A great natural fiber. It has some cushion, warmth capabilities and will even keep you warm after getting wet. Problems with wool include itchiness against your skin and the drying time after getting wet can be long. New wool blends are popular because they address many of the negative features of 100% wool socks.
    • Synthetic Materials: There are many socks on the market that offer the same benefits of wool without the problems. They also offer wicking capabilities. Other benefits include being softer than wool and drying time is significantly faster. They are also more durable than wool.
    • Silk: A great natural material that helps maintain warmth. It is lightweight and comfortable, but not as durable as the synthetic materials.
  • Hiking Sock Types:
    • Liners: These are very lightweight socks and are designed to be worn inside a thicker outer sock. They provide wicking capabilities and another layer to help prevent blisters by reducing friction.
    • Lightweight: Used for warmer shorter hikes. They provide some warmth but promote comfort and wicking.
    • Mid-Weight: Warmer and with more cushion than the lightweight sock. Normally used with a liner on colder hikes.
    • Heavy-Weight: Used for long multi-day hikes. They are the thickest, warmest socks available and are normally used for colder hikes and tougher terrain. They provide the most cushioning of all the types. Highly recommended if you have a heavy backpack.

Many socks made today are made with modern synthetic materials that help the sock hold its shape, as well as, provide extra cushioning in areas that take the brunt of the force during hiking. With the use of these materials, socks are providing more protection for your foot and proving to be more durable.

When putting on your socks for your hike, make sure that all creases are removed before putting on your boot. Any areas where bunching occurs can cause hot spots on your feet which can lead to blisters.

Selecting the best hiking socks for your hike is really a matter of personal preference. Some people prefer to always hike with a liner and a thicker sock on top, while others prefer two thick socks. If you ask ten different people their sock preference, I bet you will get twelve different answers. Experiment with your sock selection and find the one or many that meet your needs and are comfortable.

Also remember that when selecting new hiking boots, wear the socks that you will be hiking with to try them on. You want to replicate the exact conditions on the trail.

The Best Hiking Socks for Day Hikes or Shorter Hikes

These are lighter socks for shorter hikes with a day pack or fanny pack with two bottles of water. They are a synthetic or wool/synthetic blend and also have wicking capabilities.

The Best Hiking Socks for Long Day Hikes or Short Multi-Day Hikes

These are medium weight socks. Great for a long day hike or a short multi-day hike with a light backpack. Liners can also be used for added blister protection or warmth.

The Best Hiking Socks for Long Multi-Day Hikes

These are heavy weight socks. These are great for those extra long multi-day hikes with a full backpack. These socks have the most cushioning available. They are normally wool or wool/synthetic blend.

The Best Hiking Sock Liners

Remember, that you wear liners inside your other socks. They provide some wicking, some warmth and more protection against blisters. These socks help reduce friction, thus reducing blisters.

Hiking with the right socks can be the foundation of a great adventure.

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