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7 Best Hiking Socks to Take Care of Your Feet!

Best Hiking Socks

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Best Hiking Socks

Best Hiking Socks

The best hiking socks treat your feet well during your hike. When you hike, you take a lot of steps. You often walk around rocks and roots as you hike. The small detours increase the number of steps you take. There are about two thousand steps in a mile. That is a lot of steps when you take a five-mile hike! 

The best hiking socks keep your feet comfortable. Socks keep your feet from getting blisters. The best socks keep your feet warmer in the winter, cooler in the summer, and drier when the trail is wet.

SocksCushionHeight Price (MSRP)
Darn Tough:
Women’s HikerLightQuarter (Ankle)$18
Men’s HikerLightQuarter (Ankle)$18
Men’s HikerMediumMicro-Crew$23
Women’s JanisMediumMicro-Crew$23
Men’s Scout BootMediumMid-Calf$27
SmartWool:
Women’s PhD Outdoor LightCrew$19
Women’s PhD Outdoor LightQuarter (Ankle)$19

Points to Consider When Choosing Your Socks

Think about these four points when you choose the best hiking socks for your hike:

  • Fabric
  • Sock height
  • Fit
  • Cushioning

Fabric

The best hiking socks use Merino Wool. Some hiking socks include cotton, polyester, nylon, or spandex. Socks that use Merino Wool or wool blend make your best hiking sock choice.

Hiking socks usually include more than one fabric. Socks are a blend of materials that promote comfort, strength, shape, and quick drying. Wool is the best sock material. You also find Cotton, Polyester, Nylon, and Spandex used in hiking socks.

Avoid cotton cotton hiking socks. Cotton holds moisture. Holding moisture makes your feet cold in the winter. The moisture makes your feet smell bad in the summer. Moisture also causes blisters.

Wool

Wool makes the best hiking sock material. There are several reasons that wool makes the best material for socks.

  • Keeps your foot’s temperature steady so your feet do not get sweaty
  • Cushions your feet so they are comfortable during your hike.
  • Naturally hygienic, so it does not hold odors as synthetic fabrics do.

Merino wool comes from the Merino sheep. This type of wool does not itch. The wool also helps keep your feet a steady temperature, pulls moisture away from your feet and reduces foot odor.

Polyester

Polyester is a synthetic material. Polyester’s benefits include drying quickly and pulling moisture away from your foot. Sometimes sock manufacturers blend Polyester With Wool or other synthetics. The blended material provides warm, comfortable, durable, and quick-drying socks.

Nylon

Nylon adds durability and helps your socks dry faster.

Spandex

A lot of hiking socks have a little spandex. Spandex helps your sock keep their shape and wrinkle less.

Fit

Your socks need to fit well so you do not get blisters. Loose socks rub your feet and cause blisters.

Cushioning

Cushioning impacts your foot’s comfort and warmth. You want to balance your foot’s warmth and comfort.

Sock Height

Hiking socks have different heights. Use your hiking shoes or boots as your guide for choosing the sock that is the right height.

You want socks that come above the top of your shoes or boots so your foot does not rub against your shoes or boots. The best hiking sock choices are Crew and Knee-high socks. 

Best Hiking Socks

Heights include:

  • Crew
  • Micro-crew
  • Quarter (Ankle)
  • Knee-High
  • No-Show

The right height sock also protects your foot from scraping against your boot or shoe.

Crew

The Crew sock is the most common hiking sock height. This height sock comes to a few inches above the ankle and covers the bottom of your calf. A Crew sock provides good protection against your shoes rubbing your foot. This helps keep your foot from becoming sore or blistered. Their drawback is Crew socks are warm on a hot day.

Micro-crew

As you might think, Micro-crew socks fit between Crew and Ankle socks. The Micro-crew height is taller than an ankle sock but a couple of inches shorter than the average crew sock. Micro-crew socks fit just above the top of a standard pair of hiking boots.

Quarter (Ankle)

Some hikers prefer Ankle socks for the freedom they give. They are cooler and can be comfortable but provide little protection. Also, they are only suited for low cut hiking shoes and boots.

Knee-high

Knee-highs are usually used for mountain hiking. They protect your feet, shins, and calves from heavier and larger mountaineering boots. They also keep your feet and lower legs warm from the usually lower mountain hiking temperatures.

No-show

These are very low cut socks. No-shows offer little protection from your boot rubbing against your skin. Some hikers like these as trail running socks. Some also prefer No-shows during the summer since they are cooler than Crew or Knee-highs.

Be Sure Your Sock Fits!

You need socks that fit right. Socks that fit right keep your feet comfortable during your hike. Socks that are too big wrinkle. If your socks are too small, they can make uncomfortable pressure points on your feet. Wrinkled socks rub against your foot and can cause blisters. Too tight socks slip and make your hike uncomfortable when your feet blister.

It is important that you wear the right size hiking sock. You need to know your foot size versus your shoe size. If you do not know your foot size, the size guide on the sock is usually correct. Use the guide to pick the right size sock for your foot.

Your socks need to fit your foot closely. Avoid a too tight fit though. Your sock fits right when the sock heel cup lines up with the heel of your foot.

The Best Hiking Socks Cushion Your Feet

You need a sock with the right amount of cushioning. How much cushioning you need depends on the kind of weather you expect and what kind of hike you take. If you expect your feet to absorb a lot of impacts, you need some cushion.

High impact trail activities include trail running multi-day backpacking, and hiking rough trails. Thick, warmer socks cause your feet to sweat though. You should try and have several sock styles with different kinds of cushion. Then you know which amount of cushion you need for your activity.

Hiking socks have four types of cushion. Light and Medium cushion socks meet most of your hiking sock requirements. Still, you might prefer Heavy or Medium cushion socks.

Light cushion

Choose socks with a light cushion during warm weather. Socks with a lighter cushion pull sweat or water away from your skin.  During warm weather, the socks feel cooler. Also, light cushion socks provide a cushion for your heel and ball of your foot.

Medium cushion

For most hiking and backpacking trips, pick socks with medium cushion. Medium cushion socks cushion your heel and the ball of the foot.  Socks with this much cushion also keep your foot warm during cool and cold weather.

Heavy cushion

Choose heavy cushion socks for the most comfortable and warmest socks. Wear these socks for mountain and cold weather hiking. Also choose heavy cushion socks when you take a long hike, the trail is very rough, or it is cold.

No cushion

For very hot weather, wear no cushion socks. They let your feet have air and help, and keep your feet cool, but they have little or no cushion.

Best Hiking Socks Choices – Darn Tough and Smartwool

When you look for a good hiking sock, seriously consider Darn Tough and Smartwool hiking socks.

Darn Tough

Best Hiking Socks

Darn Tough is a family-owned business. They have been knitting socks in Vermont for almost forty years. Their mission is to make the world’s best socks and stand behind them.

Fine gauge Merino Wool keeps Darn Tough socks cool in the summer and warm in the winter. Seamless construction makes them very comfortable.

Darn Tough has socks for all of your hikes. All their socks offer benefits your feet will appreciate that include:

  • No slipping, bunching, and no blisters.
  • Outstanding durability
  • Pull moisture away from your feet.
  • Fast drying
  • Cool in the summer
  • Warm in the winter
  • Odor-resistant
  • Invisible seams that give you an ultra-smooth fit.
  • Guaranteed For Life

Darn Tough values diversity, sustainability, hard work, honesty, family, and customer service.

The company backs their socks with a lifetime guarantee! “If our socks are not the most comfortable, durable and best fitting socks you have ever owned, return them for another pair. No strings. No conditions. Socks guaranteed for life.”

Learn More About Darn Tough

Women’s and Men’s Light Hiker Quarter (Ankle) and Micro-crew

The women’s and men’s socks have all the benefits of the Darn Tough Like Hiker line of socks. You can get the benefits of these socks in either a Quarter or Micro-crew fit. These socks are the BEST choice for most hikers!

Specifications:

  • Fit: just above the ankle (Quarter) or just below the calf (Micro-crew)
  • Low profile for low cut hiking shoes (Quarter)
  • Just above the top of hiking boots (Micro-crew)
  • Comfortable
  • Smooth cuff
  • Lightweight
  • Material: 54% nylon, 43% merino wool, 3% spandex

For more Darn Tough socks look here:

Men’s Hiker Micro Crew

For thru-hikes to day hikes, take care of your feet with this sock. Darn tough made a sock that can take any trail.

Specifications:

  • Fit: mid-calf
  • Material: 61% Merino Wool, 36% Nylon, 3% Spandex
  • More warmth
  • Better protection

Women’s Janis

With its free-spirited style, the Janis gives you a fun look when you take a hike.

Specifications:

  • Fit: mid-calf
  • Materials: 57% Merino Wool, 41% Nylon, 2% Spandex
  • More warmth
  • Better protection

Men’s Scout

Buy the Scout if you want Darn Tough’s softest sock. The sock’s added softness gives you long-wearing comfort.

Specifications:

  • Fit: mid-calf
  • Materials: 65% Merino Wool, 33% Nylon, 2% Spandex
  • More warmth
  • Better protection

Smartwool

Best Hiking Socks

Smartwool uses high-grade Merino Wool. The wool keeps your feet dry and regulates your body temperature. Smartwool offers a cushion range from ultralight cushioning to heavy cushioning. 

The Smartwool women’s hiking socks are a good all-around choice. The company has a broad range of socks to choose from. Below, see two of Smartwool’s best women’s socks.

Smartwool values openness, advocacy, action, inclusiveness, justice, sustainability, and fun.

Smartwool has a two year guarantee. “… if, for any reason, you aren’t completely happy with your Smartwool® gear within two years of purchasing, we’ll get you into some new gear. No problem.”

Who Is Smartwool?

Women’s PhD Outdoor Light Crew and Ankle

Enjoy the trail with these women’s Smartwool socks. Choose either crew or ankle length socks, and enjoy the same benefits.

Specifications:

  • Made for women’s feet with a narrower heel and slimmer fit
  • Vented zones for more breathability
  • High impact parts of the sock have added cushion.
  • Materials: 58% Merino Wool, 39% Nylon, 3% Elastane

For more Smartwool choices look here:

SocksCushionHeight Price (MSRP)
Darn Tough:
Women’s Light HikerLightQuarter (Ankle) or Micro-crew$18
Men’s Light HikerLightQuarter (Ankle) or Micro-crew$18
Men’s HikerMediumMicro-Crew$23
Women’s JanisMediumMicro-Crew$23
Men’s Scout BootMediumMid-Calf$27
SmartWool:
Women’s PhD Outdoor LightCrew$19
Women’s PhD Outdoor LightQuarter (Ankle)$19

Conclusion

I own and wear both Smartwool and Darn Tough socks. I prefer Darn Tough socks. Darn Tough socks are:

  • More absorbent
  • Made for long-lasting outdoor use
  • Have a Lifetime warranty!

The best hiking socks are just as important as your hiking boots! Your socks do a lot of “work” when you hike.

  • Socks pull moisture away from your feet.
  • Your hiking socks promote good posture.
  • The socks keep your feet at the right temperature.
  • Your socks absorb shock
  • … and more.

That is a LOT of work to help your feet feel better!

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Best Hiking Socks