Choosing hiking socks:
Toss those cotton tube socks, they aren't for walking. Your foot is not shaped like a tube, and cotton sets you up for blisters by holding sweat next to the skin. Head to the sock section of a sporting goods, outdoor, or running store and get the right socks. Wool or wool-blend socks are best; there are some new wool socks on the market that do not itch like those common grey ones with the red stripe at the top. Thin liner socks of polypropylene or similar substance are very effective at wicking moisture away from the foot.
Socks must be comfortable, wick moisture, protect against shear, support your natural posture, keep your feet at a good temperature, distribute pressure, promote circulation, absorb shock, and be tough. That's definitely no small order and this is what you should consider:
- Fabric: Look for socks made from CoolMax, polypropylene, or other wicking fabrics. They wick away the sweat to evaporate and help prevent blisters. Never use cotton socks for any hikes.
- Padding: If your feet feel tired after walking on pavement, look for padded running socks. Be sure that you try them with your walking shoes so you have enough room left in the shoe. Walking is lower-impact than running and light padding is adequate for most walkers.
- Double layered socks: Some socks are two-layered, with an inner sock of wicking fabric and an outer sock layer. These advanced socks help to prevent blisters by reducing the moisture and the friction that cause them. Socks like the Wigwam Trail Mix Fusion Merino Socks (Unisex) feature a soft merino wool outer surface knitted directly to a moisture-repelling polypropylene inner surface. This construction gives you the benefits of a layered two-sock system, without the bunching and friction of separate socks.
- Your own double layering: Many hikers and cold weather walkers wear an inner sock of a wicking fabric such as polypropylene and an outer sock of a wool blend, to provide insulation. Always make sure this combination fits well in your shoes or boots and still leaves enough room for your foot.
I highly recommend one of these layering options to keep your feet dry and blister-free.
Hiking socks varieties:
- Liners: These are very lightweight socks that are designed to be worn inside a thicker exterior sock. They provide good wicking capabilities along with another layer to help prevent blisters by decreasing friction.
- Lightweight: Good for warmer, shorter hikes. They offer some warmth yet provide comfort and wicking.
- Mid-Weight: Warmer and with more support than the lightweight sock. Commonly used with a liner on colder hikes.
- Heavy-Weight: Employed for lengthy multi-day hikes. They're the thickest, warmest socks on the market and are ordinarily used for colder hikes and tougher terrain. They provide the most cushioning of all the types. Recommended if you have a heavy backpack to carry.
Choosing a fabric:
- Cotton - 100% cotton socks are not recommended for hiking. Cotton absorbs sweat, dries slowly, provides no insulation when wet and that can lead to discomfort and blisters on the trail. However, a cotton blend sock (with wool or other wicking and insulating fibers) is suitable for light summer hiking.
- Wool - Wool is warm, cushioning, and retains heat when wet. Unfortunately, it can take a long time to dry and it can be scratchy next to your skin. To get the best wool has to offer, choose a sock that combines wool with synthetic materials.
- Synthetic materials - Synthetics trap warmth like wool, but are softer on the skin. They also dry more quickly, are more comfortable and are available in a variety of sock styles and thicknesses.
HIKING SOCKS VIDEO: