Warm weather means it’s time for more outdoor fun and pursuits in nature. Activities like hiking are incredible for the whole family and have a host of benefits ranging from physical exercise to a greater appreciation for nature. Having the right gear and clothing is crucial to having a good time — from your fleece jackets and backpacks right down to your socks! Learn how to find the best hiking socks for a comfortable hike.
The best hiking socks for your excursion will first depend on the length of the shoes or boots you plan to hike in. Athletic shoes or shorter hiking boots may not require long length socks, so ankle length, no-show, or crew length can all be appropriate choices. Taller hiking boots can help provide that extra ankle support, but won’t work with short socks.
Longer lengths that go above the top of the shoe or boot will be ideal. Look for socks that state they are boot length to make sure they fit a standard boot height. Make sure the shoe or boot will not come up over the sock and cause blisters. Whether you’re sporting khaki shorts or women’s jeans, your sock has to work well with your footwear.
Most hiking boots come in standard sock sizes that offer a good fit. The thickness of the sock also comes into play here too, as you don’t want your socks to be too thick or feel uncomfortable under your footwear. The correct thickness will also help prevent chafing, blisters, or other issues. There are hiking socks with light, medium, and heavyweight cushioning; the best type for you will depend on the terrain and distance of your standard hikes.
The extra cushioning can provide comfort, especially on tough trails or for longer hikes. You should always try on your hiking socks with your intended footwear before your hike to make sure that they aren’t too loose or too tight with the shoes or boots. The right fit will also sit correctly on your foot and ankle without bunching.
Hiking can be hard on your feet, so it’s essential to choose high-quality hiking socks. Fortunately, many quality brands are also very affordable, so you can find socks that fit your needs and budget without a problem. That said, you’ll also need to ensure that the socks’ construction and materials are on par for what you need in a hiking sock.
The number-one rule? Avoid cotton socks. These can trap moisture and keep your feet damp, making it uncomfortable to hike and exposing your feet to a host of potential problems. Instead, look for options like wool, wool blends, or synthetic blends (like nylon/polyester blends) that wick away moisture to help keep your feet dry and comfortable. Breathable socks are key for comfort and foot health during a hike. Blends that contain a material that offers some stretch, like Lycra, can help the socks conform to your feet and retain their shape as well. Whatever material you choose, it should be soft and comfortable on your feet.
The best hiking socks will also be appropriate for the temperature and time of year. Just like you consider whether to wear flannel shirts or cotton sundresses to match the temperature, you’ll need to consider these factors for your socks as well. If you’re an avid year-round hiker, you may need multiple hiking socks with different warmth levels to accommodate your needs. The best hiking socks for keeping your feet toasty in frigid temperatures will likely be too warm for the hotter months of the year. Having several pairs with different levels of warmth can be a good idea to ensure you have the best pair for the changing weather and temperatures.
Some hikers prefer to wear sock liners with their hiking socks. These have a few benefits, such as working as a base layer to provide warmth, reducing friction, and helping to keep moisture at bay. However, some outdoor enthusiasts believe that a great pair of hiking socks can accomplish the same things. Ultimately, it all comes down to your personal preference.
Another key factor when it comes to your hiking socks is durability. They should hold up well to being worn for long periods and be able to withstand being washed as needed without deteriorating. Check out reviews to see which types hikers turn to and which hold up well over time.
Caring for your hiking socks is simple. Follow the care instructions for your specific socks, which usually involves washing on a gentle cycle or hand washing with warm or cool water. A mild detergent is all you need. Most socks can be laid flat to dry or dried on a low or delicate setting.
Hiking socks might seem like a small detail, but they are a big player when it comes to feeling cool and comfortable on the trail. Knowing what to look for and how to care for them means you’ll have the best hiking socks for all your outdoor adventures.