Besides having the right hiking shoes, a pair of quality hiking socks helps prevent foot discomfort, so you can remain focused on the invigorating feeling that hiking brings. Socks are a critical part of your hiking kit. If you pick the wrong pair, you risk sweating, blisters, and aching feet. This means you need to choose hiking socks with the same level of care dedicated to other outdoor apparel.

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Sometimes you may be tempted to pack your regular gym socks, but these aren't proper hiking gear because they're not built for performance on the trail. Wearing regular socks on a long hike will have you cursing the whole way. What you need, however, is a pair that will keep your feet dry, comfortable and blister free. Pick the right socks, and your feet will thank you.

Why Hiking Socks

Feet Folder Footwear

Photo by Alan Cabello from Pexels

Hiking in the wilderness can be enjoyable, or a miserable experience depending on the type of apparel you carry with you. If you have worn cotton socks on the trail before, then you definitely understand how hard it is on your feet. It can even make you want to forgo your excursion and head back to the lodge instead.

Unlike regular socks, such as running or gym socks, hiking socks are designed for the harsh terrain and different types of weather and climatic conditions. Hiking socks not only keep your feet cushioned, but they wick away moisture to prevent blisters and let you sweat comfortably. Additionally, they’ll keep your feet warm when hiking in adverse weather like winter or rainy seasons, reduce friction, and improve boot fit.

However, picking the wrong pair can also bring misery to your otherwise fun outdoor excursion. Bad hiking socks soak up water, trap odor and sweat (causing that worn sneaker scent), make your toes cold, and cause bunching up around your heels. What’s worse, they chafe your heels, cut off your circulation, and give blisters that leave a painful reminder of your hike for days to come.

How To Pick Out The Right Hiking Socks

Hiking socks and shoes

Photo by Alan Cabello from Pexels

Your feet are your most important tool when hiking, so if they aren't cared for and kept comfortable, your hike can descend into the realm of misery pretty fast. So how do you pick out the best hiking socks for preventing odor and sweat, in addition to keeping away blisters, while cushioning your feet and keeping them warm or cool in different types of weather? Well, here’s a list of factors to consider before making that purchase.

1. Material

2. Thickness and insulation

3. Height

4. Comfort

5. Durability

How We Reviewed

Man in the Forest Wearing the Best Hiking Socks

Image by StockSnap from Pixabay 

Seasoned hikers know that the hiking socks are a must-have on the trail, but, however simple their appearance, they can be a complicated purchase. This is why we spent some time researching the top sock options. We discovered some great pairs from Amazon’s list of best sellers as well as brand websites, noting those that had the highest ratings, reviews, and met the criteria for the best hiking socks. What follows are 2019's best hiking socks, which offer the ideal mix of comfort, cushioning and durability.

Pricing

Alpine Boots

Image by Hans Braxmeier from Pixabay 

Hiking socks may seem pricey compared to the usual cotton socks sold in packs of 12 for a few bucks. However, like all pieces of outdoor gear, they too are designed for performance, which is why their prices are higher than ordinary socks.

Best Hiking Socks Review

Now that you know how to pick out the best hiking socks, its time to slip into a pair and feel the difference. Below, in no particular order, are our picks for the best hiking socks of 2019.

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Darn Tough hiking socks are known for their unmatched durability and even have a lifetime warranty that lets you trade them in for a new pair if they don’t last long. They are great for different types of weather conditions and are designed with merino wool, nylon, and Lycra spandex for versatility, with medium cushioning.

Pros

  • Warm
  • Unmatched durability
  • Moisture-managing
  • Keeps even sweaty feet relatively dry
  • Maintains fit and shape
  • Doesn’t create pressure points
  • High-density sole cushioning
  • Good for multi-day and long distance hiking
  • Seamless construction
  • Doesn’t bunch

Cons

  • Tough construction, not plush like other socks

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Smartwool hiking socks are made from merino wool and nylon, but, unlike Darn Tough socks, they blend the two materials with elastane. They offer the three thicknesses available, ultralight, light and medium cushioning, and are known for their Indestructawool technology – a tougher wool blend.

Pros

  • Performance fit
  • Hold your arch and instep very well
  • Incredibly comfortable
  • Heathered look iconic among hikers
  • Flat and minimal toe seam
  • Light compression around the arch
  • Stretchy nylon design keeps everything in place while hiking
  • Sufficient padding under the heel
  • Excellent breathers even underfoot
  • Indestructawool technology
  • Resists stinky odors
  • Keeps shape after numerous wears and washings

Cons

  • Has durability issues in some of its socks
  • The fit isn’t quite tailored

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Injinji hiking socks are made from a blend of NuWool, nylon, and Lycra, but what makes them unique is their five-toe design that claims to reduce the risk of blisters and hotspots. With solid reviews on their socks, Injinji has managed to attract hikers to their brand dispelling the saying that new gear technology isn’t always better.

Pros

  • Design helps with hotspots and blisters
  • Separated toes mean less rubbing and friction
  • Incredibly comfortable style over time
  • Supportive arch compression and mesh top
  • Ribbed lining keeps socks in place during movement
  • Fabric blends are perfect for all types of weather
  • Keep feet warm, dry and cool
  • Top panels create proper air circulation
  • Excellent breathers even underfoot
  • Indestructawool technology
  • Resists stinky odors
  • Keeps shape after numerous wears and washings

Cons

  • Longer to put on than other hiking socks
  • Lacks in durability
  • Can spread out the toes thus may be uncomfortable
  • Offers little discernable upside
  • Ill fit with tight shoes

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Wigwam is one of the top brands in camping and hiking gear and has gained trust over the years while building reliability with their products. Their hiking socks are thick, cushioned fully, and work best in cold conditions.

Pros

  • Flexible ribbed arch prevents socks from falling and bunching
  • Fabric blend includes synthetic and natural fabrics that extend their lifetime
  • Lifetime guarantee
  • Retains heat well
  • Crew cut
  • Affordable

Cons

  • Run small
  • Less tailored fit

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If you keep getting sweaty feet or hotspots while hiking, then you need to rethink your sock choice. Icebreaker hiking socks feature breathable mesh zones that offer extra ventilation, keeping your feet dry, cool and void of blisters. Its anatomical toe box design reduces chafing, ensuring extreme breathability as it adds space around your foot. They are made of merino wool, nylon, and Lycra fabric blend.

Pros

  • Well-fitting toe box
  • Ventilate well
  • Great for warmer weather
  • Crew style is longer than other hiking sock brands

Cons

  • Cuff tends to stretch with use; hence they droop slightly

Best Hiking Socks

Hiking Footwear

Image by Steve Buissinne from Pixabay

Choosing the best hiking socks is difficult because it all depends on what type of hiking you are going to do. Darn Tough hiking socks are the best for long distance trekking and adverse weather conditions. Their sturdy construction gives them an edge over the competition. If you want a hiking experience that guarantees a blister-free time on the trail, Injinji hiking socks deliver on this better than other brands. Its five-toe unique design that separates the toes, plus the panels that create proper air circulation keep away blisters and hotspots. The Icebreaker hiking socks take the crown for best breathability and ventilation because of its breathable mesh zones.

There’s fierce competition as top brands keep innovating and patenting different types of technology and fabric blends to design, and create the ultimate hiking socks. Of all the hiking socks we checked out, the Darn Tough Hiker Micro Crew pair came out on top.

Have you recently gone hiking wearing any of the hiking socks on our list? Or is there a pair that you feel should be included? Share with us in the comments section below.

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