The Best Hiking Socks for Every Type of Trek
The Best Hiking Socks for Women
If there's anything better than yanking your hiking boot off post-trek, it's the nearly orgasmic sensation of slipping your feet into a pair of perfect hiking socks.
And while selecting appropriate footwear for a hike is important, so is choosing the right sock. "People always talk about the protection their boots offer their feet and forget that socks can provide some great built-in protection, too," says Suzanne Fuchs, D.P.M., a podiatrist and ankle surgeon in Palm Beach, Florida. (Related: The Best Hiking Boots and Shoes for Women)
So, what exactly makes a good pair of hiking socks? For starters, they cannot be cotton: "It's the worst fabric to wear during any kind of exercise because it holds in the moisture, and that wet fabric is not only uncomfortable but increases the risk of blisters and chafing," explains Dr. Fuchs.
Instead, opt for a moisture-wicking material, which will "keep your feet dry when you sweat or when it rains or snows," explains Dr. Fuchs. Your best bet? Merino wool, which is the best at regulating the temperature of your foot, she says. (Translation: Wool will actually keep you cool in extreme heat and warm in cold weather.) Plus, merino also tends to be the most cushion-y, supportive material, and doesn't get as smelly as other types of socks, says Jacqueline Sutera, D.P.M., a podiatrist with Vionic Shoes Innovation Lab.
The best hiking socks will be made of a combination of merino wool and a synthetic material like nylon or polyester, notes Dr. Sutera, which adds to their moisture-wicking ability and durability. "Both nylon and polyester can help speed up the drying time," she says. And anyone who has traipsed through wet terrain, experienced unexpected weather, or ended a trek feeling as though they're standing in a pool of sweat knows this is key to a successful hike. (Related: The Best Hiking Sandals for Women That You Can Actually Trek In)
Ready to find the best hiking socks for your outdoor adventure? Keep reading for 10 solid pairs that'll support you as you walk, scramble, and summit.
Smartwool PhD Outdoor Medium Crew Socks
These Smartwool socks are just like your favorite jeans: They fit just right, are comfortable and durable AF, and are a solid choice for almost any (hiking) occasion. You'll want to wear them just lounging around, but the cushion along the heel and toe is strategically placed for long, uphill treks. Amazon reviewers noted that they are plush and thick, work well for both cold and hot hikes (and won't give you sweaty-feet syndrome), and one shopper even praised them for carrying them over a 4-day trek in Peru with zero blisters for 26 miles. Enough said.
Merrell Zoned Crew Light Hiker
Merrell is the hiking boot company, so you can bet their hiking socks are G-O-O-D. Made of Merino wool and nylon (and a bit of Lycra), this pair is great at wicking away moisture. Plus, there are mesh zones along the top and bottom of the sock for max breathability, so even a case of the feet sweats can't stand between you and the summit. One happy Amazon customer wrote: "I just finished a 14- mile hike in these and they fit perfectly in all the right places. I love them so much I ordered another identical pair and am thinking of getting a couple more. Whether you’re going for a quick jaunt or a long haul, these socks will make your feet happy the whole way!" (Related: The 20-Mile Hike That Finally Made Me Appreciate My Body).
REI Co-op COOLMAX EcoMade Ultralight Hiking Crew Socks
Designed for minimalist hikers, these lightweight crew socks are cushioned only at critical points, so they won't feel too chunky inside your boot. They are made using yarn from recycled water bottles and boast a blend of breathable COOLMAX polyester, durable stretch nylon, and comfy spandex. REI reviewers said that they maintain their quality through multiple wears and washings; they are one of the best summer hiking socks; and one shopper with a wool allergy appreciated that these were actually made without merino and still kept their feet cool and from blistering or chafing.
Darn Tough Micro Crew Socks
These Darn Tough hiking socks offer moisture-wicking, high-density cushioning, a seam-free construction, and arch support. They also have a reinforced heel and toe-bed, which reduces friction caused by your foot rubbing against the boot. Oh, and they venture outside of the "blah" color-scheme of hiking socks: they come in fun stripey patterns! While they might seem like a splurge, many Amazon customers think they're the best hiking socks to prevent blisters: "Best socks for hiking sans blisters. They are pricey but these are the best I have used and they'll last forever." (Related: The Benefits of Hiking That'll Make You Want to Get Outside)
Icebreaker Hike Medium Crew Sock
Planning to log miles early in the morning or late at night when it's colder? Buy these. They come from trusted outdoors brand Icebreaker and have a heavier cushion than most other pairs on the list, which will help keep your extremities warm. The doubled-up cushion underfoot also comes in clutch when you're scrambling up rock-laden paths. True or false: the last thing you want to be focusing on when you're inching up a trail is your feet? Exactlyyy. (Psst. Here's how many layers you should be wearing during winter runs.)
Smartwool Mountaineering Extra Heavy Crew
These aren't for your casual Sunday day-hike. But, for an ~expedition~ that's harder, longer, and colder than your usual, you're gonna want to pull on these 74-percent merino wool socks. This Smartwool sock is extra thick, which helps protect your foot from blisters and abrasions, arch ache, and discomfort. Plus, it's earned a perfect five-star rating from Amazon shoppers, so you know you can't go wrong. (Related: I Got Brutal Altitude Sickness While Trekking In Peru, But It Was Still the Best Trip of My Life).
Word of advice: Heavy socks are going to add a lot of bulk inside your shoe, so make sure you test them out with your boots before going Lewis & Clarke in them. (Some hikers will size-up in boots when they need socks this heavy.)
Darn Tough Hiker 1/4 Cushion Sock
With an impressive 4.9-star rating on Amazon (yep, 91 percent of shoppers gave these babies five stars), these might just be one of the best wool hiking socks out there. They're made of a merino wool, nylon, and spandex blend, so they effortlessly wick moisture, dry quickly, and keep stink at bay. Another perk: they feature mid-level cushioning and are seamless, which guarantees a smooth, chafe-free feel. The 1/4 sock height is perfect to wear them with low-cut hikers or trail running shoes. (Related: Asking for a Friend: Why Do My Feet Stink?)
Not sure which length to get? Don't stress. So long as your sock is taller than your boot, you're A-OK.
FITS Light Quarter Hiker
ICYWW, podiatrists say the height of the sock doesn't matter that much! "Ankle, calf, high… it doesn't matter what the length of the sock is," says Dr. Fuchs. The only rule: "You just want a sock that comes up higher than your hiking boot does to prevent blisters." So if you have a pair of shorter boots or trail runners, shorter socks are just fine.
That being said, if you're on the hunt for the best ankle socks for hiking, this is another life-changing short option. Made of 70-percent merino wool, these lightweight hikers feature the brand's patented Full Contact Fit, which hugs the contours of your foot and stays put as you climb (and ensures no loose rocks come in contact with your foot), and they have extra cushioning in the heel, toe, and arch to support you mile after mile. Reviewers on the FITS site love how the compression in these socks really help to keep them in place, no matter what.
Wigwam Merino Comfort Hiker
One of the best-rated hiking socks on Amazon, these have earned a 4.5-star rating from shoppers. Made of a combo of merino wool, breathable nylon, polyester and elastic, these midweight hiking socks feature dense cushioning near your shins and soles to prevent rubbing from your boot. One Amazon reviewer wrote: "Wigwam merino comfort hikers have been my company's go-to hiking sock for many years. We do trail construction and maintenance, mainly in wilderness but even in non-wilderness we're on our feet all day. We're backpacking probably around 150-180 days a year. They are durable, long lasting, fit my feet extremely well and keep them cool and warm." (Related: The Best Hiking Backpacks for Women)
Fox River Outdoor Wick Dry Alturas Ultra-Lightweight Liner Socks
If your hiking guide suggests you wear two layers of socks for your trek, you'll want to pick up one of these guys. With nearly 700 five-star reviews, Amazon shoppers have declared these the best liner socks for hiking. They're abrasion-resistant, sweat-wicking, and they have smooth, flat seams so chafing is a thing of the past. The point of liner socks is to create a friction barrier to resist blisters and keep your feet dry by moving moisture into your outer sock (and these are made with water-repelling hydrophobic fibers, so they do exactly that). Plus, they have a thin construction, so won't add any bulk to your boot.