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.
What makes a good pair of hiking socks? For starters, they can not 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," says Suzanne Fuchs, D.P.M., a podiatrist and ankle surgeon in Palm Beach, Florida.
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.
Plus, merino also tends to be the most cushion-y, supportive material, and don't get as smelly as some 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 combo of merino wool and a synthetic material like nylon or polyester, adds Dr. Sutera, which adds to their moisture-wicking ability and durability. "Both nylon and polyester can help speed up the drying time," she says. Keep reading for 10 solid pairs of hiking socks to try.
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.
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. (Related: The 20-Mile Hike That Finally Made Me Appreciate My Body).
Merrell Zoned Low-Cut Light Hiker
Okay, okay, these are basically the same as the previous pair, just shorter. So, if you're not Team Crew Cut, buy these instead.
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. (Need a pair of hiking boots? Check out The Best Women's Hiking Shoes).
Columbia Lightweight Merino Crew Hiking Sock
Made of a combo of merino wool and breathable nylon, they hiking socks are a great pick for hot summer jaunts. Feel free to push yourself in these guys—they have built-in arch support to help your body fight fatigue as you climb and climb and climb and climb.
"People always talk about the protection their boots offer their feet and forget that socks can provide some great built-in protection, too," says Dr. Fuchs.
REI Co-op Merino Wool Lightweight Hiking Sock
If I had to be in a monogamous relationship with a pair of socks, I'd choose these. Seriously, I'm in L-O-V-E. I've worn them during 80 percent of the hikes I've done during the last four years, and my trusty pair has yet to show wear and tear.
Further, they have a built-in stretch band for added arch support, have some reinforced ankle support, and thanks to their seamless construction, my feet have never chafed. And because they're made of 77-percent merino wool, they don't get stinky. (Related: Asking for a Friend: Why Do My Feet Stink?)
REI Co-op Midweight Merino Wool Hiking Quarter Socks
These REI ankle hiking socks offer most of the same benefits as the taller pair. But, in addition to being lower-cut, they're slightly thicker. The extra thickness works well for folks whose paws are always cold, and for those who like a more cushiony feel while they walk.
Not sure which length to get? Don't stress. So long as your sock is taller than your boot, you're A-OK.
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!
Icebreaker Hike Medium Crew Sock
Planning to log miles early in the morning or late at night when it's colder? Buy these. (Psst. Here's how many layers you should be wearing during winter runs.) They 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.
Smartwool Mountaineering Extra Heavy Crew Socks
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 80-percent merino wool socks. This Smartwool sock is extra thick, which helps protect your food from blisters and abrasions, arch ache, and discomfort. (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.)
Stance Women's Grateful Dye Outdoor Hiking Socks
If Stance Socks were a high school stereotype, they'd be the quarterback. Thanks to their quirky patterns, the brand has developed a reputation for being the cool sock on campus. And guess what? They've got a pair that will help you perform on the trail.
Made of 75-percent merino wool, this tie-dyed pair helps wick away moisture, which will keep your feet dry when they get sweaty. And they have a cushioned construction, which will help your feet help you reach such great heights.
Feetures Elite Merino+ Cushion Crew
Going for a summer hike? Don these babes. Because they're made of a blend of bamboo, merino wool, nylon, and spandex. "Any pair of socks with some bamboo is going to be especially lightweight, which you want in the summer," says Dr. Fuchs. The material also gives the socks as close to a ~silky~ feel as you're going to find in hiking gear.
Full disclosure: They're technically a men's sock, but if you're a women's size 7 or larger, they should fit just fine.