If you’re planning a long hike with your friends or on your own, then you’re probably starting to think about the gear you’ll need. Everyone focuses on fleeces, coats, and waterproof pants, but sometimes forget about one of the most important pieces of hiking equipment – socks! Luckily for you, we’ve prepared a list of the absolute best hiking socks on the market that are guaranteed to serve you well on your trip.
The best socks for hiking will be comfortable, well ventilated, and have long term durability, all at a great price point. Read on to discover the best socks around and to help you decide which socks are going to be the best for you.
The Top 10 Hiking Socks
1. WrightSock Coolmesh Quarter Socks
Fabric: Polyester/Nylon/Lycra | Height: Quarter | Cushioning: Light/Medium
Our first recommendations on this list of the best socks for hiking are the Coolmesh socks from Wrightsock. Although these socks have been specifically designed for running, this doesn’t mean that they aren’t great socks for hiking as well.
Running and hiking socks often share a lot of the same characteristics. For example, they both need to be made out of a comfortable material that doesn’t rub over long distances, and they both have to provide plenty of cushioning. It’s always a good idea to keep running socks in mind when you’re on the hunt for some new hiking socks.
This pair of Coolmesh socks have a classic quarter height, which is ideal for hot weather and for use with low cut hiking shoes. The inclusion of a mesh panel for enhanced airflow ensures that you are kept cool, and make the socks even more suitable for hiking in warm locations.
Finally, these socks make use of WrightSock’s innovative Stabilizer Zone and Dri-Wright technologies. The stabilizer zone adds strength to the arch of the sock which keeps the sock comfortably in position even over long distances, whilst Dri Wright uses clever fibers to wick away moisture from the skin, keeping them cool and preventing blisters. For a reasonably priced running sock, the WrightSock Coolmesh packs in an impressive range of features.
2. Injinji Run 2.0 Socks
Fabric: Polyester / Nylon / Lycra | Height: Ankle | Cushioning: Light
The next product is another pair of running socks, this time the Run 2.0 by Injinji. These socks have a particularly unique design with individual spaces for each of your toes. This may look weird a first glance, but it is a design that has become pretty popular in the outdoor scene since it offers a number of benefits that you don’t get with a normal pair of socks.
The main benefit of the 5 toe design is the level of movement that it offers. Being able to move every part of your foot freely can be quite a liberating experience, and can even improve your balance and grip. It also means your toes are less likely to cramp up at the end of your boots, which increases the comfort even further.
These socks are designed to be used with low cut trainers and for short distance hikes and activities. Their super lightweight construction also means they are more suitable for milder temperatures where you can really get the most out of the extra movement.
Although these are low rise socks, they will hardly ever slip out of place in your shoes. This is because they have an enhanced cuff and heel tab to ensure a secure fit across the whole foot. This is taken even further by the strong arch support on the underside of the sock, which guarantees a comfortable fit over long periods of time. Although these socks could definitely be described as minimal, they don’t sacrifice on comfort or secureness.
3. Swiftwick Pursuit Hike Trail Socks
Fabric: Merino | Height: Ankle | Cushioning: Minimal
The next offering in our collection of the best hiking socks is this lovely pair of trail socks from Swiftwick. These socks are ankle length which makes them versatile enough to be used for walking, running, cycling, and other outdoor pursuits. The main aim of these socks is to keep your skin as cool as possible, which is why they are extremely lightweight with minimal cushioning.
Don’t let the lack of cushioning put you off though since they are undoubtedly a very comfortable pair of hiking socks. This is thanks to the great design of the sock, including features such as a y-stitch in the heal for extra movement and comfort, and a snug-fitting cuff to keep the socks in place. The reason that the cushioning has been minimized is in order to compliment lightweight trail shoes and give you an almost seamless feel as you exercise.
These socks are constructed with merino wool, which is well known around the world as a super premium material. The benefits of merino wool include extra comfort and grip. The best thing about merino wool though is that it has the ability to quickly wick moisture away from the skin, which helps keep you cool during exercise. This material is also much less likely to cause blisters and discomfort than a sock completely made out of polyester or nylon would be.
Swiftwick is a company that prides itself on producing sustainable products. This means that they build their clothing to last, and you can be sure that you’ll get plenty of use out of their socks before you start to see any issues. They also manufacture their products right here in the U.S., so you know that you’ll be buying quality every time you order a Swiftwick product.
4. Darn Tough Vertex Socks
Fabric: Merino/Nylon | Height: Ankle | Cushioning: Light
Darn Tough has recently burst onto the scene as one of the top hiking and outdoor sock brands out there. Their no-nonsense designs and premium craftsmanship always result in high-quality products that constantly receive rave reviews. The Darn Tough Vertex socks lie just around the ankle, so we can safely assume that they are designed for use with low cut hiking and running shoes. No-show socks like these always have great breathability and comfort.
However, no show socks often have a problem staying secured to the feet, and everyone will have experienced an ankle sock starting to slip down into your shoes. Thankfully, this is absolutely not the case with the Darn Tough Vertex socks, which have a grip on the heel and the sole to eliminate the chance of any bunching or slipping. This is a big advantage and is something we wish every manufacturer included in their designs.
These socks are pretty thin and lightweight, but still provide enough cushioning to keep your feet comfortable during exercise. Since they are so lightweight, your feet stay super cool, and the added mesh section on the top of the sock provides extra ventilation. 50% of the sock material is Merino wool, which as we know is extremely effective at wicking away moisture from the feet. This also gives the socks a premium feel when you wear them.
Darn Tough is based in Vermont and manufacturer all their products on site. Ordering from a U.S. based company usually means you’ll receive a very high-quality product. Furthermore, it is a much more sustainable way to buy your clothes than having them shipped halfway across the world.
5. Thorlos Experia Xccu Running Socks
Fabric: Polyester/Nylon/Elastic | Height: Ankle | Cushioning: Medium
Here we have an excellent pair of running socks from another highly respected brand in the field. Thorlos Experia’s Xccu socks are some of the most popular hiking and outdoor socks on Amazon, and for good reason. They are well made, reliable, and won’t break the bank. Like many of the other socks we’ve talked about on this list, these ones are low-cut and sit just around the ankle. This isn’t great for full height walking boots, but it is absolutely ideal for trainer style walking boots and trail shoes.
Whenever you are buying a low-cut hiking sock, you should always be looking out for ones that provide a snug fit. Poorly fitting ankle socks will bunch and slide into your trainers and will be very uncomfortable. Thorlos Experia knows this, and so have designed their Xccu socks to have an “Aerodynamic fit”. This means they cling tightly to the shape of your foot, to ensure the sock stays in place over long periods of time. This is helped by the elasticated arch and padded lateral panels that offer strategic support.
You might be worried that a snuggly fitting sock might get too warm, especially on hot days. Luckily, these socks also have added features to ensure this is not the case. For example, each sock has ventilation panels across the top, which encourages warm air to circulate away from the foot. The material itself is also particularly effective at wicking away moisture and keeping your feet bone dry for hours.
As far as cushioning goes, Thorlos Experia has ensured that enough padding is provided to keep you comfortable, without sacrificing on ventilation. There is padding in the heels, toes, and other high impact areas to take the strain off your feet during exercise. This is particularly great for runners, who are hitting the ground hard with every step.
6. Balega Hidden Running Socks
Fabric: Polyester/Nylon/Elastic | Height: Ankle | Cushioning: Minimal/Light
The next option we have for you on this list of the best socks for hiking are these hidden running socks from Balega. Hidden socks are also known as no-show socks, and we’ve already talked about a few of this type already. The main thing to remember is that low cut socks like this are best when paired with trainers or low top hiking boots. They compliment these types of shoes perfectly since they are really lightweight and prioritize keeping your feet cool and comfortable.
Balega includes their “Drynamix” technology on this pair of hiking socks, which is specifically designed to get rid of moisture from your skin and ensure that your feet are kept bone dry. The top section of the sock is also completely covered with a mesh panel, which provides excellent ventilation through the roof of the shoes. There is nothing worse than having hot feet during hiking or exercise, and with these Balega socks, it will be a thing of the past.
The toe box section of the sock is perhaps the most well-designed aspect of this pair. It is hand attached to the mesh section of the sock in order to provide extra cushioning and protection around the toes. It is made of a slightly thicker material and is mainly designed to limit friction and to prevent chafing on the foot. The toe box also works to keep the foot secure inside the shoe, which stops the socks from bunching and slipping around.
Unlike some of the other options on this list, this pair of socks comes in a huge range of different colors and designs. In fact, there are around 20 different ones to choose from! These socks are a great option if you’re looking for a gift for a running or hiking enthusiast, but don’t want to stick to the boring white and grey color schemes that most brands offer.
7. Smartwool PHD Hike Light Crew Sock
Fabric: Merino Wool/Nylon/Elastane | Height: Crew | Cushioning: Light
The Smartwool PHD Hike Light Crew Sock is the first one on this list that goes above the ankle. The socks we previously talked about could be described as liner socks, and are best for warm weather and with low cut shoes. Crew socks won’t be able to provide the same level of ventilation as an ankle sock, but they can be used with a wider variety of footwear.
Crew length socks stretch above the ankle and towards the knee. This means they offer great protection against bug and insect bites, and should definitely be considered if you think you’re going to be walking through long grass during your hike.
These Smartwool socks are designed to be very warm during cold days, but also to provide enough ventilation to keep your feet cool and moisture-free on those warmer hikes. Smartwool gets this balance absolutely right, and when you’re wearing them your feet always seem to stay at the right temperature. This is thanks to the “Indestructawool” technology that Smartwool has used in the construction of the socks. This technology provides impressive durability whilst incorporating meshed zones to encourage ventilation towards the feet.
As the name suggests, these socks have light cushioning. This means you can expect a very comfortable fit and feel as you walk, but not feel constricted by the socks. There’s nothing worse than a pair of socks that make your feet super hot and uncomfortable, especially on a long hike. The cushioning is reserved for the places where you need it the most, such as the heel and toe box. These are merino wool socks, which we know is a great material for wicking moisture away from your skin.
8. Feetures Elite Socks
Fabric: Polyester/Nylon/Lycra | Height: Crew | Cushioning: Minimal/Light
The Feetures Elite is a classic pair of running socks. They come up just above the ankle so are a great alternative to anyone who doesn’t like the feel of ankle or no-show socks when they’re running. Socks this length are also much less likely to bunch up and slide into the shoe.
Although these socks look pretty simple, they actually have quite a lot of interesting features that help them stand out from other similar products. For example, the Targeted Compression Technology offers zone-specific compression in the places you most need it, and greatly improves comfort.
Additionally, the socks have a lightweight construction to ensure that your feet have great freedom of movement whilst you’re running. Not only does this improve comfort, but can actually improve your balance due to the increased level of feel underfoot. Although the socks are lightweight, they do still provide ample cushioning where you need it. The heel and toe box both have extra padding, but not enough to negatively affect your performance.
Feetures build in “iWick” fibers to their socks, which is a clever material designed to wick away moisture from your skin. Keeping your feet dry is essential for comfort during long exercise sessions – this prevents blisters and keeps your feet cool. If you are unhappy with any aspect of the socks when you try them out, Feetures offer a lifetime warranty on any of their products. This protects you from any manufacturer defects or instances of poor build quality.
9. Farm to Feet Damascus Hiking Socks
Fabric: Merino Wool/Nylon/Elastic | Height: Crew | Cushioning: Medium weight
Here we have another pair of crew length hiking socks, this time the Farm to Feet Damascus model. This pair is mainly constructed out of merino wool, which we already know is one of the best materials for hiking socks.
Not only are merino wool socks extremely comfortable, but they also have a great ability to wick away moisture from the skin, keeping your feet bone dry and blister-free. You’d usually expect to pay a premium price for a product made with merino wool, but this pair is actually very reasonably priced.
As well as being luxurious merino wool hiking socks, the Damascus socks also have some other cool features to make them even more practical for hiking and outdoor pursuits. Firstly, they have a targeted cushioning system, which adds extra padding to the areas of the foot that most need it. These are usually the high impact areas such as the heel and toes. This cushioning adds a lot of comfort, which is exactly what you want on a long hike.
The toe box itself is actually built separately from the rest of the sock, but the seamless stitching makes sure there is no chance of any blister-causing areas. It is built separately in order to add full cushion zones to retain maximum comfort for the longest possible time. This kind of cushioning that Farm to Feet have used is something more commonly seen on skiing socks than a hiking sock, so it’s safe to say that comfort has been the absolute priority in this design.
10. Darn Tough Micro Crew Socks
Fabric: Merino/Nylon/Lycra | Height: Crew | Cushioning: Medium
The final recommendation that we have for you on this list of the best socks for hiking, is the Darn Tough Micro Crew pair. We’ve already reviewed a couple of Darn Tough options further up in this list and they are one of our favorite brands. All their products are great and they have an excellent customer service team that you can contact in the unlikely event that you run into a problem. These Micro Crew Light Cushion socks live up to the hype as well.
They are merino wool socks so you can be sure that they are going to be super comfortable. The merino wool is blended with nylon and lycra to ensure that the socks are super tough and ready to stand up to a beating. This long term durability is a big plus for these Darn Tough socks since you know you’ll be getting great value for money.
As well as being comfortable and strong, each sock also has built-in mesh areas for ventilation. This is in order to ensure your feet are kept cool even throughout a long backpacking trip. The mesh areas are expertly woven into the main sock material so that there are no sharp seams to dig into your skin.
We’d say that these Darn Tough socks are amongst the most impressive hiking socks of 2020. If you don’t agree though, the company offers a lifetime guarantee on all of their products, so you can return them if you don’t think they are up to scratch.
Buyer’s Guide to Hiking Socks
When you’re choosing which type of hiking sock is the perfect one for you, there are a number of things that you should be considering. Before you settle for any pair of outdoor socks, make sure to have a think about all the things that we talk about below. If you do, then you can be sure that you’ll be getting a product that was built specifically for whatever you are planning to do, and won’t be wasting money on socks that aren’t up to the job.
Types of Hiking Socks
You might think that there is only one type of hiking sock. However, there are loads of different shapes and sizes that are all designed for different situations and outdoor pursuits. Although it’s always great to have such a range of options, the amount of choice on offer can sometimes be a little bit overwhelming. Hopefully, this section will help you make some informed choices about which hiking sock is for you.
Low-cut socks, sometimes called ankle or no-show socks, are the perfect choice if you are going to be hiking in warm weather on dry terrain. They are best used with low top hiking shoes or trainers and are specifically designed to make your feet as cool as possible when you’re walking. This means they usually have a lot of ventilation panels and technology to wick away moisture from the skin.
A very specific type of hiking sock that is low-cut are toe socks. The Injiji Run 2.0 model is an example of this type of sock, and they offer a number of interesting benefits over more conventional products. If you want a unique and cool design, then definitely consider a toe sock.
They aren’t as tough as some of the more substantial socks, but this is a sacrifice that has to be made to keep them super lightweight. These types of socks are ideal for a day hike when you’re on holiday and want to cushion your feet without getting hot.
Crew socks are probably the most common type of hiking sock. They are the most versatile model since they are suitable for nearly all climates and weather. They won’t be as cool as a low-cut version, but they make up for this in other areas. For example, the socks cover over your ankles which means you’re less likely to get bitten by bugs in long grass.
Crew length socks often have a compression sock feature which provides support in the places you most need it, such as the arch and heel. A compression sock is something that you’d usually use for skiing since it can keep your feet warm whilst still providing a good level of movement.
Comfort is probably the most important factor when it comes to choosing a hiking sock. An uncomfortable sock can make a hiking trip an absolute misery. When it comes to comfort, the most important thing to look for is the material used. Merino wool is usually very comfortable, and Lycra spandex always ensures a nice fit. Lycra spandex is what makes a sock elasticated and able to take the shape of your foot.
Another thing that contributes to comfort is cushioning. Cushioning around the heel and toes is essential if you’re going on a long hike. Cushioning ranges from light to medium to heavy. A light hiker sock will be one that prioritizes ventilation and a lightweight feel, whilst a heavy hiker sock will focus on cushioning and maximum comfort. Which one is best for you completely depends on what kind of outdoor exercise you’ll be doing.
The durability of a hiking sock is something else you should consider. Hiking socks can be quite expensive, so it’s important to get a pair that is going to last you for a while. The best pairs of socks will be tough and able to get through loads of hikes before they show any signs of wear.
We already explained how the choice of material can impact the comfort of a hiking sock, but this can also affect other aspects as well. For example, a material like merino wool can wick moisture away from the skin with ease, keeping you cool and bone dry. Try to avoid a cotton fabric blend, since this material can cause blisters for a lot of people.
Size and Fit
Size and fit is equally as important as any of the factors in this section. Hiking socks come in a range of sizes, so you’ll definitely be able to find a pair that fits you well. We’d always recommend ordering a few different sizes the first time you try a new product since the sizing can vary quite dramatically between brands.
A sock with a great fit will be super comfortable, well-cushioned, and let you hike for longer periods of time.
1. Should Hiking Socks be Thick or Thin?
This completely depends on what type of hiking you’ll be doing. If you’re going out in the summer in hot weather, then we’d recommend a low-cut sock that will give you great ventilation. On the other hand, if you’re trekking through the snow, then you should be looking for a thicker sock that will keep you warm.
If you’re a keen hiker then you’ll probably need a range of different sock options for different conditions.
2. Should You Wear Two Pairs of Socks When Hiking?
We’d usually always recommend that you don’t wear two pairs when hiking. This often increases the chance of getting blisters as the two materials rub together and against your skin. However, there are some products out there that are designed to be paired with a liner sock, and these won’t rub and cause blisters.
3. Are Acrylic Socks Good for Hiking?
Generally, acrylic socks aren’t the best for hiking because they aren’t usually that comfortable and can quickly lead to blisters forming. Some acrylic materials aren’t as bad though, and can actually be a good option if they are skillfully combined with other materials in a fabric blend.