Walking, Hiking & Trail Running

Hiking Socks: How To Choose The Best Hiking Socks

When it comes to hiking socks, cotton just won’t do...

Photo: iStock

Hiking socks might seem like an innocuous part of your hiking gear list – but actually these little merino numbers can often make or break a hike. Without a good pair of hiking socks, your hiking boots will be rubbing and giving blisters like nobody’s business.

First up, you need to work out what kind of hiking you will be doing in your socks. If you are hiking in the summer for a day or two, get a pair of lightweight hiking socks. They are thin but provide plenty of comfort, plus they will wick away moisture when your feet sweat.

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If you are going on a multi-day hike on mountainous terrain, take a look at getting some heavyweight hiking socks. They are thicker and will provide more cushioning, plus work better in colder conditions. Mountaineering socks are a category of their own. They are super thick, warm socks designed for long-distance trips in sub-zero temperatures.

Liners are also worth considering. They are thinner socks that sit directly on your skin and can be worn with mountaineering socks for extra warmth or to prevent blisters.

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Photo: iStock

The number one rule when buying hiking socks is don’t wear cotton socks. Why? Well, cotton absorbs water easily and won’t dry out quickly. Choose a pair of socks made from wool like merino or a synthetic polymer such as polyester or acrylic. These will not only draw sweat away from your skin, keeping you warm when you cool down, but they also insulate when wet. Cotton does not.

Socks will vary in length too. Will you be hiking through long grass or snow? Depending on where you will be hiking and what sort of boots you are wearing will determine which length of hiking socks you should go for.

Just like a pair of shoes, you want to make sure your hiking socks fit properly. So try on few a pairs before you buy and see which suit your feet.


Photo: Smartwoold

Price: £16.99

Smartwool make some of the best hiking socks in the world. They have spent decades innovating new sock designs and materials, making the most comfortable and durable socks around.

The PHD Outdoor Light socks are new from Smartwool, built for performance to the highest degree. They are made from a mixture of merino wool and nylon for durability and superb fit. They have mesh venting to enhance breathability and light cushioning for comfort.

The PHD Outdoor Light socks are best worn for summer/warm weather hiking. They come in both men and women’s sizes in different weights including ultralight for those super hot days.


Photo: SealSkinz

Price: £35

SealSkinz make top quality waterproof hiking socks for both men and women. These socks are both midweight and mid-length, suitable for spring/autumn conditions. They are made from Strechdry technology which is waterproof, windproof and breathable with a merino wool lining for comfort. These socks are great if you are hiking in particularly wet conditions i.e. pretty much all the time in Great Britain.

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Photo: Bridgedale

Price: £16.99

Bridgedale design the most comfortable hiking socks for all types of adventures – from hill walking to summiting Everest. The WoolFusion Trekker socks are made with a combination of Enduro wool, nylon and polypropylene to create the best hiking socks for winter.

Enduro wool is both long-lasting and soft plus regulates the temperature of your feet while you hike. All Bridgedale socks come with a three year guarantee in case you aren’t pleased with how they perform. For a warmer sock, check out their Summit version. All of these socks are made for both men and women.


Photo: Thorlos

Price: £20.99

When it comes to mountaineering socks, alpinists rave about Thorlos. When you are sleeping at altitude and need to keep your feet warm, these are the socks you want to be wearing. Their unisex mountaineering socks are designed for maximum protection in the world’s coldest climates. They have unique padding designed specifically for mountaineering to reduce blisters and pressure on the foot, plus 100 per cent wool toes to keep your extremities warm.

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