8 Best Socks For Hiking – 2021 Buying Guide
Sometimes, however, the best thing we can do is invest in a good pair of socks. It may not seem very appealing to have to “invest” in socks of all things, but your feet will be thanking you.
Plus, in this day and age finding a great pair of socks can be just as exciting as a Fitbit or a new pair of hiking boots.
To help you find that great pair of socks we’ve put together a list of the best socks for hiking and walking. Check out our recommendations below as well as our collection of criteria that we used to rate each pair and our list of frequently asked questions.
Criteria Used for Evaluation
It is important to think about comfort because if you don’t like wearing your socks, then they are not going to do you any good at all and you will be wasting your money!
It seems obvious, but if you’re not comfortable in your socks, you definitely won’t be comfortable while walking, hiking, or while doing any combination of the two. You need to find a pair of socks that lets you concentrate on the task at hand and that will provide stability as well as comfort.
Cushioning can help ease the strain of longer walks or offer more support for your feet. Higher-quality materials can be softer and hold up longer. They can also have better breathability, which is so important in a good pair of socks that it became criteria all its own.
This is an important feature and has to do with air flow and how well the socks pull moisture away from your feet so they stay dry and comfortable even on long runs!
The breathability of a sock is a function that can be affected by a variety of different features, the most of which is the fabric. We looked for socks with high-quality fabric like Merino wool, Coolmax threads, and smart textile blends that would offer the most breathability.
Materials like Merino wool and Coolmax will help wick moisture from your foot, causing fewer blisters and bacterial issues that can be caused by an accumulation of sweat. Different blends that use things like LYCRA or nylon can help with durability and stretch.
Socks need to fit well - too tight and they can affect circulation and too loose and they can end up bunched up in your shoe - so make sure you get the fit that is right for you!
Looking for a good fit means more than just making sure you find something in your size. Sometimes when you’re trying to predict how well a sock will fit, you simply won’t know until you wear it yourself, but there are certain clues and red flags you can look for by using customer reviews.
We sorted through hundreds of reviews to check what people thought of the general fit of each selection and whether or not they seemed to run small or large. We also looked for any other common fitting issues, like whether or not the heel or the toe was too loose, or if the socks had a poor grip on the cuff and wouldn’t keep a close fit.
The style of the socks may be less important than the functionality, but it’s also nice to have a pair that will make you look and feel good when you’re sweating it out.
We tried to choose socks that had a good variety of colors to choose from, or that had aesthetically appealing designs. We also looked for designs that were intuitive and practical, that would live up to expectations while looking great.
Durability is one of the most important features running socks have to have in order to be of value and in order to hold up to the wear and tear of frequent use and abuse!
No matter what kind of gear you buy, it's important to spend your money on durable products that will last and hiking and walking socks are no exception. When you consider that a lot of these socks may cost up to $20 a pair, it becomes even more important.
When you're hiking, it's very easy for dirt and small rocks to get into your shoes and this causes far more abrasion on your hiking socks than the usual everyday type socks ever experience. Because of this, companies design their hiking socks to be extra durable.
We did our best to only include socks that have been rated as being durable, but even within our list, there is a range of durability amongst the products, so check out our ratings regarding durability and we'll see you on the trail.
The final factor to consider is how much you can benefit from the socks you choose and how they can help your runs improve - this is where their value will shine through!
Some of the options on this list and in stores may have an unexpectedly high price tag for a pair of socks. Keep in mind that they are probably built to be high-performance and will carry many benefits with them, hopefully lasting you a long time.
Don’t shy away from those with around a $20 price point. In fact, many good-quality socks made for hiking will cost around this much. Many include antibacterial properties that can be worn for multiple days for those longer backpacking adventures. That means one less pair to buy and pack. Those that are durable pay for itself compared to having to keep buying cheaper quality socks that have a cheaper price tag.
8 Best Socks for Hiking and Walking
1. Razer Trail
Rockay's newly released Razor Trailer socks were made with the perfect combination of durability performance and protection. Giving each runner an equal balance of breathability, comfort with odor-eliminating properties making these a perfect fit for any runner. Leaving your feet healthy and happy.Read more
These are fully cushioned socks, made with super high-density knit padding that is located in the heel and toe areas for maximum comfort. Made from mostly merino wool, with mesh properties allowing each runner to wear comfortably through any season.
The Merino wool and mesh portions of the sock allow your feet the ability to receive maximum breathability. With Razor trailer being made from merino wool they also bring bacterial eliminating properties allowing you to wear them for an extra day through any activity.
Fit and Design
These socks have a performance fit being able to achieve any activity comfortably. With an anti-slip heel and perfect compression, eliminates any and all bunching of the socks in any pair of boots. They have super high-density knitting that makes them durable and protects the ankle from boot irritation and blisters.
2. Injinji 2.0 Nuwool
These Injinji socks have a unique design with a form-fitting foot shape, toes and all. As far as hiking socks go, they are the total package. Cushioning, great breathability, and a high-quality fiber blend are just a few of the features that help these socks take your performance above and beyond.Read more
These midweight socks are made with a combination of Nuwool, which is a Merino wool blend, as well as nylon, acrylic, and lycra. The footbed has extra cushioning for support and each toe is wrapped individually to help prevent blistering and redirect sweat.
An ultra-breathable mesh layer makes up the top and is great for ventilation. This and the moisture-wicking fabric that covers every inch of your foot will keep you cool and dry no matter where your trek takes you.
Fit and Design
The crew length is high enough to accommodate most hiking boots and the upper cuff has enough grip to keep a close, comfortable fit without being constricting. The thing that really sets these socks apart is the Injinji design that separates each toe and allows your feet to spread naturally while walking.
3. Darn Tough Coolmax
These are super comfortable socks, ideal for longer hikes and climbs when having ample cushioning is necessary. Made with mostly Merino wool for comfort and moisture wicking properties, this fabric helps to regulate temperature. They have a crew cut that is ribbed around the leg and mid-level padding under the foot.Read more
Tested on the Vermont Long Trail, these socks perform well thanks to their mid-level cushion density under the foot and soft Merino wool. There is no seam at the toes because of its ring-toe construction and they don’t bunch up because of the elastic around the arch that also provides support.
The Merino wool is the main breathability feature here, being able to regulate body temperature and wick away moisture. These socks are also warm making them great for winter activities.
Fit and Design
With their crew cut, these socks won’t be slipping around in your shoe because of their wide-ribbed design. The Merino wool is shrink-treated to keep its fit after washes.
4. Smartwool Hike
This is another great option from Smartwool made for rugged. Their best feature is the arch brace that holds the sock in place while giving lots of support. These are crew cut which is ideal for hiking boots and overall they fit very well.Read more
These are made with soft Merino wool, and feature a medium amount of cushioning that lessens the impact from the feet from pounding against the trail. The amount of comfort makes them great for those rough hikes and rugged climbs, as well as days-long backpacking trips. They also have a flat-knit toe seam that reduces the chance of irritation.
The Merino wool helps with breathability, but overall they do a decent job of keeping your feet dry. The wool does keep the feet warm, even when getting wet from sweat, so this is a good option for colder weather hikes.
Fit and Design
This sock has a crew cut which is great for boots. The Smartwool Hike socks are equipped with an elasticized arch brace that keeps the sock from bunching while providing stability. It comes in neutral colors and is unisex.
Balega socks are very popular among runners for being lightweight, breathable and comfortable, and the Hidden Comfort sock has all these features that make it great for walkers too. This includes a more structured fit with a reinforced heel and toe.Read more
These have a medium volume construction and are very soft, combining lightweight properties with enough padding. The cushion here is in the under sole to provide extra protection when walking through rugged trails.
These socks have mesh on the front of the sock and along the sides, allowing for the feet to breathe and not get too hot and sweaty. They perform well in this category, a great option for working up a sweat without feeling like your feet stepped into a puddle.
Fit and Design
Balega included elastane throughout the sock for a more secure and snug fit. As a result, this sock contours well to the foot. There is enough padding for comfort without making the sneaker feel tight. It also has a deep heel pocket with added stitches to enhance the fit.
6. Flare Quarter
The Flare quarter is a crew-cut sock - perfect for hiking boots and ideal for long walks. Made with high-density knit Merino wool, these socks are extremely durable from heel to toe. Rockay Flare has the perfect amount of compression and a nonslip heel leaving you never to worry about blistering or chafing again.Read more
The construction of these socks includes Merino wool that enhances comfort and stability, making 22 miles feel as comfortable as just walking 2. The amount of cushioning in the heel and toe areas and mesh material in the others allows your feet to breathe as freely as if you weren't wearing any at all.
They are definitely breathable, equipped with mesh zones on the top of the foot to allow for air circulation while regulating temperature. Along with being made from Merino wool, even without the mesh, the moisture-wicking and odor-eliminating properties save you from chafing and blistering.
Fit and Design
They do fall a bit pricey but worth every penny. Not only do you not have to worry about breathability, with the mesh uppers; comfort, with the perfect amount of cushioning; stability, with the added arch support; and durability, with the super high-density knit; this company adds a lifetime guarantee.
Designed to prevent foot pain and blisters, these socks allow wearers to walk around without having stress on their feet. They're lightly padded and are breathable for warmer weather wear.Read more
It doesn’t provide as much padding as other Thorlo socks and other brand socks on this list, so it’s not for those with foot issues or used to thicker padding when walking. However, it provides ample cushioning, especially at the arch. It still includes padding under the ball and heel of the foot that amp the comfort level without being too bulky in a shoe.
These socks are constructed with ThorWick Coolfibers that wicks away moisture to keep the feet nice and dry. There are also more loosely spun fibers around the socks with breathable mesh panels to allow for ventilation.
Fit and Design
These socks take into account the way your feet move to ensure a good fit with protection and comfort. They are designed to be worn with all kinds of sneakers and feature an ankle-length cut. They also have a cushioned, close-fitting arch that provides support.
8. Smartwool Mini
These are comfortable with a light amount of cushioning that doesn’t make them too bulky to wear with sneakers. They have a great fit and will stay in place during all your activities. They're designed for everyday wear as well as for short hikes.Read more
These socks are designed specifically for walking, and their level of comfort reflects that. They are lightly cushioned to give the foot enough protection for the trail without being too bulky for the road. They are made with mostly Merino wool to increase their softness, making them just generally feel nice on the feet.
The Merino wool construction helps to make this a breathable option, wicking away moisture as well. It also isn’t thick or bulky, and has ventilation panels to allow for air in and to escape to keep the feet cool.
Fit and Design
The sock height is described as being “mini.” This translates to being ankle height. This cut also prevents the sock from slipping. They have SmartWool’s Fit System, which consists of braces at the ankle and arch that ensures a more secure and hugging fit.