Best Hiking Socks
Hooray it’s spring and soon summer! That means the snow is beginning to recede from higher elevations and soon enough it will be hiking and backpacking season. As much as I love skiing and snow sports, I love being out in the mountains in the summer.
Alongside a good pair of hiking boots or shoes, you need a great pair of socks that will keep your feet happy all day regardless of whether you’re going 2 miles or 12 miles (or more) in a day.
The 5 best hiking socks
The hiking socks we love and will tell you about in this article are:
- Smartwool Crew Hikers (various weights);
- Darn Tough Merino Wool;
- Smartwool Micro;
- Icebreaker Hike Lite Crew;
- Bridgedale Wool Fusion Summit Crew.
Smartwool Crew Hikers
Smartwool’s crew hikers are a classic and trusted sock across the outdoor industry. I still remember my first pair of Smartwool socks when I was a teenager because they were such a step up from the cheaper Walmart socks I had always worn.
Smartwool’s hikers come in a variety of weights depending on your needs. The weights include:
- Extra Heavy
If you need them, Smartwool also has socks made for different sports such as skiing. Made out of a Merino wool blend, Smartwool socks keep your feet both warm and dry but also regulate temperature when hiking in warmer climates. I recommend Smartwool’s hiking/trekking socks for cooler locations or higher up in the mountains. I basically live in these when we visit Alaska every year.
Darn Tough Merino Wool
The Darn Tough Merino Wool hikers come in a close second to Smartwool socks. They are about $2 cheaper ($19.95/pair MSRP) and are made of a Merino wool/nylon/lycra blend. Their height is a low crew height, which is a bit lower than Smartwool’s and thus is not quite as sport-agnostic as Smartwool hiking socks.
The Darn Tough merino hikers have a light cushion to them, which helps on longer days out. They’re also a bit lighter than Smartwools so they will stand up on a hot day and not make your feet into a sweaty mess. They won’t keep your feet quite as warm around camp, but that’s ok if you have a great pair of Baffin down booties.
If you are looking for a great pair of low profile hiking socks that will also keep your feet fresh, look no further than the Smartwool micro. I own literally 5 pairs of these socks which I wear when either wearing tennis shoes on a shorter hike or my Merrell hikers on slightly longer hikes.
These are low-profile socks, so they are not right to be worn with hiking boots as the back of your legs will rub and become irritated by your boots. But if you need a low profile pair of padded hiking socks, these are the best you can buy.
Icebreaker Hike Lite Crew
Icebreaker is one of those underrated brands that you don’t really know about until you get your first piece, and then you’re basically guaranteed to be a brand advocate. Based out of Auckland New Zealand, Icebreaker is now owned by VF Corporation which also owns The North Face, Vans, and a number of other brands.
If you’re looking for a light crew-height hiking sock, then the Icebreaker Hike Lite Crew is one to seriously consider. Made out of Merino wool, nylon, and Lycra with medium cushioning, the Hike Lite is ready to go for long days on the trail in the summer under your hiking boots. When you get to camp, swap them out for a warmer pair of socks then put these back on the next day (or better yet, a fresh pair because hygiene).
Bridgedale Wool Fusion Summit Crew
Bridgedale are not a super well known brand in the outdoor world, but just like Icebreaker you’ll become a convert once you own your first piece from them.
And people LOVE their wool fusion summit crew sock especially for mountaineering. This is a high over-the-calf sock that will keep your feet both warm and dry with their 47% Enduro wool, 34% nylon, 18% Endurofil, 1% Lycra construction. They are a heavy weight sock that is meant for cooler climates, but that means they go great under hiking boots or even mountaineering boots without weighing you down.
If you need a high sock for your high alpine adventures, then well you should probably buy the Bridgedale Wool Fusion Summit Crew.
Choosing the right pair of socks
Before you buy some new pairs of socks (I’m currently in the market myself, thus why I’m writing this article) you need to first think about the kind of hiking you will be doing.
The five most important things to think about when selecting hiking socks are:
- Sock height;
- Sock thickness;
- Sock cushioning;
- Sock fit;
- Sock materials.
Short day hikes where you can wear tennis shoes? Then you’re good to get low profile socks that are cushioned on the balls and heels of your feet.
Longer multi-day backpacking trips in the dead of summer with backpacking boots? Then you’ll need a taller sock that wicks moisture and doesn’t make your feet overheat (no wool!).
Winter hiking/snowshoeing/ski touring? Then you’ll need warmer socks that also wick moisture away from your feet because you’re still being active and sweating, but it’s a colder as well.