Scroll down to get to the full reviews for the best hiking socks
Hiking socks are that one bit of kit that’s often overlooked and taken for granted. Okay, they may not be a particularly exciting purchase when compared with other outdoor gear but you can’t just throw on any old pair. The right pair of hiking socks can keep your feet comfy and dry for hours or even days, letting you walk for miles blister free without even giving them a thought.
The wrong pair can cause hours of blistered misery and could even call a complete halt to your trip. You need to give some serious thought on the best hiking socks for your next outdoor trip. With so much choice though, how do you know which pair will be the ideal fit for your adventure?
We’ve done the work for you and shared our favourite brands plus a pick of the best hiking socks out there. So – let’s talk about socks, baby!
In a hurry? Here's the best hiking socks according to us:
- Best for keeping odour at bay - Stance Oscilate Feel360
- Best all-rounder - Danish Endurance
- Best for tough mountain hikes - Bridgedale Men's Fusion
- Best for ultra-runners and fast packers - Smartwool Women' Light Hike Margarita Crew
- Best for multi-sports - Finisterre Last Long Original
- Best for multi-day trails - Falke TK1 Women's Trekking Socks
- Best for those who want to try something different - Injini Outdoor Midweight Nu Wool Socks
- Best for blister sufferers - 1000 Mile Men's Fusion Double Layer Walking Socks
- Best for backpacking - Darn Tough Vermont Women's Micro Crew
- Best for summer trails - Bridgedale Hike Ultralight T2 Hiking Socks
- Best for extreme wet weather and boggy terrain - Sealskinz Extreme Cold Trekking Socks
- Best for travelling light - Rohan Women’s Active Summit Socks
- Best for lower budgets - Storm Bloc Women's Hiking Socks
- Best for long distance hikes - Smartwool Men’s PHD Outdoor Heavy Crew
- Best for walking or trail shoes - Falke TK5 Men's No-Show Hiking Sock
- Best for those who prefer a less cushioned hiking sock - Darn Tough Light Hiker Micro Crew
- Best for preventing bites and stings - Craghoppers Women's Nosilife Adventure Sock
Things to Consider When Looking for the Best Hiking Socks
Some of the best hiking socks nowadays contain differing percentages of merino wool, which comes from a certain type of sheep that thrives in harsh mountain climates. Merino wool has excellent thermal regulation, wicks away water and sweat and has great anti-bacterial properties. However a high percentage of merino wool is not necessarily better; it all depends on the weave. Also some people are allergic to wool and find their skin can react badly to merino-heavy socks.
Merino wool is an animal product and as such is open to cruel practices such as mulesing (painfully removing strips of skin from around the sheep’s tail to avoid future flystrike infections). Many of the best hiking socks manufacturers pledge to ensure that their wool comes from humane sources.
Many hiking socks also contain polyester (a type of material made from plastic fibres) and nylon. Synthetic materials are very hard wearing so they help give socks their durability. They also tend to dry quicker than merino wool, although they don’t have the same antibacterial properties, so be prepared for whiffy socks if they contain more synthetics than wool.
Cotton-based socks tend to be cheaper than those made from wool and are usually comfy. However, cotton can collect and retain moisture, which can soften the skin and put you at risk of blisters. Combining cotton with synthetic materials can help wick moisture away.
Most socks contain these to provide some elasticity, which helps to keeps socks in place and not slide down into your boot, and to give a nice snug fit. They also help socks spring back into shape after washing.
Most hiking socks are boot or crew length, typically around mid-calf. This provides some protection against mud and can help stop debris getting into boots. If you are hiking in summer, using walking shoes or running in trail shoes you’d be better off with either ankle length socks, which just cover the ankle, or ‘no shows’ which end at the ankle.
For winter walking you might prefer a knee length sock which forms an extra layer of warmth for the lower legs.
As a rule of thumb, for summer walking and easier trails, you’ll need less cushioning and for tougher mountain environments and cold weather you’ll need more. It’s not always that simple though. If you’re wearing trail or walking shoes, too much cushioning could make the shoes too tight.
If you’re walking long distances with a heavy pack, you’ll appreciate some extra cushioning on your feet even if the terrain’s not particularly rugged.
Male or Female Fit?
Many sock manufacturers sell men and women specific socks. There’s not a great deal of difference to be honest, although women’s socks tend to be offered in different colours and are usually smaller and narrower. Don't get too hung up about this though - just choose the best hiking socks for your feet.
Most of the manufacturers listed here are committed to using sustainable products and pledge to ensure safe working practices in factories. They are also committed to being equal opportunity employers.
The best hiking socks for you are largely a matter of personal preference and what you’ll be using them for. Do your intended adventures involve plenty of rugged mountain walking or scrambling? If so, you’ll need durable, well cushioned socks like the Darn Tough Hiker Merino Crew. Expecting plenty of snow and ice? You’ll need socks that will keep your feet toasty, such as Bridgedale’s WoolFusion.
So, what's the verdict? Do you have naturally hot feet? You might find some of the warmer socks just too warm, especially in the summer months, so the best hiking socks for you might be the Bridgedale HIKE Ultralight or Darn Tough’s Light Hikers. And if you’re planning on some easier hikes and maybe mixing it up with a little cycling, you’d be better with a multi-activity pair such as Finisterre Last Long Originals.
Like boots, the best hiking socks will vary from person to person. Socks your mate swears by might leave you with a foot full of blisters. Be prepared to test different options before committing to a pair.
Inspired to take your new hiking socks on an adventure? Read our Ultimate Guide to Wild Camping.
Why should I use specialist hiking socks?
Okay, you could just pull any pair on and go for a hike but you won’t have a good time of it. Thin cotton socks just don’t cut it – cotton won’t wick sweat away and soaks up water like a sponge. They’ll constantly rub against your feet and cause blisters. The best hiking socks contain materials designed to keep your feet dry and are thick enough to stop your boots from rubbing.
Do I need to wear two pairs of socks when hiking?
Some people find wearing a thinner hiking sock under a thicker one allows them move against each other rather than against the skin. Others find it makes blisters more likely so it’s down to personal preference. Most modern hiking socks are designed to be worn without a liner sock, although the 1,000 Mile range are constructed to mimic wearing one.
How long will my hiking socks last?
It depends on how well they’re made and how often you wear them. Die hard trail addicts will blow through a pair much faster than a weekend warrior. Smartwool reckon that their socks should last around a year if worn once a week, Bridgedale guarantee theirs for three years and Darn Tough has a lifetime guarantee!
How do I take care of my hiking socks?
Socks don’t come cheap so if you take proper care of them you’ll get more mileage from them. Hiking socks containing wool should be washed on a gentle, cool cycle – heat can shrink wool. Don’t use fabric softener as this can coat the fibres and destroy their wicking and heat regulating properties. Liquid soap or similar is ideal.