Step up your game with socks that help you run, walk, or hike in comfort.
Behold! The human foot is a biomechanical masterpiece of muscles, tendons, and 26 bones. Feet support your body, and they propel you on a hike. Buying a good pair of socks is the least you can do! You can skimp by in cotton tubes, but a pair of made-for-the-outdoors socks, though expensive, will function best on your feet.
On a backpacking or camping trip, you can wear the same pair of socks for two or more days in a row. Antimicrobial treatments aid in keeping socks stink-resistant.
Sock liners, those thin under-sock polypro pieces popular years ago? They help some, but they’re unnecessary for most feet. Indeed, be it blister prevention, warmth, wicking, moisture management, or performance enhancement, today’s outdoors socks can almost do it all.
Outdoors writer Stephen Regenold is founder of GearJunkie.com.
Wigwam Silver Wool Runner
Made for winter sports including running, snowshoeing, or fast hiking, the Silver Wool Runner socks mix warmth and a cushioned sole with an athletic cut. They are made primarily with a mix of itch-free merino wool and stretchy nylon. An integrated (read: permanent) antimicrobial treatment kills the microbes that cause foot odor before they begin to stink.
Teko tekoPOLY Light MiniCrew
Made of 100 percent post-consumer recycled polyester, these socks are soft and have better moisture management than wool. The Light MiniCrew has a seamless toe area and extra cushioning underfoot. It dries quickly when hung up in camp.
Fox River Escape Quarter Crew
With a mesh top for maximum breathability and a thin, form-fitting design, the Motion is perfect for fast hikers. The speedy sock contains Eco Fibers and Wick Dry technology.
Thorlo Boy Scout Light Hiking
New at Scout shops and scoutstuff.org, these BSA-licensed socks are designed for day hikes over flat or varied terrain in moderate to hot climates. The sock is also available in a crew-length version for $2 more. Or look for Thorlo’s dark green uniform hiking sock (not pictured) to wear with your field uniform.
SmartWool Heavy Crew trekking
Knit with merino wool (80 percent), nylon (19 percent), and a smidge of elastic for stretch, the Trekking Heavy Crew socks set an industry standard for a do-all outdoors hiking sock. A thick fabric blend adds warmth and cushioning. Stitched “arch braces” keep the sock in place and tight on the foot—mile after mile on a trail.
Darn Tough Vermont Boot Cushion hiking
A lifetime guarantee on socks? That’s correct. If you’re unsatisfied with the durability of these socks—even after years of use—the company promises to ship out a replacement pair. A high-density knit and stout materials that include nylon and wool make the Boot Cushion Hiking Sock one of the, well, darn toughest socks on the market. They’re also among the pricier socks you might buy.