Hiking, whether over short distances or long, is a healthy way of exploring the great outdoors. Unfortunately, long spells of walking can take their toll on your feet. One simple but effective way of making sure your feet stay in tip-top condition is by buying a good pair of hiking socks.
This small bit of clothing can make all the difference. They can help to prevent blisters and keep sweaty feet fresh, even after days of walking. We've compiled exactly what you should look out for when buying this fundamental bit of hiking kit, and sussed out the best options for both men and women available from Amazon, eBay and John Lewis.
Socks may seem basic, and even insignificant, but when it comes to hiking they really do make a difference. It is important that you get a pair (or two) that fit properly and support your feet. A bad experience with ill-fitting and uncomfortable socks is enough to put you off hiking for life, so avoid this and invest in the right ones. Here's how.
Merino wool is an extremely popular choice of material when it comes to hiking socks. Whilst it's rare that it will make up the whole composition (it will normally be combined with synthetic materials such as nylon and elastane), a high percentage of merino wool will make for a high quality sock.
The fact that it is a natural fibre means that not only does it keep your feet warm in cold conditions, but it also lets them breathe, avoiding the discomfort of overly-sweaty feet. What's more, it's incredibly durable so will outlast numerous wears and washes without showing any signs of wear-and-tear.
For a cheaper alternative or if you aren't keen on wool, you could consider cotton, which is also comfortable and breathable, or solely synthetic socks. However, neither are as insulating as merino wool, nor as as long-lasting.
Hikers often end up walking with socks on that are too big and this can come with certain issues – namely, that your socks will bunch, leaving you prone to blisters. It is for this reason that it is best to get a pair which is as close to your shoe size as possible.
One size of sock usually covers a range of shoe sizes, and this will normally be how the sock size is described. Some will use the sizing small, medium and large, and in this case you will have to find a size guide to see the shoe sizes to which it corresponds.
This broad size range also means that most socks are suitable for both men and women. Occasionally, however, socks are designed specifically for women's feet.
This is because women's feet are normally narrower – and just generally smaller – and these socks take that into account. If you are a woman and you know you have smaller feet and calves, it is worth looking for these specialised socks as they're less likely to fall down.
The vast majority of hiking socks come up just above your ankle on your leg. This means they should come above the top of your hiking boots, keeping your ankles warm and protected. This height will also help to keep them in place and stop them falling down.
A few options out there come higher up the leg, although these are rare. These are a good option for when it is really cold and you want extra protection on your calves.
After a long walk, particular at hotter times of the year, it is likely that your socks will need a good wash. The quickest and easiest way of doing this is throwing them in the washing machine.
However, due to the inclusion of wool, not all hiking socks are suitable for a machine wash – or if they are, they might have to be washed at a lower temperature – so it is worth double-checking before you do this. You do not want to end up with tiny, shrunken socks!
When you're out in the elements, hiking socks are bound to see a bit of dirt and mud. It is for this reason that they tend to come in more neutral colours, colours that won't seem hugely dirty if they get a bit stained over time.
Most muck should come out in the wash if you do end up going for a pale or brightly-coloured sock, but just in case some doesn't, muted colours are a good way forward.
With a pair or two of good hiking socks, you'll be able to keep your feet cushioned and cool for extended walks over long periods of time. If you're thinking of exploring on foot, here are some hiking socks that will get you where you want to go.
Pack of 3
|Materials||85% combed cotton, 13% nylon, 2% spandex|
|Colour||Grey and purple, blue and pink|
|Materials||80% cotton, 17% polyamide fibre, 3% elastane|
|Sizes||6-9, 9-11.5, 11-13|
|Care||Machine washable (30° and under)|
|Colour||Grey and black, green and blue|
|Materials||36% polyamide, 23% wool 18% polyester, 8% cotton 4% acrylic 1% viscose 1% elastane|
|Sizes||One size (4-8)|
|Materials||48% polyester, 30% merino wool, 21% polyamide, 1% elastane|
|Sizes||3-4.5, 5-6.5, 7-8.5|
|Care||Machine washable (40° and under)|
|Colour||Light and dark blue|
|Materials||64% merino wool, 33% nylon, 3% lycra spandex|
|Sizes||S, M, L, XL, XXL|
|Care||Machine washable (delicate cycle)|
|Materials||75% polyacrylic, 22% polyamide, 3% elastane|
|Materials||80% merino wool, 19% nylon, 1% elastane|
|Sizes||M, L, XL|
|Care||Machine washable (30° and under)|
|Materials||58% merino wool, 39% nylon, 3% elastane|
|Sizes||S, M, L|
|Materials||56% merino wool, 41% nylon, 3% elastane|
|Sizes||5-7.5, 8-10.5, 11-13.5|
|Materials||38% merino wool, 35% polyamide, 24% polypropylene, 3% elastane|
|Sizes||3-5, 6-8, 9-12|
|Care||Machine washable (40° and under)|
Premium Hiking Socks
PhD Outdoor Light Crew Socks
PhD Outdoor Light Women's Crew Socks
Men's Walking Socks
Men's Two Layer Blister Protection Socks
Vermont Men's Cushion Hiking Socks
Merinofusion Summit Women's Sock
Ladies Warm Long Knee Hiking Socks
Breathable Cushion Anti Blister Crew Socks
Women's Hiking Socks
A Quality Pair of Socks That Will Suit Everyone
A Silky-Soft Sock That Will Fit Perfectly
A Light Sock for Summer Walks
Cushioning Is Prioritised With This Sock
Fight Blisters With This Double-Layer Sock
For Comfy Walking All Year-Round
If It's Cold Outside, You'll Want These Socks
Extra-Cosy Knee-High Socks Offering Lots of Support
Get a Few Reliable Pairs of Socks in One Purchase
Good-Value Socks for Casual Hikers
|Materials||38% merino wool, 35% polyamide, 24% polypropylene, 3% elastane||56% merino wool, 41% nylon, 3% elastane||58% merino wool, 39% nylon, 3% elastane||80% merino wool, 19% nylon, 1% elastane||75% polyacrylic, 22% polyamide, 3% elastane||64% merino wool, 33% nylon, 3% lycra spandex||48% polyester, 30% merino wool, 21% polyamide, 1% elastane||36% polyamide, 23% wool 18% polyester, 8% cotton 4% acrylic 1% viscose 1% elastane||80% cotton, 17% polyamide fibre, 3% elastane||85% combed cotton, 13% nylon, 2% spandex|
|Sizes||3-5, 6-8, 9-12||5-7.5, 8-10.5, 11-13.5||S, M, L||M, L, XL||6-8, 9-12||S, M, L, XL, XXL||3-4.5, 5-6.5, 7-8.5||One size (4-8)||6-9, 9-11.5, 11-13||One size|
|Care||Machine washable (40° and under)||Machine washable||Machine washable||Machine washable (30° and under)||Machine washable||Machine washable (delicate cycle)||Machine washable (40° and under)||Machine washable||Machine washable (30° and under)||Machine washable|
|Colour||Black||Charcoal||Light grey||Grey||Granite grey||Olive||Light and dark blue||Navy||Grey and black, green and blue||Grey and purple, blue and pink|
Get your hikes off to a great start with more of our gear recommendations. From the best protective jackets to comfortable trousers that withstand the elements and the miles, you'll be the envy of your fellow ramblers!
Worrying about blisters and discomfort in your feet whilst walking no longer has to be a reason for not getting out into the fresh air and taking in the sights and sounds that hikes can offer. With the right pair of hiking socks, you'll be unstoppable.
Author: Emma Cramp
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