Best hiking socks 2022: keep your feet comfy all year round

Collage of the best hiking socks
(Image credit: Future)

The best hiking socks are often overlooked when people think about the most essential pieces of outdoor clothing. After all, it's your socks that get most intimate with your feet during long walks in the backcountry.

Whether you're trudging through deep snow in winter or pounding dry, hot trails in summer, if you don't have a pair of quality socks to keep your feet dry and comfortable, your enjoyment is going to suffer. In this guide, we feature the best options for both winter and summer adventures.

It's the characteristics of the best hiking socks that set them apart from the rest. A high quality pair work in tandem with the best hiking boots to protect and keep your feet dry. Most are woven from a mixture of moisture wicking, fast-drying materials like polyester blended with merino wool. For winter, a high warmth to weight ratio is also important.

As well as this, the best hiking socks feature a much higher stitch count than the norm and are often designed to be seamless to prevent chafing and blisters. This all helps to make them wonderfully comfortable, as well as durable too. So, don your socks, lace up your best hiking shoes and hit the trails.

Winter hiking socks

Horizon Performance Extreme hiking socks

(Image credit: Horizon)
A heavyweight winter sock designed to deliver warmth in extreme temperatures

Specifications

RRP: £45 (UK)
Gender specificity: Unisex
Sizes: S / M / L
Colors: Charcoal/Orange, Charcoal/Cerise, Charcoal/Turquoise
Materials: PrimaLoft Silver yarn (28%), Merino wool (28%), Isolfil polypropylene (29%), Nylon (8%), Cordura polyamide (5%), Lycra elastane (2%)
Compatibility: Winter hillwalking, mountaineering, fishing

Reasons to buy

+
Soft and comfortable
+
Hard-wearing
+
Warm

Reasons to avoid

-
Expensive

These long, over-calf length socks use a combination of Primaloft synthetic fibres and natural merino wool for excellent comfort and temperature regulation, and the brand boast they are “the best cold weather sock that money can buy”. That’s a bold claim, but it demonstrates that Horizon have plenty of faith in their products. The premium materials used in their construction suggest they ought to live up to their billing, too. These socks are made from a blend of PrimaLoft Silver yarns, merino wool, Isolfil polypropylene, hard-wearing nylon (including ultra-tough Cordura fibres in the toe and heel) and a little Lycra for stretch. That mix of synthetic fibres and natural wool is all about balancing comfort with durability, whilst also ensuring good warmth and excellent wicking performance. 

On the feet, they feel extremely soft and comfortable. The finishing is first-class, with no loose threads or uncomfortable seams. Inside the sock, terry loops feel great against the skin and trap plenty of warm air, while inspecting the outer reveals a zoned construction, with reinforced heel and toe areas plus ventilation channels along the top of the foot. Bear in mind that these are long socks that come up over the calf. They’re designed to be worn with winter mountaineering boots, though they’d also work well with wellies or fishing waders. An elasticated ribbed top ensures they stay put, while the rest of the sock is well-cushioned and very cosy. They’re definitely winter-ready but are overkill for other seasons unless you suffer from extremely cold feet.

Read our full Horizon Performance Extreme mountaineering sock review

Keela Primaloft Expedition Socks

(Image credit: Keela)
Chunky, warm and hardwearing crew-length socks that are a good choice for all sorts of cold-weather adventures, including winter hillwalking

Specifications

RRP: £25
Gender specificity: Unisex
Sizes: S / M / L
Colors: Carbon
Materials: PrimaLoft Silver yarn (28%), Merino wool (28%), Isolfil polypropylene (29%), Nylon (8%), Cordura polyamide (5%), Lycra elastane (2%)
Compatibility: Winter hillwalking, mountaineering

Reasons to buy

+
Hardwearing
+
Warm
+
Quick-drying
+
Fast-wicking

Reasons to avoid

-
Toe seam a little uncomfortable

These socks are tough and hardwearing, but also warm and well cushioned, with a practical crew length fit that comes up to mid-calf. That isn’t as long as some over-the-calf dedicated mountaineering socks, but it still means they work well with chunky B1 or B2 boots, while also arguably making them a little more practical and versatile too. Performance comes from a carefully chosen blend of PrimaLoft Silver yarns, merino wool, Isolfil polypropylene, hardwearing nylon (including ultra-tough Cordura fibres in high-wear areas) and a little Lycra for stretch. That mix of synthetic fibres and natural wool is all about balancing comfort with durability, whilst also ensuring good warmth and excellent wicking performance. They’re comfortable and generally well finished, with tidy stitching, though the toe seam is perhaps a little more noticeable than in some other socks. But there are reinforced heel and toe areas plus ventilation channels along the top of the foot to ensure good abrasion resistance and breathability.

Read our full Keela Primaloft Expedition Sock review

Helly Hansen Alpine Sock Warm

(Image credit: Helly Hansen)

Helly Hansen Alpine Sock Warm

Tall socks for alpine activities of all sorts

Specifications

RRP: $30 (US) / £30 (UK)
Unisex: Yes
Sizes: 36–38 / 39–41 / 42–44 / 45–47
Materials: Merino wool (46%), Polymide (27%), Polycolon (24%), Elastane (3%)
Length: Over the calf
Weight (men’s large, per pair): 94g / 3.3oz
Colors: Sparrow green / Black / Liberty

Reasons to buy

+
Shin protection
+
Moisture wicking 
+
Well cushioned
+
Supportive
+
Durable

Reasons to avoid

-
Limited colorways
-
Expensive

With a ribbed cuff to keep them firmly in place, these long socks reach right up to just below the knee and perform well when worn on the mountains, no matter what you are up to. They have excellent shin protection, which makes them particularly comfortable when worn with rigid boots, whether you’re skiing or climbing icy peaks and kicking snow steps. 

There is ventilation on the top of the foot, and cushioning on the heel and toe – again, very handy in most alpine sports, when feet can take a hammering. The seams are imperceptible, while an excellent level of support is supplied to areas of the foot where it is most required. These are Helly Hansen’s coziest socks, but they also breath well and manage odors and moisture magically, thanks to the large amount of merino in the mix, while the poly content means they are built to last. 

Best tall socks

best hiking socks: 1000 Mile Fusion Double-Layer Walk Sock

(Image credit: 1000 Mile)

1000 Mile Fusion Double-Layer Walk Sock

A long, comfortable, protective two-layer walking sock for all-conditions hiking

Specifications

RRP: £17 (UK) / €20 (EU)
Unisex: Yes
Sizes: Men’s: M / L / XL / Women’s: S / M
Materials: Outer layer: Merino Wool (40%), Nylon (29%), Polyester (23%), Cotton (6%) and Lycra (2%); Inner Layer: 100% Tactel (a polyamide fibre similar to nylon)
Length: Mid shin
Weight (men’s large, per pair): 112g / 4oz
Colors: Charcoal / Navy

Reasons to buy

+
Comfortable and protective
+
Blister-free guarantee
+
Arch support
+
Achilles protection
+
Brilliant design

Reasons to avoid

-
Can run hot
-
Sizing is a bit limited

These sophisticated socks are made from a rich mix of materials and fabric, combined to produce a very comfortable, practical, protective and durable sock for walkers and hikers. Offering excellent arch support and cushioning for the Achilles tendon, plus extra padding around the toes, heels and ball areas, these socks stretch up to the mid-shin, and can be worn throughout the year - although you may find them a little too warm in summer. 

Chief among the materials used, though, is merino wool, which not only wicks moisture away from the skin, but also magically moderates temperature   so the socks feel warm when it’s cold, and cool when it’s hot. The main innovation here, though, is the use of Tactel for the inner layer - this is a polyamide fibre a lot like nylon, but which is notably soft, breathable and lightweight, and dries quickly too. The twin layer construction of these socks vastly reduces friction between the wearer’s foot and their shoe or boot, which helps prevent blisters (and they come with the 1000 Mile guarantee).

Summer hiking socks

HJ Pro Trek HJ700 Light Hike

(Image credit: HJ)

HJ Pro Trek HJ700 Light Hike

Well-designed from heel-to-toe, this summer hiking sock is a solid performer available for a good honest price

Specifications

RRP: £10.50 single pair / £28 three pairs / £46 five pairs
Unisex: Yes
Sizes: 4–7 / 6–11 / 11–13 **Materials:** Cotton (45%), Polyamide (29%), Polyester Coolmax (25%), Lycra (1%) Length:** Ankle
Weight (men’s large, per pair): 61g/2.2oz
Colors: Blue marl & navy / Blue marl & turquoise / Brown marl & rust

Reasons to buy

+
Comfortable 
+
Good price
+
Durable

Reasons to avoid

-
Limited colorways
-
EcoMade Coolmax not used

Ideal for trekking, hiking and day walking in warm conditions from late spring though to early autumn, the HJ700s from legacy brand Honest John Hall & Sons are breathable, cool to wear and luxuriously comfortable. Despite extending only as far as the top of the ankle, the HJ700s feel highly supportive, with a graduated rib, arch support and ankle bracing to supply ergonomic fit and to keep the socks securely in place during outdoor activity.

The toe seam has been designed so you literally can’t feel it, and there are reinforced areas on the heel and toe to supply some extra enforcement where it’s most required while you’re hiking on the trails. The Coolmax material used wicks moisture and dries fast, although we would have preferred the brand to go with the EcoMade Coolmax option, which is made with recycle yarn. On the upside, HJ are currently donating 10% from the sale of all their ProTrek socks to Lamp, a British mental health charity close to the brand’s home turf.

Falke TK2 Men Trekking hiking socks

(Image credit: Falke)

Falke TK2 Men Trekking

Comfortable lightweight socks for hiking in the lower hills, and wearing on coastal and countryside capers

Specifications

RRP: $23 (US) / £22 (UK)/ €23 (EU)
Unisex: Men’s
Sizes: 39–41 / 42–43 / 44–45 / 46–48 (EU sizes)
Materials: Polypropylene (40%), Acrylic (28%), Wool (22% ), Polyamide (9%), Elastane (1%)
Length: calf-length crew
Weight (men’s large, per pair): 52g / 1.8oz
Colors: Mustard / Olive / Galaxy blue / Black / Asphalt / Light grey / Nature / Copper / Marine / Yve / Lime

Reasons to buy

+
Lightweight
+
Clever mix of materials to performance and durability
+
Stylish, with lots of color options
+
Cool and comfortable

Reasons to avoid

-
Fair weather sock
-
Low natural fibre content (not great for environment)
-
May hold on to odors after time

These socks feel extremely lightweight and quite cool when you first put them on, but they are medium cushioned and offer more protection and support than you might expect once you pull them on and hit the trails. With myriad color options to chose from, it would be a shame to hide them entirely under a boot with a high collar, but that’s not what they’re designed for anyway - these socks work best when worn on lower, less technical trails and in pretty temperate conditions, so you are more likely to pair them with a good walking shoe. 

They are left foot / right foot specific, and the fit is nice and secure as a result of this and the decent triple-layer construction technique employed by this excellent German brand. Of course the materials used play a large part in their fit, performance and comfort levels too, and the rich mix of merino and synthetic fabrics results in a sock that breaths and wicks away moisture well, keeps its shape, lasts the distance, supplies warmth when required and feels great on your foot.

Waterproof hiking socks

EDZ Waterproof Socks with Merino Lining hiking socks

(Image credit: EDZ)
These substantial socks keep water out when you’re braving the bog and wading through wetlands

Specifications

RRP: 24.99 (UK)
Gender specificity: Unisex
Sizes: UK 5 - 12
Colors: Black
Materials: outer - 80% Nylon 20% Lycra, inner - 50% Merino wool 50% Acrylic
Compatibility: Hiking, backpacking, camping

Reasons to buy

+
Completely waterproof and warm
+
Merino lining wicks sweat
+
Tall enough to wear with hiking boots

Reasons to avoid

-
Too warm for summer
-
Too thick to wear with trail running shoes
-
Not very stretchy
-
Lining could be softer
-
Feel a bit plasticky, like a neoprene sock

If you’ve got leaky boots, hiking shoes with mesh panels or often find yourself wading through the wetlands on a hike, the EDZ Waterproof Socks are here to save the day. Wet feet can be uncomfortable and cause rubbing and blisters, but with these waterproof hiking socks, you no longer have to worry. These thick, mid-calf socks pair well with your hiking boots and have a merino wool lining which wicks away sweat as well as keeping your toes toasty on frigid days.

Though these socks are too thick and warm for most summer escapades, you’ll be glad for them when you’re hiking and biking once the weather turns cold. With these, even if you’re wearing waterproof footwear, you don’t have to worry about wet socks leaking into your boots and causing havoc. For longer walks, you might want to pair them with liner socks for increased comfort, but if keeping water out is your main priority, you won’t find a better sock solution than this pair.

Read our full EDZ Waterproof Socks with Merino Lining review

Arctic Dry 100% Waterproof hiking socks

(Image credit: Arctic Dry)

Arctic Dry 100% Waterproof

A high-performing hoof protector for outdoor adventures in any conditions

Specifications

Unisex: Yes
Sizes: S/M/L
Materials: Outer: high waterproof nylon (61%), polyester (32%), elastane (7%); Interlayer: PU Waterproof Membrane, Lining: coolmax (66%), polyester (30%), elastane (4%)
Length: classic crew and long (kneelength)
Weight (men’s large crew): 108g /3.8oz
Colours: Black and blue

Reasons to buy

+
Completely waterproof, but also breathable 
+
Hard wearing
+
Comfotable and supportive

Reasons to avoid

-
Require a little more care when washing
-
Synthetic materials
-
Limited colour options

When you’re heading into the wet and windy wilderness for a long hike or backpacking escapade, keeping your feet dry is a major priority, and if you work or play in really extreme conditions, it could be a serious safety issue. Arctic Dry (opens in new tab)socks are a three-layer insurance policy against getting soggy socks and frozen feet, even if your boots fail. 

The design and materials used in these walking socks keeps your skin dry, while allowing feet to breath and wicking internal wetness away, which is of course a crucial consideration when it comes to waterproof garments, because moisture from within can be just as dangerous as wetness from without. They’re tough too, made with hardwearing – albeit synthetic – materials. These socks are also available in a knee-length version, and can be used for much more than just walking – think trail running, snow sports, cycling, fishing, fossil-hunting, golf.

Eco-friendly socks

BAM Bamboo hiking socks

(Image credit: BAM)

BAM Bamboo

Warm, comfortable hiking socks with a low environmental footprint

Specifications

RRP: £15 (UK)
Unisex: Yes
Sizes: 4–7, 8–11, 10–12 (UK sizes)
Materials: Bamboo (56%), Merino Wool (16%), Recycled Polyamide (26%), Elastane (2%)
Length: classic crew
Weight (men’s large, per pair): 99g / 3.5oz
Colors: Charcoal / Fig

Reasons to buy

+
Environmentally friendly
+
Highly breathable
+
Soft and comfortable
+
Natural materials

Reasons to avoid

-
Too thick for some
-
Won’t last as long as synthetics

Whether you’re wearing wellies or walking boots, these bamboo blended socks will stay in place and keep working to ensure you enjoy good levels of comfort, support and performance. By mixing the natural materials of bamboo and merino, BAM have created a lovely soft sock that is far more gentle on the environment than some of its synthetic counterparts. 

These fabrics both breath really well, and will wick moisture away from your feet. Brilliantly, they also both contain anti bacterial properties, which stop the socks from stinking even if you’ve had them on for a few days. These are fairly thick socks, with full terry lining for extra protection, and they will keep your toes nice and toasty even on frosty mornings and cold evenings - however, the natural fibers will ensure you don’t overheat. 

The poly material (recycled) adds a level of durability that can sometimes be lacking in bamboo garments (handy in a product like a sock, which has to deal with a lot of hard use) and the elastane keeps them in shape. Design features include ankle and arch ribbing, which combine to stop the sock slipping around on your foot.

Durable hiking socks

Darn Tough Hike/Trek Micro Crew Cushion hiking socks

(Image credit: Darn Tough)

Darn Tough Hike/Trek Micro Crew Cushion

A perennially popular performer on the trails, much beloved by generations of hikers

Specifications

Unisex: Yes
Sizes (men's): S–M–L–XL–XXL
Sizes (women's): S–M–L
Materials: Merino wool (61%), Nylon (36%), elastane (3%)
Length: mini crew
Weight: 75g /2.6oz
Colours (men's): Denim / Charcoal / Lime / Olive / Oatmeal / Onyx;
Colours (women's): Denim / Slate / Onyx / Moss heather / Aqua Heather / Plum heather

Reasons to buy

+
Excellent fit and performance
+
Extremely durable, with a lifetime satisfaction guarantee 
+
Great cushioning 

Reasons to avoid

-
Some hikers might prefer a higher cut (which is available from Darn Tough)

Made in Vermont, USA, with a mix of merino wool (just over half), nylon and Lycra, these excellent socks have a hard-earned reputation among hikers and outdoorsy types in general for their combination of comfort, performance and durability. The merino provides the cozy feel and breathability, plus moisture wicking, antibacterial and pong-prevention properties, while the nylon is hardy and the Lycra holds them in excellent shape, with no slippage or bunching. The seams are completely flat, and totally imperceptible when the socks are being worn. 

Darn Tough are sock specialists – it’s their sole focus – and they have complete confidence in their product, to the extent that they offer a lifetime guarantee of satisfaction, or your money back; no conditions or strings attached. That’s quite a bold statement and commitment to make, especially on a high-use item like a sock, which many hardcore hikers will hammer pretty heavily on the trails. But serious walkers know a good bit of kit when they wear it, and will set their expectations accordingly, and these socks are firmly in the quality gear category. 

And Darn Tough can make a promise like that without breaking a sweat because they know that their socks have a very high loop stitch count, which not only provides sublime under-foot cushioning, it also makes them resistant to flattening, shearing and holing, even after repetitive use. Despite being described as a micro crew, we’d argue these are more of a mini crew, as they still reach to just above the collar of a standard mid walking boot, which is perfect for the vast majority of hiking and trekking adventures.

Socks to prevent blisters

Injinji Liner and Hiker Crew hiking sock

(Image credit: Injinji)

Injinji Liner and Hiker Crew

Top two-layer socks that really toe the line when you are walking, no matter what the conditions through at you

Specifications

RRP: $29 (US) / £25 (UK)
Unisex: Yes
Sizes: S–M, L–XL
Materials: Liner: CoolMax (75%), Nylon (21%), Lycra (4%); Hiker: NuWool (43%), Acrylic (43%), Nylon (12%), Lycra (2%)
Length: High crew
Weight (men’s large, per pair Liner + Hiker): 139g / 4.9oz
Colors: Charcoal / Denim / Forest

Reasons to buy

+
Excellent defence against blisters
+
Supportive
+
Very warm
+
Durable

Reasons to avoid

-
Slow to put on
-
Pricey
-
Should be washed in cold water

Prevention is always better than cure when it comes to foot care, and this two-layer hiking sock set-up offers possibly the very best protection available against the ramble-ruining horrors of blisters. A toe sock inner fits your feet like a glove and keeps your toes from rubbing against one another. Over the top of that, the substantial outer layer provides the thermal and physical support and protection that makes this an excellent all-round option for serious hikers and backpackers, for whom toe trouble could spell disaster. 

The super thin inner liner wicks moisture away from the foot, while the Nuwool Hiker outer features extra cushioning along the footbed and proper padding around your pinkies. There’s minimal movement in either the liner (held firmly in place by the toe-sock design) or the hiker, This is a fairly high design, where the hiker comes halfway up your calf, so there’s a good amount of protection from flora and fauna out there on the trail.

Injinji Trail Midweight Crew hiking sock

(Image credit: Injinji)

Injinji Trail Midweight Crew

These toe socks fit like a glove and are perfect for tough trails hikes

Specifications

Unisex: Yes
Sizes: S–M–L–XL
Materials: Coolmax polyester (39%), Nylon (58%), Lycra (3%)
Length: classic crew
Weight: 80g /2.8oz Colours:** Dijon / Granite / Peak / Space / multiple patterns

Reasons to buy

+
Best on test for preventing blisters
+
Highly supportive

Reasons to avoid

-
Non-recycled manmade materials
-
Takes time to put them on
-
Less odor control than wool

From the pioneers of the toesock, the Trail Midnight Crew is a nuggety and versatile weapon, which can be deployed during challenging treks through the mountains, or for running escapades across rough and rugged terrain. They’re up for anything. The idea of the toesock is that it prevents you pinkies rubbing together and causing blisters or hotspots, and it allows for greater dexterity on technical trails because you can splay your toes. Having used such socks for years, I can say that all this works perfectly (the only downside being that it takes me a while to squeeze my toes into them).

Obviously, being toesocks, there is a distinct left and right foot. These are tall for crew socks, a deliberate design feature to help keep out grit and sand. There’s a very pronounced heel box, and the arch support is good. Comfort levels are excellent on these hiking socks, with midweight cushioning on the bottom to protect your sole, and a breathable Coolmax mesh over the top to help with temperature regulation. The fabrics used wick moisture away well, and will perform well even when wet.  The socks are made in China, entirely from synthetic materials, however, so the ecological footprint they leave behind is quite big.

Socks for walkers with bunions

Hanwag Bunion Socks

(Image credit: Hanwag)
Comfortable hiking socks specifically designed for walkers with bunions

Specifications

RRP: $26 (US) / £20 (UK) / €23 (EU)
Unisex: Yes
Sizes: 36–38 / 39–41 / 42–44 / 45–47
Materials: Schoeller EXP merino wool (40%), polyamide (29%), polypropylene (28%), elastane (3%)
Length: Shin height
Weight (men’s large, per pair): 67g / 2.4oz
Colors: Black / Anthracite

Reasons to buy

+
Tailor made for trekkers with bunions
+
Left/Right specificity
+
Comfortable

Reasons to avoid

-
Limited colorways

Bunions (bony lumps that develop on the inner-facing side of your feet, at the base of the big toe) can become extremely uncomfortable when you are out hiking trails, to the point that they completely ruin the experience. If this ailment affects you, then these socks from German boot brand Hanwag could be exactly what you’re looking for. Designed specifically for bunion sufferers, and intended to be paired with Hanwag’s range of bunion boots and shoes, these socks are left/right specific (of course) and feature extra padding on the side the big toe where bunions cause problems. 

There is also extra padding on the heel and sole, and the mid-shin length provides decent levels of protection. The high level of merino used means they feel great, breath really well, wick moisture excellently and don’t hold on to odours. The materials used get a big tick for being eco-conscious and sustainable too, with the merino wool content having received an eco-friendly EX-Pollution anti-felting treatment, a chlorine-free wool finishing process that uniquely meets the bluesign standard.

Read our full Hanwag Bunion Socks review

Smartwool Ski Full Cushion OTC Socks

(Image credit: Smartwool)
For toasty toes on the slopes

Specifications

RRP: $27 (US) / £27 (UK)
Unisex: Yes
Sizes: S / M / L / XL
Materials: : Merino wool (57%), Nylon (41%), Elastane (2%)
Length: : Over the calf
Weight (men’s large, per pair): 90g / 3.2oz
Colors: Alpine blue / Black / Charcoal
Patterns: Mountain snowflake, Trellis, Alpenglow

Reasons to buy

+
Warm and cosy
+
Moisture wicking and breathable 
+
Cushioning on the entire sock for added protection and warmth
+
Performance-oriented fit

Reasons to avoid

-
Full cushion may be too much padding with insulated boots
-
May be too warm for milder days
-
Relatively expensive

These cosy, breathable socks live up to Smartwool’s reputation for producing some of the best ski socks on the market. The 13in over-the-calf fit hugs snugly just below the knee and promises to stay there when you hit the slopes, while the performance-oriented fit contours to your arches and allows for flex at the ankle. Made from merino wool, nylon and elastane, these socks wick sweat away from your feet on powder days and are ultra-breathable. 

With full cushioning on the entire sock, you can expect all-day comfort on the slopes, especially on colder days. Smartwool promises that they’ve improved the durability of these socks too, so they should last you a few seasons.

Read our full Smartwool Ski Full Cushion OTC Socks review

Swipe to scroll horizontally
Best hiking socks comparison table
Hiking socksPriceStyleBest use
Horizon Performance Extreme£45 (UK)Over-calf winter socks4 season hiking, mountaineering, fishing
Keela Primaloft Expedition Socks£25 (UK)Mid-calf winter socks4 season hiking, mountaineering
Helly Hansen Alpine sock warm$30 (US) / £30 (UK)High socks designed for cold conditions4 season hiking, mountaineering
1000 Mile Fusion Double-Layer Walk Sock£17 (UK) / €20 (EU)High socks designed for cold conditions4 season hiking, mountaineering
HJ Pro Trek HJ700 Light Hike£11 (UK)Ankle length hiking socks3 season hiking and trekking
Falke TK2 Men Trekking$23 (US) / £22 (UK)/ €23 (EU)Classic crew hiking socks3 season hiking and trekking
EDZ Waterproof socks with Merino lining£24.99 (UK)Tall cut waterproof Merino socks4 season hiking and trekking
Arctic Dry 100% Waterproof£27 (UK)Classic crew or long nylon hiking sock4 season hiking and trekking
BAM Bamboo£15 (UK)Classic crew, bamboo hiking socks3 season hiking
Darn Tough Hike/Trek Micro Crew Cushion$25 (US) / £20 (UK)Mini crew merino hiking sock3 season hiking and trekking
Injinji Liner and Hiker Crew$29 (US) / £25 (UK)High crew, blister preventing socks 4 season hiking and mouintaineering
Injinji Trail Midweight Crew$17 (US) / £15 (UK)Classic crew, blister preventing toe socks3 season hiking and trekking
Hanwag Bunion Socks$26 (US) / £20 (UK) / €23 (EU)Shin height socks designed specifically for bunions3 season hiking
Smartwool Ski Full Cushion OTC Socks$27 (US) / £27 (UK)Full cushioned, tall cut, ski socks4 season hiking, mountaineering and skiing

How we test hiking socks

Our reviewers test hiking socks on trails in a range of environments and conditions, while wearing various walking shoes and boots. Features (including height, thermal properties, style, breathability, materials, next-to-skin comfort and support) are tested against claims made by the brand, and we assess factors such as value for money, durability, functionality and environmental impact.

Choosing the best hiking socks

The best hiking socks are a reasonable investment, especially because most people are going to need several pairs, so it’s important to get the right ones for your needs. For us, high quality hiking socks are high on our list of hiking essentials, as they play a vital role in keeping your feet dry and comfortable, preventing blisters and ensuring you have as positive experience on the trail.

When planning a backpacking adventure, your footwear is a primary concern. If you're heading out in your winter boots, you'll need thick socks rated for all seasons. 

Oh, and don't forget, wear your best walking socks when you come to try on new hiking boots in store. Forgetting them is a common mistake. It's also worth keeping them on as you break in your hiking boots.

So, before you buy, carefully consider the following.

HJ Pro Trek HJ700 hiking socks

The best hiking socks keep your feet toasty and comfortable (Image credit: HJ)

Comfort and fit

Why you can trust Advnture Our expert reviewers spend hours testing and comparing products and services so you can choose the best for you. Find out more about how we test.

If your socks are ill-fitting they will pinch, bunch up or wrinkle, which will be massively uncomfortable and put a proper downer on the day. Being able to prevent blisters, which can ruin your walking experience not just for one day, but for weeks afterwards, is a big selling point for many of the best hiking socks 

Feet vary enormously, and people have all sorts of different requirements, such as extra support around the arch or Achilles areas. Toe socks work wonderfully for some, while others will struggle to get their feet into them, which just leads to frustration. Take the time to find the best hiking sock design for you, and then stick with it.

A hiker walking through a hill wearing hiking socks and boots

Take the time to find the best hiking sock design for you, and then stick with it (Image credit: Getty)

Materials

This is a big consideration when looking for the best walking socks – next to skin comfort is essential (the last thing you want is itchy feet when you’re already on the move), but you need socks made from fabrics that offer technical performance too. Merino is the magic material of the outdoor world, because it keeps you warm when it’s cold (even when wet) and cool when it’s hot, plus it’s highly breathable, wicks internal moisture away brilliantly and has antibacterial and anti-pong properties that mean you can wear it for several days without clearing a hut, or killing your tent mate when you eventually take your boots off. For these reasons, merino is often the material of choice for the best base layers too.

But, on it’s own, merino will wear through fairly fast, and won’t necessarily hold its shape well. Many socks combine merino (or other wools) with hardwearing synthetics such as nylon, plus panels of dynamic materials like Lycra, spandex or elastane, which provide support where its needed, such as on the arches and at the top of the cuff, so your socks stay up. 

Other socks are made entirely of manmade materials, such as CoolMax, a series of polyester fabrics, which perform well in the outdoors because they don’t absorb water, so they won’t become overly heavy and will continue to provide warmth even when wet. Should you buy waterproof socks if you're heading somewhere notoriously wet, such as Scotland's Munros? Probably, so this becomes a factor to consider. 

While they work well, however, synthetics are not biodegradable, and have a much bigger carbon footprint than natural materials. For some winter adventures, you may wish to consider fully waterproof socks, which are typically a bit more pricey, but will keep your feet dry while hiking.

A hiker wearing hiking socks and boots taking a break

The best hiking socks offer excellent comfort (Image credit: Getty)

Design, size and weight

For a seemingly simplistic item of clothing, socks come in a surprisingly array of styles. Things to look for in the best hiking socks are reinforced cushioning around the parts of the foot that bear the brunt of impact with the ground when you’re walking, so the heel and the toe box. Many also offer extra support around the arch and the Achilles. Some designs have designated left and right socks, and these often offer the best support. 

Toe socks provide lots of protection from rubbing, but don’t suit everyone. Most of the socks featured here are nominally ‘crew’ socks, which typically means they will extend just above the top of a standard hiking boot, but interpretation of this varies quite a lot, with some going well up the shin. We have given the exact weight of all the socks featured here, but you will often see a sock described as ‘lightweight’ or ‘midweight’, which just refers to the chunkiness of the knit.

best hiking socks: Pat in the 1000 MIle Fusion Double Layer Walk Sock

Advnture reviewer Pat Kinsella testing out the 1000 Mile Fusion Double Layer Walk socks (Image credit: Pat Kinsella)

Price

We would encourage you to invest in decent hiking socks, because they will seriously improve your experience on the trails and are well worth the expense. You should expect to pay more than you would for everyday socks – from $12/£10 upwards – because you’re asking them to be technical and robust enough to deal with much tougher conditions. After all, as with the best hiking gloves and the best hiking hats, if you're heading out into Arctic conditions, you want to be wearing something you have confidence in. It's the same with socks. Bear in mind, however, that if you’re going backpacking or taking on multiday walks, you will need several pairs.