The best hiking socks 2024: keep your feet comfy all year round

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

It's fair to say that the best hiking socks are the silent heroes of the trail. While flashy down jackets, waterproof jackets and high-tech hiking boots get all the glory, your hiking socks are the items that your feet get most intimate with, working behind the scenes to make every hike as comfortable as can be.

The difference between the best hiking socks and traditional socks is huge, underlining how high performing these pairs are. A quality hiking sock has to be comfortable while being hardwearing, breathable while being warm, stretchy while being supportive and, ideally, smell fresh even at the end of a day pounding the trails.

Blending materials like nylon, polyester, merino wool, polyamide and elastane, while containing more and more recycled materials every year, the best hiking socks are real marvels of design, very much earning their right to rub shoulders (or ankles, as it may be) with the best hiking boots. Our expert testers have put this 13-strong sock lineup to the test on the backcountry trails to bring you this guide.

We've dished out a number of 5-star ratings, though for summery hikes we love the Darn Tough Light Hiker Micro Crew Socks most of all.

The quick list

This is the quick list, a snapshot of the best hiking socks available in 2024. To delve deeper into the features and qualities of each featured pair, see our more detailed reviews further down the page in this guide.

The best hiking socks 2024

You can trust Advnture Our expert reviewers spend days testing and comparing gear so you know how it will perform out in the real world. Find out more about how we test and compare products.

The best hiking socks overall

best hiking socks: Darn Tough Light Hiker Micro Crew socks

These lightweight, breathable hiking socks have enough padding for long walks and hardly ever need washing (Image credit: Future)
The best hiking socks overall

Specifications

Gender specificity: Men’s and women’s
Sizes: Men's: M/L/XL, Women's: S/M/L
Colors: Various prints
Materials: 64% merino wool 33% nylon 3% Lycra Spandex

Reasons to buy

+
Comfortable merino/nylon blend
+
Performance fit
+
Breathable and lightweight
+
Sweat wicking and quick drying
+
Great odor control
+
Robust construction
+
Lifetime guarantee

Reasons to avoid

-
Not foot specific
-
May not be warm enough for extreme cold

These wonderfully comfortable and moisture wicking socks are breathable and thin enough for summer adventures but boast insulation to make them suitable for the off season too. Constructed of a mix of Merino wool, nylon and spandex, they've got just about the right amout of stretch. With Darn Tough's usual lifetime guarantee, these are socks that should last you a long time.

"It's hard to come up with a single complaint" says our expert tester Julia Clarke. They're not L/R specific, but we're really clutching at straws here. Mountaineers and winter climbers would want something warmer but for most use, you can't really go wrong with this excellent pair.

Read our full Darn Tough Light Hiker Micro Crew Socks review

The best LR specific hiking socks

best hiking socks: Helly Hansen Unisex Technical Hiking Socks

Comfortable and supportive, your feet can breathe in these socks on warm days, and they’ll keep your toes warm even if you get wet (Image credit: Future)
The best LR specific hiking socks

Specifications

Gender specificity: Unisex
Sizes (EU): 36-38, 39-41, 42-44, 45-47
Colors: Black, white
Materials: 43% polyamide 41% merino wool 13% polypropylene 3% elastane

Reasons to buy

+
Comfortable
+
Durable
+
Good sweat-wicking and breathability
+
Medium weight for multiple seasons
+
Great odor-control
+
Left and right fit

Reasons to avoid

-
No recycled content

"You can trust these socks to support your feet even when you’re putting in serious miles with moisture-wicking, breathable fabric, padding in all the right places and a comfortable, supportive fit" says our hiking expert Julia Clarke. The Helly Hansen Unisex Technical Hiking Socks tick all the boxes where quality for the trails is concerned.

For us, it hits the Goldilocks zone of not being too thick to wear in summer while still providing a comfortable level of cushioning for taking on long walks. The socks feature a blend of polyester and Merino, which makes them durable, while also being odor repelling and thermally efficient. There's also 3% elastane, which gives them that all-important stretch.

Read our full Helly Hansen Unisex Technical Hiking Socks review

The best hiking socks for eco-creds

best hiking socks: Smartwool Hike Classic Edition 2nd Cut Crew Socks

These (almost) circular Smartwool Hike Classic Edition 2nd Cut Crew Socks are comfortable on your feet and easy on your conscience (Image credit: Pat Kinsella)
The best hiking socks for eco-creds

Specifications

Gender specificity: Men's and women's
Sizes: Men’s: S/M/L/XL; Women’s: S/M/L
Colors: Men’s: Mist blue / Light gray; Women’s: Twilight blue / Purple iris
Materials: Merino wool (33%), nylon (9%), Recycled Nylon (24%), Other Content (33%), Elastane (1%)

Reasons to buy

+
Made with recycled & responsibly sourced content
+
Natural odor control
+
Tough and long lasting
+
Full-cushion comfortable

Reasons to avoid

-
The circle isn’t quite complete…yet
-
Limited colors available

It's fair to say that hiking socks tend to have a shorter lifespan than other items in your outdoor wardrobe. Therefore, any brand or sock looking to reduce waste is a good thing. This is what Smartwool are striving for here, giving worn out socks a second coming. The brand harvest material from secondhand socks and combine this with newly made synthetic materials, including elastane for a little stretch, as well as responsibly sourced Merino.

The result is a comfortable, moisture wicking and odor repellent sock that's a joy to wear on the trails. The process in no way inhibits the sock's performance. Our expert reviewer Pat Kinsella points out that "‘the Second Cut socks are every bit as luxurious and comfy as the rest of Smartwool’s range." The height and thickness provide the comfort and protection needed on the trail, while we're looking forward to seeing the progress Smartwool make towards truly sustainable socks on future pairs.

Read our full Smartwool Hike Classic Edition Second Cut Crew Socks review

The best hiking socks for bunions

Hanwag Bunion socks

Bunions don't have to stop you hiking, and the Hanwag Bunion Socks are specially designed to take the pressure off (Image credit: Pat Kinsella)
The best hiking socks for bunions

Specifications

Gender specificity: Unisex
Sizes (EU): 36–38 / 39–41 / 42–44 / 45–47
Colors: Black / Anthracite
Materials: Schoeller EXP merino wool (40%), polyamide (29%), polypropylene (28%), elastane (3%)

Reasons to buy

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

Reasons to avoid

-
Limited colorways

If you suffer from bunions, the bony lumps that can develop on the inner-facing side of the foot, you'll know that they can be hugely uncomfortable when exploring the backcountry trails. German brand Hanwag have long been at war with Bunions and have a range of boots and shoes designed to tackle the issue. These excellent, LR specific socks are designed to be worn with their hiking footwear and are padded where bunions can cause problems. There's also padding where it's needed on the heel and sole, while there's a good level of protection provided by the mid-shin length of the sock.

Our expert tester Pat Kinsella says that "the high level of Merino used means they feel great, breath really well, wick moisture excellently and don’t hold on to odors". There's a green light in the sustainability stakes too, as the Merino is treated with 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

The best hiking socks for winter sports

Smartwool Ski Full Cushion OTC Socks

The Smartwool Ski Full Cushion OTC Socks are fully padded all the way up (Image credit: Smartwool)
The best hiking socks for winter sports

Specifications

Gender specificity: Unisex
Sizes: S / M / L / XL
Colors: Alpine blue / Black / Charcoal
Materials: : Merino wool (57%), nylon (41%), elastane (2%)

Reasons to buy

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

Reasons to avoid

-
May be too padded for insulated boots
-
May be too warm for milder days
-
Relatively expensive

"These cozy, breathable, over-the-calf socks will keep your toes toasty all day long on the slopes and pack plenty of padding to prevent annoying boot rub," according to our expert tester Julia Clarke. As the name suggests, they're primarily designed for snow sports but work tremendously well as hiking socks too.

The 13in over-the-calf fit hugs beautifully just below the knee, giving great levels of protection against trail elements. The fit is performance-orientated, contoured to the wearer's arches, allowing for decent flex at the ankle. These socks are made from a blend of Merino, nylon and elastane, a cocktail that provides stretch, durability and moisture-wicking capabilities. Cushioning is ample and they're warm enough to wear on the winter trails, thanks to their snow sports heritage.

Read our full Smartwool Ski Full Cushion OTC Socks review

The best tall hiking socks

1000 Mile Fusion Double-Layer Walk hiking socks

The 1000 Mile Fusion Double-Layer sock helps prevent blisters, and offers good arch support and heel protection (Image credit: 1000 Mile)

6. 1000 Mile Fusion Double-Layer Walk Sock

The best tall hiking socks

Specifications

Gender specificity: Men's and women's
Sizes: Men’s: M / L / XL, Women’s: S / M
Colors: Charcoal / Navy
Materials: Outer layer: merino wool (40%), nylon (29%), polyester (23%), cotton (6%) and Lycra (2%); Inner layer: 100% Tactel

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. However, our expert reviewer Pat Kinsella points out that "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).

The best hiking socks for comfort

Darn Tough Hike/Trek Micro Crew Cushion hiking socks

Darn Tough's socks are super durable, and come with a lifetime guarantee if you manage to wear them out (Image credit: Darn Tough)

7. Darn Tough Hike/Trek Micro Crew Cushion

The best hiking socks for comfort

Specifications

Gender specificity: Men's and women's
Sizes: Men's S–M–L–XL–XXL; women's S–M–L
Colors: Denim / Charcoal / Lime and more
Materials: Merino wool (61%), nylon (36%), elastane (3%)

Reasons to buy

+
Excellent fit and performance
+
Lifetime satisfaction guarantee 
+
Great cushioning 

Reasons to avoid

-
Some hikers might prefer a higher cut

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. 

The folks at 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.

Darn Tough can make a promise like that without breaking a sweat because its 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. Our expert tester Pat Kinsella says that they are "perfect for the vast majority of hiking and trekking adventures".

The best hiking socks for winter

Horizon Performance Extreme hiking socks

The Horizon Performance Extreme is a seriously heavyweight hiking sock that'll keep your feet snug in all conditions (Image credit: Horizon)
The best hiking socks for winter

Specifications

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%)

Reasons to buy

+
Soft and comfortable
+
Hard-wearing
+
Extra warm insulation

Reasons to avoid

-
Relatively expensive

A blend of Primaloft synthetics and merino is the key behind this magnficent winter hiking sock, that boasts supreme comfort and temperature regulation. In fact, the brand claim they're 'the best cold weather sock that money can buy'. A bold statement, but one that our expert tester Matthew Jones can back up having tested them. He says that they're "a premium sock in every regard – high-quality materials and construction deliver superb performance in the coldest conditions."

The mix of natural wool with synthetic fibres helps these socks to hit the sweet spot in terms of warmth, durability, comfort and excellent wicking. Study them closely and you see the first-class craftsmanship that's gone into the finish, as there are no loose threads or unwieldy seams. Designed to be worn with winter hiking boots, they're also great with wellington boots or fishing waders. The only downside is that they're a little bit overkill for the warmer months.

Read our full Horizon Performance Extreme mountaineering sock review

The best waterproof hiking socks

Arctic Dry 100% Waterproof hiking socks

The Arctic Dry 100% Waterproof socks are ideal for hiking, fishing, cycling, and any other activity where your feet are liable to get cold and wet (Image credit: Arctic Dry)

9. Arctic Dry 100% Waterproof

The best waterproof hiking socks

Specifications

Gender specificity: Unisex
Sizes: S/M/L
Colors: Black and blue
Materials: Outer: high waterproof nylon (61%), polyester (32%), elastane (7%); Interlayer: PU Waterproof Membrane, Lining: coolmax (66%), polyester (30%), elastane (4%)

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 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 and are also available in a knee-length version. According to our expert tester Pat Kinsella, they "can be used for much more than just walking – think trail running, snow sports, cycling, fishing, fossil-hunting, golf".

The best hiking socks for blisters

Injinji Trail Midweight Crew hiking sock

Like toe socks? The Injinji Trail Midweight Crew hiking sock gets our recommendation (Image credit: Injinji)

10. Injinji Trail Midweight Crew

The best hiking socks for blisters

Specifications

Gender specificity: Unisex
Sizes: S–M–L–XL
Colors: Dijon / Granite / Peak / Space / multiple patterns
Materials: Coolmax polyester (39%), Nylon (58%), Lycra (3%)

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 versatile weapon that 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 your pinkies rubbing together and causing blisters or hotspots, and it allows for greater dexterity on technical trails because you can splay your toes. Our expert tester Pat Kinsella says that "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.

The best 3-season hiking socks

bets hiking socks: 1000 Mile Repreve single-layer three-season hiking socks

Super-comfortable and supportive, 1000 Mile Repreve single-layer three-season hiking socks made from mostly recycled material that protect your feet perfectly on the trails (Image credit: Pat Kinsella)
The best 3-season hiking socks

Specifications

Gender specificity: Men’s / Women’s
Sizes: Men’s: Medium / Large / XL; Women’s: Small / Medium
Colors: Charcoal / Navy / Black
Materials: Repreve recycled nylon (78%), polyamide (20%), elastane (2%)

Reasons to buy

+
Tough and long lasting
+
Comfortable
+
Made with majority recycled content

Reasons to avoid

-
No natural material used
-
Not warm enough for winter use
-
Single layer only

We can't quite claim to have hiked a thousand miles in the 1000 Mile socks we've tested though we've certainly tested quite a few pairs down the years and they're still going strong. Hitting the holy triad of desirables – durability, comfort and performance – isn't easy, yet with the Repreve, 1000 Mile seem to have achieved it.

Much of the sock (about 78%) is made from recycled nylon, with polyamide and elastane making up the rest. As a single-layer sock, it's not ideal for really wintry conditions, but for the majority of hiking applications it's spot on. There's zoned padding where you need it most, especially at the toes and heel, while there's also intelligently placed ventilation where padding isn't needed for extra breathability.

Read our full 1000 Mile Repreve Single-Layer 3-season hiking sock review

The best hardwearing hiking socks

Keela Primaloft Expedition Socks

The shorter-length Keela Primaloft Expedition hiking socks work well with hiking shoes (Image credit: Keela)
The best hardwearing hiking socks

Specifications

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
+
Extra warm
+
Quick-drying
+
Fast-wicking

Reasons to avoid

-
Toe seam a little uncomfortable

Tough, hardwearing, yet warm and well-cushioned, the Expedition socks from Scottish brand Keela are a great crew length pair for hiking or even mountaineering adventures. Their length means that they work very well when paired with chunky B1 or B2 winter boots, making them suitable for adventures in the Alps, Rockies, Scottish Highlands, and other challenging locales.

Our mountaineering expert Matt Jones says that "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". Their makeup is a cocktail of PrimaLoft Silver yarns, Merino, polypropylene, durable nylon and tiny bit of lycra for that all-important stretch. The blend of natural materials and synthetics ensures performance, comfort and moisture wicking capabilities. 

Read our full Keela Primaloft Expedition Sock review

The best value hiking socks

HJ Pro Trek HJ700 Light Hike protrek socks

The HJ Pro Trek HJ700 is one of the most affordable socks we've tested, but still comfortable and durable (Image credit: HJ)

13. HJ Pro Trek HJ700 Light Hike

The best value hiking socks

Specifications

Gender specificity: Unisex
Sizes: 4–7 / 6–11 / 11–13
Colors: Blue marl & navy / Blue marl & turquoise / Brown marl & rust
Materials: Cotton (45%), Polyamide (29%), Polyester Coolmax (25%), Lycra (1%)

Reasons to buy

+
Comfortable 
+
Good price
+
Durable

Reasons to avoid

-
Limited colorways
-
EcoMade Coolmax not used

According to our expert tester Pat Kinsella, the HJ700s are "ideal for trekking, hiking and day walking in warm conditions from late spring though to early autumn". These are socks from legacy brand Honest John Hall & Sons that 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.

The best hiking socks comparison table

Swipe to scroll horizontally
Hiking socksList priceStyleBest use
Darn Tough Light Hiker Micro Crew Socks$24 (US) / £27 (UK)Micro crew light hiking sock3 season hiking, trekking, backpacking
Helly Hansen Unisex Technical Hiking Socks$25 (US) / £20 (UK)Mid calf hiking socks4 season hiking, trekking, backpacking
Smartwool Hike Classic Edition Second Cut Crew Socks$22 (US) / £27 (UK)Recycled mid calf hiking socks4 season hiking, trekking, backpacking
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
1000 Mile Fusion Double-Layer Walk Sock£17 (UK) / €20 (EU)High socks designed for cold conditions4 season hiking, mountaineering
Darn Tough Hike/Trek Micro Crew Cushion$25 (US) / £20 (UK)Mini crew merino hiking sock3 season hiking and trekking
Horizon Performance Extreme£45 (UK)Over-calf winter socks4 season hiking, mountaineering, fishing
Arctic Dry 100% Waterproof£27 (UK)Classic crew or long nylon hiking sock4 season hiking and trekking
Injinji Trail Midweight Crew$17 (US) / £15 (UK)Classic crew, blister preventing toe socks3 season hiking and trekking
1000 Mile Repreve single-layer three-season hiking socks£21 for a twin pack (UK)Calf length single layer hiking socks3 season hiking and trekking
Keela Primaloft Expedition Socks£25 (UK)Mid-calf winter socks4 season hiking, mountaineering
HJ Pro Trek HJ700 Light Hike£11 (UK)Ankle length hiking socks3 season hiking and trekking

How we test the best 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.

Meet the testers

Arc’teryx Vertex Alpine GTX approach shoe
Pat Kinsella

Pat is our consulting editor and an expert when it comes to outdoor gear. On his adventures in the UK, the Alps, Australia, New Zealand and more, he's tested countless pairs of hiking socks in his time.

Julia Clarke wearing Helly Hansen's Lifa Pro jacket in Wales
Julia Clarke

Julia is an expert on hiking gear and she uses the mountains of the Scottish Highlands as her test arena. Having lived in Vail, Colorado for many years, she's a seasoned pro when it comes to hiking on both sides of the Pond.

best hiking boots: Matthew Jones
Matthew Jones

An expert on all things hiking and camping, Matt has the mountains of Eryri (Snowdonia) National Park as the ideal testing ground for his kit. He's a fan of long-distance trekking, mountaineering and winter in the high places and, in this guide, brings his expertise to winter socks.

How to choose 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)

How important is fit when it comes to hiking socks?

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)

What are hiking socks made from?

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. 

A hiker wearing hiking socks and boots taking a break

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

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.

What different styles do hiking socks come in?

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)

How much should you spend on hiking socks?

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.