What type of socks are best for hiking

An expert hiker knows the importance of a good pair of hiking socks. It is a must-have accessory that should be worthwhile hiking. Although hiking socks have a simple appearance, we still have to keep certain things in mind before purchasing. 

This is why we have spent long hours researching different socks options for hiking. After long research, we have concluded that darn tough; light hiking socks are ideal for both men and women. They are wool socks with a lifetime guarantee. Most surprisingly, these socks for hiking are a perfect mix of durability, cushioning, and comfort.

What kind of socks should we wear for hiking?

We all know very well the importance of hiking socks. Most surprisingly, they are an essential part of the clothing wardrobe of every hiker. But actually, the question is, what socks are best for hiking and what are the particular materials from which these socks should be made?

The socks for hiking must be breathable, resistant to abrasion, and durable. They should have quick-drying and moisture-wicking abilities. Along with the material and comfort, you should also keep in mind the length of the socks. The socks are of different sizes according to the season and environment.

In other words, the socks should be breathable to keep your feet dry all the time. In winter, you require tightly woven hiking socks with heavy padding. The reason is that socks with high padding will give you the best insulation, comfort, and warmth in the winter. 

If you purchase the socks in the summer season, ensure they are lightweight with medium cushioning. Normally, people wear merino synthetic hiking socks as they are ideal for backpacking and hiking.

Are Hiking Socks Necessary?

What type of socks are best for hiking

Using hiking socks depends on the conditions and environment where you go hiking. If you are walking in the winter, you need thick hiking socks that provide enough insulation to keep your feet dry and warm. 

If it is the summer season, you’ve required shops with mild cushioning. On the other hand, for longer trips, you should go to the shops that provide you with a balance between cushioning and breathability.

Is It Necessary to Wear Two Pairs Of Socks While Hiking?

If you want to achieve optimal performance of hiking socks, then you can traditionally layer your shop. It can be done by wearing two pairs of socks during hiking. You must wear socks to avail the following benefits:

  • They keep your feet warm for a longer time
  • Insulates from cold
  • Remove excess moisture
  • Reducing the abrasion from your boots

Proper layering of the socks gives your feet more comfort and protection, reducing the chances of blister formation. However, you should keep this thing in mind that the socks next to your feet must be thin. These pairs of socks should have moisture-wicking ability and quick-drying features. 

So the inner socks should be made up of hydrophobic material. The outer layer, which is the socks between the inner layer and the boot, should give you enough insulation and cushion. In other words, the outer socks must be abrasion resistant.

Why Are Cotton Socks Bad for Hiking?

Why Are Cotton Socks Bad for Hiking

You will be surprised to know that hiking compression socks are not cotton. The reason is that cotton is considered a harmful material for hiking due to many things. This might be due to some inherent characteristics and properties of cotton. 

The first property is that cotton absorbs a lot of moisture and sticks to our feet. So, unfortunately, cotton socks are not equipped with insulating properties and wrinkle quickly. 

Also, the Cotton socks do not dry quickly, making them unreliable for hiking. Unfortunately, when you hear wet socks, they can cause blisters or even trench food if done for long periods.

Why Are Crew Socks a Popular Socks Style?

Why Are Crew Socks a Popular Socks Style

Many people do not know that crew socks are taller than ankle socks. Usually, we wear crew socks around the mid-Calf. They’re available in different colors and specific textures.

Crew socks are considered the most popular hiking socks style because they’re available in highly versatile sock lengths and are also suitable to wear in summer, winter, and even the transitional seasons. 

Hiking Sock Height

Compression socks for hiking come in different heights, from small heights to tall enough to nearly touch your knees. Now, it’s your choice which Sock height suits you the best. 

For choosing the best socks height, you must look at your footwear. You should wear socks taller than the cuffs on your boots or shoes so your skin does not rub directly against them.

How Many Hiking Socks Are Available in The Market?

In the market, four types of socks are available.

  1. No Show Socks

These are very short socks, and they provide little protection against abrasion. People wear these socks with low-cut footwear, such as light hiking shoes.

  1.  Ankle Height Socks

They are slightly higher than no-show socks, and you cover your ankle bone to give more protection. These types of socks are best for low to mid-cut shoes and boots.

  1. Crew Socks

Crew socks are the most used socks for hiking. They’re a few inches higher than your ankle bones and protect you from abrasion with boots with higher cuffs. Note that you should not wear crew socks with low-cut shoes or boots.

  1. Knee High Socks

Normal people do not wear knee-high socks for hiking, but they’re primarily for those who go mountaineering if you must wear big boots while mountaineering or hiking, you should wear knee-high socks for protection against abrasion.

Do Hiking Socks Need the Right Amount Of Cushioning?

Do Hiking Socks Need the Right Amount Of Cushioning

The cushioning of the socks determines how thick the Socks are and how much warmth it provides—the right amount of cushioning depends on weather conditions. If you do high-impact activities such as backpacking and running, you need more cushioning of your feet. 

This can be possible with particular hiking socks that offer more cushioning. So it would help if you had thicker socks that are warmer and protects you against abrasion.

Types of Cushioning The Socks Provide

Different socks provide different types of cushioning; now it’s your choice which one you want for your particular hiking trip.

Types of Cushioning The Socks Provide
  1. No Cushioning Socks

They are very lightweight and soft and are specially designed to be used in hot weather. No cushioning socks are very breathable but give less padding. We can also call these types of socks liner socks. 

No cushioning socks are used by some hikers who used to wear them below the heavyweight hiking socks. Try them out if you think you should use liner socks below your hiking socks.

  1. Light Cushioning Socks

People wear these socks in the summer, which are perfect for warm conditions. Although they are lightweight, they still provide light cushioning and come up with moisture-wicking abilities. 

They also offer comfort against warmth and are relatively thinner than other socks. Still, they are the best as they provide light cushioning in places such as the football and the heel.

  1. Medium Cushioning

These socks provide a good amount of foot and heel ball cushioning. So they are best for backpacking and hiking. On the other side, they provide enough warmth to be used in moderately cold conditions.

  1. Heavy Cushioning

These types of socks are the warmest and thickest socks. These socks provide you with optimum cushioning while hiking. 

These socks are ideal for long hiking trips. You can also use these socks for rough terrains and cold temperatures. These socks are much recommended for cold-weather backpacking trips and mountaineering.

What Is the Particular Fabric Used For Hiking Socks?

You can easily observe that the fabric for hiking socks is not made from a single material. They are made from a mix of materials to provide the perfect blend of warmth, durability, and comfort. 

If the socks are made up of a combination of materials, they also undergo fast drying. Next, in the post, we will discuss the materials used in socks preparation.


Polyester is the unique material used in the preparation of hiking socks. It is a synthetic material that dries quickly. So it can gather all the moisture and insulate efficiently. Usually, polyester in the stockings is blended with nylon and wool to provide a good combination of durability, comfort, and warmth. 


Nylon is also synthetic to manufacture socks and usually is considered the primary material. Most surprisingly, nylon material is critical in improving drying times and adds durability.


The most popular hiking material is wool. It helps regulate the temperature to keep your feet from getting sweaty. Another great property of wool is that it provides enough cushioning. Thread also has anti-microbial properties and retains smells less than synthetic fabrics. Nowadays, manufacturers are using merino wool in the manufacturing process. 

Merino wool does not cause any irritation like the old wool materials.


We all know that silk is a very comfortable material and a natural insulator. However, it is not as durable as other options, but they are occasionally used in sock liners for reliable moisture wicking.


Spandex material is also used in manufacturing hiking socks, but it is used in a tiny percentage. Spandex is an elastic material that keeps the socks in shape and prevents wrinkling and bunching.

Top Picks Of Hiking Socks For Your Next Hiking Trip

1. Merrell Men’s 3 Pack Cushioned Performance Hiker Socks

Merrell mens3 peg best compression socks for hiking. They comprise 15% nylon, 2% lycra spandex, 25% wool, and 58% acrylic. These pairs of socks are machine washable and give you enough arch support. 

Due to the arch band support, they give you maximum protection and comfort throughout your journey. These best winter hiking socks keep your feet away from fatigue all day. They provide reinforced heel and toe, which offer better and longer durability. 

Due to the high quality made and enough cushioning of these socks, they can last for more than one year if you take proper care. 

Merrell Men's 3 Pack Cushioned Performance Hiker Socks (Low/Quarter/Crew Socks), Charcoal Black (Quarter), Shoe Size: 9.5-12
  • Arch support - Merrell short cushion low cut ankle socks have arch band support to give you maximum comfort and protect your feet from fatigue all day long
  • Reinforced heel and toe - Merrell and hiking socks have reinforced heel and toe which ensures better and longer durability of the sock, so they will last and serve for you year after year
  • Get more out of your hike - Merrell socks are specially designed to make sure the most serious of hiker is able to make it to every summit

2. Darn Tough Light Hiker Micro Crew Lightweight With Cushion

Darn is an excellent brand regarding compression socks for hiking. These are high-quality and durable pairs of socks made up of 3% lycra spandex, 43% merino wool, and 54% nylon. 

Like the above, they are machine washable and made in the USA. You will be surprised to know that many people in the USA use these best hiking compression socks. 

This is due to the number of benefits they are getting through these socks. Wearing these socks for hiking does not cause blisters and bunching. They are non-slipping wool compression socks hiking with ultra-smoothness and feel you ever want. 

DARN TOUGH (Style 1972) Men's Light Hiker Hike/Trek Sock - Denim, Large
  • Lightweight with Cushion - Light and strong with a thin layer of cushioning along base of foot. Our most versatile construction. True Seamless technology allows for an undetectable seam fusion for an Ultra-smooth, invisible feel.
  • Micro Crew Height - A shorter, more concise take on the traditional crew height. Peeks just above the top of a standard hiking boot.
  • Composition - Knit with 54% Nylon 43% Merino Wool 3% Lycra Spandex. The fast action wicking pulls moisture away from skin, so no more sweaty, stinky socks. The soft, breathable merino wool has fast drying, all weather performance that keeps you cool in the summer and warm in the winter.
  • Guaranteed for Life - If these socks wear, tear, or develop holes, Darn Tough will replace them. No strings. No conditions.
  • Made in the USA - Every pair of socks is knit in Northfield, Vermont - the perfect testing ground for the finest premium all weather performance socks.

3. Merrell Women’s 3 Pack Performance Hiker Socks

If you are searching for the best hiking socks for women, then you are at the right place. Merrell Women’s socks are high-performance hiking socks made up of 2% lycra spandex, 24% Nylon, and 74% polyester. 

The good thing about these socks is that they provide a cushioned sole. So with the help of these socks, your feet feel extra comfortable while walking on rough terrains. 

Along with the cushioned insole, it also gives you excellent arch support So that you will not feel any fatigue in your feet. Ultimately, you can enjoy hiking for a more extended period with full enjoyment.

Merrell Unisex adults Men's and Women's Recycled Everyday Half Cushion - Unisex 3 Pair Pack Repreve Arch Support Casual Sock, Gray Assorted, Small US
  • Cushioned sole - Merrell compression and hiking crew socks are cushioned to give your feet extra comfort so you feel like you are walking on the clouds no matter how tough the terrain is
  • Arch support - zoned arch support helps prevent fatigue in your feet to help keep you going for the longest of hikes
  • Reinforced heel and toe - Merrell and hiking socks for men have reinforced heel and toe which ensures better and longer durability of the sock, so they will last and serve for you year after year

4. 80% Merino Wool Hiking Socks

These best winter hiking socks comprise 15% polyester, 4% nylon, 1% spandex, and 80% merino wool. They are high-quality best compression socks for hiking and are made in the USA. As many people demand stretchable socks for hiking,

They are perfect, stretchable, and comfortable socks. Most surprisingly, they provide you with total support during long hiking trips. If you are searching for high-quality best compression hiking socks, then you are at the right place. They are also ideal for rough terrains made up of itch-free material. 

These socks are blended with nylon to promote a comfortable hiking experience.

Merino Wool Hiking Socks Thermal Warm Crew Winter Boot Sock For Men Women 3 Pairs ML
  • MAKE HIKING A COMFORTABLE EXPERIENCE These Merino wool hiking socks are built to provide you with total support and comfort during your hiking trips, no matter the weather. Each pair of these hiking boot socks is ideal for the rugged terrain, allowing these to be great mens or women's hiking socks
  • ITCH FREE MATERIAL These wool hiking socks come blended with nylon to promote a comfortable, itch free experience. Ultra comfortable, these women and mens hiking socks won't cause you to pause in your step to scratch at your foot or readjust the calf height sock
  • KEEP YOUR FEET WARM DURING COLD WINTER HIKES With these hiking socks, women and men alike can enjoy the comfortable warmth that these cozy socks provide. Especially good for the colder months, each winter sock in the pair of men and womens wool socks will keep out the cold and moisture that wintertime often affords
  • SUPERIOR CUSHIONING IN THE FOOTBED These mens and womens hiking socks offer a shaped cushioning in their footbed to promise a more comfortable trek up the mountain. Through the use of these mens wool socks, women and men can enjoy less fatigue and pain in their feet after a long day of hiking in these ladies wool socks
  • SIMPLE TO CARE FOR When you get home, these wool socks mens accessories can be washed easily. Just put these women and mens hiking socks in the wash on cold and these wool socks will be good to go. Two Size Available Small-Medium (Fits Shoe size: Men 5-9.5/ Women 6-10.5) and Medium-Large (Fits Shoe size: Men 9.5–14/Women 11-15)

Frequently Asked Questions

Why Do Hikers Wear Thick Socks? 

Hikers usually wear thick socks because they provide the right amount of cushioning. Their thick socks prevent your feet from injury during high-impact activities such as backpacking and running. Don’t forget that thick socks make your feet warmer, but it’s helpful only in winter.  

Which Socks Are Better for Hiking, Thick Socks or Thin Socks?

People wear thin, light socks for warm days and summers. However, on the other side, thick hiking socks are used for tough hikes and colder temperatures. Mid-thickness stockings are customarily utilized for more challenging hikes.

Is It Necessary to Wear Long Socks While Hiking?

Usually, people wear crew socks for hiking as they help you in keeping higher boots from rubbing against the ankle. However, on the other hand, if you wear low-top shoes, you should consider socks that stop just above the cuff.

How Often Should You Change Your Socks During Hiking?

Make sure if you are going hiking, you should have extra socks. You should change them regularly if you feel blisters or hot spots.

Final Words

A simple question comes to your mind while hiking: what type of socks are best for hiking? In this post, we have discussed all the aspects of hiking socks. Make sure you choose the right hiking socks made up of appropriate material. 

Do not go for cotton material as this is not fit for hiking. You should purchase thick socks made up of a mix of materials. The thick socks for hiking will give you enough cushioning so that you will not feel any foot fatigue while hiking. 

We have also discussed high-quality hiking socks; you can choose any one of these socks for your next hiking trip. 

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