Hawkshead Blog Posts/ How To

How To Choose Hiking Socks

When you’re dreaming of winter walks in the Alps or gearing up for an intense Lake District hike, there’s one tiny detail that will make sure your hike is comfortable and pain-free – your hiking socks!

Of course, you’ll need to choose and fit your hiking boots too. But even when you have a sturdy pair of walking boots to stand you in good stead for miles, the right pair of hiking socks will help you stay comfy, cool and, most importantly, blister-free. That way, you don’t have to worry about your gear – you can simply enjoy your surroundings, wherever your hike takes you.
Here’s a guide to help you choose what type of socks to wear hiking.

What are hiking socks?

You may be thinking, what’s the difference between a thick pair of socks and hiking socks? And do you really need to invest in them? On a long, strenuous hike, your feet need all the help they can get! So hiking socks should be just as important a purchase as buying your hiking boots. Regular socks will not give the support, comfort, and temperature regulation that you need when hitting the trail. Whereas the right pair of hiking socks will help you carry on regardless of how challenging the terrain is.

How to choose hiking socks for your next hike

If you’re new to choosing hiking socks, it can be a little confusing. There are many types to choose from so it’s worth getting to know the different types of hiking socks on the market, while asking yourself how intense your hiking trip will be.

Different types of hiking socks

Choose your hiking socks based on how intense your hike will be, how hot or cold the climate will be, and whether you’re prone to blisters or not. All these factors will help you pick the right hiking socks for your trip.

• Liner socks – Thinner socks that can be worn underneath your thicker hiking socks. Liner socks help prevent blisters helping to stop friction between your foot and the boot.
• Crew socks – The most common type of hiking sock. Thick and ribbed at the top.
• Double layer socks – Hiking socks with a thick double lining built in for comfort and blister prevention.
• Anti-bacterial socks – Ideal for hotter climates when your feet inevitably sweat, these anti-bacterial socks will wick away the moisture keeping you dry and cool.
• Insect repellent socks – An excellent choice when hot feet attract irritating mosquitoes.
• Padded socks – Some socks have additional underfoot padding and around the toes. This will protect the most vulnerable parts of your feet that are prone to rubbing.
• Flat seamed socks – No seams mean less chance of rubbing.

Credit: Holly Mandarich

How to choose hiking socks that fit right

Make sure you try before you buy your hiking socks if possible. Generally, they’ll come in a size range as opposed to a specific shoe size. So getting the right fit can be tricky. Here are some tips to help you make the right choice.

• Are they too loose? If they’re likely to slide down in your boot, you’re more likely to get blisters as you walk.
• Are they too tight? You don’t want to cut off circulation in your feet – it may become uncomfortable as you walk.
• Do they sit too low on your ankle? With less protection around the ankle, this may cause chafing from the heel or tongue of your walking boot.
• Too high? They may make you a little too hot and agitated as you walk.

hiking socks

Credit: Max Conrad

What kind of socks keep your feet warmest?

Thinking about what socks to wear hiking in colder climates? Or perhaps you’re planning a summer adventure? If you heading to either extreme, you may want to pick up a pair of hiking socks that fit the climate. Consider the material they’re made from and whether you want to stay extra warm or want a temperature regulating material that will keep you cool.

• Natural wool – A natural choice is both insulating and temperature regulating. An ideal choice for winter hiking (depending on the thickness of the wool) that is naturally anti-bacterial and will draw moisture away from your feet.
• Synthetic fibres – Some socks made with a synthetic mix feature effective cooling and moisture control properties. Usually quick drying materials, these are ideal for hotter climates when sweat is likely to cause chafing as you walk.
Cotton – Great at absorbing moisture from feet helping to prevent blisters, cotton walking socks are a great all-rounder for country hikes.
• Combined materials – Most hiking socks are now made with a combination of natural and synthetic fibres helping you get the best of both worlds – insulation, moisture control, and effective padding.

Credit: Benjamin Lossius

What are the best walking socks?

When it comes to choosing what socks to wear for hiking, there really is no correct answer. The important thing to remember is that you must match the type of hiking socks you choose to the activity you’re undertaking, and how much space you have in your boot. If possible, try your new hiking socks with your walking boots before you purchase – this will help you determine if your socks and boots are the best match for you.
Now that you know what socks to wear with hiking boots, all that’s left to do is choose your next trail. Take a look at our hub of walking routes to find your next outdoor adventure.

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