When you're ready to hit the road, the last thing you want to think about is your feet. When your shoes start to distract from the landscape, that's a bad sign. At the end of the day, you probably don't want to finish your hike with blisters, injuries, or swollen legs.
The best time to consider hiking socks is before you start your adventure. By planning ahead now, you can avoid heartache and discomfort later. Before you buy a pair of hiking socks, consider how and where you plan to wear them.
Ask yourself a few questions:
What type of terrain am I exploring?
Am I going for a short hike or a multi-day long trip?
Will I wear my new socks and high boots or a low-key trail runner?
Do most of my hikes take place in warm or cold weather?
With so many options, you'll need to narrow down your options to find the best hiking socks for your lifestyle. We recommend evaluating socks based on fabric, length, function, cost, design and fit.
Once you start shopping, you'll notice that most hiking socks contain some mix of wool and synthetic materials. You can find socks made from 100% wool, but they tend to deform over time, which can create uncomfortable bunching. For this reason, most manufacturers offer socks made from a combination of wool and other high-performance fabrics.
Many synthetic fabrics are now more odor resistant and dry faster than non-synthetic socks. The breathability issues common to older polyester socks have been reduced or eliminated. For the first time, there is fierce competition in wool blends.
Hiking socks are available in a variety of lengths, including no show socks, ankle socks, micro crew socks, crew socks and knee socks. When choosing a sock length, you need to consider the shoes or boots you will be wearing when hiking. If you pair faceless socks with tall hiking boots, you'll create friction between the boots and your bare skin. This can lead to blisters and bruising, so it's best to protect yourself with proper covering.
Many people choose knee socks because they can be worn with a variety of different shoes. At the end of the day, sock length is a matter of preference. In the past, knee socks were considered ideal for cold weather and rough terrain. Today, innovative fabrics make knee socks an excellent choice for any climate.
knee length compression
Compression stockings have long been a popular choice for hikers looking to reduce swelling and pain. Although they come in a range of different lengths, including ankle and knee high, not all compression socks have the same medical benefits.
Only taller socks provide progressive compression, a pressure gradient from the foot to the calf. Research shows that this form of compression therapy promotes good circulation and promotes healthy venous return. So if you're looking for the medical benefits of progressive pressure therapy, try to find socks that hit the upper calf.
Some socks offer special features designed to improve your hiking experience. We've outlined some perks that can enhance long, short and overnight hikes.
If you enjoy long walks, look for socks with medium cushioning in the toe and heel. The hand-attached toe cap (instead of seams) won't rub against your toes, so it's a great option for all-day adventures.
Look for socks that absorb moisture, especially nylon-blend socks, as they can withstand changing weather conditions. For colder temperatures, you may want to choose heavy or medium weight socks for an added layer of cold protection.
For shorter hikes, opt for light cushioning and a lower profile. Lightweight synthetic-blend fabric is great for fast jogs on local trails, especially if you don't want to feel the weight or warmth of wool.
Since you won't be wearing new socks all day, short hikes provide an ideal opportunity to test out unusual gear. You might want to try something funky like a toe sock with five separate toe compartments. Wear lined socks if you want an extra layer of protection under another pair of soles. Short hikes are a great time to test drive unusual features.
For backpacking and overnight trips, we recommend bringing socks that don't need to be washed after each wear. In particular, choose fabrics that reduce odor and sweat to increase the number of uses before each wash.
Graded compression is another smart option for multi-day trips. Knee-length stockings have been shown to improve functional recovery in runners. The scientists found that cyclists who wore compression gear during recovery also saw improvements in subsequent exercise performance. Many studies of different types of athletes have shown similar results. Research shows that compression can help you perform better after exercise.
If you're hoping to go the extra mile tomorrow, be sure to bring a pair of compression socks. They may shorten your recovery time and start each day strong.
Most hiking socks range from $15 to $40. Generally, ankle socks and crew socks cost less than knee socks.
This may seem expensive compared to regular socks, but you can also find promotional offers to make your purchase more affordable.
How much a hiker spends on socks is often a matter of personal preference. Socks have a more direct impact on your experience than some other gear than other camping and sports gear. And, surprisingly, the range between the most expensive and cheapest socks isn't very large.
When purchasing socks, be sure to check the manufacturer's guarantee and return policy. You can also read product reviews to make sure you're getting your money's worth.
Most traditional hiking socks at major sporting goods stores have a special aesthetic. When you think of these socks, you probably think of taupe, ribbed, and fleece. To be fair, wool fibers do have some limitations. High-tech fabrics are suitable for a wider variety of designs.
Fortunately, in recent years, manufacturers have used modern materials to produce hiking socks that look very stylish. You can find great-looking options without sacrificing function, so don't hesitate to look for socks that reflect your personal style.
Finding the most comfortable socks often comes down to fit.
Proper sizing is key to preventing blisters. You need socks that wrap your calves, ankles, and feet while moving easily. If your sock is too loose on your leg, it may start to sag. Too tight and it might cut off the loop.
You're more likely to develop heel and toe blisters when your socks don't fit your feet. Check to make sure your toes are aligned with the toe box and your heels fit into the heel cup.
Look for socks with extended size options, such as extra calf width measurements, so you don't rely solely on shoe size when purchasing.
Finally, before you set off, make sure your new hiking socks don't sag or fray. If you choose the right size and style, your new gear should stay put no matter where you are.
Why do you need compression socks for hiking?
Our continental neighbours have grown accustomed to the idea of hiking in compression socks, designed and manufactured for this purpose, but the concept of compression socks for leisure activities is still relatively new in the UK. More and more British runners are switching to compression socks - to reduce the risk of injury, maintain muscle energy and fight blisters. For hikers, the same benefits apply, just put on compression hiking socks.
So, how do compression socks work? Circulation-promoting compression in the fabric knit works against gravity to ensure blood doesn't pool and swell in the foot and ankle. Compression support protects the ankle from injury and minimizes micromuscular tears from the vibrations of each step. You're protected from this micro-injury that can leave your calf muscles sore and tired the day after a hike.
The compression profile in the sock, the comfortable compression "squeeze" is firmest at the ankle, working with the pumping action of the calf muscles to promote blood flow back to the heart. This means that blood waste products (such as lactic acid) are effectively removed and the blood is re-oxygenated.
The seamless knit ensures your feet are protected from blisters. Many of us have experienced walks ruined by blisters. The hiking socks are designed specifically for the left and right feet, with padded, seam-free areas to prevent chafing and provide excellent comfort. No more blisters on toes and ankles. Long live!
"But won't the pressure in the socks heat my feet and legs?" you might ask. High-tech yarns have been developed to absorb heat and sweat from the calf muscles, so runners can wear compression socks or calf sleeves on warmer days. The cooling effect of evaporating water means the muscles will not overheat and will benefit from the cooling effect of the high-tech yarns.
Top 5 Hiking Tips
A great day of hiking starts with your feet.
Comfortable and supportive footwear is a must, but it's also important to make sure your walking shoes or boots have an unrestricted toe area. This slight tightness will only get worse as you walk, especially on a warm day!
Reduce/eliminate the risk of blisters, so choose your socks wisely.
Multiple packs of discounted walking socks may seem like a good deal, but you'll end up soaking in sweat and causing the socks to rub, leading to painful blisters. Choose socks that are breathable, seamless around the toe area, and padded around the ankle and Achilles tendon.
Keep your toenails short!
Bruised toenails can be uncomfortable at best and don't look good when you want to wear sandals, at worst they can make you change your walking gait which can lead to knee and hip strain. The best way to avoid damaging your toenails is to pay attention to 1. above, but it's also important to trim your toenails well beforehand. The key is to make sure the toenails don't get the repeated impact of the end of the shoe or boot on any downhill section of the walk.
Bring a spare layer of clothing.
Temperatures in the mountains drop significantly if clouds come in - even in summer. Wear a hat and sunscreen in midsummer, even if there is a cool breeze or a little cloudy. The sun is still going strong. Drink water regularly and our thirst response is lazy, so you may be dehydrated without even realizing it.
Always overestimate how long it will take to walk.
Give yourself an extra hour to walk 5 miles or more, especially if it's a new walk. Stopping to take photos, standing for a while in the landscape for a drink, grabbing a snack, or even going slightly off course will take up your estimated walking time.