Having the right equipment and clothing is paramount when heading out on a hike, even when it comes to something as seemingly simple as a pair of the best walking socks.
After all, we take the time to find the best walking boots, so we should also care how our choice of socks will impact their comfort and performance.
The best hiking socks are designed to be lightweight, breathable, and most importantly, prevent blisters. Put another way, they offer you protection that you would not otherwise get from a more standard trainer sock.
However, with so many walking socks on offer and with such a broad range of prices, materials and styles, it can be difficult to find a pair to best suit your needs.
Below, you will find a selection of the best walking socks available. This is not a definitive list but it should give you an idea of what good-quality hiking socks are available for a range of climates, walk-lengths and conditions.
How to choose the best walking socks
The best hiking socks should be breathable, comfortable and provide warmth if needed. This makes choosing the right material essential.
For example, wool is often found in thermal walking socks because it is good at insulation. Merino wool, which is extra fine, is a particularly good material for walking socks because of how well it manages moisture and sweat. In addition, many find it less itchy than traditional wool.
Synthetic materials such as those from Smartwool and Coolmax are also common. These man-made materials are designed to improve on the weaknesses of the more traditional materials like cotton and wool.
Man-made materials are typically more durable and can have additional features such as waterproofing.
What are the best walking socks to prevent blisters?
Choosing the correct material is key when it comes to preventing blisters, too. Materials such as cotton can often retain heat and do not deal with moisture well. Damp socks, from rain or sweat, can cause chafing, which can lead to blisters.
Another option is double-layer socks. The two layers of material reduce friction to prevent blisters from forming.
Finally the length of the sock should be a consideration. To fit well, the sock should finish a little higher than your walking boot or shoe. This will minimise the chance of the footwear rubbing and keep the sock from slipping down.
The best socks for walking and hiking in 2021
Choosing the best hiking socks may seem like a menial task but it can make a huge difference on your performance and comfort during a walk. Here is a selection of the best walking socks available right now — all weather and climates considered.
SmartWool Hike Light Crew Socks
Made from a Merino wool rich blend, this ankle sock is designed to keep your feet warm but moisture-free during long walks. Additional support is provided by arch brace and cushioning. The socks even have a flat-knit toe seam to reduce the chance of any rubbing.
Bridgedale Heavyweight Merino Endurance Socks
Those venturing out into colder climates may benefit from a pair of Bridgedale’s heavyweight merino endurance socks. The blend is tough, dense and wool-rich and there is cushioning throughout the sock. They are also seam-free on the toes and have elasticated support.
Rockay Razer Trail Socks
Designed to be a trail runner’s sock, the Rockay Razer has performance cushioning, breathable mesh zones and an anti-odour coating. Made from a combination of nylon, polyamide and elastane, all the materials used are 100% recycled. The brand also guarantee that your feet with stay blister-free.
Bridgedale Coolmax Liner Socks
A DofE recommend product, the Coolmax liner socks from Bridgedale can be worn on their own for summer hikes or as a baselayer under thicker socks to keep your feet feeling dry and fresh. The heel, ankle and toe are also reinforced to make the socks more durable and prevent blisters.
SealSkinz All Weather Socks
SealSkinz’s socks promise to be 100% waterproof, windproof and breathable so that you can use them throughout the UK’s changeable weather seasons. The lining is made from Merino wool to provide that moisture control and there is additional padding for comfort.
National Trust Hiking Socks
This unisex sock is a good option for day hikes and mild climates. Made from Merino wool, the socks are designed to be breathable for the best possible comfort. This is combined with a heavy full cushion sole.
- Buy now from National Trust (£12)
Jack Wolfskin Hiking Pro Classic Cut Socks
A cheaper option than some on this list, the classic cut sock is designed to be paired with a lightweight, mid-cut hiking boot. Best suited for day hikes, there is additional padding around the Achilles tendon, ankle, instep, toes and high stress zones on the sole of the foot.
1000 Miles Wool Fusion Socks
Constructed to be blister-free, 1000 Mile’s socks are double layered to stop friction between the foot and shoe. Made from 40% Merino wool, extra padding is also provided on comfort zones around the Archilles tendon, heel, toe and ball of the foot.