Best Hiking Socks 2022 - Outdoors Magic

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Best Hiking Socks 2022

We’ve trekked for miles in the best hiking socks from leading outdoor brands. Here are our top picks for walking and backpacking

Walking socks may be not the world’s most exciting bit of kit, but they are actually essential items of outdoor clothing. A decent pair of socks can make the difference between excruciating blisters and pain-free hiking. Put simply, finding the best hiking socks equals more comfortable walking. But what makes a good pair of socks?

Brands offer a large and sometimes bewildering range of options. All the socks on test here are designed for hiking, walking and mountaineering, but it’s still important to pick the right sock for you. For year-round walking in the UK for example, we’d go for a mid-weight hiking sock. If you’re mountaineering at higher altitudes, you may want thicker, heavier weight socks, though your toes still need room to move.

“A decent pair of socks can make the difference between excruciating blisters and pain-free hiking”

The best hiking socks are usually ‘mapped’ or ‘zoned’ in construction. This means there are different weights of fabric for different parts of the foot. The heel and ball of the foot usually has a heavier fabric for cushioning and durability. Thinner areas around the top of the foot allow more breathability. A tighter weave around the arch of the foot adds support and helps to keep the sock in place.

Socks also come in different heights. ‘Crew’ socks are most common, coming an inch or so above the top of a boot, but calf and even knee length socks are also available.

Related: Best Walking Poles Reviewed
Related: Best Portable Water Filters

Most socks are made from merino wool, nylon or polyester (or a blend of these fibres), with elastane for stretch. Nylon and polyester are synthetic fibres that are quick-drying and hard-wearing. Merino wool is a natural fibre that stays warm even when wet, is naturally odour-resistant and is very comfortable. It wicks moisture away from the skin too. Basically, merino socks are the best hiking socks. The downsides are that merino is an animal product, and there are instances of animal cruelty in the merino wool industry. Fortunately, most products in the outdoor sector now certify their merino wool.

Best Hiking Socks On Test

With dozens of different hiking socks out there, what should you look for when buying your next pair of socks? This group test highlights the best hiking socks around, comparing features, performance and overall value.

  • Darn Tough Hiker Micro Crew Cushion Socks – Best Walking Socks
  • Teko Discovery Merino Socks
  • Bridgedale Storm Socks
  • Royal Robbins Venture Crew
  • Stance Hike Lite Socks
  • BAM Superluxe Socks
  • Rockay Razer
  • Rohan Trail Sock
  • Patagonia Lightweight Merino Performance Crew
  • Bridgedale Hike Midweight Endurance Socks
  • Darn Tough Decade Stripe

 

BEST BUY: Darn Tough Hiker Micro Crew Socks

Price: £17
Best for: Sports, hiking, everyday wear
Key attributes: Comfortable, durable and guaranteed for life

Darn Tough’s Midweight Hikers are comprised of 61% merino wool, 36% nylon and 3% Lycra. We’d say that’s just about the perfect blend of natural and synthetic fibres for a high performance, long-lasting walking sock.

All Darn Tough’s socks are based on their ‘Performance Fit’, which has been developed over the years to ensure no slipping, no bunching and no blisters. In practice, that means you get a reinforced heel and toe with no prominent or bulky seams, plus a ribbed cuff that is not too tight, not too loose.

The brand also uses a blend of different knitting techniques to provide cushioning, durability and moisture-wicking performance. These crew-length hikers feature terry loops under the foot, which also extends above the ankle for comfort and protection. Fine Gauge Knitting ensures softness, but also makes it less likely for snags or pulls to develop, which is a plus for lifetime durability too.

Aside from the socks themselves, another stand-out feature of all Darn Tough products is that they come with an unconditional lifetime guarantee. If you have an issue with your socks, you can send them back and exchange them for a brand-new pair, no questions asked. And even though Darn Tough is an American brand, the warranty applies internationally, not just in the USA.

Full Specifications

Lifetime guarantee /  61% merino wool, 36% nylon and 3% Lycra / quarter height fit / moisture-wicking, temperature-regulating and naturally anti-microbial / reinforced heel and toe / ribbed cuff / terry looping under foot and above the  ankle / Fine Gauge Knitting throughout.

Selected for the Outdoor 100 2022/23. Read our full Darn Tough Micro Crew review.

BUY NOW: TREKITT.CO.UK

 

Teko Discovery Merino Socks

Price: £19 (pack of two pairs)
Best for: Trail running, hiking, mountain biking
Key attributes: Sustainable, comfortable

If you’re looking for a comfortable pair of socks that can be worn through spring, summer or autumn, these, we reckon, would be the right socks to opt for. They’re a mid-calf height and not too bulky, so they fit well with trail shoes or walking boots, making them a good choice whether you’re running, hiking or even mountain biking. There’s light cushioning under the heel and forefoot and zoned areas for maximum support, plus their merino fabric blend feels really soft and brings those useful natural anti-microbial properties to the table.

 

When it comes to environmentally-conscious gear, these socks also secure maximum points. The merino wool, for instance, comes from the USA and Argentina and is sourced fairly and humanely, while the polyester fibres are made from plastic drinks bottles. On top of all that the polyamide nylon is recycled from commercial fishing nets.

Full Specifications

Available in S, M, L and XL / 30% Merino, 30% recycled Polyester, 38% Polyamide Nylon, 2% elastic / machine washable / light cushioning / seamless toe and anatomical heel / anti-microbial / achilles wrap system / reinforced toe and heel.

Read our full Teko Discovery Merino Socks review.

BUY NOW: TEKOFORLIFE.CO.UK

 

Bridgedale Storm Socks

Price: £32
Best for: Wet weather trail running, hiking, mountain biking
Key attributes: Waterproof, warm

Uniquely among the socks on test here, these Storm Socks from leading sock brand Bridgedale are fully waterproof. They use a three-part construction to achieve this. First is the inner lining, which is made with a 60/40 merino/synthetic blend, chosen for its mix of smooth comfort and anti-odour properties as well as its wicking abilities. A stretchy ‘HydroTech’ waterproof membrane is then laminated to the inner layer. Finally, a tougher nylon outer protects the membrane. Added lycra keeps the sock tight all around. In hot, summery conditions they are too warm and sweaty to wear all day, but they’re a great option to pull on when you get to boggy sections of a walk, or perhaps if you’ve got a river crossing. In wet weather, these are certainly the best hiking socks to wear.

Full Specifications

Fabric blend: Outer 95% nylon, 5% elastane; Inner 45% merino wool, 45% polyester, 7.5% nylon and 2.5% elastane.

Read our full Bridgedale Storm Socks review.

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Royal Robbins Venture Crew

Price: £20
Best for: Hiking, travel
Key attributes: Sustainable, comfortable

Royal Robbins was a legend of American climbing. Not only was he one of the best climbers in the world back in the 1960s but he was also a pioneer of the concept of ‘clean climbing’, basically a set of practices and techniques for climbing big walls with little or no damage to the rock. It’s fair to say that you can see those environmental ethics reflected in his clothing brand as well.

Take the Venture Crew socks, which are made from a fabric blend of hemp, recycled polyester and elastane. Hemp is now regarded as one of the most sustainable textile crops. On top of its eco credentials, hemp yarns are naturally odour resistant, temperature regulating, moisture managing and perhaps most importantly, comfortable. All the right qualities for a sock then. In fact, the Venture has all the softness, cushioning, durability and support that you want from a walking sock.

Full Specifications

Fabric blend: 37% hemp, 7% elastane, 56% polyester and 5% elastane.

Read our full Royal Robbins Venture Crew Sock review.

BUY NOW: ROYALROBBINS.COM

 

Stance Hike Lite Socks

Price: £19
Best for: Summer hiking and everyday wear
Key attributes: Durable, comfortable

Stance is a relatively new company from California, USA. They have quickly established a reputation as makers of some of the best hiking socks out there. The brand’s ‘Feel360’ fabric blend is all about balance, offering a good mix of warmth, durability and comfort. It works well in the Hike Lite socks, which keep the feet warm in cold temperatures while also being able to let them breathe when things heat up. They wick away sweat well and have anti-microbial properties too, reducing the effect of odour-causing bacteria.

In terms of construction, the Hike Lite socks have a fairly thin and stretchy weave, with added heel and toe reinforcement. A terry loop weave has been used to achieve this, adding that extra bit of soft cushioning where it’s needed. The toe box has a completely seamless closure. Overall the Hiker Lite isn’t a sock to call upon for winter hiking – it’s not made for that kind of stuff. But, for summer, when you want ventilation, quick drying and all-round comfort, a pair of these would serve you well.

Full Specifications

Fabric blend: 32% merino wool, 43% nylon, 20% polyester and 5% elastane.

Read our full Stance Hike Lite Sock review.

BUY NOW: STANCE.EU.COM

 

BAM Superluxe Socks

Price: £12
Best for: Summer hiking and everyday wear
Key attributes: Soft, eco-friendly, Vegan-friendly

What’s different about these socks? Well, they’re partly made from bamboo viscose, a sustainable fibre made from crushed bamboo leaves and stems. As a result, these socks have an amazingly silky, almost luxurious feel. They’re also hypoallergenic and anti-static so they won’t irritate skin, and naturally resist the growth of odour-causing bacteria.

They don’t wick quite as well as merino-based socks, probably because in addition to bamboo, the fabric also contains 39% organic cotton. This makes them super soft but not so effective in terms of outright technical performance. Similarly, it may also affect long term durability, though these are light-to-midweight socks rather than chunky hikers. But all the right details are there in the construction: terry looping at the base and toes to add a nice amount of spring cushioning, a rib construction up the ankle which helps for insulation by trapping and holding air, and then an offset and flatlocked toe seam. If you’re a vegan hiker, these should be right up your street, with the bamboo making for a decent substitute for wool.

Full Specifications 

Fabric blend: 40% bamboo viscose, 39% organic cotton, 19% nylon and 2% elastane.

Read our full BAM Superluxe Sock review.

BUY NOW: BAMBOOCLOTHING.CO.UK

Rockay Razer

Price: £18Best for: Trail running, multi-day hiking
Key attributes: Odour-resistant, eco-friendly, comfortable

While these are designed specifically for trail runners, we see them as an ideal option for thru-hikers doing long multi-day walks in warm weather.  It’s the anti-odour treatment we like; it means you can basically wear more, wash less and carry less sock as well. 

What’s more they’re made from 100% recycled materials, which is always good, with 51% Econyl Regenerated Nylon, 45% Recycled Polyamide, and 4% Recycled Elastane. 

Everything about the Razer has been implemented with optimised comfort in mind. Take the seamless toes and performance cushioning, for example. We’d stop just short of saying that the Razer is so cushioned underfoot that you won’t even need shoes when wearing them. They do, however, provide your feet with some superb padding in the places where you need it the most.

To enhance comfort, and minimise sweat, the Razer also has ‘Breathable Mesh Zones.’ These help to keep the air flowing, and stop your feet getting overly stuffy and hot. Perfect for those summer trail runs or fast and light backpacking missions then. 

Full Specifications

Available in men’s and women’s versions / S-XL / multi-packs available / 100% recycled materials / breathable mesh zones / anti-odour / lifetime guarantee.

BUY NOW: ROCKAY.COM

 

Rohan Trail Sock

Price: £19
Best for: Trekking, travel
Key attributes: Cool, breathable, insect-repellent

The Trail Sock’s main USP is an ideal option for long hikes in hot, perhaps exotic, destinations. What we’re looking at here is 78% Coolmax polyester, 18% polyamide, and 4% elastane. This is a good mix of breathability, durability, and stretchability and there are also high wicking and quick drying properties.

It features something called Insect Shield. This is an invisible, odourless, and durable ingredient which repels biting like mosquitoes and ticks. The treatment is so tightly bonded to the fibres that it retains effectiveness for the entirety of the product’s life expectancy.

“Overall, I didn’t have any niggles from them,” said Will, who tested these on backpacking trip through the Brecon Beacons. “Comfort was good. I also liked the slightly thin construction – it meant they were very breathable throughout one of the muggier days I had.”

Full Specifications

Available in men’s and women’s versions and various sizes / 78% coolmax® polyester 18% polyamide 4% lycra elastane / reinforced heel and toe box / embedded Insect Shield.

BUY NOW: ROHAN.CO.UK

Patagonia Lightweight Merino Performance Crew Socks

Price: £20
Best for: Hiking, backpacking
Key attributes: RWS-certified wool, classic Patagonia design, high-quality merino wool build

The Patagonia Merino Crews are a low-calf-height sock so they’ll work well with most low to mid height hiking shoes, including more everyday shoes and perhaps a socks-and-sandals combo too. At 57g, they’re also incredibly lightweight so would be perfect for some multi-day summer hiking adventures, as well as more spontaneous wild camping trips throughout the year.

The primary material of the Merino Performance crew sock is, unsurprisingly, merino wool. In fact, it’s made of 59% RWS-certified merino wool, meaning there’s been extra care involved concerning the protection of the animals used as well as the land they graze.

The remainder of the sock is made from 39% nylon and 2% LYCRA® elastane. All in all, this creates a comfy sock that is both breathable and stretchy, moulding to your feet as they contract and expand throughout the day.

Full Specifications

59 % RWS-certified and PWS-certified merino wool / 39% nylon and 2% LYCRA® elastane / low-calf-height cut / engineered sewing pattern on top / mesh arch brace / soft terry-looped footbed / sizes: small to extra-large (size 2 to 14.5).

BUY NOW: EU.PATAGONIA.COM

 

Bridgedale Hike Midweight Endurance Socks

Price: £18
Best for: Multi-day hiking and backpacking
Key attributes: Warm, durable, soft

The Bridgedale Hike Midweight Endurance socks are designed for long or multi-day expeditions. We liked the fact that they felt like new after every wash, remaining as soft and fluffy as when first worn. Although they contain only only a small percentage of merino, this is blended with regular wool and synthetic fibres to create a good balance of durability, warmth and comfort. Lycra also helps the socks to retain their shape. The socks use a zoned construction, with padding across the bottom of the foot and an elasticated arch. Turning them inside out, the finishing is not very tidy, though this had no detrimental effect. They do seem more likely to snag when you pull them on though. These socks also feel quite warm, so look for one of the company’s lighter socks if you suffer from hot feet.

Full Specifications

Fabric blend: 26% wool, 18% merino wool, 38% nylon/polyamide, 17% endurofil/polypropylene and 1% Lycra elastane.

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Photo: Chris Johnson

Darn Tough Decade Stripe Socks

Price: £23
Best for: Multi-day hiking and backpacking
Key attributes: Seamless construction, cushioned comfiness

With a focus on durability and comfort, the Decade Crew are for adventurers who are hard on their kit. The merino wool blend is also useful in aiding those with sweatier feet. Furthermore, this sock is suited to the environmentally conscious. Darn Tough source all their wool under the Responsible Wool Standard, using naturally sustainable processes, and harming no sheep in the process.

In terms of design features, they boast a stretchy fabric, cushioned fit, featuring terry loops under the foot for comfort and protection. With sizes ranging from 2.5 to 17, there should be a something for everyone. The sock is similarly versatile in its weather performance, offering both warmth for cooler conditions and breathable, moisture-wicking properties for the hotter days.

Full Specifications

Fabric blend: 58% merino wool, 39% nylon, and 3% Lycra spandex.

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