Best Hiking Socks 2020 | Wicking, Padded and Snug Options To Keep Those Blisters To A Minimum - Outdoors Magic

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Best Hiking Socks 2020 | Wicking, Padded and Snug Options To Keep Those Blisters To A Minimum

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
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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.

  • Teko Discovery Merino Socks – Best Pair of Walking Socks
  • Darn Tough Hiker Micro Crew Cushion Socks
  • Bridgedale Storm Socks
  • Stance Hike Lite Socks
  • Stance Bezel Outdoor Socks
  • Rockay Razer
  • Rohan Trail Sock
  • 1000 Mile 3 Season Walk Socks
  • Bridgedale Hike Midweight Endurance Socks

 

 

BEST BUY: Teko Discovery Merino Socks

Price: £19 (pack of two pairs)

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.

Get the latest price at:
tekoforlife.co.uk

 

 

Darn Tough Hiker Kelso Micro Crew Light Cushion Sock

Price: £19

Whether you’re going for a long hike, taking part in sport, or just chilling at home the Darn Tough Kelso Micro Crew Light Cushion Sock has got you covered and then some.

This sock is 52% nylon, 45% merino wool, and 3% lycra spandex. The merino wool brings comforting breathability to the party, as well as quick-drying and stink-fighting properties; the nylon adds durability; and the little bit of lycra spandex helps with the stretch – leaving you with a super tough sock that works with your foot rather than against it.

The fine gauge knitting here delivers superb durability and, as far as Darn Tough are concerned, a “put it on, forget it’s on” feel. This special level of comfort is heightened further by the True Seamless construction. This helps to give the sock an ultra smooth, invisible, feel.

On top of all that, you get a lifetime guarantee with these. “No strings. No conditions. For life.” Not bad.

Full Specifications

Available in men’s and women’s designs and sizes / fabric blend: 52% nylon, 45% merino wool, and 3% lycra spandex / light cushion / micro crew height.

Selected for the Outdoor 100 2020/21 Read our full Darn Tough Kelso Micro Crew.

Get the latest price at:
darntough.com

Bridgedale Storm Socks

Price: £32

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.

Get the latest price at:
bridgedale.com

Stance Hike Lite Socks

Price: £19

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.

Get the latest price:
stance.eu.com

Stance Bezel Outdoor Socks

Price: £19

Another offering from Stance, these women’s-specific socks are made from a comfortable merino wool blend. They have a reinforced heel and toe to increase the lifespan of the socks and also to protect your feet from blisters. The seamless toe closure is a secondary design technique that helps to prevent any rubbing. A tighter fabric weave around the arch also provides compression and support where it’s needed. The ankle cuff is a medium length so it will come just over your boot. It’s high enough to tuck your socks into but not so high that it will give too much coverage for hot days. They also come in a refreshingly on-trend range of colours and designs.

Full Specifications 

Fabric blend: 42% merino wool, 32% polyester, 12% nylon and 3% elastane

Read our full Stance Bezel Outdoor Sock review.

Get the latest price:
stance.eu.com

Rockay Razer

Price: £20

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.

Get the latest price at:
rockay.com

 

Rohan Trail Sock

Price: £15

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.

Get the latest price at:
rohan.co.uk

1000 Mile 3 Season Walk Socks

Price: £13

This excellently-named British brand makes socks that will last. They’re also particularly proud of their double layer anti-blister system, described as ‘a sock within a sock’. The idea is that the inner layer of the sock stays on your foot while the outer layer moves with your shoe. This eliminates skin friction, the cause of blisters. In our experience, it worked well and our feet certainly remained blister-free.

These have the highest merino wool content of all the socks tested here. Zoned construction provides cushioned areas at the toe, ankle, ball and heel that also extend over the Achilles tendon. Inside out, the stitching is definitely not as tidy as others, and the fabric is stretchier too, though that’s not necessarily a criticism. The brand also makes lighter and heavier weight hiking socks.

Another excellent pair of socks that should last the distance, with a ‘no blister’ guarantee to boot.

Full Specifications

Fabric blend: 80% merino wool, 19% nylon and 1% elastane

Get the latest price at:
1000mile.co.uk

Bridgedale Hike Midweight Endurance Socks

Price: £18

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.

Get the latest price:
bridgedale.com

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