The general rule is that if you’re aware of your hiking socks then something is wrong. True, high-quality socks go about their business without calling attention to themselves and in such a way that your feet never suffer, no matter how many hours you spend on the trail or what the weather. Below we’ve gathered together our choices for the best hiking socks for men.
The Best Hiking Socks
These are highly-structured, handsome, versatile and long-lasting three season socks that can be used as winter hiking socks by adding a decent liner. These Darn Tough merino socks are like butter against your skin and their ability to wick away moisture and maintain a steady temp inside your boots is legendary. Whether you’re hiking the Presidential Range or the Alaska Range you’ll want them in your pack. Our Best Choice. Be sure to combine this with cool water shoes for hiking from our list.
Made from high-quality merino wool.
Structured to cradle your feet and avoid bunching.
Extra cushioning on the bottom.
Hours and days of blister-free performance.
- BrandDarn Tough
- Weight3.2 ounces
The unique material blend of these Danish-designed mens hiking socks makes them some of the most versatile on the market. Whether you’re descending into the Grand Canyon or making the final push up Mont Blanc they’ll keep you warm, dry and blister free. Danish Endurance hiking socks can also be used for skiing, snowboarding, snowshoeing, as running socks or just taking a long walk in the state park. Made in Europe.
An effective blend of merino wool, acrylic and polyamide.
Strong and extremely durable.
Ideal for all but the most extreme conditions.
Natural antibacterial properties.
- BrandDANISH ENDURANCE
- Weight3.04 ounces
Whether you spend long hours on the trail or just work outside you’ll appreciate the comfort and durability of SmartWool hiking socks. Their wool/nylon blend is extremely durable and comfortable and promotes a dry, warm environment in your hiking or work boots. The flat knit toe seam is a blessing for those who can’t stand aggressive seams that chafe and create blisters.
Durable wool/nylon blend.
Highly elastic to conform to your feet.
Ideal for those who tend to sweat a lot.
Flat knit toe seam for extra comfort.
- Weight0.96 ounces
Darn Tough makes their second appearance on our list with this highly effective, durable merino wool hiking sock. The base of the sock has a generous amount of cushioning that helps absorb shock, the seamless construction eliminates chafing and blister points, the antibacterial properties help prevent foul odors and the merino wool/nylon/spandex blend hugs your feet while keep them warm and dry. Make sure you also check our guide to the best no show socks.
Natural antimicrobial properties.
Seamless construction throughout.
Merino wool, nylon and spandex.
Made in USA.
- BrandDarn Tough
- Weight4.8 ounces
If you’re looking for three season hiking socks that won’t break your bank and will last for years the Injinji 2.0 Outdoor Midweight Socks are worth a look. They have articulated toes that help prevent the sock from moving around in your boots and plenty of shock absorbing cushion. In addition, the antibacterial qualities of merino wool, nylon and Lycra mean they won’t irritate sensitive skin. Make sure you also check our guide to the best plantar fasciitis socks.
Merino wool, nylon, Lycra blend.
Ideal for three season camping or hiking.
Articulated toes help keep the sock in place.
1 year manufacturer’s warranty.
- Weight4.3 ounces
SealSkinz are serious hiking socks that hold you firm from heel to toe and stretch through the arch and ankle areas to improve mobility. These socks exhibit equal parts warmth and functionality. They buttress the natural curvature of your foot and prevent your arches from sagging over the course of a long day. One of the few socks on the market that can claim to be “well engineered”. Of course you’re going to pay for that but they’re well worth it. Our Premium Choice. Be sure to also check out our list of the best compression socks for more great items like this.
Mid-length sock with four season capability.
Waterproof socks that are antimicrobial and highly breathable.
Elasticized throughout the instep and ankle.
Proprietary heel construction enhances stability.
- Weight5.8 ounces
In spite of the odious over-the-top branding these socks have an old-school look and feel that’s comfortable and provides plenty of cushioning. Buttons & Pleats are affordable, versatile and will suit you well in all but the most extreme winter conditions. They feel nice and smooth against the skin and hug your anatomy to prevent bunching up inside your boots.
Reinforced heel and toe sections.
Made with ultra-comfortable merino wool.
Fully machine washable.
Stretchable weave grabs your legs and feet.
- BrandButtons & Pleats
These ankle-high Wigwam socks are designed for warm weather hiking. They supply plenty of cushioning and support and the blend of natural and synthetic fibers makes short work of moisture. They’ll hug your feet, stay dry and odor free and carry a lifetime guarantee. If your idea of fun is hitting the trail on a summer weekend these are the socks for you. Don’t forget to always have them handy in your backpacking backpack.
Warm and comfortable ankle-length socks for warm weather hiking.
Made from a blend of cotton, polyester, nylon and spandex.
Extra cushioning on the base to absorb shock.
Machine washable and made in USA.
- Weight1 pounds
Thorlos Thick Padded Crew Sock is designed for those who love their three season hiking and aren’t shy about pushing the limits. The Wick Cool fibers in the blend ensure that regardless of how hot and sweaty things get your feet will stay cool and dry. While the discrete padding in the heel and at the ball of the foot helps absorb shock when you’re pounding the trail. Our selection of the best dress socks offers more great socks like this so check them out.
Polyester, nylon, acrylic blend is highly elastic.
Proprietary Wick Cool fabric keeps feet dry.
Extra padding at major stress points.
Reduces likelihood of abrasions and blisters.
- Weight1.6 ounces
In spite of being maybe the most unattractive hiking socks out there the Randy Sun Waterproof Breathable Sports Socks do an admirable job where it counts: inside your hiking shoes. They keep you warm and dry regardless of the temperature, are comfortable and don’t sag or bunch up no matter how long you’re on the trail. Machine washable with a waterproof interlayer.
Natural antibacterial properties.
Reinforced throughout the heel and toe.
Extra cushion to absorb impacts.
- BrandRANDY SUN
The “PhD” here stands for “Performance in the Highest Degree” and for the most part these SmartWool hiking socks live up to their lofty aspirations. They’re highly breathable, highly flexible, water resistant and comfortable merino wool socks that massage your feet. They feature discrete padding at the heel and toe that protects you from the stresses of the trail. Make sure you also check our guide to the best water socks for more great items like this.
Merino wool, nylon, elastane blend.
Extra padding in the toe and heel sections.
Mesh zones throughout to promote breathability.
Made in the USA.
- Weight4 ounces
Hiking Socks Buying Guide & FAQs
How We Chose Our Selection of Hiking Socks
Quality – Cheap hiking socks are usually blister factories. As such we look for socks made from high-quality materials like wool or a wool/poly blend. These will keep your feet warm and dry and last for several hiking seasons.
Brand – There are lots of good hiking socks out there from small producers. At the same time some larger, more well-known companies sometimes try to slide substandard socks past unsuspecting novices. So we’re watching the labels not necessarily the brand name.
Reviews – If a pair of socks are made from 100% merino wool it won’t really matter what the reviews say. They’re going to be high quality, comfortable, long-lasting socks. Conversely, if a pair of socks is made of cotton it won’t matter if the reviews say they’re greatest thing since sliced bread. We’re not buying. Not for hiking.
Price – What you pay for your socks is up to you but you should never reach for those cotton socks simply because they’re cheaper. We would always suggest you pay a few bucks more and get some nice wool socks. If you have sensitive skin, pick up some polypropylene liners.
Features To Look For In Hiking Socks
Materials – It’s relatively rare for hiking socks to be made of a single material. Most use a blend of natural and synthetic fabrics. Wool is historically the most popular hiking sock material and for a very good reason. It’s warm, comfortable and wicks moisture effectively. Polyester is sometimes blended with wool to facilitate the drying speed of the sock and to improve its durability.
Length – For the most part there are four different lengths of hiking socks:
- No show – No show socks stop at the bottom of the ankle and don’t peek out over the lip of the boot. They’re great for warm weather hiking but make sure you use low rise boots with them.
- Ankle – Ankle socks as the name states cover your ankles and that’s about it. If you’re hiking in warm weather and using mid-cut boots you’ll want to use ankle socks.
- Crew – This type of sock will run a few inches up your shin to provide warmth on cool days and protect your skin from abrasions if you’re wearing high-cut hiking boots.
- Knee – If you expect to be on the mountain for days in sub-freezing weather knee-high socks will help keep your lower legs warm and protect them from abrasion from things like gators.
Hiking Conditions – You should never select hiking socks for a particular outing without first considering the weather conditions you expect to encounter. Even then, because weather conditions on mountain trails can change in minutes, it’s important to take along an extra pair of socks that’s heavier than what you think you’ll need. Just in case.
Layers & Liners – The main advantage of sock liners is that they can protect your feet from the somewhat abrasive qualities of most types of wool. If you have sensitive skin this can be important. Sock liners can also help wick away moisture and they’ll help your socks last a bit longer. At the end of the day however whether you use them is up to you.
Durability – Most of the best hiking socks will last for years if properly cared for. First of all because they’re made of incredibly durable materials like wool and second because you aren’t going to be using them every day like your work socks.
Breathability – Mens hiking socks that trap moisture are the bane of the hiking experience. You want a sock that’s highly breathable to prevent overheating but also because it will allow moisture to escape so your feet are both warm and dry all day long.
Cushioning – Some folks love their cushy socks while others prefer thin hiking socks. Socks with at least some cushioning to them enhance the sense of comfort and help absorb shocks while you’re hiking. Just make sure your hiking boots are able to accommodate thick socks. If they’re not you’ll get blisters and cramps.
Ultra-lightweight – “Ultra-lightweight” most typically refers to sock liners. These can be made from polyester, nylon or polypropylene. Polypro liners weigh almost nothing but provide a valuable layer of warmth and act as a sort of blister guard as well.
Lightweight – These are typically made of a wool, polyester blend but there are some lightweight socks that are 100% wool. While this might seem counterintuitive it’s not really because wool, as we’ve said before, is highly breathable and does a great job of wicking away moisture (sweat).
Mid-weight – Mid-weight socks are three-season socks. That means they’ll serve you well in spring, summer or fall. But they’re not heavy enough for winter mountaineering. They’re typically made of the same kinds of wool/polyester/nylon blends as summer socks but they’re a thicker weave.
Mountaineering – Since mountaineering requires overnight stays in the wild at the coldest time of the year your socks had better be up to the task of keeping your feet warm and dry not only while you’re hiking, but while you’re sitting around for hours in camp at the end of the day.
Hiking Sock Materials – Which is Best?
The consensus choice for best hiking sock material these days is merino wool. Merino wool socks are soft, warm, available in any thickness you need and naturally antibacterial. They also do a great job wicking away moisture which helps prevent blisters, abrasions and stinky-sock syndrome. Lastly merino wool blends easily with other fabrics which makes it a good sock material for spring, summer, fall or winter.
Hiking Socks FAQs
Q: What Are Hiking Socks?
A: In a very real sense hiking socks are foot savers. The best hiking socks for men will transform your hike from a gruesome slog into an enjoyable outing and save you from having to spend weeks dealing with painful blisters. Good hiking socks wick away moisture, cushion your feet, improve the fit of your hiking boots and keep your feet warm no matter how low the mercury drops.
Q: What Makes A Hiking Sock Different Than A Regular Sock?
A: While it’s important for everyday socks to be comfortable their primary function is aesthetic. They need to match the shoes you’re wearing and create a pleasing visual ensemble of color and texture. Hiking socks on the other hand are designed to ensure that no matter how tough the trail or how gnarly the weather your feet remain dry and warm so that you are able to function at a high level. If hiking socks also happen to look great that’s just gravy.
Q: Should I Go Cheap Or Expensive On My Hiking Socks?
A: It’s entirely up to you but with mens hiking socks, as with most things in life, you pretty much get what you pay for. There are plenty of cotton hiking socks out there that look great and won’t cost you much. But when the rain sets in or the temperature drops below freezing you’re going to be in for a very uncomfortable and potentially dangerous experience.
Q: Are My Socks Responsible For My Blisters?
A: Wearing cotton socks that get wet and stay wet is a great way to generate blisters. However it’s not the only way. The blisters may be the result of ill-fitting hiking boots (either too large or too small) or they may be the result of an allergic reaction between your foot and the sock material. If you continually dunk your feet into rivers, streams and puddles you can be wearing the best wool hiking socks on earth and you’ll still stand a good chance of getting blisters.
Q: How Should I Care For My Hiking Socks?
A: Most of the best hiking socks for men will be either 100% wool or a wool blend. Such socks don’t require frequent washing. When it is time to wash them though all you typically need to do is set the washing machine to gentle, turn your socks inside out and toss them in with some mild detergent. Air dry your socks and remember to store them flat and not in balls.