If you’re going to be even moderately serious about hiking, you’re going to have to ditch the old cotton socks you can grab at Walmart. Cotton socks are awful for hitting the trail because they don’t wick away moisture. Instead, they trap moisture near your foot, leading to blisters and cold feet.
Good hiking socks are made up of a blend of fabrics; often polyester, nylon, and wool.
The most trusted material in hiking socks is merino wool. Merino wool comes from Merino sheep which originated in Spain but are now more common in New Zealand and Austrailia.
The wool of any Merino sheep, whether reared in Spain or elsewhere, is “merino wool.” However, not all merino sheep produce wool suitable for clothing, and especially for clothing worn next to the skin. It depends on the particular strain of the breed. Merino sheep bred for meat do not produce a fleece with a fine enough staple for this purpose.
I’ve tried a lot of different Merino blend hiking socks, and I think I’ve settled on a new favorite.
The Darn Tough Merino Wool Hiker is now at the top of my list. They’re comfortable, they’re warm, they wick away moisture quickly, and they don’t itch. However, what puts them at the top of my list, is that they’re durable.
Have doubts? I did too, so I did some digging into their lifetime warranty. I was expecting to find complex forms full of fine print. Nope, if your Darn Tough socks are not the most comfortable, durable and best fitting socks you have ever owned, return them for another pair. No strings. No conditions. For life.
Even their return form is simple.
They’re made up of 66% merino wool, 32% nylon, 2% lycra spandex
Smartwool PhD Outdoor Medium Crew
For years I was a big believer in the Smartwool PhD Outdoor Medium Crew. From a warmth, and comfort standpoint the Smartwools are incredible. They wick away moisture to help prevent blisters, and they have great cushioning. Honestly, if I were heading somewhere extremely fridged, I’d probably go with the Smartwools over the Darn Toughs.
Honestly, if I were heading somewhere extremely fridged, I’d probably go with the Smartwools over the Darn Toughs.
But the Smartwools have come up a little short for me when it comes to durability. When you pay $15-$25 for a pair of socks, you expect a lot. My Smartwools have rubbed a few holes after moderate wear and that’s what made me stray to the Darn Tough Hikers.
They’re made up of 67% merino wool, 31% nylon, 2% elastane
Wigwam Hiking Outdoor Pro
Need hiking socks but think it’s insane to spend more than $20 a pair. Go with the Wigwams. I like to buy this brand for my kids because they’ll likely out grow them in a season anyhow.
The Wigwams are just a durable as the Darn Tough socks but only carry a two-year warranty.
There is some comfort sacrificed with the less expensive Wigwams. They feel bulky to me, and they also feel a little loose above the ankle.
No merino wool in these bad boys and that’s how Wigwam can hit the lower price point.
41% polypropylene, 34% acrylic, 23% stretch nylon, 1% stretch polyester, 1% spandex