April 16, 2024

A well-fitting pair of hiking socks can make or break your experience on the trail. For comfort, the best hiking socks fit snugly around your foot without sliding or bunching to prevent blisters. They should also be made of breathable materials to keep your feet cool and dry. If you plan to hike in warm weather, look for a lightweight sock that wicks moisture away from your skin and is padded for cushioning in friction-prone areas like the heel and ball of your foot. If you’re looking for sublime warmth, consider a wool-based sock that combines natural and synthetic materials to provide impressive warmth in wet or dry conditions. Examples include the Smartwool Classic Mountaineer Maximum Cushion and REI Co-op Merino Wool Expedition. Wool is a great material for hiking socks because it is naturally moisture-wicking, which means it moves sweat away from your feet to help them stay cool and dry. For the best results, choose a sock that’s 50%-75% super-fine merino wool, with 30-70% nylon or polyester and 1-5% spandex or elastane for flexibility and stretch. This is the ideal ratio for most hiking situations, but if you’re planning high-intensity summer activities, go with a higher percentage of merino wool to improve durability and reduce sweating in hot temperatures. If you’re concerned about the environment or don’t have the budget for a merino sock, REI offers a good alternative in their Coolmax EcoMade Lightweight Hiking Quarter. These are soft and breathable, with enough padding for moderate hiking and backpacking, and they’re backed by REI’s RWS (Responsible Wool Standard) certification to ensure that the sheep that make your wool weren’t raised using harsh chemicals or methods. For a truly environmentally friendly sock that still feels soft and comfortable next to your skin, consider a pair of Injinji Performance Toe Socks. These are a bit more expensive than most other hiking socks, but they’re designed to last with an unconditional lifetime guarantee—though many brands offer warranties with set timeframes such as Smartwool’s two-year guarantee and REI Co-op’s one year for members. wool hiking socks

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