Last updated: August 7, 2021
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Blisters or an unpleasant feeling of pressure on the feet are frequent side effects of long hikes. This can be caused by the wrong choice of hiking boots. However, it can also often occur due to hiking socks that do not fit perfectly. To avoid these problems, the right choice of hiking socks is particularly important. Through functions such as breathability and padding, hiking socks offer a pleasant wearing comfort and good stability while hiking.

With our hiking socks test 2022 we want to enable you to find the most suitable hiking socks for you. In this test, we have compared the most popular materials and looked at the individual purchase criteria. At the end, we also answer the most important questions that may arise when deciding which socks to buy.




Summary

  • Hiking socks can reduce the formation of blisters on hikes and help you experience better wearing comfort. Hiking socks should always be matched to the hiking boots. Hiking socks should fit snugly and go at least to the calves.
  • The breathability of hiking socks is particularly important to prevent moisture build-up. If this occurs, the socks become wet and no climate-regulating function can be guaranteed. There are many different materials that are used to make hiking socks. Merino wool and synthetic blends are the most suitable.
  • Alternatives for hiking socks include compression socks and trekking socks. There are a few basic rules to follow when caring for socks. Especially with cotton, care should be taken.

The Best Hiking Socks: Our Picks

To make it easier for you to choose hiking socks, we present the best products below.

Hiking socks: Buying and review criteria

When buying hiking socks, many criteria can be decisive. We have listed the most important ones below:

We will now go into the individual purchase criteria in more detail to help you with your purchase decision.

Length

There are three different heights to choose from when it comes to the length of hiking socks. Up to the ankle, up to the calf and above the knee. The most important thing to remember here is that the hiking socks should be higher than the shoes. If this is not the case, blisters can form quickly.

Choosing hiking socks that go above the knees can prevent the feet from scraping the calves on contact.

It is best to take your hiking boots into the shop to try them on. This allows you to determine the perfect size and length.

To get the perfect size, you should have it measured in the shop. Normally, your shoe size will be the same as your hiking sock size. However, you may need to take a size smaller so that the socks fit snugly.

Women's hiking socks range in size from 36 to 44 and men's hiking socks range from 39 to 48. Sizes are often listed in groups such as 36-38.

Fit

The best way to find out the fit is to simply try on the hiking socks. It is important to make sure that the socks are not too tight. This can cause the socks to cut in or pinch. However, if the socks are not tight enough on the foot, friction can occur. This can lead to blisters and the wearing comfort decreases.

Hiking socks with seams always pose a certain risk here. That's why we recommend buying seamless products to prevent these problems. Hiking socks without seams lead to fewer blisters and offer more comfort.

Padding

You can buy models with and without padding. However, we definitely recommend taking a model with padding. Cushioning of the heel, ankle and toes is especially recommended, as these areas of the foot are under particular strain when hiking. The padding can counteract a feeling of pressure and the formation of blisters.

Heavy padding can change the size of the shoe.

The non-padded areas should be somewhat thinner so that the foot's climate can be properly regulated. Since the padding also increases the thickness of the socks, the foot is also warmed up more. Therefore, you should also adapt your padding to the season. Depending on how heavy the load will be, you should choose the right padding.

Breathability

Another important criterion when buying hiking socks is breathability. This is particularly important to prevent moisture build-up. This increases the risk of blisters forming.

Shoes should also be breathable.

Moisture also makes it impossible to keep the feet warm. The aim is for the moisture to be wicked away to the outside of the shoe. This should ensure a dry climate at all times.

The material of the hiking socks determines whether this climate can be achieved. Cotton in particular offers little breathability, which means that moisture accumulates in the socks. We will discuss the individual materials in more detail later.

Sock lining

The sock lining can also be a decisive factor when buying a sock. The sock lining is a thin additional layer in the sock. This can increase the wearing comfort even more. There are toe-liner socks. These are produced in such a way that they separate each individual toe. This prevents the toes from rubbing together and blisters are less likely to occur.

Of course, there are also normal liner socks that have lining without separating the toes. Insoles are also becoming more and more popular. The advantage of insoles is that they provide warmth and a more comfortable feeling when walking. Especially for people with knee problems or arthritis, it can be very helpful and pleasant to use insoles.

Walking socks: Frequently asked questions and answers

Many questions will arise when buying hiking socks. That's why we have answered the most important ones in detail here.

Who are hiking socks suitable for?

Hiking socks are recommended for everyone. Especially for people who enjoy hiking. If you have hiking boots, hiking socks are a must. This will give you a much more comfortable walking experience and you will have less risk of developing blisters. People who hike regularly should choose the right material and don't skimp on the price.

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Hiking socks are particularly suitable for people who enjoy longer hikes in nature.
(Image source: Simon English / Unsplash)

But hiking socks are also a good choice for people who rarely go out into nature. Due to the low price, you don't have to invest much and can thus also increase your motivation for hiking a little. Hiking socks can also be used for everyday life. Especially for people with walking problems, hiking socks are a pleasant short-term alternative to insoles.

What types of hiking socks are there?

The different types of hiking socks are mainly determined by the material used. In the following, we will briefly summarise the advantages and disadvantages in a table and then go into more detail about the individual types.

Type Advantages Disadvantages
Cotton very comfortable, long-lasting, high stability not water-absorbent, not insulating
Merino wool climate-regulating effect, antibacterial and anti-fungal effect, perfect fit more expensive than cotton
synthetic blend high breathability, good fit, combination of different materials too much of one material can have negative effects, more expensive than merino wool
classic wool moisture resistant, insulating, inexpensive cannot compete with the new product blends

Cotton

Cotton is a popular product in the production of socks. The material is very comfortable and convinces by its high stability. However, it must be said that this material is not well suited for longer hiking trips. Because the moisture is not absorbed or conducted to the outside, the sock becomes soaked and wet. It loses its shape and the skin softens. This can cause abrasions and blisters very quickly.

Merino wool

Merino wool is obtained from the wool production of sheep from New Zealand. It has many similar properties to normal wool. However, it is slightly softer than normal wool. This creates a feeling of warmth on the feet. Due to the climate-regulating effect, the foot is cooled at high temperatures and warmed at low temperatures.

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Merino wool is one of the most popular materials because of its many advantages. Incidentally, the fabric also has an odour-neutralising effect.
(Image source: Nathan Dumlao / unplash)

Furthermore, the fabric has an antibacterial and anti-fungal effect. Thanks to its high elasticity, a particularly good fit can be achieved. However, you also have to pay more for the quality of merino wool than for cotton.

Synthetic blend

With a synthetic blend, the positive aspects of the individual materials are combined. By using synthetic fibres like nylon and spandex, a high elasticity can be guaranteed. This results in the sock fitting perfectly. The use of Coolmax fibres or polypropylene leads to higher breathability. Moisture can thus be better wicked away.

However, using too much of one material can quickly have negative consequences. In addition, the material mix is in the upper price range.

Classic wool

The last material is classic wool. This also has a good insulating effect and offers a high resistance to moisture. It is also much cheaper than competing materials such as merino wool or synthetic fibres. However, they are now increasingly being replaced by the new products and the additional benefits they offer.

How much do hiking socks cost?

The price can be a decisive criterion for many people. However, you should not save too much here, as it can have a big impact on wearing comfort. In the following table we have listed the price ranges of the individual materials.

Type Price
Cotton 10-15 €
Merino wool 20-25 €
Synthetic blend 25-30 €
Classic wool 5-10 €

What are the alternatives to hiking socks?

There are 2 alternatives to hiking socks:

Trekking socks

Trekking socks are very similar to hiking socks. The only difference is that they have a little more padding. This is mainly because trekking boots are also different from hiking boots.

Trekking boots are not as flexible, which makes thicker padding very comfortable. On trekking tours, the backpack is often a bit heavier, which increases the strain on the feet. Here, too, padding is useful to cushion the weight.

Compression stockings

Compression socks can be used to achieve a very close fit. This has a number of advantages, as mentioned earlier. One of these is less friction and therefore fewer blisters. This is prevented by the slipping of the socks and less formation of wrinkles.

In addition, there is better blood circulation, which makes you feel more secure in your footing. However, due to the tight fit, these socks are not suitable for diabetics.

What are the special features of hiking socks?

There are some special features of hiking socks that we have listed here:

  • Double layer socks: Wearing double-layered socks reduces the risk of blisters. This has the same effect as wearing two socks on top of each other. A new trend is hiking socks with nubs. Again, this reduces the risk of blisters because the sock slips less.
  • Hiking socks with silver threads: The antibacterial and odour-inhibiting effect of hiking socks with silver threads has not been proven. In contrast, the silver threads can lead to resistance to germs, which is why this material is not recommended.
  • Ecological hiking socks: There is also a range of ecological products in the field of hiking socks. The important thing here is that the materials used have been produced ecologically. This can be easily recognised by an organic seal.
  • Hiking socks for diabetics: In order for hiking socks to be suitable for diabetics, you have to make sure that there is no compression. Hiking socks without elastic for the waistband are also very suitable for this.
  • Hiking socks for children: When buying hiking socks for children, make sure that they fit well. As soon as the child associates the hiking experience with painful blisters, it becomes more difficult to get him or her excited about it again.

How do I care for hiking socks?

There are a few basic rules for the care of hiking socks:

  1. Always look for information about care on the product.
  2. If no information can be found, the material determines the care process.
  3. Do not use fabric softener or detergent.
  4. In general, it can be said that a 30 degree wash cycle, without using the above-mentioned agents, is on the safe side.
  5. Socks should always be dried on a clothesline. The use of a dryer is not recommended.

All these points should be observed so as not to weaken the function of the hiking socks. These include breathability and moisture wicking.

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The socks should be dry after 6 to 7 hours. The prerequisite for this is low humidity and a moderate temperature.
(Image source: Nick Page / Unsplash)

For most materials, such as synthetic blends or merino wool, you can simply apply the points above. For cotton, choose the gentlest possible wash cycle up to 40 degrees. At higher temperatures, there is a risk that the socks could shrink.

Conclusion

In summary, hiking socks offer many advantages. They are not only suitable for use on hikes, but can also be used in everyday life. The blending of materials creates many new advantages. Blisters or damp feet can be prevented by wearing hiking socks. The padding makes hiking socks perfect for cushioning a hard surface or on long hikes.

When buying hiking boots, you should always make sure you choose the right hiking socks. You should never skimp on this, otherwise the quality can suffer. If you pay attention to all the criteria discussed in this article, you should have no problem finding the perfect hiking socks for you. Then nothing will stand in the way of your next hiking adventures.

Image source: rdonar / 123rf

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