If you’re going to be hiking or walking for exercise or just for enjoyment, you need a pair of the best walking and hiking socks. They are designed to be comfortable and protective no matter whether you’re wearing walking shoes or hiking boots.
Our favorite is the Darn Tough Bear Town 2-Pack. It comes with one men’s pair and one women’s pair, is temperature-regulating, and naturally antimicrobial.
Let’s have a look at other pairs of socks that are ideal for walking and hiking.
Top 3 Best and Favorite
Darn Tough Bear Town 2-Pack
Smartwool Walk Light Crew
Darn Tough Nomad Boot Midweight Hiking Sock
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1. Darn Tough Bear Town 2-Pack
The name says it all. These socks are darn tough and perfect for hiking.
This particular 2-pack contains one pair of men’s and one pair of women’s socks, so it’s ideal for couples who love hiking.
They are made from Merino wool, which is temperature-regulating so your feet will stay cool in the summer months and warm in colder weather. It’s also moisture-wicking so your feet will stay dry even if you’re hiking in the heat and sweating.
A performance fit guarantees no slipping, bunching, or chafing to cause blisters. Fine gauge knitting makes these socks very durable and light on the feet—thanks to True Seamless technology—so you may even forget you’re wearing them.
They are also naturally antimicrobial, so no matter how long you wear them, there’s a very low chance of odor-causing bacteria developing.
Some people may find that these socks fit their feet perfectly, but the ankle and calf sections may be a little tight. These socks come with a lifetime guarantee.
- Undetectable seam fusion
- Naturally antimicrobial
- Lifetime guarantee
- Made from Merino wool
- These socks may feel too narrow around the ankle for some people
Top Overall For Women
2. Smartwool Walk Light Crew
These women’s socks are designed to keep your feet warm in cool weather. They’re crew length so you’ll get the best possible coverage whether you’re walking around the mall or hiking through the mountains.
They are made from a blend of Merino wool, nylon, and elastane. This allows them to keep you warm when necessary but still stay cool in summer, remain highly durable even when used frequently. They are just stretchy enough to be easy to get on and off.
The Smartwool fit system guarantees a comfortable fit on both the foot and the ankle parts of the sock. This is a 2-degree system that incorporates arch support and ankle support into the design of the sock to stop it from moving out of place.
Light cushion underfoot keeps the warmth in and adds to the comfort of these socks. A reinforced sole increases impact absorption and also makes these socks more durable than others.
They also allow the wearer to move comfortably thanks to “flex zones” of waffle knit patterns. A flat-knit seam at the toe prevents painful chafing.
These socks run small so if you are between sizes, order a size larger for a more comfortable fit.
- Light cushioning
- Flat-knit toe seam
- Smartwool fit system
- Waffle knit flex zones
- These socks run small so you may need to buy a size larger
3. Darn Tough Nomad Boot Midweight Hiking Sock
If you are going to be hiking on rough terrain you need good cushioning. While your hiking boots will provide most of the cushion, these socks also offer a generous layer of padding to protect your feet and absorb impact.
They also come up to mid-calf so you have optimal coverage against the elements and debris.
A full-length cushion uses twisted terry yarn loops to provide effective rebound and comfort underfoot. Fine-gauge knitting and undetectable seams reduce the risk of chafing and make these socks feel ultra-comfortable everywhere. They’re designed with a performance fit with no slipping into your shoes or bunching up under your feet.
The Merino wool blend offers the best in terms of breathability, moisture-wicking, quick-drying, and odor resistance. It’s also cool in the heat and warm in the cold so it’s the perfect material for a pair of socks you can wear year-round.
Some people may find that these socks run small or that they’re too tight around the ankle and calf. You may need to order one size up to get a snug fit without being uncomfortable.
Like all Darn Tough socks, the Nomad comes with an unconditional lifetime guarantee.
- Full cushion
- Mid-calf length
- Ultra-smooth fabric blend
- Repels bacteria and odor
- These socks run small/tight so you may need to order one size up
Best For Hot Days
4. Darn Tough Coolmax Hiker Micro Crew Midweight Hiking Sock
When you’re hiking in the heat, you want a sock that protects your feet and keeps them cool at the same time. The Darn Tough Coolmax Hiker is designed specifically for hot weather hiking. It uses Coolmax technology to wick sweat away and dry quickly.
The socks are made from a blend of Coolmax polyester, nylon, acrylic, and Lycra spandex. This not only provides cooling benefits but also helps them to retain heat when the weather turns cold. Whatever conditions you’re in, they also have anti-odor properties so your feet stay fresh on long hikes.
Seamless construction removes chafing hazards at the toe. Their performance fit is designed for active use, and won’t bunch up on your foot, slip out of place or cause blisters.
They’re cushioned but not so cushioned that they retain too much heat in summer. Mid-level padding envelopes the toe and comes up behind the ankle for full underfoot protection.
- Seamless socks
- Coolmax technology
- Anti-odor technology
- Mid-level cushioning
- These socks may run slightly too narrow and feel tight
Top Merino Wool Socks
5. Feetures Merino 10 Cushion Quarter Socks
Once you’ve worn Merino wool socks, it may be hard to do without them! The Feetures Merino crew-length socks are our favorite choice for Merino wool socks.
They possess all the great qualities that Merino wool offers, as well as compression technology and other useful features.
Merino wool is temperature-regulating, so these socks will look after your feet in all conditions. iWick synthetic fibers in each sock remove moisture to keep your feet as dry as possible. If they do happen to get wet while you’re on the trail, Merino+ fibers keep your feet warm even while they’re wet.
To make them as comfortable as possible and reduce chafing, they’ve been designed with a contoured anatomical left/right fit. Also eliminating hotspots for chafing is the Perfect Toe seamless toe and a Y-heel design.
They are also very supportive. A high-density underfoot cushion offers extra protection and impact absorption, and Targeted Compression technology provides extra support in the arch.
These socks are machine washable, but they may become prone to pilling or fraying when washed. Hand washing may be a better option.
- Anatomical left/right design
- Y-heel design
- iWick synthetic fibers
- Targeted Compression
- These socks are prone to pilling after washing
Best Ultra Lightweight
6. Feetures High Performance Ultra Light Quarter
If you prefer socks that feel like they aren’t even there, the Feetures High Performance Ultra Light socks could be the ones for you. Their ¾ length comes to just above the ankle so they protect ankles from debris and dirt.
These socks are extra thin and also have thin cushioning to maintain their lightweight feel. They fit snugly and power bands made of stretchy Lycra wrap around the foot, hugging it for added support.
This tight fit also helps to reduce movement of the sock and prevent chafing which can lead to blisters. Other features that reduce the chance of hotspots and chafing are The Perfect Toe seamless toe and the Y-heel design, which both prevent excess movement of the fabric.
Mesh panels on the top—bridge—of the sock allow for airflow which keeps the feet cool and also makes the sock even lighter. To keep your feet dry, iWick synthetic fibers have been included in the sock.
- Seamless toe
- Light cushioning
- Mesh panel
- iWick fibers
- These socks may feel slippery inside your shoes
Best Warm Socks
7. Smartwool PhD Outdoor Heavy Crew
Keeping your feet warm is essential if you live and run somewhere that gets extreme cold weather. Cold can lead to stiff muscles in the feet, which can be painful to run on and limit your range of mobility.
These heavyweight Merino wool socks are designed to keep your feet toasty in the cold. They are crew-length, which is long enough to prevent gaps between your socks and pants, so breezes don’t creep in.
They’re comfortable as well as warm. Their 4-Degree Elite Fit System contours to your foot, with a flex zone at the ankle for ease of movement. The Virtually Seamless toe provides all-day comfort and drastically reduces the chances of blisters.
Despite being made for warmth, the socks remain breathable, with strategically-placed mesh panels to allow air to circulate effectively. Merino wool is also antimicrobial and prevents the growth of odor-causing bacteria.
Heavy cushioning absorbs shock on every step. Indestructawool technology provides comfort but also ensures maximum durability in areas of high wear and tear.
- Body-mapped mesh zones
- 4-Degree Elite Fit System
- Indestructawool technology
- Thick cushioning
- Individuals with large calf muscles may find the hem to be too tight
Best For Arch Support
8. Rockay Razer
Whether you’re walking or hiking, your shoes should provide adequate arch support.
But if you need more support, the Rockay Razer socks offer excellent arch support as well as a variety of other features.
Rockay is known for making sustainable products, and these socks are made from recycled materials. According to the Rockay website, one purchase of these socks equals 13 plastic bottles being removed from the ocean. They are a perfect gift for environmentally conscious runners.
These socks will offer extra support for your arch thanks to their underfoot arch brace. They are made with a left/right fit, which is important to get right so the arch brace is in the right place. Maximum-thickness cushioning also adds an extra level of support.
Other features that make this a very comfortable and effective sock include a seamless toe for blister prevention, breathable mesh zones for ventilation, and a reflective logo.
One of Rockay’s more interesting features is its anti-odor technology. These socks are treated with Polygiene anti-odour technology, which keeps them fresh but also only needs to be washed every few wears. You can take your socks off after running and let them dry naturally, and you’ll find that no odor develops.
Rockay has a Blister-Free Guarantee, so if you do get a blister while wearing their socks they will refund or replace the socks for you.
Every pair comes with an unconditional lifetime guarantee, so if they develop a hole or wear away, Rockay will replace them at no cost to you.
- Made from 100% recycled materials
- Polygiene anti-odor technology
- Arch support
- Lifetime guarantee
- The socks may be tight around the calf
9. Rockay Flare
If regular socks make your feet feel restricted and stuffy, then the Rockay Flare may be just what you need. They’re made from 100% recycled materials, so you’ll be helping the environment as well as your feet while you’re wearing them.
They feature breathable mesh zones across the foot, to enhance ventilation and keep your feet cool and dry on long treks. Their lower length—just above the ankle—also allows for more ventilation as opposed to longer socks.
Although they are thin, they feature performance cushioning so you have some padding under your feet to absorb shock. Arch support in the form of an arch brace and a seamless construction also add to the support and comfort of this sock.
They also have an anti-odor Polygiene coating to prevent the socks from developing an odor due to bacteria.
- Anti-odor coating
- Mesh zones for breathability
- Performance cushioning
- Seamless construction
- Some may feel that there’s not enough padding in the toe area
Do hiking socks make a difference?
Not all socks are the same. Hiking socks are created specifically to prevent blisters and keep you comfortable on the trail or mountain for longer. Unlike normal socks, they are also designed to offer protection from nature.
Some hiking socks have built-in technology to keep your feet warm, while others are designed to keep your feet cool. Some, like Merino wool, have temperature-regulating properties that do both depending on the climate.
What material is used?
Some common materials used in hiking socks are polyester, nylon, spandex, and Merino wool.
Why are cotton socks not recommended for hiking?
It’s best to stay away from cotton socks as these can cause chafing and also retain heat and moisture. When hiking, one wants cool, dry feet, not warm, wet feet!
What kind of socks keep your feet from sweating?
The best hiking socks need to have moisture-wicking properties to prevent one from having to hike with wet or damp feet.
While these socks will not necessarily stop your feet from sweating, they will remove the moisture from your skin so it can evaporate from the sock’s surface and they often also include quick-drying technology to make sure no moisture has a lasting effect.
Merino wool is known for its moisture-wicking properties, as is synthetic polyester. Some brands have their own patented fabrics, like Nike Coolmax.
What else is there to consider?
Moisture control and quick-drying features are important but they aren’t the only things that make a good hiking sock.
When it comes to the height of the sock, it usually comes down to personal preference. Higher socks will protect your ankles and shins from debris on the hiking trail. As hiking footwear tends to have a higher ankle cuff, higher socks are generally recommended to prevent from chafing against your own footwear.
Socks also come with varying degrees of cushioning. If your shoes are very cushioned, you may feel that a less cushioned sock would suffice. If you feel you need more padding, a more cushioned sock may work better for you.
The fabric you choose is also important. Most hiking socks use Merino wool, but this can be expensive—although it has excellent properties. You may choose to go for nylon or polyester instead.
Also, make sure the socks you choose fit you properly. If they’re too small, you are likely to get blisters from chafing. If they’re too large, you may get blisters or bruises from extra material causing pressure points.