Best Hiking Socks of 2021: Protect & Insulate

Woman Wearing the Best Hiking Socks
Image by THP Stock / Canva

Just a pair of socks? We think not! Without the right pair of socks, even the most comfortable of hiking boots can leave you with blisters, sweaty toes, and aching feet. This list of the top seven best hiking socks will help you select a well-fitting pair of socks that will work together with your shoes to keep your feet kicking in high gear all day long.

Our Top Picks: Best Hiking Socks

Short on time? Let’s bottom-line it:

  • Best Overall: S7 Multi-PerformanceThese durable hiking socks are everything they should be: high-quality, cushioned for added support, elastic to stay in place, and available in multiple color and style combinations — all at a reasonable price!
  • Best Eco-Friendly: Rockay AccelerateWhat’s better than lightweight, breathable hiking socks? Responsibly-produced hiking socks made of 100% recycled ocean plastic waste!
  • Best Budget: Thorlos Thick CushionFor when money doesn’t grow on trees, consider these thickly-cushioned hiking socks with revolutionary instep padding that will last through years of abuse without breaking the bank.
  • Best Waterproof: S7 Bio ClimbingThere may be no such thing as waterproof socks, but these quick-drying babies are definitely the next best thing! 
  • Best Liner Socks: Bridgedale UltralightWhether you wear these as liners under other hiking socks, or as lightweight hiking socks themselves, these liners will wick away moisture, prevent blisters, and keep your feet feeling fresh with their antibacterial properties.
  • Best for Summer: Darn Tough CoolMaxBeat the heat with these lightweight, breathable, moisture-wicking socks explicitly designed to keep your feet cool and dry under the hot summer sun.
  • Best for Winter: DG Hill ThermalWith 20% more Merino wool than other leading competitors, these soft and cushiony winter hiking socks will keep your feet warm in sub-zero temperatures.

1. SEOULSTORY7 Multi Performance Cushion Hiking Socks

The best hiking socks overall

S7

Brand: SEOULSTORY7 | Material: Cotton/Spandex/Polyester | Type: Midweight | Cut: Crew | Price: 💰💰

SEOULSTORY7 (or S7, for short) is a well-respected brand of outdoor gear. Their classic multi-performance hiking socks tick all the most important boxes: they feature excellent quality, cushiony support, multiple style options, and a reasonable price tag.

Padding along the heel helps absorb some of the impact of walking, which reduces aches and pains. This padding can also help prevent the formation of blisters. The material, a cotton-poly blend, wicks moisture from your skin to keep your feet cool and dry even on those hot summer days. Less moisture means less odor, and also helps reduce chafing!

The elasticity around the band and throughout the entire sock ensures a snug, comfortable fit that stays in place over uneven terrain and keeps out debris and water. This multi-pack comes with multiple stylish color and design combinations, so there’s something to match every outfit.

  • Great staying power across all types of footwear thanks to 360 elasticity
  • Keep feet warm in colder weather without being bulky or too hot in summer
  • Soft material conforms to the shape of your foot but retains structure for long-lasting use

  • Some reviewers noted that the seam along the toes, when positioned incorrectly, caused chafing
  • While most reviewers found the foot part of the sock sized well, a few had trouble with the ankle section being too tight

2. Rockay Accelerate Anti-Blister Running Socks

The best eco-friendly hiking socks

Rockay Socks

Brand: Rockay | Material: Merino Wool/Polyamide | Type: Mountaineering | Cut: Ankle | Price: 💰💰

If you’re a hiker, you must love the great outdoors — and if you love the great outdoors, of course you want to protect them! What better way to do that than to grab a pair of socks made from 100% recycled materials? Pretty cool, right? But that’s not all! The company is so dedicated to the environment that they collect 125 grams of plastic from the ocean for every single pair of socks sold!

Oh, and the socks are pretty kickass, too. The Rockay Accelerate Anti-Blister Running Socks are designed with Polygiene technology that dries quickly after getting wet, meaning they’re all but odor-free. This technology also minimizes the need for washing and drying, which minimizes your water and power consumption.

While these running socks are not your traditional hiking apparel, they’re worthy of making our list. They fit snugly without constricting to stay securely in place as you run or hike over uneven, rocky terrains. The wide elastic strip at the top hugs your ankle, preventing sliding down (which causes blisters) and creating a superior seal to keep out water, dirt, and debris. Strategically-placed ventilation zones help keep your feet feeling cool, while the breathable material helps them stay dry. All of these features together have reviewers calling them the best hiking socks to prevent blisters! 

  • Lightweight, breathable design perfect for warmer weather
  • Ergonomic arch support that cradles the foot and reduces aches
  • Truly anti-blister, and perfect for all-day walking, running, and hiking

  • Fairly expensive
  • Ankle height isn’t very compatible with taller hiking boots

3. Thorlos Thick Cushion Hiking Crew Sock

The best hiking socks on a budget

Thorlos Hiking Socks

Brand: Thorlos | Material: Acrylic/Nylon/Elastic | Type: Midweight | Cut: Crew | Price: 💰

Socks are a pretty inexpensive investment, generally speaking, but they can get pretty up there when it comes to hiking socks. The Thorlo Thick Cushion Hiking Crew Sock is the exception, ringing up under $20 no matter which size and color you choose.

In addition to vital heel padding, these cushy socks have instep padding. The instep padding helps further reduce impact stress on your joints and more evenly distributes pressure to relieve aches, pains, and the chance of blisters. Moisture-wicking capability helps keep your feet dry and smell-free, while the ventilation paneling circulates air to keep your feet feeling fresh all day long. 

  • Long-lasting construction withstands years of use
  • The instep padding makes all the difference in sore feet
  • Thickness keeps them securely in place no matter how long you hike

  • The sizing appears to run a size or so small
  • For midweight socks, they’re pretty thick, and best suited for colder weather

4. SEOULSTORY7 Bio Climbing DryCool Cushion Hiking Socks

The best waterproof hiking socks

S7 DryCool Socks

Brand: SEOULSTORY7 | Material: Cotton/Polyester/Spandex | Type: Midweight | Cut: Crew | Price: 💰💰

While there’s no such thing as truly “waterproof” socks (and even if there were, they’d probably trap moisture and sweat in, rather than wicking it away), S7 makes our list again with their Bio Climbing DryCool Cushion Hiking and Performance Crew Socks.

With fast-drying DryCool technology, these socks not only wick away moisture from your feet to keep them dry, but can also go from soaking wet to bone-dry in a flash. They dry so fast that it doesn’t matter if your feet get wet — they’ll be dry again in no time, which is almost as good as being completely waterproof in the first place. 

These hiking socks feature both heel and ball padding, so your foot is cushioned against impact stress across all kinds of terrain. The antibacterial materials keep your feet feeling fresh and odor-free all day long. At the same time, all-around elasticity ensures a snug, comfortable fit that won’t bunch up or slide down, thus reducing the risk of blisters. 

  • Extra padding keeps feet comfortable and reduces aches and pains
  • Dry incredibly fast — one reviewer noted their wet socks were dry after 10 minutes in the sun!
  • Durable construction holds its shape and offers fast-drying, anti-odor benefits, and moisture-wicking over years of use

  • Thin design isn’t warm enough for cold-weather hiking
  • Wide toe seam can be uncomfortable if not positioned correctly

5. Bridgedale Ultralight Coolmax Liner Sock

The best liner socks for hiking

Bridgedale Hiking Socks

Brand: Bridgedale | Material: Coolmax/Nylon/Endurofil/Lycra | Type: Lightweight/Liner | Cut: Mid-Calf | Price: 💰💰💰

Most liner socks are worn underneath regular hiking socks. But Bridgedale claims that their Coolmax Liners can be worn alone just as comfortably, making them the best lightweight hiking socks available.

Whichever way you wear, these breathable socks will help prevent blisters and make sure your feet stay cool and comfortable by guarding against moisture build-up. Rather than sweating into your high-quality, expensive hiking socks, sweat into these liners that are built to handle frequent washes. For longer trips, you can bring one pair of heavy hiking socks and multiple liners to switch out every day, making your pack lighter for backpacking and saving valuable space for other vital gear.

  • Coolmax material wicks away moisture like no other
  • Truly anti-blister, whether used as a liner or stand-alone sock
  • Snug fit is comfortable and stays securely in place all the way up the calf with no sliding down

  • On the more expensive side for liners
  • Their odor-reducing capabilities are not nearly as strong as their moisture-wicking capabilities 

6. Darn Tough Coolmax Midweight Hiking Socks

The best summer hiking socks

DarnTough Coolmax

Brand: Darn Tough | Material: Merino Wool/Nylon/Lycra | Type: Lightweight | Cut: Micro-Crew | Price: 💰💰

Crafted by Darn Tough right here in the US of A, these socks are arguably the industry gold standard when it comes to rugged performance. They please hardcore hikers and sock addicts alike! Darn Tough backs up their lofty claims with an unconditional lifetime guarantee, so you know they mean business.

Their Coolmax series are made for a tight, performance fit and help keep your feet cool and dry, hence the “max” following the “cool.” The synthetic blend material prevents odors well, and you can have faith that they’ll hold off smell for at least a couple of days on the trails. With cushioning along the balls and heels, your joints are protected from the stress of impact, and your feet from the ache of walking miles on end.

  • Incredibly durable construction (definitely Darn Tough!)
  • Cushiony support is comfortable and keeps your feet from aching
  • Despite the Merino wool, these socks are breathable, comfortable, and perfect for rough outdoor adventures in warm weather

  • Only 60% wool
  • Reviewers noted that the socks shrink significantly when run through the dryer (as is generally the case with wool)

7. DG Hill Thermal 80% Merino Wool Thermal Hiking Crew Socks

The best winter hiking socks

DG Hill Wool

Brand: DG Hill | Material: Merino Wool/Nylon | Type: Mountaineering | Cut: Mid-Calf | Price: 💰💰

Pretty much all winter hiking socks are made from Merino wool, which is known for its regulatory capabilities. Merino wool is the material of choice for sub-zero temperatures, and is incredibly soft to boot. But while most winter hiking socks are made from about 60% Merino wool, DG Hill decided to up the ante to 80% with their thermal winter hiking socks, making them the best wool hiking socks in our book.

They’re warmer than most any other hiking sock you’ll find on the market, making them perfect for cold-weather hikes, mountaineering, and sub-zero temperatures. With the increased wool percentage, they’re also impossibly soft, cradling your feet in cloud-like comfort. 360-degree reinforcing helps ensure a snug, secure fit around your calf that won’t slide down and cause blisters. Padding in the toe, heel, and ball of the sock help absorb impact stress to reduce the strain on your feet and joints, while the arch support keeps you standing, walking, and hiking comfortably for longer. 

  • Thick padding helps reduce aching feet
  • Great price for high-quality mountaineering gear
  • Incredibly warm and soft thanks to the 80% Merino wool

  • Some reviewers noted poor odor prevention, though others had no trouble with this
  • Despite their claim of being suitable for warmer temperatures, most reviewers warned against using them in summer

What to Look for in the Best Hiking Socks

Standing on Cliff in the Best Hiking Socks
Image by Canva

As you look for the perfect hiking socks for your feet, be sure to keep these qualities in mind:

1. Comfort

Comfort is king with socks. A fitted design is all the rage these days, as it can prevent blisters and maintain motionlessness on the foot. Additionally, fitted socks eliminate the chance of wrinkles or uneven sock wear, such as the “bunching up” effect. Whether you go the fitted route or a roomier design, be sure that your feet feel comfy and cozy. 

2. Insulation

There are many different materials used for insulation, but the main one is wool. This helps keep your feet warm and your toes from frostbite in sub-zero temperatures and high-altitude adventures. Depending on where you’re planning to hike, you might want socks with higher or lower insulation.

3. Wicking Ability

Whether you’re hiking on snowy mountains or tropical cliff trails, sweaty feet are an inevitability. Moisture in your shoes can increase the chances of painful blisters, and create undesirable odors. Any good pair of socks will help keep your feet dry by wicking away extra moisture from your skin, which keeps your feet cool and stink-free.

4. Drying Speed

High-quality hiking socks allow you to wash them in the evening and air dry them at night, so they’re ready to go for the next day. This cuts down on how many pairs you need to pack, which is helpful when packing for longer trips, and vital for long-term wilderness excursions where every single gram matters.

5. Material

Synthetic materials, merino wool, and wool/synthetic hybrids are the main choices among the best hiking socks. Merino wool is a wonder material that does it all, provides the right amount of cushion, keeps feet cool in the heat, wicks moisture, provides warmth in the cold, and isn’t itchy. Synthetic materials tech has advanced far in the past years, and some prefer it over wool, claiming it lasts longer and prevents odor better.

Typically, synthetic materials do dry much faster than wool and are often less expensive. Cotton socks, while great for around the house, are generally seen as a poor choice when it comes to hiking. 100% cotton, and cotton-heavy hybrids, absorbs sweat and can quickly overheat your feet. Cotton also offers zero insulation, takes forever to dry if it gets wet, and has little moisture-wicking capability. Silk socks might seem like a good choice for hiking, considering how lightweight they are. But silk is a delicate material, and will easily tear as you hike over rugged and uneven terrain. Still, silk is a good insulator and is sometimes used as an additional layer in liners to increase moisture-wicking capability. 

6. Weather

Hiking socks were traditionally made of thick wools that, while perfect for snowy trails, were a death wish in the summer. Nowadays, you can get lightweight, moisture-wicking, odor-fighting socks designed to help you beat the heat. Be sure the socks you pick outmatch the climate of wherever you’re most likely to hike.

7. Cut

Hiking socks generally come in crew cuts and knee-high cuts to help keep your feet and legs warm in cold weather and prevent your hiking boots from rubbing against your skin. But you can also find ankle cut hiking socks and even no-show hiking socks designed for low-cut hiking shoes. 

Our Process

For this guide on hiking socks, our team spent 2 hours researching the most popular options from over 25 brands and manufacturers big and small. We then read about fifty user reviews (both positive and negative) to discover what shoppers thought about each pair of socks. After comparing this data, we narrowed our list down to the top 7 hiking socks on the market. You can count on this research to guide you to a mindful purchasing decision.

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