Even the most awe-inspiring backpacking trip through the wilderness or across Europe can be ruined if you don't have the right socks. After all, if you're going to have any fun on your excursion, you need the best backpacking socks you can find. Here's why.
First of all, wearing cheap socks almost always leads to blisters — and not the kind where you come back home with a slightly chafed ankle. I mean the kind where two hours into your three-day trip you’re whimpering and complaining, pulling over every five minutes to stick a new bandaid on your peeling, painful wound.
The other thing that will happen, which is sometimes even more annoying, is that your socks won’t fit right and you’ll spend the whole trek tugging at them. In addition to blisters and bad fits, low-quality socks will make your feet hot, sweaty, stinky, or in pain due to things like poor temperature regulation, inadequate moisture wicking, insufficient bacteria control, or lack of proper cushioning.
If you’re going to be backpacking for more than a few hours at a time, you really need to consider investing in a good pair of socks (or a few pairs, ideally) with quality moisture management features, anti-blister construction, and solid odor control. Here's a list of the best backpacking socks for the job.
1. Best Overall: An All-Season Sock That Regulates Temperature
If you're someone who likes to go backpacking year-around whether it's spring, summer, winter, or fall, these are among the best all-season hiking socks you can find. While most socks tend to be either lightweight for summer or heavy for winter, these have it all. They feature temperature-regulating merino wool that keeps you warm when it's cold and cools you off when it's warm. The channeled upper sections are designed to ventilate heat and moisture, making them extra breathable without losing any cushioning properties. The no-itch material feels ultra-soft against your skin while the half-density weave of the fabric prevents them from bunching up around your ankles and toes.
2. Most Affordable: A Five-Pack Of Socks With Extra Cushioning
At $18 for a pack of five, these affordable backpacking socks cost less than $4 a piece yet still offer quality materials and construction. Built with moisture-wicking properties, ample cushioning, and solid odor control, they're a great blend of features that deliver stellar arch support to boot. While the overall quality isn't quite as high as some of the others on the list, it is superb given the price. "Guys, I am obsessed with these socks," said one enthusiastic Amazon reviewer. "I've recommended them to two other people... and everyone raves about the excellent quality, cheerful colors, impressive bridge support, and perfect height for summer hiking with regular hiking boots."
3. Best Anti-Blister: A Pair Of Crew-Cut Socks That Prevent Chafing
These premium backpacking socks are made with special anti-blister technology called INgenius NXT zone. The system works via a soft lining that prevents the socks from rubbing against your skin. Around your toes the stitching is seamless which eliminates the chafing that can lead to rawness and blisters. The crew-cut style socks have self-adjusting welt cuffs and deep heel pockets with Y-stitching that makes them extra comfortable. Fabric-wise, the material is a blister-proof blend of 26 percent X2Oacrylic, 53 percent stretch nylon, and 14 percent drirelease Tencel with a splash of spandex for added flexibility. As a bonus, these hiking socks are fully machine-washable and can tumble dry low without shrinking.
4. Best Toe Socks: High-Quality Athletic Socks Designed For Long Wear
If you struggle with painful blisters or chafing in between your toes, these toe separated socks will help protect your feet during strenuous hikes or long days spent walking. Unlike novelty toe socks that are meant to be worn around the house as slippers, these are high-quality athletic socks made specifically for hiking and backpacking. Designed for endurance athletics, the mid-weight socks provide enough cushioning to last for a long trek without feeling thick or bulky. They're equipped with moisture management that prevents your feet from getting hot and sticky while the toe separation reduces blisters and chafing. The socks come in nine colorful patterns with landscapes like mountains, palm trees, tie-dyed forests, and other cool designs.
5. Best For Sweat: A Pair With Coolmax Technology To Keep Your Feet Dry
For people whose feet get hot and sweaty when they hike, these airy backpacking socks showcase a special cooling fiber technology called Coolmax. The lightweight lycra blend is breezy but still cushioned enough to offer support on extended trips. The material wicks moisture from your foot, transporting it away from your skin and evaporating it to keep you dry. Plus, its stretchy quality ensures that the sock won't slip down your legs and bunch up annoyingly at your ankles. On top of the cool technical features, they come with a super handy Helicase ring you can put in the washing machine to keep them matched and make sure the sock elves don't run away with one sock.
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