Socks are one of the most important pieces of gear for any distance hike, pick the wrong kind and you’ll likely end up with blisters. I have thoroughly used a decent amount of hiking socks. On my 2017 thru hike, I mainly used 4 different brands. Socks are definitely a very personal item for people, so I tried my best to document my experience with each. The list is not ordered by best but instead by miles worn.
These are the socks I hiked the longest with, totaling about 1000 miles in two different pairs of them. These are a high quality synthetic socks, and my go to choice for anything from running to hiking. They aren’t cheap, coming in between $15 and $20 a pair. In their favor, they have a lifetime guarantee so you can replace them for just the cost of shipping. I have had two pairs replaced with no issues.
If you get over the price of the socks, you’re probably interested in knowing if they’re right for you. These are great socks (albeit not specifically hiking socks) if you like very lightweight socks that dry quickly and stay cool. I didn’t have any issues with blisters in these socks, regardless if my feet were wet or dry. I found the socks to last about 500 miles before developing holes which was fine due to the lifetime guarantee.
Darn Tough, quickly becoming the go to name in Merino Wool Socks. This is probably the most popular brand of hiking socks on the Appalachian Trail. I like many other hikers, had a pair going into my trip because everyone told me too. I used them prior to the trail without any issue and actually agreed that they were great. The price point of these is about the same as the Feetures, and they have a similar guarantee. I have also used their guarantee and had no issues as well.
The problem I had with the Darn Tough socks is after a few days in rain/mud they get very hard and start to cause me blisters in the center of my foot. If you partial to these, then washing them more frequently may eliminate this. Darn Tough socks are my go to everyday sock because I don’t encounter this and already have a few pairs.
Injini is the leading brand in making toe socks. Toe socks are ever popular with hikers and runners. I wore a pair for about 200 miles on the Appalachian Trail. They separate your toes to help keep your feet cool and prevent blisters. These run slightly less than the last two pairs but you can still expect to pay over $10 a pair. I don’t believe the Injini come with a guarantee like the others so take that into consideration.
The toe socks are difficult to put on, since you have to put each toe in individually. The other problem I experienced was wear. I didn’t stop wearing these socks because of blisters or anything else but it was that my socks wore holes within 200 miles. I couldn’t justified over $100 on socks for the whole trail so I switched to the other pairs.
4. Generic Athletic Socks
The last 500 miles or so of my hike I wore generic synthetic socks. Each pair lasted about 100 miles before getting rips and they were about 50 cents per pair. If you’re on a tight budget and don’t want to spend over a few dollars on socks then this is your option. Look for any nylon blend socks, some people even recommend cheap dress socks.
This isn’t a sock I personally wore on the trail but it is definitely the one I heard the most about. Their mission statement is having everything for the socks done in the US. Now they come in at the highest on the list, near $20. Since I didn’t personally wear them I cannot comment directly on the comfort or durability. In regards of durability, they offer a lifetime guarantee so that is a positive for them.
The hikers who had these socks loved them. They said they were cool, yet didn’t get nearly as hard as the Darn Tough socks. If I decide to switch back to a Merino Wool sock for the winter then I will likely be trying out the Farm to Feet mode.
Take care of your feet
No matter your sock choice, we all know its important to take care of your feet while you’re out there. Before undergoing a big trip, test out a few pairs to see what you like best. You might not be able to test all scenarios but you’ll be able to get a good idea of what works for you. In the coming years I think we’ll see a large shift away from heavier, thicker, wool hiking socks and transition to lighter running socks. The same way we all switched from hiking boots to trail runners. If you’re interested in getting some new trail runners head over here to read my review on the Altra Superior 3.0’s.