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Even if your hiking boots are as comfortable as your slippers and provide as much support as your ski boots, all that tech and design doesn’t matter if your feet aren’t lined correctly. Socks can save your feet on a tough, multi-day hike or ruin them if they aren’t the right fit, thickness or length. We’ve got the top picks on which socks will keep your feet happiest from the trailhead to the campsite, on a day hike or a thru-hike.
Best Overall: Darn Tough Full Cushion Sock
The Darn Tough Full Cushion Sock will be your go-to sock for any hike, trek or backpack adventure. It's made from 67 percent Merino wool, so you’ll be getting a naturally anti-microbial and anti-bacterial sock that is quick to wick, dry and helps keep your feet cool with top breathability. The socks are extremely durable and have elastic in the arch for support, as well as light-to-medium cushioning around the foot and shin. The heels and toes are also reinforced, so you won’t be getting any holes in the sock, which has a seamless construction for all-day comfort. Like all Darn Tough socks, these are made in Vermont and are guaranteed for life. Colors include black, gray, brown, tan and green.
Runner-Up, Best Overall: Smartwool PhD Outdoor Light Crew Socks
Smartwool’s PhD line is built for top performance, fit and durability. The breathable PhD Outdoor Light Crew socks are designed with a tight hug to the arch of your foot and light cushion under the heel and forefoot, which make them perfect for trail running or light backpacking. The heel and seamless toe are reinforced for durability. Made from 56 percent Merino wool, along with nylon and elastane, the stretchy socks hold tight to your foot for a snug fit that won’t move as you do. Colors include a variety of neutrals.
Best Crew: CEP Dynamic+ Outdoor Compression Socks
The medium cushioned, crew-cut sock by CEP is made from a blend of synthetic materials such as spandex and wool. The Dynamic+ Outdoor Merino mid-cut sock follows CEP’s signature graduated compression design, which claims to prevent feet from swelling and improves circulation. Overall, the socks offer an extremely comfortable fit with a tight, structured support. Plus, the blend of merino wool helps keep your feet dry and stink-free and aids in heat management. Colors include brown, gray and green; a lighter weight option is available as well for both men and women.
Best Lightweight Sock: Smartwool Hike Light Crew Socks
When you are heading out for a short hike or a quick trail run, thick socks are going to make your feet and calves sweat endlessly. The Smartwool Hike Light crew socks provide support and comfort in a lightweight, breathable sock. The women’s socks are made from 67 percent Merino wool (men’s use 69 percent) for extreme softness and breathability. At the toes, you’ll find a flat knit toe seam, so no part of the sock will bunch up or rub wrong. The sock has light cushioning overall and includes a supportive, elastic arch brace. Colors include a variety of brown and gray neutrals in men’s sizes; women’s varieties include purple, blue, pink, red, tan and gray.
Best Budget: MIRMARU Multi Performance Crew Socks
With five pairs coming in a pack, you might question the quality of the socks. But the MIRMARU crew socks are comfortable, strong and offer plenty of sturdy protection for day hikes. The socks are made from 55 percent cotton with a polyester and spandex blend, so they won’t loose shape or slip down your calf over time. Plus, the underfoot is reinforced with extra cushioning for long days outside and the arch has slight compression for top support. Colors include black, charcoal, olive, purple, brown, red and blue.
Best Synthetic Sock: Wigwam Hiking/Outdoor Pro Length Sock
Made from a mix of synthetic materials, the Wigwam Hiking/Outdoor Pro Length socks will keep your feet dry and warm even after a river crossing. The socks are quick-drying and wick moisture away from your foot and offer top breathability as well. Avoid extremely cold temperatures with these socks since the wicking capabilities lessen as the temperatures drop. There is mid-weight cushioning under the foot, as well as a reinforced heel and Achilles cradle for extra durability, so you’ll stay comfortable on multi-day hikes. The toes have a smooth closure, so you can stay blister free. Colors include a variety of neutrals.
Best Merino Wool/Blend Sock: Hi-Tec Boot Socks
The tall, thick Hi-Tec Boot socks are made from a blend of polyester, acrylic, Merino wool, spandex and nylon. This blend provides wicking capabilities, but it's also designed to be breathable and soft with extra cushion and insulation for colder months and heavy boots. The toes and heel are reinforced for durability even after miles and miles, plus the arch has compression built in for extra support. The toe is constructed with a smooth, seamless design for optimal comfort.
Best Liners: Injinji Liner Crew Toe Socks
Best used with really sweaty feet, a thin liner sock is worn underneath a regular hiking sock to protect your feet from any extra friction caused from excess moisture. The Injinji Liner Crew Toe Socks are made from a polyester, nylon and lycra blend to wick away sweat quickly. Plus, the toe sock design adds an extra thin layer between your toes to deter blisters or hotspots from forming.