The Best Wool Socks That Are Soft and Breathable

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Whether you’re looking for wool socks to tuck under snow boots or a pair to hit the trail in, there are plenty of options out there. In recent years textile engineering has moved beyond the scratchy wool socks Grandma used to knit you and into technical knits that guarantee not just warmth, but also breathability and performance boosts. Before buying a pair, you should consider whether you'll wear them for hiking, running, or staying warm in cold climates. We've researched the top socks, including options for kids, budget-conscious shoppers, and hikers to help you in your search.

Read on for our picks of the best wool socks available.

Table of contents

Best Overall: Darn Tough Hiker Micro Crew Cushion Sock

Darn Tough Men's Hiker Micro Crew Cushion Sock

Bass Pro Shops

Darn Tough has built a reputation for quality wool socks for active people who aren’t afraid of heading outdoors in the wintry cold, or on any hike where a pair of standard athletic socks just won’t cut it. The seamless construction helps keep blisters and hot spots from forming, while the merino wool keeps feet breathing and dry, even when you start to hit double-digit miles (though they may not be ideal for super-hot days). The thick knit makes these comfortable to wear, and you have colorful patterns (chocolate, lime, oatmeal, olive, etc.) to choose from. These wool socks also come with a lifetime warranty. A women's version is available here.

Best Budget: Wigwam Merino Wool Comfort Hiker Midweight Crew Length Socks

Wigwam Merino Wool Comfort Hiker Midweight Crew Length Socks

Amazon

Made of 62 percent merino wool, 34 percent nylon, 2 percent polyester, and 2 percent spandex, these affordable Wigwam wool socks are breathable with a built-in ventilation channel, yet the merino loops also help retain heat. They also come with extra long-life reinforcement, courtesy of the material blend that makes these shine when it comes to durability. The crew length fits great under boots, and there’s a huge variety of colors to choose from. The wool socks are also machine washable, making these a breeze to care for once you are back from the trail—or from a day of running errands in the cold.

Best for Getting Cozy: Joyca & Co. Women’s Multicolor Fashion Warm Winter Crew Socks

Joyca & Co. Women’s Multicolor Fashion Warm Winter Crew Socks

Walmart

Colorful and stylish, Joyca & Co.’s cozy wool socks are the kind of socks you want to curl up near the fire with. They’re 38 percent wool, with 32 percent cotton, 25 percent polyester, and 5 percent spandex. The latter two materials help increase durability and get rid of any scratchiness from the wool. The mixture of fabrics also helps the socks stay thin enough to tuck under everyday boots. One size fits almost all with these, which makes splitting a four-pack with a friend even better (sizes 10 wide and up might not fit in these well). They may not be technical trail socks, but sometimes you just need a cozy pair for relaxing, and these wool socks are perfect for that. 

Best for Hiking: Smartwool Trekking Heavy Crew Socks

Smartwool Trekking Heavy Crew Socks

Smartwool

Made from 70 percent merino wool, 29 percent nylon, and 1 percent elastane (spandex), these Smartwool socks are suitable to take out on the trail all day, thanks to their moisture-wicking properties. Plus, they’re good for all seasons—the wool keeps feet warm in the winter and cool in the summer. The elasticized arch brace offers extra support and keeps the sock in place, and the flat-knit toe seam avoids rubbing up against the toe of your boots, even during the steepest downhill descent. Even more, they're designed with full cushioning that helps with shock absorption. Unlike some wool socks, you can machine wash and dry these—just keep it all on gentle and low, and they’ll be just fine for all different types of hiking boots.

Best for Running: Fits Micro Light Performance Trail Socks

Fits Micro Light Performance Trail Socks

Fits

Created in response to what FITS calls an “industry-wide epidemic of ill-fitting socks,” these wool socks feature extra height around the ankle to keep twigs, pebbles, and other debris away from your skin and the inside of your shoes. The 50 percent merino, 40 percent nylon, 7 percent polyester, and 3 percent Lycra construction means that this sock breathes just as well as its more heavily woolen brethren (also aided by a vented lower), while encasing your foot in a snug fit that won’t slip down in the shoe. We also love the extra cushioning on the heel, toe, and arch.

Best for Kids: Eocom Children's Winter Warm Wool Socks For Kids

Eocom Children's Winter Warm Wool Socks For Kids

Walmart

Protect your little ones this winter season with these adorable wool socks from Eocom. This six-pair set for both boys and girls comes with a variety of kid-friendly colors and styles, including ones with cats, dogs, snowflakes, cars, deers, or foxes. The wool socks are also soft and thick enough to withstand cold temps—they're made from 45 percent wool, 40 percent polyester, and 15 percent spandex. Better yet, there is a wide range of sizes available: socks for ages 1 to 3, 4 to 7, and 8 to 12 years old.

Best Everyday: People Socks 71% Premium Merino Wool Crew Hiking Socks

Not too thin, yet not too thick, these wool socks from People Socks hit the sweet spot between comfort and durability. Made of 71 percent merino wool, 21 percent nylon, 7 percent polyester, and 1 percent spandex, the socks are made for everyday wear with high-quality feel and odor- and sweat-free properties. The toe and heel have also been reinforced so they won't wear out quickly, ensuring the socks' long life. Despite their premium construction, these U.S.-made socks are relatively affordable compared to other merino wool socks on the market. The four-pair set comes in neutral color options, like charcoal, brown, Navy, and more.

Best for Extreme Cold: J.B. Fields 85% Wool Artic Trail 40 Below Winter Sock

J.B. Fields 85% Wool Artic Trail 40 Below Winter Sock

Amazon

There’s cold, and then there’s teeth-chattering cold. For the latter, these wool socks are designed to keep you warm down to -40 degrees Fahrenheit. Made from 85 percent pre-shrunk wool and 15 percent nylon, the J.B. Arctic Trail socks are easy to care for. Wool is naturally breathable, so your feet won’t get clammy in these, even if you go from the chilly outdoors to a cozy fire. Plus, the wool helps to wick away any moisture that does build up, keeping your feet non-smelly, blister-free, and dry. These also come in a variety of heights, from standard calf-height to knee-length, and they’re available in pairs made just for women, too. They do tend to run large, so buy these one or two sizes small to be sure they won’t bunch up in boots. 

Best for Snowshoeing: Alvada 80% Merino Wool Hiking Socks

Alvada 80% Merino Wool Hiking Socks

Amazon

If you plan on taking lots of steps in or on the snow this winter, these socks will weather you through the cold. Made with 80 percent merino wool, these socks are soft and comfortably tucked into a pair of boots while keeping your feet nice and warm. They also have a cushioned footbed, which means long-lasting comfort and support. This is also a reliable, everyday sock that holds up under daily wear and tear. The socks boast a no-slip cuff so you don’t worry about them sliding down your calves while you walk around. 

They’re also machine washable and dryable — and even after dozens of washes, the knit still clings just as well to the calf without being too tight. Each pack comes with three pairs of socks.

Final Verdict

As far as a pair of socks that are reliably durable and will keep the bite of the cold away, Wigwam Midnight Crew Sock (view at Amazon) is a nice happy medium between light and heavy options. But if you need the extra insulation, try the J.B. Icelandic Arctic Trail Sock (view at Amazon). If you’re just looking for something cozy to wear around the house, consider the Joyca & Co. pair (view at Amazon).

Why Trust TripSavvy?

Krystin Arneson is a freelance editor and writer based out of Berlin, Germany. During the week, you'll find her traveling as often as possible; during the weekend, she serves as editor for Glamour.com. Besides TripSavvy and Glamour, she's also been published on Conde Nast Traveler, Jetsetter, National Geographic Traveler, Oyster.com, and more. If she's not working or on the road, you can find her paying yet another visit to one of Berlin's incredible museums, hitting the dance floor, or exploring the city's wonderfully dynamic restaurant scene.

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