do i need hiking socks? Yes, You do.

Hiking socks. Unappreciated and neglected. Do I need hiking socks? More than you know. Learn what to look for in a pair and why.

You found the perfect hiking boots, a comfortable backpack, and your hiking outfit is Instagram-worthy. Now here you are asking, “do I need hiking socks?” 

Yes, you do. In fact, hiking socks can be the most important purchase you make.

This article explains the 4 features you need in a hiking sock and the importance of each one.

Smartwool Hike Classic Edition Full Cushion Crew Socks

Do I Need Hiking Socks?

Socks are not just socks when it comes to hiking. A great hiking sock will be thick, incredibly sturdy, comfortable, have excellent thermal and moisture-wicking properties and be loyal, faithful, and true.

Ok, maybe those last three apply more to your dog, but it would be best if you had good socks, nonetheless.

How Long Do Hiking Socks Last?

You can put 1,000 miles on a pair of socks before they’re ready for the trash can. That sounds like a very long distance, but consider that it is only about a year if you take modest hikes every weekend.

For that 1,000 miles, you need comfort. The word has the ring of luxury about it, but in hiking, comfort is essential. Blisters, chafing, and other foot damage can turn a three-mile hike back to the trailhead into torture if your socks fail you.

Here’s What To Look For In Good Hiking Socks:

1. Moisture Wicking

Good moisture-wicking is mandatory. ‘Wicking’ means taking the sweat produced by your sweat glands off the surface and transporting it away from the foot.

 Excellent wicking isn’t about bad-smelling feet. It can save your feet from serious health problems. If the sock fails to wick, you develop fungi, blisters, chafing, and other ugly results.

2. Thermal 

If you spend even a moderate amount of time hiking, you’ll need good thermal properties from your socks. In the hot summer heat, your socks have to allow good conduction to direct heat away from the foot where it can migrate out of the boot.

You need to keep your feet within a comfortable range in cold temperatures. Excellent hiking socks will keep your feet warm at night and save them from hot, sweaty temperatures during the day. 

3. Blended Material

Cotton is an impressive fabric. Nature’s material, cotton, offers wicking and thermal properties. 

But, engineering has gone beyond nature with blends. Blends — Lycra, wool, and others — and micro-geometry have combined to provide outstanding support and comfort, excellent thermal control, and superior moisture-wicking.

4. Padding (in the right places)

Hiking socks should have thick material on the toe, ankle bone, and heel. These are the parts that get the most wear. Make sure they don’t have any ridges, especially near the toes or ankle bone. 

Ridges can irritate as quickly as a pebble in your boot. 

Hiking socks should be long enough to come well above the top of the boot and fold down. Even the most expensive hiking socks will lose elasticity at the top. 

Folding socks over the top of the boot is the only way to prevent them from sliding inside when you’re on the trail.

Still, get a style and brand that don’t lose elasticity quickly. Hiking socks are more expensive than other types ($10 per pair or more), and you don’t want to replace them every month or two.

Do I need hiking socks? Two backpackers hiking up a snowy mountainside

Final Thoughts.

It would be best if you owned several pairs of hiking socks. Different pairs will give you the flexibility you need depending on the terrain, conditions, and hike length.

When you find the perfect pair that works for you, buy three. A superior hiking sock is as good as gold.

And, of course, your favorites will always be in the laundry. I say buy three of those!