When it comes to providing cushioning and support, preventing blisters, and controlling your temperature, a decent pair of hiking socks can make all the difference, but with so many alternatives on the market, it’s fair to say that picking the ideal pair may be difficult. That’s why we spent the time researching and evaluating the finest hiking socks for 2024
For this particular gear guide, we’re primarily looking at socks that are suitable for hiking – so, anything that will keep you comfortable in normal conditions from spring through to autumn. We’ve considered factors such as material quality, breathability, cushioning, durability, comfort and overall value.
As well as rounding up the best socks for walking, we’ll also cover the different types of hiking socks that are available, more specifically looking at the different materials – merino, synthetics and cotton, for instance – and their various advantages and disadvantages compared to each other.
The best hiking socks of 2024 testing conditions
In this article you’ll find our selection of the best pairs of socks for three-season hiking and trekking this year. The tests were conducted by Alex Roddie, Lara Dunn and Chris Townsend who focussed on the comfort, performance, durability, sustainability and value of each pair. All pairs have been hiked in and worn casually over extended periods.
Chris tested his socks during last autumn and early winter in a variety of footwear ranging from mesh trail shoes to boots with gaiters. To compare the socks I wore different ones of similar thickness on each foot and then compared them afterwards for dampness, fit and matting. Whilst there are differences none of those tested would be a bad buy.
Darn Tough Hiker Micro Crew
Chris Townsend’s Best in testDarn Tough has built its reputation on durability and in my experience it’s well-earned
- Six sizes
|61% Merino Wool, 36% Nylon, 3% Lycra Spandex
|2.5 – 4.5, 5-7, 7.5-9, 9.5-11.5, 12-14, 15-16
Darn Tough hiking socks are known for their durability and comfort. The Hike/Trek Micro Crew socks are ideal for year-round use, except in cold weather. They have excellent fit, terry loop cushioning, and a stretchy top and rib-knit leg. Made from 61% merino wool and 36% nylon, these socks meet the Responsible Wool Standard and are made in Vermont, USA. The socks are made with enough wool to maintain their advantages, and are ideal for multi-day walks in the hills.
Read Chris Townsend’s full Darn Tough Hike/Trek Micro Crew Midweight review – Tested for 2024
Falke TK2 Explore Women Trekking Socks
Lara Dunn’s Best in testCosting very slightly more than most of the other socks i’ve tested, it marks an investment but it’s one that pays off for ongoing on-trail comfort.
- Anatomically shaped left and right feet
- Technical fit and fabric
- Versatile weight
- On the pricy side
|$29 / £28
|43% polypropylene/22% polyamide/19% acrylic/16% wool
|3 layer construction, medium padding, anatomic left and right foot shape
The Falke TK2 Explore mid-weight all-purpose hiking socks are a technical blend of performance synthetics and 19% wool for extra comfort, temperature management, and longevity. Available in various colors and sizing options across four narrow size bands, they are perfect for walks and treks.
The TK2 Explore is suitable for all but genuinely cold conditions and offers reliable fit, enduring comfort, and wash-after-wash durability. The female-specific version features a narrower fit than the men’s version, offering plenty of wiggle room and a secure fit with minimal bunching of fabric. The socks are on the shorter side but still long enough to fit securely above boot cuffs. Underfoot and heel cushioning levels are sufficient for long walks with a weighty pack, and the blend of synthetics and merino prevents sweat build-up and chafing, minimizing the risk of blisters.
The Falke TK2 Explore is capable of more challenging walks and works well with various outdoor footwear types. It is neither too thick nor too thin, making it suitable for year-round use. Although slightly more expensive than most other socks tested, it pays off for ongoing on-trail comfort.
Read Lara Dunn’s Falke TK2 Explore Women Trekking Socks review – Tested for 2024
Darn Tough Willoughby Micro Crew Hiking Sock
Alex Roddie’s verdictProbably the best all-round mountain socks I’ve used in recent years.
- Temperature regulating and unconditionally guaranteed for life.
|$24 | £23
|2.11 oz | 60g
|53% nylon, 44% merino wool, 3% Lycra
The Darn Tough merino-blend socks, made in Vermont, feature a lovely decoration on the cuff with a bear and moose paddling in a canoe. The material is a blend of nylon, merino wool, and a small amount of Lycra, providing both comfort and temperature-regulating properties of merino while ensuring durability. Lycra adds stretch. The socks have the best all-round formula, making them comfortable in a wide range of conditions. The high merino content ensures that the socks do not overheat, even in hot conditions. They are suitable for trail shoes and boots, with lightweight cushioning under the feet. The lightweight uppers help breathe and dry quickly, while the short boot height ankle cuff offers a snug stretch. The fit is snug but not restrictive, and the socks are excellently durable with only a little wear on some seams. They are ‘Unconditionally Guaranteed for Life’, allowing customers to return them for another pair if they wear out.
Read Alex Roddie’s full Darn Tough Willoughby Micro Crew Hiking Sock review – Tested in 2023
Meindl MT6 Women’s Merino Trekking Socks – Women’s best value
Lara Dunn’s highly commendedAnyone familiar with the quality and engineering expertise demonstrated by Meindl’s footwear won’t be surprised to find that there’s a similar level of quality also available in sock form.
- Superb quality
- soft and cosy, durable
- None really
|24% merino wool/24% acrylic/21% polyamide/15% bioceramic/13%
Meindl’s MT6 hiking sock is a mid-weight sock that combines merino wool content with performance synthetics, including bioceramic crystals in the lining, to enhance comfort and insulation. This sock is cosy and comfortable, perfect for all-year-round use, especially for cold weather hikes and summer walking. The sock features shaped left and right feet and a design that secures the fit at the instep, ensuring minimal fabric movement. The underfoot cushioning is perfect for maintaining comfort even with a weighty pack. The looped interior surface and merino/synthetic mix of the fabric provide a balance of temperature maintenance and moisture wicking, keeping feet warm but not sweaty over long periods. The merino’s odour fighting capabilities make it an excellent option for long treks. The inner surface also fluffs up after a good wash, rejuvenating the socks effectively. These socks are in line with the per-pair price of most technical trekking socks, but are also available with a 10% saving and free postage for a three-pack from Meindl direct.
Read Lara Dunn’s full Meindl MT6 Women’s Merino Trekking Socks review – Tested for 2024
Moggans Stravaiger Midweight socks – Men’s best for environment
Chris Townsend RecommendsOn cold winter days I’ve found these socks excellent. I think they’ll be too warm for summer (though those who suffer from cold feet may disagree) but for winter they’re superb.
- High merino wool content
- Recycled nylon
- Warm in hot weather
|73% Merino Wool, 26% GRS Certified Recycled Nylon, 1% Elastane
|2-4.5, 5-7.5, 8-10.5, 11-13.5
The Moggans Stravaiger Midweight socks, made in Scotland, are a thick and warm option with the highest wool content among those tested in our hiking socks for 2024 guide. They feature loopstitch construction with thick terry loops on the base, ankle, and toe, and less dense terry loops on the upper foot and leg. Ribbed sections across the top of the foot and at the cuff keep the socks in place. The Moggans Stravaiger Midweight has a more generous and relaxed fit for walking boots and high volume footwear, suggesting sizing down for narrow or low volume foot. The merino wool used comes from non-mulesed sheep, and the nylon content is recycled. These socks are excellent for cold winter days, keeping their shape and comfort for two days without washing. Although they may be too warm for summer, they are superb for winter.
Read Chris Townsend’s full Moggans Stravaiger Midweight socks review – Tested for 2024
Smartwool Hike Full Cushion Saturnsphere Crew Socks – Women’s best for the environment
Lara Dunn’s verdictSmartwool have long been one of the market leaders in merino wool clothing and accessories, so it’s probably no surprise that they have produced an excellent hiking sock
- Might feel too chunky for lighter footwear
|61% merino wool/23% recycled polyamide/14% polyamide/2% elastane
|Mesh zones for breathability, virtually seamless toe, indestructawoolÔ technology for enhanced durability in high wear zones
Smartwool, a market leader in merino wool clothing and accessories, has created the Hike Full Cushion Crew, a hiking sock made from 61% merino wool and recycled polyamide for enhanced durability. The company’s IndestructawoolÔ technology optimizes high wear areas of the socks, increasing their longevity without compromising fit, comfort, or on-trail performance. The Hike Full Cushion Crew offers immense warmth and cushioning, making it suitable for hot summer use and protecting the Achilles tendon and heel areas. The fit is reliable, and the socks stay put in use without migration.
With this level of merino, there are no issues with all-day wear, and the interior looping of the yarn makes them soft and comfortable to wear. They can be washed well, returning them to a nearly-new state. However, due to their high wool content and thicker nature, they don’t dry as quickly as synthetic-heavy options.
Smartwool’s ethics are impressive, as they use merino wool that ensures animal welfare, strives for greater garment durability, and continues to increase its use of recycled content. This combination of comfort and sustainability makes the Hike Full Cushion Crew a perfect balance for outdoor enthusiasts.
Read Lara Dunn’s full Smartwool Hike Full Cushion Saturnsphere Crew Socks review – Tested for 2024
Bridgedale Midweight Merino Performance Boot
Chris Townsend’s verdictThe Midweight Merino socks are comfortable, warm and handle moisture well.
- Fast Wicking
- Need frequent washing
- Low merino wool content
|26% New Wool, 18% Merino Wool, 38% Nylon / polyamide, 17% polypropylene, 1% LYCRA® / elastane
|3-5.5, 6-8.5, 9-11.5, 12
Bridgedale Midweight Merino Performance Boot hiking socks are a durable and comfortable option made from 56% synthetic materials and 44% non-mulesed wool. The high synthetic content may cause a matted inside after a day’s wear. They require regular washing for comfort and performance, but can be fluffy and maintain shape if washed regularly. The socks have terry loop construction except at the front leg, with plain knit for ventilation. The terry loop padding is zoned with thicker areas at the heel, toe, and underfoot. A stretchy cuff ensures the socks stay up. Previously known as the Trekker, these socks are known for their durability and comfort.
Read Chris Townsend’s full Bridgedale Midweight Merino Performance Boot review – Tested for 2024
HJ ProTrek Mountain Climb – Men’s best value
Chris Townsend’s verdictI found the fit to be slighltly loose but, If they fit right for you then the Mountain Climb socks are well worth considering.
- Need frequent washing
- Low merino wool content
- only 3 sizes
|39% Polypropylene 38% New Wool 22% Polyamide 1% Elastane
|4-7, 6-11, 11-13
The HJ ProTrek Mountain Climb hiking socks are a great value for money, with the lowest wool content of only 2%. They are thick and warm, ideal for cold weather, especially as they are long and provide more warmth for the legs. The socks are constructed with terry loops, except for the stretchy rib knit cuff. They have thicker terry loops at the toe and ankle, and stretchy areas under the arch and ankle for support. Like other synthetic-rich socks, the HJ ProTrek does matt down after a day’s wear, making them best washed regularly. They are comfortable and wick moisture fast. The fit is slightly loose, but not uncomfortable. The socks cover six shoe sizes with one sock, which is more than most other socks cover in one size. If they fit, the Mountain Climb socks are worth considering.
Read Chris Townsend’s full HJ ProTrek Mountain Climb Review – Tested for 2024
UYN Women’s Trekking One All Season Mid Sock
Lara Dunn’s verdictThese are possibly the most technical hiking sock I have ever worn.
- Fast drying
- Cuffless mild compression fit, suitable for year-round use
- Light cushioning
- Slightly over-synthetic feel
|46% polyamide/25% wool/23% lyocell/3% elastane/3% linen
|ZEROCUFF construction, ECOLYPT sustainable hydrophilic fibre, shock absorbent 3D knitted zones that also act as ventilation, targeted compression zones, Achilles tendon protection, bacteriostatic NATEX fabric helps odour control
UYN, or Unleash Your Nature, is a leading provider of baselayers, socks, and shoes, focusing on cutting-edge technology and materials for optimal performance in various sports. Their Women’s Trekking One All Season Mid Sock is a mid-weight sock suitable for all types of hiking, using a blend of fast-drying moisture-wicking polyamide, merino for comfort and temperature regulation, and ECOLYPT, a sustainable fiber sourced from Eucalyptus wood.
The ZEROCUFF design is extremely comfortable, with the absence of elastic at the top and mild compression areas delivering improved blood circulation. This works well with the merino wool content to maintain a pleasant and stable temperature. The synthetic content, including ECOLYPT, contributes to a pleasant walking experience, although the next-to-skin feel of the fabric can be off-putting.
The Trekking One’s fit is smooth and sleek, with targeted cushioning areas that perform well. The low-profile nature of the socks makes them suitable for fast and light hiking footwear. They wash well, dry quickly, and bounce back well from repeated wears. At a price comparable to most specialist trekking socks, UYN offers a lot of technology for the price.
Read Lara Dunn’s full UYN Women’s Trekking One All Season Mid Sock review – Tested for 2024
1000 Mile Women’s Fusion Double Layer Walking Sock
TGO Magazine verdictIf you’re after a warm sock with good layers of cushioning and extra blister protection, these are worth a try, but probably not if you are blessed with a chunky calf.
- Good balance of wool and synthetic yarns
- Blister free guarantee
- Fit won’t suit those with chunkier calves
|Outer: 30% merino wool/46% nylon/23% cotton/1% elastane; Inner: 100% TactelÒ
|Two-layer structure to minimise blister-causing friction, padded zones on heel and Achilles tendon, ribbed ankle and calf section for neat fit
The Women’s Fusion Double Layer Walking sock is a warm and chunky pair of hiking socks that uses 1000 Mile’s double layer construction to minimize friction between skin and footwear, preventing blister formation. The outer layer is a traditional combination of merino wool and nylon, with 23% cotton added. The inner layer is a smooth, finely knitted layer of TactelÔ, which wicks moisture away from the skin and dries quickly. The two layers move slightly independently, allowing natural foot movement without chafing.
The fit is great around the foot section, but the upper section is slightly too long and narrow for a comfortable fit for chunkier calves. The cuff at the top is neat, but the two layers moving independently is a little odd. The two-layer structure has been tested by 1000 Mile for decades, and the cushioning underfoot and at the Achilles is effective and well-placed. The outer layer moves moisture away effectively but not as quickly as other socks, possibly due to the cotton content.
If you’re looking for a warm sock with good layers of cushioning and extra blister protection, these socks are worth a try, but not for those with a chunky calf.
Read Lara Dunn’s full 1000 Mile Womens Fusion Double Layer Walking Sock review – Tested for 2024
Hanwag Thermo hiking socks
Chris Townsend’s verdictI’ve found the socks comfortable and fine in cold weather. I think they might be a bit hot and sweaty in warm weather, but, to be fair, they’re not designed for that.
- Less than 50% wool
|40% merino wool, 40% polypropylene, 18% polyamide, 2% elastane
|3.5-5, 18.104.22.168, 8-9.5, 10.5-12
The Hanwag Thermo hiking socks are designed for cold weather and feature terry loops throughout, with thinner ones on the heel. They are marked L and R, but this doesn’t significantly affect the fit. The socks are stretchy at the heel and across the instep, and the rest of the sock is also stretchy. The socks are comfortable and fine in cold weather, but may be hot and sweaty in warm weather due to their high synthetic content. After wearing, they feel slightly more matted than socks with higher wool content and perform best when washed regularly. They are fluffy again after washing, but have pilled more than other socks with loose fibers appearing in places. The durability of these socks will be determined by their cosmetic appearance.
Read Chris Townsend’s full Hanwag Thermo hiking socks review – Tested for 2024
Hiking socks buyer’s guide
From how to judge if a sock will be comfortable before you buy it, to how to pick socks that will last you a lifetime, here’s all you need to know about hiking socks and how to choose the right pair for your adventures.
Hiking sock materials
Most socks are made from merino wool, nylon or polyester and the best material for hiking socks tends to be a blend of these fibres. They’ll then also have a bit of elastane for stretch. The benefits of nylon and polyester synthetic fibres are that they are very quick-drying and hard-wearing. Merino wool, on the other hand, is a natural fibre that stays warm even when wet and it tends to be naturally odour-resistant and very comfortable. What’s more, merino is able to wick moisture away from the skin, helping to keep your feet dry in clammy conditions.
The downsides are that merino is an animal product, and there are instances of animal cruelty in the merino wool industry. Fortunately, however, most products in the outdoor sector now certify their merino wool. It’s always worth checking the details though.
Socks with high merino content of, say, above 75% will tend to be a little more fragile and not as long lasting as socks with a higher proportion of synthetics. So, ideally, the best hiking socks will have a high merino content of around 65% and then a good mix of synthetics and elastane.
It’s generally best to avoid cotton socks for hiking as it’s very absorbent and slow drying. Once your feet get wet in cotton socks, they’ll tend to stay wet and over time this could cause blisters and other problems.
New to the scene are socks made from bamboo. This sustainable material tends to create socks that are very comfortable against the skin and it also contains an antibacterial and anti-fungal agent called “bamboo kun,” which helps to prevent foot odor and infections. The downside to bamboo socks is that they may not be as durable as other hiking socks made from synthetic materials or a blend of merino and synthetics. Also, like cotton, the material is moisture absorbent and slow to dry.
Hiking socks: what’s better – thick or thin?
If you’re looking for maximum warmth, say, for winter hiking, look for socks with a high wool content and thick yarns. If you want breathability, look for socks with thinner yarns and a light weave.
Choosing between thick or thin socks for hiking involves considering various factors. Thick socks offer extra cushioning, padding, and insulation for cold weather hikes, but may affect boot fit and trap more heat in warmer conditions. Thin socks are lightweight, breathable, and provide a closer fit, suitable for hot weather or intense activities, but may offer less protection and cushioning. We recommend that hikers should consider personal comfort preferences, weather conditions, terrain, and footwear type when making their choice. Proper boot fit is crucial, and hikers should experiment to find the right balance between comfort, protection, breathability, and weather conditions.
Some of the best socks for three-season hiking come with zoned areas to ensure comfort and breathability are provided in the right places. These socks will have a thin weave and potentially even some air channels stretching across the top of the foot, then a dense weave across the base and around the ankle.
Ankle-length, crew-length, and knee-high are the most common sock lengths for hiking. Ankle-length socks provide the least coverage and are best for hot weather, as they allow for maximum ventilation. These tend to suit hikers who prefer to hike in trail shoes.
Crew-length socks cover the ankle and extend up to the mid-calf, providing more protection from debris and rubbing from your shoes. This type of sock length tends to be the most common.
Knee-high socks offer the most protection, making them ideal for colder conditions and rough terrain. However, knee-high socks can be bulkier and may cause overheating in warmer conditions.
Ultimately, the best sock length for your hike will depend on the weather, terrain, and your personal preferences.
Hiking Sock Warranties
Some hiking socks, like those from Darn Tough, come with a lifetime warranty, meaning that the manufacturer will repair or replace the socks at any time for any reason. Other warranties may cover the socks for a specific period of time, such as a year, and may only apply to defects in materials or workmanship. Some warranties may not cover normal wear and tear or damage caused by improper use or care and some may require you to return the socks to the manufacturer for inspection.
Related: If you’re wondering about using regular socks on your next hike then check out our article on Hiking Socks vs. Regular Socks: What’s the Difference?
Who tested these socks?
Alex has been a hillwalker, mountaineer, and backpacker since 2003, cutting his teeth winter climbing while working as a barman in the famous Clachaig Inn in Glen Coe, before backpacking extensively throughout Britain and Europe. He’s the author of several books and an editor, writer, and photographer across outdoor media. He’s been part of the review team for The Great Outdoors since 2016, and is based in Scotland.
Our equipment editor Chris Townsend is known globally as a writer on hiking and backpacking skills and equipment, the author of 25 books – many of them award-winning – and as a record-setting long-distance hiker. He was the first person to complete a continuous round of all the Scottish Munros and Tops and the first person to complete a continuous walk the length of the Canadian Rockies. He has also walked the Scottish Watershed and walked coast-to-coast across Scotland 18 times. In the USA he has walked the Pacific Crest Trail, Continental Divide Trail, Pacific Northwest Trail and Arizona Trail plus several self-devised long walks. Other walks include south-to-north through the mountains of Norway and Sweden and 1000 miles through the Yukon Territory. He has also worked as a Nordic ski tour leader in Scandinavia and other places and as a trek leader in the Himalayas
Lara has worked in outdoors media since the late 90’s as a writer, reviewer, and an editor in her own right across adventure travel and cycling titles. She has hiked, cycled, climbed, scrambled, trekked, ambled, and swum all over the UK and further afield.
Features to look for in hiking socks
Merino wool is arguably the best material for socks, as it is comfortable, breathable, and quite warm when damp. Other wools aren’t quite as soft but still perform well. Wool can be worn for days on end without needing to be washed too. Nylon is usually added to wool socks at the toe and heel for abrasion resistance. Wicking synthetics such as Coolmax and polypropylene are good for the fast removal of moisture and are quick drying but need washing frequently.
Socks should come high enough above boot tops that they can be folded down over them in hot weather. With trail shoes shorter socks can be worn though this can lead to cool ankles in cold weather.
Toe seams should be set back from the end of the toes and should be flat so they don’t rub. Raised stitching over the tips of the toes is to be avoided.
The heels should be shaped so they fit round your feet without any loose material. Rather than a straight line of stitching there should be Y shaped stitching round the heel, known as a Y gore. Heel stitching should be flat so it doesn’t rub.
Elastic material at the cuff (Lycra, spandex, elastane) helps to stop the socks slipping down. Double cuffs with rolled-over tops are the softest and most comfortable.
The warmest socks have terry loop construction throughout. Extra padding under the foot and at the heel and toes provides more cushioning and increases durability. Socks for warmer conditions often only have terry loop construction on the bottom and sides of the socks with flat or rib knitting on the upper foot and legs, as this is cooler.