Best Hiking Socks to Prevent Blisters (Buying Guide)
Blisters are a hiker’s worst enemy, these tiny little annoyances can ruin some otherwise amazing treks. There are a number of steps anyone can take to prevent blisters while hiking so that your feet stay happy and can carry you on adventures to come. Blisters can be caused by a number of reasons, from ill-fitting hiking boots to walking with wet feet. These tiny little sores can cause a lot of pain, it’s enough to drive any hiker crazy.
Alongside a pair of the best hiking boots, proper hiking socks will help keep your feet dry, comfortable, and blister-free. Hiking socks are available in several different styles, but most are made from a merino wool blend, a common material for outdoor wear. They have a higher price point than regular socks, the average cost of a pair is $20. However, this is because they’re made to be tough and to last miles on the trail, and to give your feet the protection they need. Hiking socks have lots of different special features to make them more useful on the trails, but all these specifications can be hard to iron out. That’s why we’re also including some information on what to look for in a good hiking sock.
What makes a good hiking sock?
There are a number of different elements that make up a hiking sock, each with its own purpose. The materials, thickness, and style of a hiking sock can make a big difference to what it’s best used for, so you’ll need to make sure you choose the right equipment for your purposes. The correct pair of hiking socks can make walking the trails seem like a dream. On the other hand, an ill-chosen pair of socks could leave you limping and in pain.
Merino wool is the most common material used in hiking socks by far, as it is extremely comfortable, good at wicking moisture, and breathable at the same time. Merino wool is odor resistant, a great bonus for multi-day backpacking and camping trips. The alternatives are cotton, which is heavy and absorbent, or polyester which won’t go more than one day before starting to smell. Moisture-wicking is a very important property in hiking socks, as it’s one of the main elements working towards blister prevention. When your feet sweat, the moisture creates friction, chafing your skin with every step.
Eventually, this can lead to inconvenient and painful blisters, which is what we’re working to avoid. Instead, a hiking sock made from merino wool will wick away moisture from your feet, keeping them dry and comfortable for miles to come. It’s worth noting that these hiking socks arent 100% merino wool; other materials such as nylon and spandex help the socks to keep their shape and remain hard-wearing.
Thickness is another element that varies in hiking socks, changing the level of protection and warmth they provide. For casual three-season wear, lightweight hiking socks are recommended. They provide enough padding to give your feet some protection on the trail, without becoming too hot and sweaty. Hiking in Arizona or other desert climates may require an ultralight sock, but at normal temperatures, the regular lightweight option should be perfect. Remember, don’t buy hiking socks that are too warm for your needs. Sweaty feet lead to blisters, so make sure your apparel is weather-appropriate.
The sock height is an easily understood variant; you simply need to pick the right style for your footwear. Hiking shoes or trail runners need only crew or quarter-length socks, whereas mountaineering boots are better paired with full-length socks for extra protection. Of course, you’ll want your hiking socks to be comfortable, but that depends on a hiker’s individual preference and situation. There is a large range of cushioning levels available, so you can add more or less protection depending on your needs. The more cushioning your sock has, the more comfortable your foot, and the less likely you are to suffer from blisters.
Other than these features, we recommend you look for a hiking sock that provides good arch support, and maintains breathability throughout your trek. Now, let’s jump in and find the best hiking socks to prevent blisters.
Best Hiking Socks to Prevent Blisters – Buying Guide
1. Smartwool PhD Outdoor Light Crew Socks
- WARM INSULATION: Experience durability at its peak with the Smartwool Men’s PhD Outdoor Light Crew Socks. These socks are built for performance in the highest degree, making them ready for any...
Smartwool is a well-established brand when it comes to specialized socks for outdoor pursuits. They’re known for producing comfortable and well-fitting socks, and the Smartwool PhD Outdoor Light Crew socks fit even better. Featuring an improved 4 Degree Elite Fit System, these Smartwool socks hug your foot for increased performance. The socks are snug around the foot arch and instep, with an elastic nylon “X” design on top of the foot to keep the sock securely in place.
Smartwool PhD is a line of high-performance outerwear, and with every new product, improvements are made. These hiking socks offer improved durability, with reinforcement at weak points like the heel and toe. With Indestructawool technology, these hiking socks are tough and long-lasting, while remaining exceptionally comfortable. Mesh zones add breathability to these socks, so you can hike in them all day long. The Smartwool PhD socks come with three levels of cushioning, and in the Outdoor Light crew socks, a lightly cushioned bottom adds comfort when hiking along uneven trails.
We love the cushioned soles on these socks, as this added comfort makes a big difference in preventing foot fatigue, and even bruising. The Smartwool PhD Outdoor Light crew socks are a great choice if you don’t want overly thick socks. They’re padded enough to provide protection without feeling tight and stuffy. Our only issue with these merino wool socks is that Smartwool has been inconsistent in the past regarding sizing and durability. If you need a sock that you know for sure will last, you might want to check out the next best hiking socks on our list.
- Nylon “X” keeps socks secure
- Durable heel and toe
- Breathable mesh panels
- Padded sole for comfort
- Inconsistent sizing
- Past durability issues
2. Darn Tough Hiker Micro Crew Cushion Socks
- 61% Merino Wool, 36% Nylon, 3% Lycra Spandex
A favorite amongst thru-hikers on the AT and PCT, these hard-wearing hiking socks from Darn Tough definitely live up to their name. Fine gauge knit merino wool is used for ultimate comfort and durability in these specialized hiking socks, made with a performance fit. These snugly-fitting hiking socks won’t slip or bunch on the trail, securely wrapping your feet so they’re protected and supported. This design is great at preventing blisters as if the socks cannot slip then they can’t rub your feet.
The moisture-wicking materials stop your feet from getting sweaty, keeping them cool in the summer and warm in the winter. The Darn Tough Micro Crew socks have mid-level cushioning on the sole, to keep your feet comfortable in rugged conditions. This is more padding than the aforementioned Smartwool PhD socks, which might make these socks a little too warm on hotter summer hikes. If you’re planning to hit the trails in warm weather then you might need a more lightweight sock, but otherwise, this three-season footwear from Darn Tough is hard to beat.
One thing that makes the Darn Tough Micro Crew one of our best hiking socks is the lifetime guarantee. There is no hiking sock more durable, a pair of these will last you many miles on the trail. With such high quality and warm materials, we recommend these Darn Tough hiking socks for almost any cold or mild weather activity. On the other hand, if you need hiking socks for summer weather or desert climates, you may need some ultralight gear instead.
- Incredibly durable
- Comfortable and breathable
- Good cushioning and fit
- Too warm for hot weather
- No mesh panels
3. Wigwam Merino Comfort Hiker Midweight Crew socks
For a great value pair of midweight hiking socks, consider the Wigwam Merino Comfort Hiker socks, available on Amazon. These well-priced hiking socks are made with a mix of natural and synthetic materials, namely merino wool and nylon, to create a durable and long-lasting product. An ideal choice for colder weather, these cushioned pair of socks are great at retaining heat and keeping your feet warm.
These Wigwam socks use stretch materials to stop bunching and prevent blisters. While the fit is snug and comfortable, it’s not as performance-perfect as the other more expensive socks we’ve mentioned. However, for casual hiking and other outdoor use, these warm socks are ideal and won’t be beaten on value.
Wigwam Merino Comfort Hiker socks are cushioned throughout the foot and leg, ideal if you need a little extra protection on your adventure. This extra padding makes the socks much warmer, ideal for winter hiking. Casual hikers will find a reliable choice in these Wigwam socks, there perfect for daytime treks with your friends. For mountaineering and serious expeditions, you’ll need a tougher and more high tech pair, but otherwise, these hiking socks are a great option.
- Good value
- Good for cold weather
- Looser fit
- For casual hikes only
4. Injinji 2.0 Outdoor Midweight Nuwool Crew Socks
- The original performance toe sock
If you’re an outdoor enthusiast who loves to try out all the new technologies and gear, you have to check out these Injinji toe socks. Injinji uses its special five-toe design to eliminate the skin-on-skin friction that causes blisters and hotspots. This special technology is made to increase your comfort on the trail, giving more stability on uneven terrain. Another benefit of this design is less sweaty feet- material in between the toes helps wick moisture and keep your feet dry. This is another great feature for preventing blisters.
A mesh top adds breathability and gives ventilation to the top of your foot, while extra cushioning on the footbed increases comfort to help you along those last few miles. These Injinji hiking socks have great arch support, making them an ideal choice for backpacking and hiking alike. The NuWool, merino and spandex material is hard-wearing and wicks moisture well, but this makes it a little less comfortable and not as soft as other options.
The unique design of these socks divides hikers; some think it’s uncomfortable, we don’t recommend it to everyone. However, if you’ve had a lot of trouble with blisters, you might want to try out the Injinji 2.0 Outdoor Midweight Crew socks. With so many specifically anti-blister features, they might be the pair you’ve been searching for. However, these hiking socks aren’t perfect. We’d love to see some additional padding on the ball of the foot, as this is a well-worn area prone to holes.
- Eliminates friction to prevent blisters
- Good arch support
- Mesh top adds breathability
- Five toe design uncomfortable for some hikers
- More cushioning needed in weak areas
5. Stance Hiking Socks
- FEEL360 Technology reduces odor-causing bacteria, regulates temperatures, and increases resilience with premium twisted yarns. 80/20 moisture wicking fibers pull sweat and water away from your feet so...
Stance produces good quality hiking socks with stylish and colorful designs, much more fashionable than regular outdoor gear. Don’t be fooled though, as these Stance socks aren’t all style over substance. A comfortable companion to your hiking shoes, these socks feature anatomical cushioning for the ultimate comfort on the trails. A reinforced toe and heel add durability to the maximum thickness sole, which has impressive impact protection for a fashion sock.
The Stance Hiking Socks feature a lower percentage of merino wool than other high-performance hiking socks, at 44% compared to the standard 60%. This gap is filled using cotton, a less popular fabric in the backcountry thanks to its slow-drying and odor-holding properties. The use of cotton makes these socks slightly warmer than some other options, but it does help with a secure fit.
These Stance hiking socks are a great choice for casual hikers, they’re bound to make an impression on your trail buddies with their eye-catching designs. Surprisingly durable and well-padded, this pair of socks has impressed us on the trail. They don’t offer the high-tech features of other high-performance options, such as the Darn Tough Micro Crew, but for day hikes and chilling around the campfire, use these colorful hiking socks.
- Fun designs
- Well-cushioned sole
- Secure fit
- No mesh panels
- A lower percentage of merino wool
6. Darn Tough Mountaineering OTC Extra Cushion Socks
- PERFORMANCE FIT - No slipping, no bunching, and no blisters. A true "put it on, forget it's on" feel.
If you’re planning some serious expeditions, you’ll need some hiking socks that pack more of a heavy-duty punch. Darn Tough Mountaineering socks are made from high-density stitch merino wool, a very comfortable and durable material. Merino wool is also great at keeping the warmth in when it’s cold, making these hiking socks a great choice for snowy conditions. This wool makes up 73% of the socks, a high percentage for high-value gear. The rest of the materials are made up of nylon and lycra for stretch and reinforcement.
Darn Tough once again showcases a high performance fit in these socks, they’re ribbed to be form fitting and provide extra support. With such a snug fit using these high-quality materials, you’ll never have to worry about blisters in these mountaineering socks. Although these hiking socks are strong enough for mountain wear, they’re also a great choice for any cold-weather activity. Your feet will always be warm and comfortable in the Darn Tough Mountaineering socks, which are high rise up to the knee.
These warm hiking socks are no good for the summer, but they make a great choice for snowshoeing and winter trekking. The cushioning is thick and comfortable, which means these socks are also a good option for long-distance backpackers. For most casual and day hikers, these heavy-duty socks would be overkill, but in cold weather, they do a great job of keeping your feet warm. Darn Tough Mountaineering socks may also be an ideal investment if you need blister prevention for long-distance backpacking and trekking.
- Warm and comfortable in cold weather
- Great at preventing blisters on longer trips
- A high percentage of merino wool
- Too hot for casual and summer hiking
- Not for year-round use
Our top pick for the best hiking socks to prevent blisters are a comfortable, durable, and high-quality pair. The Darn Tough Hiker Micro Crew socks are our winners, these socks are a great investment with a lifetime guarantee, promising to keep your feet comfortable and happy after miles of hiking trails. The ideal hiking sock should offer both comfort and support, should keep your feet warm without making them sweaty, and our winner does a fantastic job. Unless you’re a mountaineer, or you’re planning a trip to the desert, these three-season socks will serve your feet well.
The merino wool blend does a great job wicking moisture away from your feet, keeping them dry and blister-free. With a healthy level of cushioning, this pair of socks has good impact protection to protect your feet from bruising. The fit is snug and secure, promising no bunching or slippage. This high-performance design has great breathability, and for general hiking use, it’s our recommendation. The Darn Tough Hiker Micro Crew Socks are an excellent choice for any type of trek, they keep feet and hikers happy.
Bonus tip: Watch this video to find out about a lacing technique to help prevent blisters!